“There’s always room for one more self-help book” said every publisher ever. On the other hand, there are too many books and not enough time to read them all (especially if you read self-help books). Having never read one, I was interested in what all the fuss is about then I saw Forbes’ article on the core tenets of the genre.
Save yourself some time and check out this short list of seven things to think about.
7. Human needs: Accept your inherent irrationality and learn to fight it.
Human beings are neither robots nor computers – and as it turns out, we’re not even all that rational. Many great self-help books put forth the idea of a divided inner self: In Carrots and Sticks, they’re Homer Simpson and Mr. Spock. In Predictably Irrational, it’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The inner elephant and its rider represent the two selves in Switch, and in Thinking, Fast and Slow, the scientific terms System 1 and System 2 are used. While your rational side might be able to make a decision about what’s best for you, such as quitting cigarettes, eating healthier, or abstaining from social media, the impetuous irrational self who favors short-term gratification – smokes, booze, and endless hours on facebook – can derail you. To combat your inner Homer, set up disincentives for irrational behavior. The example that Carrots and Sticks offers is the following: if you promise to give 1,000 dollars to Scientology for every cigarette you smoke, you give Mr. Spock (Rational System 2), far more power than if the only motivation is a fleeting New Year’s resolution.