Thousands of motivational speakers and self-help books have popped up. Some are mind melting while others are repetitions. While motivational speakers are enjoying status of celebrities, some people consider them to be more of illusionists.
I have been into self-help and reading such books and videos for quite a long time now. Humbly saying, I partially disagree with the statement that motivational self-help content is like drugs. For that, I have to base my opinion on couple of good books that I stumbled across which gave me some interesting insights.
The most important and oft-quoted self-help book is ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People‘ by Stephen R. Covey. This is a complete in-depth analysis of how human mind works and how 7 habits are opted by effective people. When I hear people saying that self-help is trash, I do recall something from this book to debunk this.
For instance, you might be struggling with increasing your productivity. Now, you are not aware of what a reactive and pro-active response is. After reading this book, one can get information about how to switch yourself from reactive mode to pro-active mode. In simple terms, reactive mode makes us lazy, abrupt, away from action while the pro-active mind helps us get to the solutions and execute our plans. This simple mindset shift has helped me all along. Whenever, I come across any difficult problem or challenge, I tell myself that I have to be pro-active instead of reactive.
Let’s move on to another self-help book which is ‘The 5 am Club‘ by Robin Sharma. The author is well known for his story-telling style and makes his book a page turner. Although many readers find motivational talks total crap, I loved a quote from this book which I can recall any day. The quote has helped me get rid of distractions.
Let’s read the quote:
An addiction to distraction is the end of your creative production.
The quote has helped me put off my phone while I am involved with writing something or brainstorming any idea. Even if I consider the book to be a total waste, this single quote has helped me realize to set my direction and to boost my creativity; nonetheless, the book is great besides this quote as well.
Let’s talk about another book which is ‘Atomic Habits‘ by James Clear. While many people can say that we are in complete control of our habits and we don’t need any self-help book, I would humbly disagree.
I believe that we develop a certain set of habits and then the habits develop us. In order to live a good, balanced life, we should not let habits develop us, especially the bad ones. Getting back to the point, this book taught me how to develop good habits. For instance, James Clear told me that by making our environment easy, adoption of habits becomes easier. You want to do workout daily, pick a gym which is on the route to your work instead of a few kilometers away from your route.
Let’s move on to ‘A New Earth‘ which is a book by Eckhart Tolle. One of the chapters highlighted how ego is our enemy and how ego is at the heart of ME, MINE and MYSELF stories when we boast off (I have also used “I” in this article for revealing it to be a personal experience). After having read the book, I avoid letting ego drive me and my decisions. Sometimes, I am successful while sometimes not.
Another book by Eckhart Tolle, ‘The Power of Now‘ told me that we are in control of our time and lives and there is a psychological time and a clock time. I was not introduced to the concept of time in this perspective before reading this book.
Let’s talk about Simon Sinek’s book ‘Start with why‘ which told me that the purpose behind our actions matters more than the actual action and how that action is taken.
Sinek told us why Apple is the leading brand and how ‘why’ is at the centre of whatever Tim Cook’s company did. Quoting examples, Sinek told us that the purpose is bigger than the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of our actions.
And I must quote ‘Thinking Fast and Slow‘ by Daniel Kahneman. This book taught me that abrupt snap judgments are not always right and mathematical calculations still are better. Although we think our gut is telling us the truth. It taught me that before uttering an answer, it is better to let your ‘slow thinking’ think for a while.
Self-help is not crap, a single better day is best
I would conclude this by sharing that it is the perspective which matters the most. We should not read self-help books with the motive of becoming successful or rich overnight. The self-help books do direct us to a path which can lead us to a more prosperous or contented life.
Even if you are able to grasp one line out of the book and apply it to your lives, your life can be changed. By not reading the book, your life would not change. Entertainment is important and we should read fiction as well. However, self-help books should be read with a mindset that we might get a single line or idea. Then this idea can help us live a better life.
Even if these one liners don’t stay effective after a month, we should be thankful that at least these one liners moved us for few weeks. If you are procrastinating about doing an activity and a self-help book mobilizes you to do that activity with a sudden rush, that is also a success.
So, count the success in terms of small increments. If any self-help book changes you for a day, that day is better than yesterday; so the book is better to be read than not to be read at all.
If you are still skeptical about self-help, do give a read to any of the book. Read them without any prejudice and think whether you can extract a single one-liner from the self-help book. If you do that and it can make a month or a day or even an hour of you, effective, I am sure, your perspective would change.
Simon Sinek told us that it is more important to know ‘why’ we are doing something, instead of ‘what’ and ‘how’ we are doing something, be that a business or a relationship or any other activity. After having read the book, I am more concerned about the ‘why’ of this blog ‘StreetGrand‘ now.