2022 has been an interesting year. Suddenly there has been a deluge of self-help content all over social media. Life Hack this, productivity that etc etc. I mean it’s literally in your face now and you just can’t escape it. (I've been responsible for this a bit as well )
I loved the initial phase of this wave. It created a lot of meaningful conversations and definitely helped a lot of people in India. Especially because India never had a self-help industry as such. This happens to be like a multi-billion-dollar industry in the US though.
Over the last 100 years, America has spearheaded the self-help movement. What we see on Instagram is not even the tip of the iceberg of what America has done with self-help. I mean think of it – Dale Carnegie's book is still the number 1 best-seller in India, and the dude wrote that book over 80 years ago.
And just like the ever-growing capitalistic society in the US, self-help has become a business and an algorithm-driven all-you-can-eat buffet on the internet.
Now, please don’t get me wrong, bro. There’s nothing wrong with any self-help content. Because we all desire to become better versions of ourselves. And self-help books are meant for that.
But the fundamental of every self-help book seems to be the same.
It’s like how our parents viewed the solution to every problem in our lives – GET UP EARLY AND EVERYTHING WILL BECOME FINE
Basically - one size should fit all.
If someone has chronic depression and you’re going to tell them that they need to meditate or get out, then it's going to create more problems than solve them.
The summary of most self-help books in the world seems to be as follows :
-To find happiness, you need to practise gratitude.
-To find peace, you need to stop trying to control, anything or anyone.
-To find purpose, you need to find something that you’ll do even for free because you love doing it so much.
-To find meaning, you need to give back. Service and helping others is the best way to bring meaning to your life.
-The best way to overcome fear is to be aware of your mortality.
- To increase your productivity, you need to develop habits.
- To find motivation, you need to just get started.
- Don’t give a fuck about anyone or anything.
Now I’m trying to be brutally honest here. Let's take the first one - Practise gratitude to find happiness, they say. While this is very easy to do at the conscious level but super hard to do at the subconscious level. Our conditioning makes it harder to acknowledge our achievements and since we were constantly compared, we always look at what we don’t have rather than be thankful for what we have.
Then they say to find peace, you need to stop controlling anyone or anything. If you’ve ever had anxiety, you know this is impossible. The very core of anxiety stems from the fact that you’re not in control. And how to let go of control when your entire life has been about control.
I like how easily Mark Manson says we should learn the subtle art of not giving a fuck. It's not easy to stop giving a fuck. Maybe we may pretend to not give a fuck but deep down, we do. Like a lot.
Oh, and don’t even get me started about purpose. Finding your purpose is literally trivialised to finding a tazo in a pack of lays chips. If it were that easy to do won’t the entire world be living their best life ever?
Now you must be thinking this guy has just been ranting on and on about self-help books and content like he’s some baby Sadhguru. What really is the solution then?
Well, there is a solution. It’s called The Greatest Self-Help Book Ever. And guess what it is? It’s your own life story. There’s no better self-help book than your own life journey. The thing about this book is it's your journey and no one except you will read it. So, it’s brutally honest. Stripped of all the unwanted conditioning.
The ultimate self-help content is getting to know more about yourself by constantly writing things down about yourself. Let me give you an example. You must have come across numerous motivational content asking you to find your passion or to just get started.
Did it help? Maybe for 5 minutes, yes but then the procrastination usually sets in. But things change dramatically if you refer to The Greatest Self-Help Book Ever. Here you are constantly writing stuff about yourself. Like real honest stuff. And while re-reading what you’ve written you realise that hey you really like watching movies. You watch every movie and every show with the enthusiasm of a kid in a candy store. Watching movies seems to be written all over your book.
And also you’ve figured out patterns while watching these movies. You can break down the story, the script, and the shooting style. You can start writing your own movie or even give writing a screenplay a shot. And with the number of movies, videos, and web shows that are being made you can have a legit shot at making this your career. Or maybe even a critic, content creator or even apply to Netflix.
Now you don’t need some self-help book or some motivational video to tell you to get started. You've found your inspiration. Because now you’re using The Greatest Self-Help Book Ever.
Let’s take another example - let’s say you procrastinate a lot. Now, this is the antithesis of every self-help book, right? Stop procrastinating, develop strong habits and become productive af.
But let’s refer to your book now. What if you’ve written procrastinating actually makes you more creative? What if you come up with your best ideas when you do nothing and have the most original of thoughts?
In 1503 an artist decided to make a painting. But he just couldn’t get it right. So he procrastinated and procrastinated. He realised his best ideas came when he didn’t work on the painting. He finally took those ideas and decided to finish the painting. But it took 16 years. Imagine - 16 fucking years to finish one painting. That’s a lot of procrastination.
That painting was called the Mona Lisa and the artist was Leonardo Da Vinci.
So how do you even go about writing this book of yours? Well, firstly please remember this book is not for anyone except you. No one except you is going to read the book. So, it's not about the language, grammar, style or any of that bullshit. It’s just about writing down every honest thought you have.
Now each day start filling in the blank pages. It can be totally random. Like today I felt this, or today I realised that etc etc. There's no format. It’s just a bunch of thoughts on paper. As you keep writing this book you’ll learn to better jot down your thoughts. And every month give it a read and you’ll be surprised. Trust me you’ll be fucking surprised.
I’ll give you a start for this book. Start by writing down your belief systems.
Initially, most of the stuff you write will be based on your conditioning. For example, you may write your belief system as I love entrepreneurship or I want to be my own boss etc.
But as your keep writing over the following weeks, the book will start getting more honest and authentic. Now you may actually write that your belief systems are - you hate uncertainty, you hate instability, you hate rejection.
Now when you read your own book you’ll realise “I probably don’t want to be an entrepreneur at all because being an entrepreneur doesn’t exactly match up with my honest belief systems” or it could be the exact opposite.
Once you start writing your book, then the actual self-help books become really interesting. Now when you’re in the self-help buffet you know exactly what works for you and what doesn’t and that’s when they actually help.
The Greatest Self-Help Book is the greatest ever because it’s about you. The real you. Your true wants and your honest thoughts. And the best part - the book has no ending because you’ll keep writing it till you die. But I promise you that it’s going to be the greatest book you’ll ever need :)