The Best Life Lessons From the Pandemic

Mark Manson


W e will remember this year for the rest of our lives. We will tell people decades from now, “This is what I did in 2020. This is who I was. This is what changed.”

A couple weeks ago, I reached out to my email list and asked, “What have been your biggest lessons from 2020?”

Over a thousand people replied, some with multiple pages of thoughts and experiences. The replies hailed from dozens of different countries, from men and women as young as 15 and as old as 84, from people who had one of the greatest years of their lives and people who had one of the worst.

After spending the greater part of a week combing through the emails, some major themes emerged. I’ve condensed those themes into the 10 practical takeaways below.

1. You Only Really Know Who You Are When Everything Is Taken From You

A year ago, if you told me that my favorite restaurants, half my friends and my crossfit gym would be taken from me, I would have freaked out. But not only do I not miss them, I think I might actually be happier without them.

— Andrew

In my book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, I wrote that it’s only by losing something that you can determine how much you value it. Therefore, the best strategy for determining what truly matters to you is by cutting things out of your life, then seeing what you miss and what you don’t.

Early in the year, I wrote that the pandemic was about to offer an excellent opportunity for all of us to experiment with this. Whether we wanted it or not, we were about to lose access to a lot of activities, events, hobbies, and friendships that we were accustomed to having whenever we wanted. At the time, I predicted that many people would be surprised by both who/what they missed, and who/what they did not miss.

This experience was, by far, the single most common experience reported. Hundreds of people said that they didn’t miss their work, hobbies, or favorite events. Some even discovered they didn’t miss many of their friends and family. Many reported that much of what they spent their lives doing pre-pandemic was not who they actually wanted to be. Some made the startling discovery that they hadn’t…



Mark Manson

Author of #1 NYTimes Bestseller ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’. OG Blogger. Psychology Nerd. I enjoy cats and whiskey. But not at the same time.