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The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

Help yourself by ignoring self-help books

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During the summer I became invested in self-help books, learning about mental self-improvement and growth, picking up habits successful people have and other minuscule tasks that can be useful or everyday life. Often times, however, self-help authors put anecdotal advice in their books in hopes of increasing the word count and making the advice seem more effective than it actually is. 

Books such as 7 Effective Habits of Highly Effective People, How to Win Friends and The Four Hour Work Week are both popular books that measure how much people are actually willing to change their lifestyles.

I took away the most advice from was A Boy Should Know How to Tie a Tie by screenwriter and author Antwone Fisher, reflects his childhood memories of frequently lacking a father figure. Fischer then supplements those stories with advice every boy ought to know before transitioning into manhood. It’s simple, niche advice: how to shave your face, how to apply for a job and interview with confidence, how to go on your first date. They were shallow tips with superficial benefits.

Even though I finished the book in about a week, I took away very little information that I didn’t already know. And while it may be because I’ve passed through the ages of adolescence where this would be useful, Fischer wasn’t able to make the book captivating enough to retain my interest.

The problem with many self-help books is they sell you the information you already know. You know that in order to become slimmer, you need to eat healthier and exercise more. In order to maintain a healthy mental state, you need to meditate.

Throughout his writing, Fisher would occasionally go on obscure rants that stray away from the main point of the book. 

“You need to wash your face before you shave and use a warm towel on your face after to remedy the razor that just cut through your face,” Fischer writes. “Your belt needs to match the color of your dress shoes in a formal setting.” 

While this is all valuable information, it’s also common sense for most people. 

If you took a second to reconsider what you just read in a self-help book, you’d realize that everything the book said just reinforced what is already though by the reader. 

There’s nothing wrong with advice, even if you already know it; however, one needs to actually apply that advice to his or her life for there to be any utility or long-term impact. Finishing a self-help book is like taking on a New Years’ resolution; at the beginning of the year, you’re ecstatic to improve your life, but four days in, you begin to understand that the changes you’ve made take up too much time and energy and stop, deeming the time you spent preparing to change your life useless.

After I finished 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I was excited to become successful with my seven recently acquired habit. But after a week, I forgot what the seven habits are. Author Steven Covey narrowed the tips down to keyword so readers could remember each one, but I am only able to recall being proactive and synergizing off the top of my head, and I can’t even tell you what those words mean.

Self-help books often trick readers by using fancy acronyms and intricate gimmicks, readers will interpret self-help books as some sort of newfound information. In the future, however, use common sense effectively and stay away from the self-help book.

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