So what is it about self help books that actually makes them helpful? I mean like, regardless of the content? What is it that makes them so effective? Because they are. There’s a huge industry for them. Any problem you can conceive of, there’s a self help book for that.
1. They’re like a good friend bitch slapping you with a reality check.
You know you have a good friend when they call you on your bullshit as soon as it comes out of your mouth. My friend Devin recently metaphorically backhanded me with some truth and while yes, it stung, I was better for it. You don’t know you’re dreaming until you wake up, and you can’t realize you’re poisoning your own well with your own toxic tendencies until someone snaps you out of it.
2. Sometimes they include stickers, which is nice.
3. Someone smarter, wiser, etc. has done all the hard work already.
And they’re giving you an outline. You literally don’t have to think at all, you just need to be able to follow directions. Which granted, is sometimes difficult for me. Very difficult for me. The first test I ever failed, it was because I failed to follow directions. 5th grade, 53/100. Not my best day.
4. You might be an adult, but you definitely need someone to hold your hand through your problem.
It’s the same reason why you willingly let your mother fuss over you and do things for you after you haven’t seen her in a while. Sure, you could do it all yourself, but it’s hard and she does it better and also why would you want to do it when someone could do it for you?
5. It’s comforting to know that other people have this problem too.
You’re not completely useless. Other people are just as useless as well!
If you read self-help books, you’re probably not going to tell anybody that. When you’re at smart-people parties and you’re all drinking merlot, standing in a circle, and someone asks, “So what have you read recently?” you’ll probably make something up about reading Proust rather than admitting you just read three Tony Robbins books in a row.
Self-help books are the crust to literature’s pizza pie. For many, the crust is just plain dough that they could do without. Maybe they throw it in the garbage or maybe their dad eats it (me). But for some very intelligent people who I highly respect, the pizza crust is the best part. Because that’s fundamental pizza. In the same way, self-help books are fundamental literature.
If you don’t believe me—that self-help books are the very essence of why we read—then you can go ask the ancient Greeks and Romans. Aristotle, Socrates, Marcus Aurelius, Boethius, and so many more all wrote what would today might be called “self-help.” For example, in Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, he writes: “If thou art pained by any external thing, it is not this that disturbs thee, but thy own judgment about it. And it is in thy power to wipe out this judgment now.” This is a pretty good summary of cognitive behavioral therapy.
This sentiment, though, that Marcus Aurelius presents is indicative of the larger aim of self-help books (and literature as a whole). All any of us want is a happy life. It’s a basic truth that ancient thinkers accepted readily. Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s On the Soul, Ancius Boethius’ The Consolation of Philosophy, and countless other classics provided a bedrock on which modern psychology, psychotherapy, and general well-being were built.
Aristotle, being happy. | Image Via Famous People
Today’s self-help literature follows our ancestors in the sense that it provides explicit suggestions to live a happy life. Other books also have this goal, but they dress their moral imperatives up with characters, setting, plot, and 10,000 different perspectives. Don’t get me wrong—fiction is everything. But if someone is looking to lead a happy life, then reading a self-help book on dealing with their emotions is a more direct method than parsing out happiness guidelines from The Girl on the Train.
Though they may today be seen as lowbrow, self-help books are actually the most populist philosophy literature out there. Self-help books may be tucked away on the top shelf in the back corner of your local bookstore, but people want to read them. People need to read them. It’s obvious why—people want to be happy. Let the people be happy. Next time you’re drinking merlot in a circle at a smart-people party, proudly state that you’ve just read Tony Robbins, and maybe a little Plato too.
I would say I never do this, but that just sounds so damn cliche. But I really never do this: New Year’s resolutions and vows I mean. This year I’m actually going to make my own goals and things I want to follow through with. I want to travel somewhere, I want to learn a new instrument or take an art class. I want to volunteer more. Really, I just want to be a better version of myself. Cheesy, I know, but you’d be lying if you said you don’t want the same. We all do!
