“Self help” is a peculiar book category. I don’t love it nor do I hate it. But I’m kind of feeling “eh” with it. Because I know the TRUTH of a self help book. And at the same time I know I’ll contradict myself at one point and love it. It’s popular though right now. Why?
I’m glad you asked.
It’s popular by default. By the state of our minds juxtaposing from being happy or sad. A majority of the self help industry, well at least, the books that try to pull a fast one by writing “this book will make you a millionaire” by Fred Graham the self made man. There’s a lot selfishness in the name self help category. I mean. I get the notion of SELF and know thyself. But back to the point.
Gosh I hate ADHD sometimes.
So what I have experienced from reading these books is that some of it is GARBAGE ADVICE and Egotistical.
So who are they helping? Themselves? There! It’s in the title.
Code Cracked. The point of writing the self help book is to, help the self. WHEN YOU FLIP IT FOR SOME REASON it Makes sense…..?
With this in mind… what are we truly trying to do as self helpauthors..?
WARNING: The following may just help me and me only by writing about this. If you truly want help. You may need to be selfish and talk about it or write about yourself. Hell, I don’t even care if you steal my writing. (On this post only) to feel better. Everything else I have copywriting laws and it just wouldn’t go so well for you.
Nevertheless- each and every one of us here will face two problems in our lives. Which sucks. Because it’s very addictive. But we are creatures of habit, particularly when we’re young, spend a shit ton of time and energy pursuing the pleasures of sex, money, social status. And as we keep doing it. We become creaturescreatures of habit. So we invest a lot of energy trying to avoid pain and unpleasantness.
For most people, not saying ALL, but this is what some self helper followers mean when they talk about the “pursuit of happiness.” The pleasures never last and sooner or later, as we get older, we’re all going to experience the pain and unpleasantness of ill health and ageing. It’s just a fact of life.
So that’s our first problem, and I’m sure none of this is news to you.
The second problem is much more surprising and counterintuitive, but is just as important. The second problem is that we think way too much. Every second that we’re awake, our lives are dominated by what’s going through our minds.
You may be wondering, Logan. You’re not making sense. I mean- is thinking a real problem? After all, the sheer fact that to plan ahead, to have forward thinking and time-travel in the virtual reality of our minds has given us solid benefits as a species.
It has given us arts which lead to medicine, technology, science, and more technology. The problem is that we can’t seem to stop thinking. Well is this a problem or a benefit to who we are as a species?
It is when you’re anxious.
It is when you’re out with friends trying to converse with a stranger.
It is when you’re trying to do a speech and you lose your train of thought because your mind goes “oh! New shiny red ball.”
Or when you’re trying to pick your career and you go “oh! I want to be on the cover of muscle and fitness!” While you’re studying to be a clothing designer.
We have become addicted to new thoughts and ideas. For much of our lives thought is our master and not our servant.
And it’s making us miserable, as psychologists are now beginning to show.
A few years ago two Harvard psychologists, Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert, created an iPhone app called Track Your Happiness. The app randomly interrupted users throughout the day to ask them questions such as “What are you doing right now?” “Are you thinking about something other than what you’re doing?” and “How are you feeling right now?”
Pretty Eagle Eye and a little Big Brotherly if you ask me. But hey, it’s for research so it’s cool. Right?
What the app revealed was pretty insane in the membrane. It showed that we invest up to 50% of our conscious lives thinking about something other than what we’re actually doing, regardless of the nature of the activity.
Hmmmm so do any of us really have ADHD?
i mean we spend almost eight hours a day thinking about something other than the activity at hand. But! Yes, there’s a but. There will always be a butt. (Pun very much intended.)
The only exception to this rule appeared to be sex, which nonetheless came in at a slightly worrying 10% of the time…
Secondly, the app showed that people were less happy when their minds were wandering than when they were focused on a particular activity.
Dammit I can’t have ADHD and be happy. (I’m here to tell you, yes you can but this research is making it harder.)
The material of their thoughts had more impact on their happiness than what they were doing. This may be because, as we all know only too well, when our minds wander we’re more apt to worry about the future and distress about the past.
These are the raw contents of anxiety and depression. In fact, psychologists have identified a habit that to worry and ponder whenever there’s a curve in our mood as a major risk factor for depression. They call it cognitive reactivity.
I know it’s pretty crazy. And it doesn’t end there.
The very reason those that have ADHD are more prone to being unhappy is because this perpetual thinking about problems and difficult emotions will somehow improve our chances of finding a solution, whereas it can actually make things worse and leads us to a whole lot more suffering.
So that’s the second problem. Too much thinking. About the wrong things. At the wrong times.
Ideally thought should be used as required like any tool – like a hammer, or a chisel, or a mobile phone for that matter. Used appropriately and then laid aside. Of course it’s easier said than done.
So our marvellous, virtual-reality minds, despite all their evolutionary advantages, aren’t super incredible at making us happy. In truth, evolution doesn’t care very much whether we’re happy or not. It’s only concerned with survival, resources, reproductive success…
The two Harvard psychologists who conducted the study with the iPhone app, in an article in the journal Science in which they published their results, concluded with these words: “A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”
References: Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert
And always remember if it itches. Scratch it.
Comment below and let me know how you’re helping yourself by writing yourself some help