What You Need to Know About Reading Self Help Books
Do you want to make your connections better? Do you have difficulties sleeping? Are you stuck in your job? How are you coping with the loss of a loved one? Do you want to improve your leadership abilities? If you're like most people, you'll try to fix these and other difficulties in your life by visiting your favorite bookstore's website or reading the self-help section.
Amazon's search for "self-help" yields an incredible 417,000 results and counting. On anxiety and depression alone, there are 50 best-selling books. How can you possible select where to go for the self-help book that will best benefit you in this massive collection? Fortunately, by following a few easy criteria, you can restrict your search considerably.
Even if the purchase will only cost you a tiny bit of your hard-earned dollars, it's a good idea to think about these rules before clicking to purchase or grabbing that tempting item off the grocery shop shelf. It's not just the money investment that needs to be considered; it's also the emotional one. Choosing the wrong self-help book can really set you back in your quest for solutions to the problems you're now encountering.
Stop putting yourself and others down.
Louise Hay's book You Can Heal Your Life was initially released in 1984, and with her ideas of ownership, action, and positive thinking, Hay (who recently turned 90) was much ahead of her time. Everyone is responsible for their own life, according to the core belief. You are not powerless, and you must consciously use your thoughts to maximize your chances of success. That starts with the way you say to yourself; if you keep doing it, nothing will change. "You've been condemning yourself for years and it hasn't worked," Louise says. See what happens if you approve of yourself... I am not a problem solver. I make a mental adjustment. Then the issues will resolve themselves."
Take a modest step forward.
Your everyday routines aren't just crucial; they're everything. When Aristotle wrote, "We are what we repeatedly do," he knew what he was talking about. Despite your natural desire to solve everything at once, the greatest method to get significant outcomes is to make small, consistent improvements to daily practices. This is known as kaizen in Japan, and it was first introduced to American readers in Stephen Covey's best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People in 1989.
In the twenty-first century, groundbreaking discoveries on human behavior aided habit modification greatly. These are explained in The Power of Habit, a 2014 best-seller. Then there's Atomic Habits (2018), which shows how improving any statistic by 1% at a time adds up to exponential increase over time. In the near term, what matters is repetition, which pushes your conduct out of the area of willpower and into the region of automaticity. Mini Habits (2013) has a good overview that I like: Make it "too little to fail" in your daily practice. For example, if you work out for five minutes every day, you'll soon find yourself wanting to do more.
Be fully truthful to yourself.
According to Persia Lawson and Joey Bradford, authors of The Inner Fix: Be Stronger, Happier, and Braver, this is the only way to begin any personal improvement process. "Sweeping problems under the rug won't make them go away - they'll only get worse and more unmanageable," they argue. It takes guts to discuss the more vulnerable aspects of your life, but we must work through the issues that make us uncomfortable. They'll just keep popping up if you don't do something about it. So be your own best friend, talk to someone you can trust, and get assistance if you need it.
Struggle is a wonderful thing. Scary is a wonderful thing.
The Stoic philosophy can be traced all the way back to the third century B.C. And it's still hugely popular, appearing in almost every current self-help book, including The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher's Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient (2019). Stoicism isn't about being emotionless; it's about changing your mindset such that you expect, and even embrace, the worst rather than fearing it. Marcus Aurelius wrote, "Say to oneself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, aggressive, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men." Apart from everything else, this is the ideal mantra for utilizing Twitter.
Attempts to rewire our expectations have been made throughout history, such as the Buddhist notion that life is suffering, which was hijacked by controversial scholar Jordan Peterson. Stoicism isn't about being emotionless; it's about changing your mindset such that you expect, and even embrace, the worst rather than fearing it. Marcus Aurelius wrote, "Say to oneself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, aggressive, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men." Apart from everything else, this is the ideal mantra for utilizing Twitter.
Attempts to rewire our expectations have been made throughout history, such as the Buddhist notion that life is suffering, which was hijacked by controversial scholar Jordan Peterson. Once you accept this, the next step is to not just expect it, but to dive headfirst into the things that scare you. Eleanor Roosevelt once stated, "You must do the thing you believe you can't do." The version that appeared in the famous "sunscreen" advice column and song: "Do one thing every day that scares you" is frequently used. Which is perhaps the greatest succinct self-help sentence ever, with its nod to daily practices.
This leads to "self-scare" books like Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (1987), which was deemed the most effective read by the author of the meta-self-help book Help Me! You don't have to quit your job, jump into freezing ponds, or face the humiliation of public speaking like she did, but getting off the sofa and causing butterflies in your stomach is an essential aspect of any stoic self-help strategy.
It's not good to make snap decisions, sometimes.
It's difficult to convey this self-help tip without using clichés. How many times have you been instructed to take a deep breath and count to ten before reacting to anything you consider to be a slight? Or do you like to keep an open mind? Or do you want to walk a mile in someone else's shoes? Or to cast doubt on your presumptions? Or that it's most likely unrelated to you? "Be compassionate," says a phrase attributed to Plato by a Scottish author, "for everyone you meet is fighting a hard war."
