Self-help books can become bestsellers, but do they actually work?
The self-help book market is worth over $10 billion dollars per year in the USA alone with twice as many books sold in 2019 than just 7 years earlier. With an ever-growing flock of followers who want clear answers to their questions, clear solutions to their problems and clear paths to follow along the road to a happy and successful life.
Psychologists, life coaches, gurus, and authors are filling up conference rooms, bookstores, social media platforms with their contents. Consumers of self-help materials are all looking for the same thing, the secret to a happy, healthy and prosperous life.
The most successful self-help books of all time are:
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Over 80 million copies sold.
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Over 65 million copies sold.
- You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. Over 50 million copies sold.
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kyosaki. Over 25 million copies sold.
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. Over 25 million copies sold.
Do self-help books help? Looking at those figures, the answer seems to be a definite yes. But despite those compelling sales figures, some people find the effectiveness of self-help books debatable. Personally, I find them very useful; but I am totally biased on this subject-matter not only because self-help books are my favorite genre as a reader, but I am also the author of a self-help book titled This is Your Quest. Your Mission: To Experience Happiness Along the Way.
Let’s look at both sides of the argument and see where this leads us.
Are self-help books a waste of time and money?
The main argument against self-help books is that they don’t work. Some people argue that reading self-help books is like taking drugs; it makes you feel good for a little while but that feel-good factor doesn’t last very long. Initially, people will enjoy reading those books because they get lost in a sea of wisdom, advice, suggestions, new habits, new affirmations, but once they have ingurgitated all that advice and new-found wisdom life resumes its normal course and soon they get lost in a sea of daily grind and forget about all those new habits they swore by a week ago.
It is true that knowing without doing is like not knowing at all, and from this angle I tend to agree with the argument that self-help books don’t work. Most of the advice that is given in those books make perfect sense, but unless the reader decides to apply those advice consistently and diligently, reading those books will not change their lives one inch. Unfortunately, a large majority of people fall trap to this behavior.
It is common knowledge that to lead a healthy life you need to eat healthy, exercise, practice your daily affirmations by thinking positive, be mindful and present in the moment, get in touch with your inner-child, love yourself, and practice the art of being grateful. That is about it really. But If everyone already knows all of that why do you need a book to tell you those things that you already know? It is a fair point.
So, why are people still reading those books? It is much easier to keep yourself in a state of preparedness by reading those books, taking notes and visualizing the amazing result you will get at the end, than actually doing the deed. Reciting positive affirmations every morning will not change your life if you are not following up with an action plan. You have to be more intentional in your approach to self-help.
I am of the opinion that one size doesn’t fit all. We are all different, we all have different issues, different perspectives, different circumstances. I believe that it is not a waste of time and money to read self-help books, because you can learn from the successes and mistakes of others without having to make those same mistakes, giving you a huge advantage. However, at the end of the day, it is up to you to find the answer that applies to your own circumstances; after you have read those self-help books, you will operate from a more informed vantage point, having gained some knowledge, wisdom and clarity in the process. Nobody else can be happy for you, you have to figure it out yourself.
The types of people who read self-help books
There are two types of people who read self-help books.
- People who are going through personal, financial or emotional crisis, those who have suffered from traumas, or those who feel unfulfilled and very dissatisfied with their current situation. Their expectation is that reading those self-help books will increase their happiness level from bad to good.
- People who haven’t got any major issues with their life, they are curious, they have an open-mind, they want to improve and learn how to be the best version of themselves, they want to turn their life around and increase their happiness level from good to great and for the best students their expectation is to turn their happiness level from great to awesome.
We are constantly in the process of creating ourselves. Reading self-help books is a commitment to yourself; when the person is ready for action, self-help books can be part of a genuine life transformation. For the skeptics, they can also lay the foundations for the change that could happen in the future. The idea is to plant that seed, it will take some time to germinate but eventually it will grow slowly but surely. It is just a matter of time.
“We cannot force someone to hear a message they are not ready to receive, but we must never underestimate the power of planting a seed.’“Unknown Author
There are many reasons why you should try to develop yourself
Whatever your personal circumstances, there are many reasons why you should read self-help books.
- Expand your horizon. You don’t know everything, and you haven’t done everything. There is so much that you don’t know and haven’t experienced yet. People tend to live within the comfort of their own echo chamber, doing the things that are familiar to them, connecting with people they know, reading the books that everybody else is reading. There is nothing wrong with living within your comfort zone, but there is so much more out there. Have an explorer mindset, go and explore the world. This might sound like a big feat, but you don’t even have to leave your house; books can take you anywhere you want to go. Explorers have the ability to leave comfort and certainty behind them. They are in a continual search of new ideas and new ways of thinking.
- Build your knowledge. One of the main benefits of reading self-help books is that you learn loads. The Quest for knowledge and clarity is an endless pursuit. The destination is unknown. It is all about the journey. When things get tough and confusing it’s best to stop rest, reflect, regroup, think, re-think, learn and unlearn some of the things you learned in order to decide which road to take next. Our knowledge of the world is limited, our perception of the world is groomed by the education we receive from our parents, by our culture, by the historical period we live in, by the rigidity of our mind. Have an open mind.
- Give you access to free mentorship. Reading about people’s successes and failures and what they have learned from them is an excellent short-cut to acquiring wisdom without having to experience those same mistakes yourself. Books are a way to have access to the best minds that have ever lived. Need a mentor? Read the words of your favorite authors and role models.
- Give you Inspiration and motivation. Well-chosen words can breathe hope into you when your spirit is broken and revive you when your body is weary. The right words can redeem the wrong you feel, it can redeem the feeling of hopelessness that weighs heavy on your heart and can give you flight after a hard landing.
Why you should add ‘This Is your Quest’ to your reading list.
‘If you only read the books that everyone else is reading you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”Haruki Marukami
There are a lot of wisdom and hidden truths out there that have been forgotten or hidden away. I wrote my book because I had a desire to explore the ins and out of what matters, to dig deep on subjects that affect all of us and then bring them to the surface and show its significance to all the curious souls out there who have a desire to become the best version of themselves. You will find in my book a treasure trove of insights and wisdom. Words have tremendous energy and power, they can educate, heal and illuminate the mind.
For the skeptics, I refer you to the wise words of Les Brown who pointed out: “If you want to experience a sense of fulfillment you have to have an open-mind, so that new ideas can take root. Part of having fertile ground is the ability to break up that hard crust first, because if you plant seeds there, the wind will blow them away.” My book is the tool that can help you break that crust, allowing new seeds to take root.
This Is Your Quest is the story you want to hear. Why? Because it is your story, the one that I wrote for each and every one of you. People should live the story they want to tell. Your life is your story, and your mission is to write the best story you can and have lots of adventures along the way.
We wouldn’t need books so much if we knew ourselves and the people around us better. Do you know who you are? Do you know why people do the things they do? Those two questions will dictate pretty much everything that happens in your life and turn it a pleasant experience or on the contrary an unpleasant one. That is where books come in. They explain us to ourselves and to others, and makes us feel less strange, less isolated and less alone.
The Quest for clarity is an endless pursuit. We all seek it. We all want clear answers to our questions. We all want clear solutions to our problems. We all want clear paths to follow along the road to a happy and successful life. We all want to move from a state of confusion, which brings with it a lot of suffering to a state of clarity, which brings joy and happiness.
I see my book as being a small beam of light that is shining in the distance, and I am hoping that all the curious souls out there will be drawn to it, and once they grab it will open their mind and will bring them some clarity.
This is my hope, and this is my Quest. Are you ready to go on your own Quest?
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