I can’t remember the last time I finished a self-help or improvement before 2016. I was hooked on YA fiction and fantasy books, for the most part. But I decided to have a taste of these books, and I have come to a conclusion, which I’ll show you in this mini-review of my take on self-help books in general 🙂

For starters, what are self-help books? These are books that provide the ‘key’ to the motivation and inspiration to find what you’re lacking, e.g. happiness, productivity, money, etc. They can be biographical (personal) – tips and examples are taken from the author’s own experiences, or more general – examples can be taken from relatable individuals, people of higher position, icons, etc.

What kind of self-help books did I read? I read around 9 non-fiction books which I think can be classified as self-help. I read 2 of them to get in the mindset of an entrepreneur/businessman, and I read the other books hoping to increase my productivity, particularly in regards to managing my time and creating my daily routines.

How did reading them help me? Several of them, including are all books I genuinely and highly recommend to you. They offered me insights that enable me to see the world with fresher eyes. Let me be a bit more specific:

  • How to Win Friends & Influence People: It contains thorough and proven research on how our relations and connections work. It is then up to you, the reader, to use this information to improve or deceive those in your social realm. I loved this book for the psychological analysis behind people, and for the knowledge it gave me in regards of icons that have succeeded.
  • The Miracle Morning: A productivity-driven book, the author details on how one can make the most of his morning (and day) by actively accomplishing a series of activities that will hopefully lead you to a better life. It has not done the latter yet for me, but it has enabled me to become so much more conscious of what I do in the mornings.
  • The Power of Habit: Based on thrilling scientific research and examples, this is a psychological book that analyses where human behaviors come from, such as addictions and habits. This was very eye-opening to read.
  • The Gift of Fear: Particularly addressed to women, this book is a form guide to help us become more cautious about suspicious behavior. But more than that, it offers explanations to the seemingly irrational actions that people do (e.g. murdering someone) in the face of fear or attention.
  • Roadmap: If you ever feel like you lost your sense of direction in life, this book is your starter kit.

How did reading them not help me? The books that I mentioned above were all helpful in their own ways. They were about connections, morning productivity, habits, understanding fear, and a guide to life. They are all self-help books, but they are all different. My mistake was that I tried to read too much into productivity, right after I had just finished another book on… you guessed it: productivity.

The key to reading self-help books is to read one, sleep on it, and take action, instead of burying your head and soul into another book with the same topic and purpose. I tried doing that because it gave me a false sense of fulfillment, something that would keep me occupied from my real-life issues.

The way to reading self-help books is not to read as many as you can. These books that I just read? I think they will suffice me for quite a while.

What should you do instead of reading self-help books? Books take a while to read. Unless it’s a really good book and you are very certain that it will enlighten your life, don’t read it. You could fall into the productivity fallacy and trick yourself into believing that you’re accomplishing your dreams instead of actually doing them.

These books were written by people with probably a lifetime of experience. Some of these books will probably enrich your life to some extent; but you have to remember that books are also a business, and businesses can sometimes get greedy.

So whenever you feel in need of reading self-help to get you motivated, you can:

  • Google it. There are tons of websites such as Lifehack and Zen Habits that will most likely have an answer to your question on self-help.
  • Talk to someone. Your friend may not always have the answer you’re looking for, but the older (and wiser) people in your life will probably have some kind of experience to share with you.
  • If you *must*, read a good self-help book. But make sure that the book is specific to your interest, and, if you can, research about the author before reading the book. You’ll get an insight into the author’s background, reputation, and whether his book is worth reading for or just another one full of BS.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against reading self-help books, I’m just warning you to not indulge in them too much. It’s easy to fall in them when you’re desperate to improve a particular area in your life.


What’s your take on self-help books?

 

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