I’ve always thought self-help books were bullshit. Even though I had no idea what a self-help books was.
After reading a few I think most of them are bullshit while a couple are much more important than we think.
Let’s see the bad first.
1, When we consume self-help, we often are not tackling the problem, we are instead learning something new. (Since I’ve read the 4-hour workweek I have been playing with the idea of getting 1000 USD / day passive income and building a business that runs itself. It’s not my life and dreams just more entropy in my brain.)
2, Anyone can win the Marathon race but not everyone can: a bestseller that tells everyone how to be richer and better looking than the others is fake
3. Self-help books give you an idea that you can change your destiny and be zero-to-hero. Clearly, there are some who seem to control their destiny well. Some feel happy in a prison, pray for their children’s murderers or found global companies after dropping out if school. Those guys rarely read self-help books (they might write some, though).
4, Self-help teaches you further individualism: to love yourself and often to be narcissistic. Not necessarily the message our generation really needs.
5, Self-help proposes models that oversimplify reality. Organizations or people don’t fit into just a few types.
6, Self-help is often yet another form of avoidance. Is reading a self-help book really the most you can do!?
7, Self-help is a contradiction. “The irony is that once you do accept that you don’t need someone else’s help or advice to become a good person, it’s only then that their advice truly becomes useful to you.
So in a way, self-help is most useful for people who don’t actually need self-help.
It’s for the OK-to-Great people, not the Bad-to-OK people, although those are most of the people who get caught in its net and spend their money on it.”
8, Self-help reinforces perceptions of inferiority and shame. When reading about billionaires who made it from worse places than you having a 9-to-5 job and a family you love might seem less of jackpot after reading a book like this.
9, Self-help writers tell you: “If it worked for me and my fellow elites, it will work for you.” Most often they don’t.
10, The most known fictional character that reads self-help books is Bridget Jones.
Bottom line: Self-help doesn’t work because you won’t change just by reading a book. It may provide helpful insight, but it won’t force you to take action. If you want something to change, then you have to change. And you don’t need a self-help book to do that.
And what’s good about self-help books, then?
1, Some of us are able to consciously act – and change ourselves, at least a bit
– that’s what we do through growing up (and we learn skills from crawling and tying shoelaces through appreciating music to blogging) – and who ever claims that we need to stop learning?
– that’s what we do through human history (we act very differently than our (great-great-great) grandparents and we live in a much safer world)
2, Some of us can be the Marathon winners. Self-help books are not for everyone – but can certainly help many (I’ve picked up a lot of good thoughts on focusing and eliminating by Tim Ferriss)
3, Self-help is not only books with the shiny cover and promises of seven digit income and six-packs: some teach us how to look at our lives differently – and evidently, help us to become happier. (E.g. Csíkszentmihályi’s Flow or James Clear’s articles)
Why did I commit to write a self-help book rather than traveling, earning more money or catching up friends before my first baby’s born?
1, Because I believe self-improvement is something very important and underrated. Self-improvement is our human effort to become more conscious, happy and change both ourselves and through that the outside world. It’s a major venture that has been going on for thousands of years – and yet, as it restarts with every generation it needs to be fought by every one of us.
Unfortunately most self-help books take advantage of this will for human growth.
2, For me, writing a self-help book is actually changing my daily routine, doing something worthwhile and something that fits the actions of my life. It teaches me to grow. Writing my first self-help book is self-improvement for me. Hehehe. 🙂
Don’t want to wait for my book coming out in December? (Inshallah!) Here’s a valuable self-help advice: Just do something. Anything. Take action and learn from your own experience.