Everywhere we look we are told we can be a better person, wiser, stronger, thinner, more independent, richer etc. The list is endless. Bookstores are filled self-help books and they are major best-sellers. There is definitely a target audience for these books — otherwise they wouldn’t do so well.
Self-help seems to be trending.
Is self help just a trend then?
The idea that we are flawed in some way, might not be very appealing and not everybody is easily convinced that they need to transform into a ‘better self’.
“You’re already okay’, it’s like, ‘No, you’re not!”
Jordan Peterson in one of his many You Tube videos,entitled, ‘Why the idea of “Just Accept Yourself!” is Nihilistic and Insane”, says;
“I think that is an insane idea by the way. Really, I can’t think of more Nihilistic idea than that, ‘You’re already okay’, it’s like, ‘No, you’re not!’ And the reason you are not is because you could be way more than you are!”
So what do you want to be? Do you want to be okay as you are or do you want to strive toward what is better?”
He makes a good point, but he does kind of go a bit over the top there.
Some people actually might just be fine the way they are. (Most often it is the ones telling us we are not :))
We all have flaws, but can we ever become flawless? Is that what we are striving towards here? Or just better? Even if only a tad.
Take houses, for example.
We can rip out the kitchen out and put in a new one with the latest induction cooking surface — you know those stupid ones that need special pans and keep going off!! I hate those!
We can take a simple basic bathroom shower unit out and install a led intelligent digital display rain shower.
Even if we don’t need one.
Well why not? If we can change something for the better, we should change it.
“So, when do we stop with the home improvements?”
I know a lady that constantly makes alterations on her home. Recently she changed all the inside doors to glass doors. Why? The old ones were fine! According to her friends she is constantly changing her house, buying new furniture, re-planning the garden…it is a never ending chore.
It makes me wonder.
Is it really the house she wants to change?
Is the psychological dream reference, of our houses being our mind, creeping into our daytime activities? By changing our house are we somehow trying to change ourselves?
By changing our house, in a way we can change ourselves. It is like changing the way we dress. If you turn up for an interview in a suit — you are more likely to get the job than if you turn up in a hoody and trainers.
So, when do we stop with the home improvements?
I suppose it depends on the condition of the house to start with. If it is run down and the doors are hanging off, maybe it does need a bit of work. It might seem like home and the aesthetics not too important to some. As long as it has a roof and windows, a place to put a bed, a kitchen— but it is nice to have a nice looking house.
To be house-proud.
If an improvement is evident, then we have done something worthwhile, all those builders, the dust and the drilling has finally paid off. If it seems like there is no more need for improvement then maybe we have reached the limit.
But it still needs to be maintained.
Self-improvement also involves a lot of building — the tearing down of the old and the reconstruction of the new. All that hammering and drilling can make for a rather disruptive and dusty time.
In the mind that is.
But when the dust settles you can see if it was worth it. You can clean up the left over mess and see what the final product looks like. It doesn’t stop there either — you have to maintain it.
I often look at these well turned out women, with their nice clothes and make-up. They work hard at that. I admire them. They are willing to do that maintenance every day, they are respected for it too.
If I read a self help book will I change?
It is not just reading a book that promotes change, it is applying what you read. I feel that some people just read self help books for the sake of it, without really learning anything. Simply because it is ‘trending’. They just want to say, ‘Hey I read 12 Rules for Life? Amazing book!’
But did they learn anything from it?
Others instinctively know ‘how to be’ — I hate those people!
Some need help but won’t seek it, no matter how many books you throw at them. Change has to come from within and you have to want to do it.
I used to drink coffee with a friend in the mornings and she was into self help books. She read a lot more than I and we would often discuss what she was reading. Sometimes I would be staring into space stirring my coffee and suddenly utter something profound about life, how I see it, and she would curse me.
“I had to read three chapters of this book to get that!!!”
We would laugh about it.
These kinds of books just to tend to confirm what we already know but don’t put into practice. We all know that change is possible, but it needs work and commitment — that means sacrificing one thing or other and coming out of our comfort zone. It could envolve stirring up emotions we don’t want to feel. It could also mean, taking memories we had hidden away in a filing cabinet deep in our minds with no intent to look upon ever again, and looking them in the eye and putting them through the shredder!
In the end it will be worth it. Anything that improves us is not a bad thing and yes, we could all do with improving, not one of us is perfect. We might like to think we are the most attractive, the smartest etc and that can be a great motivator. If that is positive for you and those around you, you can keep it up!
Because if you feel you aren’t then you might want to give up and throw your arms up in the air and say, “Why bother!?”
So why should we bother?
We should bother because we owe it to those around us to be the best we can— we owe it to our parents, to our children, our friends and even the people we are yet to meet. When we are at our best we bring the best out in others and that, I feel, is the reason we are all here.