Do self-help books help?

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I am a real sucker for self-help books. It started at the age of 17 when I bought my first self-help book from a charity shop - How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. 

As we know they are hundreds of self-help books promising to change our lives for the better and to live the dream provided we act on their recommendations.

I have read and listened to a number of audio books on this subject, yet I am not getting most out of life and not living my dream! I think this is because I do not act on their recommendations consistently. I just moved on to the next self-help book!

These books have had some positive influence in my life, though they have not changed my life significantly. 

Through these books I know how better to cope with whatever life throws at me. It does not mean I do not feel depressed and lonely at times. It means I can better handle problems and accept them.

One thing I think about a lot has the impact of these self-help books made me a different person? I am not sure.

The last book I listened to was the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Thanks Flash for recommending this book. I wish I had read this book years ago. One of the key points of the book that struck with me is a person’s happiness is based on their relationship with people. People need people. The closer your relationship with people that matter in your life the happier you are. On reflection, this is so true. I did not even think about this before listening to this book.

Do you think self-help books are a load of garbage or are a positive influence? I would love to read your views. 


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08th Jan 2013 18:34

Maybe I should write a book.

Self help books only help the author to relieve you of your hard earned money. There is no magic formula and cannot be because “happiness” is a subjective thing which means something different to everyone.

One person might be happy having a trophy wife 20 years his junior. Others might be wracked with fears of her finding someone younger and running off.  One person might be happy having half a dozen children, whilst the thought of a house full of kids would be someone else’s idea of hell.

I’m very happy sharing my home with dogs & cats, but others would be made miserable by pet hair all over the furniture.

Strange though it might seem some people are made  happy by winning vast sums of money on the lottery, whereas others are made miserable by it.

So, if happiness means something different to everyone, how can some self appointed “expert” tell you what will make you happy and how to achieve it?

There is no magic formula to happiness, wealth, or anything else.  I’m sure there are accountants on this site who have successful practices which were built up in a whole variety of ways. Each achieved the goal of providing a good living, but each got there by different routes. I guarantee that some went in for aggressive advertising, while others grew organically by word of mouth. Some work on the “pile em high and do em cheap” philosophy, whilst others charge much more and provide “added value”.  It takes all sorts.  Some are probably smaller practices than they could be, but the owners are happy making enough to get by and prefer to keep the rest of their time for themselves.

The only way to success or happiness is to decide what your personal definition of each is, and to then follow the route that works for you. No so called “expert” can teach you that.


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08th Jan 2013 18:36

Books don't change lives, the actions you take as a result of what you learn from them does!!



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08th Jan 2013 21:14

The Anony Mouse and Stewie

Thanks. Interesting response. 

The Anony Mouse if you do write book, please let me know. I would love to read it. Even better if you have an audio version. 

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By Jimess
10th Jan 2013 14:08

Life is what you make it

I spent years reading all sorts of self help and pscychotherapy books and did some serious training in a therapeutic discipline with the aim of leaving the stressful accountancy environment and bringing peace and calm to the world working in a therapeutic capacity.  Do you know what - working as a therapist was every bit as stressful - if not more than accountancy. So these things did not really change my life, but what they did for me was help me realise that no matter how stressful your situation is now, there is someone out there going through something ten times worse, and do you know what - bad times do come to an end eventually, the trick is to learn how to ride the waves until you get through it.  For me the best book ever is H H The Dalai Lama's The Art of Happiness - it is obviously written from a Buddhist perspective, but it has a lot of very warm-hearted and SENSIBLE advice.  Following that probably Dan Millman's "The Way of The Peaceful Warrior" has a special place on my reading list.  Jonathan Livingston Seagull is of course the therapy classic about being true to yourself and not following the flock.

If you read something and it strikes a chord with you and helps you to obtain a clearer understanding of something in your life, then that is great. If something helps just one person through whatever it is that they are going through at that time, then it is a good thing for them and the book has done it's job. 

One of the best ways to feel good though is a good laugh.  It releases all those feel good chemicals from the brain and exercises the chuckle muscles.  Watch something silly - Happy Feet Two did it for me last week, but my usual chuckle therapy is Vicar of Dibley or Fawlty Towers.


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10th Jan 2013 14:20


Thanks for your response Jimess and book recommendations. I am sure audio versions would be be available. I will listen to all of them.

Cycling on a winter morning like today - really does it for me. 


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By Jimess
11th Jan 2013 09:06


Hope you enjoy them First Tab.

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