The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck by Sarah Knight

The Life-Changing Magic of Not-Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight

I think I learned about Sarah Knight‘s The Life-Chaning Magic of Not Giving a Fuck almost at the same time as I learned about Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Obviously, Knight’s is a parody of Kondo’s, and obviously I decided to completely forget about tidying up (major loss of time most of the times) and read about that magic of not giving a f*ck, at which someone had already told me I was quite a champion. But, before I continue, because I do give a f*ck about the lovely, amazing people who send me review copies even though I live in Spain, I would like to thank Sabrina Callahan, who very generously sent me a review copy from New York.

You can check my first impression of The Life-Chaning Magic of Not Giving a Fuck here, and all I can say is that I was 100% right. The book is as good as it seems, and quite effective, I should say. Please beware that the person behind this review is a Millennial, one of those self-centred, selfish, entitled and careless people in the 20’s who are ruining the world, destroying traditional family values, and spending too much time on social media according to Baby-Boomers. If you are not familiar with these terms, I am sure a quick search on Google will solve all of your doubts. Now, why mention this when I am reviewing a book? Because Sarah Knight has written the decalogue to embody all those values that Milleanials are criticised for, but that I know make up for a happier life.

Knight’s motto is: Does this bring me joy? If the answer is no, ditch it. More or less. She creates four categories, going from easier to not give a f*ck about  ( i.e. What Penny from downstairs thinks about your new boots) to more difficult ones  (i.e Telling your sister-in-law you are not making it to her 30th birthday party across the country because there is no way you can afford it, and you don’t like parties anyway). She also helps you make lists about things that bring you joy, and does which do not, and how to not give a f*ck about the latter. This is not something simple, or easy, or free of pain, but God, does it feel good. Here’s why:

I was born a fuck-giver. Maybe you are too.

As a self-described overachieving perfectionist, I gave my fucks liberally […] to prove myself worthy of respect and admiration from my family, friends, and even casual acquaintances […] This was no way to live.

Thank you, Sarah, for an accurate, yet partial description of myself. I also consider myself an overachiever, and I am usually overworked, sleep-deprived, and thinking about a million things at the same time. I had to give up yoga because I couldn’t refrain myself from listing all the things I still had to do that day while the instructor was kindly asking me to focus on the exercises. I had to stop running because I injured myself after running 10 km in my Beginner’s Week of training. And I am usually told by my liberal, amazing parents to please go out, party until the wee hours, and come home late. Why am I telling you this? Because I never did any of the fun things until a year ago, when a break-up made me realise I had lost too much time and, like Knight, was giving my fucks to a whole lot of things that did not (and will never) bring me joy. So, I decided to return to my childhood self – the 9-year old who, upon being asked by her Catholic Grandma to please be a dear and do that First Communion thing for the family to celebrate said ‘I just don’t care about what any of you think of me’– and start doing things that made me happy. Or, as I like to call it: Work hard, party harder. However, it is hard to keep that frame of mind during the academic year, and Knight’s book just reminded me how this thing called life is done.

The book goes from easy-peasy exercises, like listing things that make you happy, to more difficult ones, like making a priorities list for family events. It is also quite prescriptive regarding how to give a f*ck, when to do it, and how many to give. The idea that I found the most inspiring is the ‘F*ck Budget’, which means setting a limit to your daily worries, or, rather, try to find balance. Knight is an expert, and she describes real-life situations in which you could choose to care, or not taking into account the amount of time, energy, and money you have already spent on others. For example, she describes how she and her husband have set up an alernative-Christmas visiting time so that neither her family, nor her husband’s cause them any trouble when deciding who to visit on Christmas’ Eve/New Year. She also deals with office gossip, and how to wisely spend money and time on your friends without feeling drained, or doing things that you wish you were not doing.

The Life-Chaning Magic of Not Giving a Fuck is much more than the ‘practical parody’ description on its cover, it is a reminder of self-love and self-care in times when being a woman still means taking care of everyone and caring about anyone. I really appreciated the tips, and I seriously recommend the book to anyone who has ever felt forced to do something that made them miserable. I am not talking about major events or health-related procedures – I know everyone hates blood tests, but they have to be done! –, but those tiny, everyday things that make you get home tired, feeling anxious and miserable. If  The Life-Chaning Magic of Not-Giving a Fuck has helped me remember something is that I should spend more time, money, and energy in those things that bring me joy (which I have in huge amounts, after Knight forced me to write a list with all of them) and spend less time, money and energy in those tasks that I feel forced to do. F*ck gender roles. F*ck please/help/care about/join/be with everyone. This is a book that reminds you how awesome your life is because you probably were too busy living for others to notice. You’re welcome.



  • Rikki

    Good review, Elena. I don’t think I need this book, though, I already am at the stage where I don’t please many people if any, :-).
    I suppose the exaggerated view of ditching everything that brings no joy is necessary to drive the point home, but still feels too much to me. We all do plenty of things that don’t bring us joy because we feel we owe some of them to others or for various other reasons. And that is not a bad thing. But the thought certainly helps to make people realize that we have to look after our own happiness, because nobody else will. ,

    • Elena

      Yes, I totally agree with you: there are things that do not bring me joy but that need to be done (i.e taking care of a sick relative). But Knight’s approach is a much more superficial one, where she referts to events such as a colleague’s birthday party, or attending your nephew’s football matches every Saturday morning, when they are an hour away from home and you’d rather be sleeping. I don’t think you can use this book for life’s hard choices.

  • Lianne @

    Great review, Elena, I think I’m going to have to check it out now 😉 And like Cathy mentioned, that’s great that this book is more than just a funny parody read and that it sounds like there are some handy tips included here 🙂

    • Elena

      There are some incredible tips for perfectionist overworriers like us. It has helped me quite a lot to unplug and enjoy some days off this Spring Break.

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