Self-Help Books: Lies or Lifesavers?
Mention the phrase "self-help book" to a random passerby on the street, and you'll probably get a groan, a strange look, or even a laugh. Over the years, self-help books have been branded by an often-false label; as worthless, new-age books promising a better life in "JUST FIVE DAYS!". In truth, not every self-help book on the shelf is packed with lies. Some actually offer helpful suggestions for raising your quality of life and learning to be happy in a given situation.
The best example I can give is Og Mandinos A Better Way to Live. Don't let the title deceive you into thinking this book is a load of falsehoods. Within the book, you'll find 17 guidelines that may help improve your lifestyle. The author suggests trying to follow just one as closely as possible a day. When 17 days are up, you go back and start again. Over time, the "rules" all blend together and you find yourself following them by habit. Tips like "Whenever you makea mistake or get knocked down by life, don't look back at it too long" and "You will achieve your grand dream, a day at a time, so set goals for each day- not long and difficult projects, but chores that will take you, step by step, toward your rainbow" are just some of the suggestions he gives to becoming a more patient, happy and succesful human being.
The author himself has a self-help story to tell; he went from a broke man on the streets to a motivational speaker through his own personal drive to succeed. This isn't some rich businessman looking to make some extra money by feeding on people's needs to improve their lives. This is a man who has been in the worst possible situation and was able to use the tools he shares in his books and speeches to climb back up.
Many people may be familiar with 7 Rules for Highly Effective Teens by Stephen R. Covey. This book also shares suggestions aimed at teens for a more effective, happier lifestyle. It's a common assumption that teens are "searching for themselves" and trying to dig deeper to see just who they really are. While some teenagers may find this generalization completely untrue in their own lives, others really are trying to figure out where they want to be in life. For those, self-help books like 7 Habits... could be extremely useful in determining their path or just helping them get more organized.
Loko at yourself in the mirror, and ask yourself if there are areas in your life you wish you could improve on. Few people wouldn't be able to come up with an answer. For the majority of us, we can find weakness in our work or social habits, our organizational skills, our ability to forgive or loosen up or just enjoy a cloudless day. And for these aspects of our personality that are less-than-perfect, self-help books are here to teach us how to work on those. Find one that meets your specific needs. Read about the author. Does he have a main profession in motivational speaking, psychology, or any other trustworthy career? You're very likely to find a book that won't scream "LIES!" and will genuinely help you. So take a deep breath, and pick that book off the shelf. You may surprised on how you've changed once you're finished.
If you do put this article in your zine, I ask that my website be printed along with it, if that's all right.