If you’re having trouble thinking of some resolutions or you just don’t believe in them (fair enough), there’s something else you could always try. I feel like some of us are afraid to turn to self-help books. Maybe we could simply try looking at them as inspiration. For those who want to be better and feel like they’re on the verge of something great, these five books (and their lovely Amazon descriptions) are for you.
Tim Ferriss, the #1 New York Times best-selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek, shares the ultimate choose-your-own-adventure book—a compilation of tools, tactics, and habits from 130+ of the world’s top performers. From iconic entrepreneurs to elite athletes, from artists to billionaire investors, their short profiles can help you answer life’s most challenging questions, achieve extraordinary results, and transform your life.
Busy wife, mom, entrepreneur, and bestselling author Emily Ley knows how you feel. With a growing family, increased work demands, and more, she understands the struggle it is to keep the plates spinning.
In A Simplified Life, you’ll find Emily’s strategies, systems, and methods for permanently clearing the clutter, organizing your priorities, and living intentionally in 10 key areas—from your home and meal planning, to style and finances, parenting, faith life, and more. Emily will show you how to truly make the most of your days with realistic, achievable, and tactical tools.
Walk alongside Emily through each page of the book, working through her simple strategies toward your own goals as you simplify and make space for what matters most.
While human lives are endlessly variable, our most memorable positive moments are dominated by four elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. If we embrace these elements, we can conjure more moments that matter. What if a teacher could design a lesson that he knew his students would remember twenty years later? What if a manager knew how to create an experience that would delight customers? What if you had a better sense of how to create memories that matter for your children?
This book delves into some fascinating mysteries of experience: Why we tend to remember the best or worst moment of an experience, as well as the last moment, and forget the rest. Why “we feel most comfortable when things are certain, but we feel most alive when they’re not.” And why our most cherished memories are clustered into a brief period during our youth.
Readers discover how brief experiences can change lives, such as the experiment in which two strangers meet in a room, and forty-five minutes later, they leave as best friends. (What happens in that time?) Or the tale of the world’s youngest female billionaire, who credits her resilience to something her father asked the family at the dinner table. (What was that simple question?)
Many of the defining moments in our lives are the result of accident or luck—but why would we leave our most meaningful, memorable moments to chance when we can create them? The Power of Moments shows us how to be the author of richer experiences.
It’s comforting to imagine that superstars in their fields were just born better equipped than the rest of us. When a co-worker loses 20 pounds, or a friend runs a marathon while completing a huge project at work, we assume they have more grit, more willpower, more innate talent, and above all, more motivation to see their goals through.
But that’s not at actually true, as popular Inc.com columnist Jeff Haden proves. “Motivation” as we know it is a myth. Motivation isn’t the special sauce that we require at the beginning of any major change. In fact, motivation is a result of process, not a cause. Understanding this will change the way you approach any obstacle or big goal.
Haden shows us how to reframe our thinking about the relationship of motivation to success. He meets us at our level–at the beginning of any big goal we have for our lives, a little anxious and unsure about our way forward, a little burned by self help books and strategies that have failed us in the past—and offers practical advice that anyone can use to stop stalling and start working on those dreams.
Haden takes the mystery out of accomplishment, proving that success isn’t about spiritual awakening or a lightning bolt of inspiration –as Tony Robbins and adherents of The Secret believe–but instead, about clear and repeatable processes. Using his own advice, Haden has consistently drawn 2 million readers a month to his posts, completed a 107-mile long mountain bike race, and lost 10 pounds in a month.
Success isn’t for the uniquely-qualified; it’s possible for any person who understands the true nature of motivation. Jeff Haden can help you transcend average and make lasting positive change in your life.
If you get to the end of the day and wonder where it all went, it’s time to take stock. Using research from Harvard Business School, you’ll learn one simple mindset trick that keeps you present to what matters most, which is the secret to being in control.
BE THE HAPPIEST YOU
Science proves that your mood in the morning impacts your entire day. That’s why this journal is designed to boost your mood first thing, so you can become a happier, smarter, and more positive person all day. The fact is, happier people get sh*t done.
