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Thread: Self-help books

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    Self-help books

    Do you think self-help books are a valid source of knowledge or do you think they are all bullshit? Have you ever read any, and do you recommend? If you don't, do you prefer to figure things on your own or do you have other sources for personal growth?

    Personally, I've read many and I think some are good and some should be burnt. I like to read books on how to find your passion and build a career from it. My happiness is strongly connected to how satisfied I am with work, so I'd really rather read a book about it than figure it all out on my own.
    These are a couple that have been helpful:
    Is your genius at work?
    The Lazy Person's Guide to Success

    And this one is great for all areas of personal growth:
    Personal Development for Smart People

    The worst self-help book I've ever read is "What Smart Women Know". It's about dating. No kidding. I've always though smart women would care about things other than dating too.
    Last edited by mondschein; 05-13-2014 at 04:35 PM.

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    Member Valkyrie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mondschein View Post
    Personally, I've read many and I think some are good and some should be burned.
    Maybe not -burned- (eek!) but damn some authors' secret superpowers really should've been "The Butterfly Effect"

    Different people need different types of help.
    My sister's an ENFP and all of that 'just imagine it and it'll come' crap really works for her.
    When she gets excited about something, nothing on god's green earth could stop her -except- for her own self-doubt.
    ..On the other hand, that shite makes me want to throw up! I need logical steps, grounded insight and alternate solutions based on minimising emotional fear/excitement, otherwise I just react cynically.

    Quote Originally Posted by mondschein View Post
    The worst self-help book I've ever read is "What Smart Women Know". It's about dating. No kidding. I've always though smart women would care about things other than dating too.
    That's crazy-talk ..how could Hollywood be wrong?! ;

  3. #3
    Senior Member Starjots's Avatar
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    I've read several in my teens and twenties and thought they were useful.

    Found at Grandma's house while young: The Power of Positive Thinking - seriously, most things in life resolve if you don't sabotage yourself.
    Think and Grow Rich - What is the unwritten secret? I'm still not sure if I ever realized what it was.
    How to Win Friends and Influence People - If nothing else you can understand the social rituals of others.

    I read one book by Tony Robbins, perhaps Awaken the Giant Within. Some of his ideas on self-programming make sense to me and I find I use that meta when discussing thorny issues with my mate. It helps get me out of ruts I fall into.

    There's a strong foundation of selling in many of these books. Selling isn't something I normally think about but it is a big part of life. Selling is making other people want what you have. But if you twist it a bit, selling to yourself is making you want what you have already and taking advantage of it. We can be our own worst enemy.

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    Your Huckleberry lethe's Avatar
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    I actually really enjoy reading self-help books and consider them fairly important - but not for their wisdom or written purpose....

    First I like the mental challenge of taking something I am resistant to or I think is coated in fluff and BS and trying to find the idea behind it or something useful from it. I remember my mom went with me to a transcendental meditation class and gave the teacher such a hard time about some of the fluff she was spewing, asking for reasoning or references. But I just took the fluff as fluff, temporarily tried to put myself in that mindset, act as if what she were saying were the truth so I could learn the meditation. The meditation itself is useful. I like to look at most self-help books this way. Try on a mindset, look at life from a different angle, and find whats valuable.


    Let's be honest, though: most people reading these books are NOT challenging themselves. In fact, they are only going to be receptive to concepts or ideas that they already believe or want to hear. I find that useful information on its own. When a book becomes popular or is recommended you get a window into what the current culture wants to believe about itself. What concepts or ideas make people feel better or motivated? What do they want to believe to make themselves "stronger"? What do they think their big mistakes are? If you look closely you can see the influence (or reflection) in subtle changes in conversations around you and popular culture like television characters or story lines. The relationship self-help books are especially important for this reason. Don't you want to know what the people around you are believing deep down about how relationships work and should work?

    I would highly recommend you all read "The Rules" and "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus". Sure, I've heard/read people criticizing both books on other forums, but I was one of the only ones who had actually read them (I'm thinking "Rules") Most people just referenced the table of contents from the Wikipedia page and rejected it all out of hand (with some venom). Seriously, take sometime to read it, figure out who it helps and why it helps them. Understand that it represents something that many people feel or fear deep down at this time and this is how they think they can regain control or be "better". It doesn't just affect the people who chose to read it - the books wouldn't be popular if they didn't reflect something people already believed. What you will find in these books are ideas that you are already dealing with from other people - wouldn't it be useful to learn more about them? And honestly, there are some solid tools in "Men are from Mars" if you can get past all the wrapping - lessons that I've seen people on this forum learned on their own.


    I also really enjoyed reading some new-agey self-help books. I particularly liked one called "Creative Visualization". Drop the fluff and the "why" it works and you are left with some pleasant exercises that do indeed help you focus on the positive, some parts of it even reminded me of some CBT stuff. I also think that most new-age type self-help books show you what people still want from religion after they have been disillusioned by or rejected "standard" religions.

    But for the most part I find self-help books are vague, full of obvious things, and slow. Most just act as temporary cheer leading. You will have forgotten it all in a month. Even re-reading offers nothing more than a reminder to "go! be strong!".


    Edit: I think it's important to check out a book like "The Rules" if you have a strong aversion to it. You are strong enough in your mind that really reading it wont "change" or convert you. At best you will gain understanding and something you can use, at worst you can critisize it with authority. How will it hurt?

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    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
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    Most self-help is too touchy-feely to me, but there are some interesting reads. Sometimes rather Machiavellian like Greene's the Art of Power/Seduction.

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    creator kali's Avatar
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    They are mostly unappealing to me. Time wasters, I could self-help myself by reading something more important

    I have read The Happiness Trap which tells me about mindfulness based ACT which I loved, cause I never meshed well with the idea of CBT

    I haven't read The Secret but I like the idea of the Law of Attraction, haha.
    "I fucking hate the cold!" - Wim Hof

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    I've read a few self-help books but, while they made me hopeful, nothing really worked. For example, reading books on getting organized. While they were full of inspiration and good, practical tips, I'm not organized and I'll never be. But, at least I'm not a hoarder. The bottom line is, I'm beyond help--I keep going back to the way I naturally am.

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    Member Valkyrie's Avatar
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    I'm curious to know if anyone's read up on NLP self-help in any detail and has actually tried their hand at it.

    I know it works to varying degrees in most situations, but does the rapport feel fake and contrived to the person practising the techniques? ..It it just some tactics, not others? ..Or does it all come back to whether or not you've been doing it for long enough for it to become some sort of effortless second-nature?

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    Senior Member Lurker's Avatar
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    I received How to Win Friends and Influence People as a Christmas gift when I was about ten (thanks, family ).

    All I remember from it is to use an individual's name when talking to them, something I didn't do much at the time. I still make an effort to do that; it yields positive results. People seem to like it.

    Fluffy self-help books irritate me in much the same way sticking notes around the house reminding me to "Smile!" would -- on the other hand, I would probably find intellectually engaging books on rational positive thinking gratifying. (CBT in written form)

    The Tao Te Ching resonates with me. (I know it's not a self-help book in the sense the OP is meant.)

    To directly answer the OP's question: it depends on the book. In general, I think the genre is gimmicky and contrived. For people easily influenced by gimmicky, contrived books, they are probably effective.

    Edit: I'm referring mostly to self-affirming stuff, not practical advice.

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