Worrying, stress, fretting about hundreds of things. We all do it. According to bestselling author John Parkin it’s perfectly fine to say fuck it! to everything that’s important to you, because it helps you to find inner peace.
Life is like a computer game, consisting of several levels. That’s how John Parkin presents it in his book F*** it. It’s typical for Parkin: he is the kind of person who thinks deeply about things, yet values fun and lightness in his life.
Following the levels
Life as a game? Yes, and it’s not that farfetched. In your life you gain insights and experiences, you get past obstacles and learn all sorts of things on your way to the next level – just like in a game. For instance regarding finding inner peace.
You’re in Level 1 if you think peace of mind depends on what happens in the outside world. It’s the thought starting from ‘I find peace in myself when…’ and you can fill in the blank with all sorts of things. When I’ve finished college. When I’ve lost weight. When the holidays are over. Anything.
In Level 2, you learn how to relax right now (for instance through meditation). But still, there are things disturbing your inner peace. Thoughts about mortality, your family, climate change, war… Level 3 is: finding peace in life as it is.
Fuck it! – Why it helps
A few years ago, I interviewed John Parkin, when his first book was published. He then explained why he chose the phrase ‘Fuck it’. Parkin said: ‘It’s an exclamation people understand immediately,’ he said. ‘I can’t think of any other exclamation that expresses so clearly how most of the things we worry about, don’t really matter in the end. Saying ‘Fuck it!’ actually means: this makes me unhappy, this hurts me, but goodness me, is it really that important?’
Fuck it sounds as if you don’t care at all, but in fact, it’s most helpful for people who care too much. ‘The more we start to love life, the more we get attached to it, the more unbearable it is to think how everything will end eventually. So how can we love life as much as we can, without clinging to it? That’s the lesson we all need to learn.’
It made me think of three things that occupy our minds a lot, while in the end, they don’t really matter.
‘Being authentic’ is the new ‘being righteous’, John Parkin writes in his new book. There are hundreds of reasons – some of them noble, others not so noble – for not being authentic all the time. Parkin: ‘If it’s not the time to be authentic, don’t worry about it.’ So fuck it to being authentic.
Of course it’s important to try and love yourself more. Most of us are more demanding towards ourselves than we are to others. But in the end, it also means loving the fact that you dón’t love yourself sometimes. Not loving yourself isn’t wrong. It can be OK, too. So fuck it to always loving yourself.
Having a positive attitude feels better than having a negative one. But there’s nothing wrong with being negative and pessimistic sometimes. ‘Give in to your inner grumbling, your hidden Eeyore, just welcome it and see how much better you’ll feel. It’s more real, it’s more honest.’
It is what it is
The list of things to say fuck it to is long. But the funny thing is: beneath all the cool words and funny metaphors, Parkin has a deeply spiritual notion of this ‘game’ of life. The notion that, in the end, when you’re forced to let go everything, you’ll know everything will be OK – and that your soul, your mind, or whatever you want to call it, will find peace.
That’s why it doesn’t matter whether you’re spiritual or not, or whether you say ‘fuck it’ often. Just saying it about things you worry about, can help to put things in perspective, and that’s very refreshing now and then.
For instance when you keep editing an article forever, because you feel it still needs improvement.
Fuck it – it is what it is!
Text: Anne Wesseling