Everyone in life has experienced rejection. “No” is a word that makes many of us cringe and makes others (myself included) try to avoid it as much as possible even if it’s at the expense of trying to obtain the things we want.
Entrepreneur and author of Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection, Jia Jiang is all too familiar with rejection. I recently ran across a TED Talk where Jiang gave a lecture on what he learned from 100 days of rejection. Now for the record, I’m not typically a TED Talk type of person, and yet, when I saw the title of Jiang’s lecture, I just couldn’t help but click on it. And holy crap, I’m so glad I did!
After feeling like his fear of rejection was holding him back from his dream of becoming the next Bill Gates, Jiang decided to tackle it head-on by challenging himself to 100 days of rejection. Yep, you read that right. This unique challenge, which began as a card game designed by Canadian entrepreneur Jason Comely, seeks to de-sensitize people from rejection by forcing them to face their fears.
Over the course of 100 days, Jiang threw himself into scenarios where rejection was inevitable or at least likely. These scenarios ranged from borrowing $100 from a stranger to a free “burger refill” (which doesn’t freaking exist) to interviewing then-President Barack Obama.
Image Via David Alexander
As bizarre as the challenge sounds, Jiang learned a lot about his fear of rejection along the way. One of the biggest lessons that Jiang learned, which is relevant to everyone, is this: rejection isn’t usually personal.
When we get rejected, it’s so natural to take it personally. If someone rejects our invitation to make plans, we automatically overanalyze why they said no. Do they hate me? Am I weird? Without a clear answer as to why they said no, we can come up with reasons that not only make us feel crappy, but can be completely false.
After Jiang knocked on a random person’s door and asked to plant a flower in their backyard, they unsurprisingly said no. Some people in Jiang’s situation might’ve assumed the guy was creeped out. In reality, though, the man rejected Jiang’s request because he owned a dog who dug up everything in the backyard.
Unfortuntaley we can’t read people’s minds (I seriously wish we could), so miscommunication constantly happens. But if we take a second to ask why we were rejected, we can realize that it wasn’t us at all.
Another beneficial lesson Jiang learned was that we can help turn a “No” into a “Yes.”
Image Via Pixabay
At the first sign of rejection, we recoil and give up our efforts. By sticking with it, though, we can achieve what we want and it’s a lot simpler than we initially think.
In his third rejection exercise, Jiang went to a Krispy Kreme restaurant where he asked an employee if he could have donuts that resembled the symbol of the olympic games. He assumed they would say no. They said yes. Not only did they accept Jiang’s random request (proving that sometimes all we have to do is ask) but they also made some seriously impressive donuts. You can watch the incredible video here!
We can’t always manage to avoid rejection, but we do have some control over the odds. This is important to remember.
Check out the lessons Jiang learned in his TED Talk, but you should also pick up his book Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection, which can be found here.
In a somewhat fitting addition to the Independence Day festivities, all-American Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady announced that he will be publishing a book detailing the mental and physical health regimen he claims propelled him to success. The book, titled “The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance,” is the 39-year-old athlete’s first foray into publishing.
I am excited to share this with you, the culmination of what I have been working on for the past 12 years of my career – something that I know can benefit ALL people regardless of age, athletic level, or stage of life. So many people ask me, “What do I do to maintain my motivation and commitment to my sport? How is it possible to keep playing football at 40 years old?” So for anyone who’s ever wondered why I feel better today than when I was 25, I’ve got something for you. Whether you’re a high school, college, or pro athlete, a coach, a farmer, an executive, a teacher, a doctor, a student, a parent, a graphic designer, ANYONE – I know the methods in this book can be a blueprint to better understanding how to maintain peak mental and physical fitness for the rest of your life. I call it the TB12 Method and it’s coming soon (not the actual book cover pictured)… Link to preorder in bio! @tb12sports
Who are we to argue with a man with five Super Bowl rings?