Empathy, compassion, playing devil's advocate, and assessing your privilege are all terms used to describe this process. It's all for the same reason: to avoid making snap judgments about other people. We are programmed to see patterns and make rapid decisions as a result of evolution. This is useful when saber-toothed tigers charge our cave, but not so much in a multicultural community. That's horrible news for us, but it's great news for every self-help author who gets to remind us over and over again in far too many books.
De-clutter all aspects of your life.
Anyone with a "to do" list that never seems to get completed should read How To Simplify Your Life. Tiki Kustenmacher explains how to let go of "burdens" in order to live a happier life. You work through your difficulties in phases by envisioning them as a pyramid (sounds basic, but stick with it), which makes large activities you've put off (like burying unopened bank statements) appear manageable. You'll feel lighter, more in control, and – quite possibly – happier once you've sorted up your finances, time management, health, employment, and relationships.
Refrain from pursuing happiness.
In The Space Within, author Michael Neill suggests we should accept issues rather than try to "cure" them or medicate ourselves, similar to The Secret's premise that every problem is the result of being caught up in our thoughts. We are less mesmerized by life's highs (which we dread ending) and less terrified by life's lows when we forsake the quest of happiness. Nobody said life had to be a constant source of joy. We may "sob without suffering; your heart can break without you breaking apart" if we embrace the hard moments and agony. It is not necessary to reframe every situation in a positive perspective. Some aspects of life are a waste of time. They'll pass, and you'll be stronger as a result.
Learn to not take things too seriously.
It's one of the most difficult yet most beneficial things you'll ever learn. "Nothing other people do is because of you," Miguel Ruiz writes in The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. It's all because of them." Basically, you're free to do whatever you want. Let them take care of themselves. Particularly if they're a bad influence. Stop attempting to win the unwinnable and focus on taking care of yourself. Other "agreements" include keeping your word, not making assumptions, and always doing your best. This is the book I give as a gift to my friends.
Procrastination as a result of perfectionism.
I've bought a stack of books to combat procrastination throughout the years, paradoxically saving them for a rainy day to read. I also looked for books that dealt with my perfectionism. But it wasn't until I read How to Be an Imperfectionist that I realized one basic fact: they were both problems.
Perfect outcomes are impossible to get in this world, therefore if you expect them, you'll procrastinate. Perfectionism is not a game. It won't allow you accept your shortcomings or the idea that habit change should be gradual and painless, so you wind up going overboard (hello, New Year's resolutions!) and failing to modify your habits at all.
Wabi-sabi, or the acceptance and love of imperfection in all things, is another Japanese philosophy at work here. What are your plans for putting it into action? You begin regardless of whether or not you are prepared. Sometimes the greatest way to learn is to do it yourself, to get right in. Fake it 'til you make it,' to use an irritating phrase that first appeared in English in the 1970s.
Reframe your thoughts.
You don't sell 19 million copies of a book without connecting with people, and Rhonda Byrne's The Secret has millions of devotees. The concept that anyone can change any weakness or hardship into strength and peace by changing how they think about it is at the heart of the book. Many people dislike The Secret for its notions about how thought may change health, and the affirmations and visualizations can feel a little happy-clappy. But, in essence, Byrne shows you how to break free from negative thought spirals by practicing positive self-love and improving your thinking, since if you believe something can be done, your mind will find a way.
Write it down
You won't get very far without writing, no matter which self-help book you read. You must develop a strategy. It is necessary for you to visualize. You must make a list. The best system I've ever seen for a to-do list can be distilled down to this: David Allen's 2002 book Getting Things Done gives the best method I've ever seen for a to-do list, and it can be boiled down to this: Make a list of everything you think you'll need to accomplish or wish to do in the future. Then, for each item, decide whether to complete it right away (if it takes less than 5 minutes), postpone it (to a certain date or a "someday/maybe" list), or delegate it (if you're fortunate enough to have people who can help you).
Even if you're not a writer, you can and should write in a freeform and spontaneous manner. Julia Cameron, author of the 1992 best-seller The Artist's Way, which popularized the concept of "morning pages," advises this. Write three pages by hand in the first hour of your day, before your brain has had a chance to completely wake up and censor itself. The topic is anything comes to mind. The first two pages are always full of nonsense like "I don't know why I'm doing this, it's dull," until the third page comes out with some unexpected revelation.
The thankfulness notebook is another option. Even though the concept makes me roll my eyes, the science behind it is impossible to deny: the simple act of writing down things we're grateful for every day has been shown to rewire our brains and enhance our mental health, even after only a few weeks of practice.
Concentrate on the things over which you have control.
Stephen Covey's best-selling 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is just as useful to your personal life as it is to ambitious business leaders. He makes a compelling case for being proactive, beginning a task with the end in mind, and prioritizing first things first. There are also classes on general communication skills (which Tinder should offer as date rules), which teach you how to listen as well as how to be heard. But perhaps the most important message is how to communicate, develop cooperation, and learn to focus only on the areas over which you have control. This is an impenetrable foundation for any connection.