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Why Self-Help Books Don’t Work…and What Does (greggwilliams.co)
4 points by gw666 on May 7, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 2 comments



The author is correct; self-help books tend not to be that helpful. However, that is because self-help books never go into the "how" and only the bigger picture. I think the best types of self-help books are ones that deal with ethics and philosophy. Greek and Roman authors such as Epictetus, Seneca, Aristotle, and Marcus Aurelius are really good at explaining and answering the big questions. More importantly, they all give the "how" and the specifics that need to be done in order to improve your life.

I especially like Epictetus's idea on how to change one's habits. He states that if one wants to make a change in his life, he must realize to eliminate all past opinions and impressions. When one has a fresh mind that is open to new ideas, change can be made. Also, he explains that each time one makes a bad habit, a mental cut is made in one's brain. That cut will continue to grow and grow, until it forms a wound. Don't let that happen, says Epictetus. Think each day in every moment the change you want to make. The time is now, not tomorrow.


There are 2 main pitfalls with self-help books:

1. they just give you generalized info with nothing concrete on how to implement it day to day.

2. they are like taking vitamins: it only helps if you are deficient in that specific area. And over consumption is downright harmful.

The only fix I've found for #1 is "The Slight Edge". While it's overly verbose etcs, the main takeaways are important:

* small choices matter and they add up.

* it's easy to make the right choice, but it's easier to make the wrong choice.

The only fix for #2 is having goals and tracking how well each philosophy works for you based on that goal framework (but that's a hard thing in itself).




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