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The Self-Help Book That Helped Simone Biles Deal With Criticism After the Olympics

Mike Blake | Reuters

When Simone Biles dropped out of the women's team gymnastics finals at the Olympics in July, citing her mental health, she gained plenty of supporters and critics.

But Biles says she isn't bothered either way.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist says she has a new mindset after reading "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,a 2016 self-help book by author Mark Manson. According to the book, the philosophy is simple: The key to living a good life is only caring about things that align with your personal values and goals. Anything else is mundane by comparison.

"For decades we've been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. But those days are over. F--- positivity," the book says.

In the book, Manson writes about using academic research and anecdotes to prove that living a good life is about embracing your limitations, fears and failures instead of running or hiding from them. If you can stop caring about the pain your goals require, he writes, you stand a better chance of succeeding.

"Let's be honest," he writes. "Sometimes things are f---ed up and we have to live with it."

Since its release, the book has been criticized for not citing the specific academic research behind its thesis, instead simply referring to "many studies" throughout the narrative. In response, Manson told BuzzFeed News in 2019, he included footnotes in his follow-up book "Everything Is F*cked."

Manson did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It's request for comment.

Biles told New York Magazine last month that her teammates would laugh whenever they saw her reading the book. Her response: "Just read the book. You'll learn."

There's a price to setting boundaries, Biles said, especially when you're in the spotlight.

"It does mean sacrificing some of that stardom," Biles said. "But at the end of the day, you can't have it all. And if you take care of your mental well-being first, the rest will fall into place."

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