Recently I was pressed by a well meaning person to check out a ‘must read’, best selling self help book.
I wasted decades of my life (and a considerable amount of my pay cheques) on self help books and gurus and I have said it many times before, they did not help me one iota.
Looking inward is constrictive. It is like curling up in the fetal position. It’s being a frightened porcupine, an armadillo, or even one of those woolly caterpillars curled up in itself. With your head tucked between your knees you aren’t going to see anything, save maybe, lint on your trousers.
The problem, and the answer, is not inside of you.
Look outward first, and then try some introspection on what you have seen and heard and experienced. Reflect on experiences. Learn from them.
Looking outward is expansive. It is eye opening. It is mind blowing.
Spend your money and time on experiences. Do things. Ask questions about things and people. Listen to and think about the answers. Take your nose out of self help books and your navel, get out of your living room and comfort zone and go outside!
And when you are inside, go to the learning capital of the world. The LIBRARY.
No, not the internet. The LIBRARY. A brick and mortar building. Introduce yourself to hold in your hands books, real paper and cardboard, things that make your wrists ache and your head spin. Nothing beats a book in your hands – not a self help book, but a book that is going to make you see the world.
Read about things you know nothing about. Read biographies. History. Science.
Try these on for size: The Lost Pianos of Siberia. Bono’s biography Surrender. Michelle Obama’s Becoming. Bob Stanley’s Let’s Do It. There are great fiction stories too, check out Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, The Day of the Jackal, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
And please, don’t insist I read any more self help books – especially if you think I need it.