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Don’t Buy Self-Help Books With These 5 Traits

Don’t Buy Self-Help Books With These 5 Traits

Being a shy kid I always tried to fit into the realm of social consciousness and I desperately sought various self-help books to give me a hand. Initially I read crap which basically attracted me with titles like, “How to understand woman?” or “How to know that the other person loves you?” My frustration grew until I began to decipher the inherent meaning of life (my life) by reading classics and biographies that touched my heart and mind. Since then the self-help books are out of  my way, and even though they exist in heaps – trying to lure me in with their “helpful” titles, I’m immune. If you are feeling vulnerable to their promises, beware.

We all need a little help. Sometimes, we need reassurance — or a plan. Self-help books can give us the guidance we often seek. But they can also be a treasure trove of absolute horse manure. Here’s how to tell the difference.

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Do not buy a book if they claim “Personal Action” is not necessary

Self-help is such a paradoxical term. When you are seeking help from outside sources, it is supposed to be termed as help; self-help is something which you do to yourself. So whatever you read, the action has to be taken by you. If any self-help book claims it is unnecessary, simply ignore it. Nothing is possible without effort by you. To put it simply, your life is the fruit of your own doing.

Do not buy if they claim “Magic” happens

Nothing happens in a whiff of second. Behind all great achievements lies patience and perseverance. If any of the self-help books claim the above reason, simply chuck it. The mystery of life is beyond all human conception. So if someone claims something magical happens; it’s just a marketing strategy to sell the book. Nobody knows the secret but a good self-help book can unlock the potential in you to discover that penultimate secret.

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Do not buy if they are not backed up with authentic life experience

If the influence of a vital person inspires you there is no doubt about it. Sometimes the life experiences of others may guide you in conflict, but not always. When any book is based on authentic life experience, just buy it; it is precious. The wisdom of their entire life in the book helps you to gain the same wisdom by just reading it instead of living and learning by yourself.

Do not buy if they are not backed up by considerable research

“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought” said Albert Szent-Gyorgyi. People who do research are passionate to seek answers. They just want to share their passion not to sell it. So, if the book is backed up by considerable research and if that fits to your context, just buy them. There is now a fine line between real research and what’s actually full of crap. And it’s ironic that they’re all supposed to help you. Beware.

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Do not buy, if they claim themselves to be “Bestsellers”

Beware of bestsellers, each of them has different context. Consider authentic ones by your own research. Every bestseller may not be a great book but a great book is always a bestseller. The self-help world has been so intertwined with entrepreneurship that simple ideas of positivity and honesty have been tainted. Having a handful of money and hiring a good PR firm can make any book a “bestseller.” So beware of those, read reviews, if possible, before purchasing a book.

For what it’s worth, we are all human beings and nobody is perfect. It’s perfectly all right not to get caught in the realm of social consciousness. Try to seek help from self-help books but also remember, “It is in you to be or not to be.” The world is full of people who have stopped listening to themselves.

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KAMAL SUCHARAN BURRI

Founding Director, Newlight Cinemas

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

How to Cultivate Continuous Learning to Stay Competitive

Assuming the public school system didn’t crush your soul, learning is a great activity. It expands your viewpoint. It gives you new knowledge you can use to improve your life. It is important for your personal growth. Even if you discount the worldly benefits, the act of learning can be a source of enjoyment.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” — Mark Twain

But in a busy world, it can often be hard to fit in time to learn anything that isn’t essential. The only things learned are those that need to be. Everything beyond that is considered frivolous. Even those who do appreciate the practice of lifelong learning, can find it difficult to make the effort.

Here are some tips for installing the habit of continuous learning:

1. Always Have a Book

It doesn’t matter if it takes you a year or a week to read a book. Always strive to have a book that you are reading through, and take it with you so you can read it when you have time.

Just by shaving off a few minutes in-between activities in my day I can read about a book per week. That’s at least fifty each year.

2. Keep a “To-Learn” List

We all have to-do lists. These are the tasks we need to accomplish. Try to also have a “to-learn” list. On it you can write ideas for new areas of study.

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Maybe you would like to take up a new language, learn a skill or read the collective works of Shakespeare. Whatever motivates you, write it down.

3. Get More Intellectual Friends

Start spending more time with people who think. Not just people who are smart, but people who actually invest much of their time in learning new skills. Their habits will rub off on you.

Even better, they will probably share some of their knowledge with you.

4. Guided Thinking

Albert Einstein once said,

“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

Simply studying the wisdom of others isn’t enough, you have to think through ideas yourself. Spend time journaling, meditating or contemplating over ideas you have learned.

5. Put it Into Practice

Skill based learning is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on C++ isn’t the same thing as writing a program. Studying painting isn’t the same as picking up a brush.

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If your knowledge can be applied, put it into practice.

In this information age, we’re all exposed to a lot of information, it’s important to re-learn how to learn so as to put the knowledge into practice.

6. Teach Others

You learn what you teach. If you have an outlet of communicating ideas to others, you are more likely to solidify that learning.

Start a blog, mentor someone or even discuss ideas with a friend.

7. Clean Your Input

Some forms of learning are easy to digest, but often lack substance.

I make a point of regularly cleaning out my feed reader for blogs I subscribe to. Great blogs can be a powerful source of new ideas. But every few months, I realize I’m collecting posts from blogs that I am simply skimming.

Every few months, purify your input to save time and focus on what counts.

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8. Learn in Groups

Lifelong learning doesn’t mean condemning yourself to a stack of dusty textbooks. Join organizations that teach skills.

Workshops and group learning events can make educating yourself a fun, social experience.

9. Unlearn Assumptions

You can’t add water to a full cup. I always try to maintain a distance away from any idea. Too many convictions simply mean too few paths for new ideas.

Actively seek out information that contradicts your worldview.

Our minds can’t be trusted, but this is what we can do about it to be wiser.

10. Find Jobs that Encourage Learning

Pick a career that encourages continual learning. If you are in a job that doesn’t have much intellectual freedom, consider switching to one that does.

Don’t spend forty hours of your week in a job that doesn’t challenge you.

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11. Start a Project

Set out to do something you don’t know how. Forced learning in this way can be fun and challenging.

If you don’t know anything about computers, try building one. If you consider yourself a horrible artist, try a painting.

12. Follow Your Intuition

Lifelong learning is like wandering through the wilderness. You can’t be sure what to expect and there isn’t always an end goal in mind.

Letting your intuition guide you can make self-education more enjoyable. Most of our lives have been broken down to completely logical decisions, that making choices on a whim has been stamped out.

13. The Morning Fifteen

Productive people always wake up early. Use the first fifteen minutes of your morning as a period for education.

If you find yourself too groggy, you might want to wait a short time. Just don’t put it off later in the day where urgent activities will push it out of the way.

14. Reap the Rewards

Learn information you can use. Understanding the basics of programming allows me to handle projects that other people would require outside help. Meeting a situation that makes use of your educational efforts can be a source of pride.

15. Make Learning a Priority

Few external forces are going to persuade you to learn. The desire has to come from within. Once you decide you want to make lifelong learning a habit, it is up to you to make it a priority in your life.

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Featured photo credit: Paul Schafer via unsplash.com

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