What certainty do we have that self-help books work? I have been flipping through one such book called ‘Awaken the Giant Within’ by Anthony Robbins. It’s a fairly taxing read, and contrary to the author’s intentions could be the death of me if I manage to read it all to the end. The edition I have is old and has a large photograph of Anthony in his younger days… posed, pulling the biggest and cheesiest of smiles. It is the kind of smile that just smacks of ‘hey look at me… I’ve made it’. I interpret it automatically and say to myself: ‘for sure I certainly haven’t’. Within the first few pages he describes how his life changed from feeling locked into a depressed state to being surrounded by good health and riches; having used the methods he writes about in his book. He describes how he flies around in a helicopter, presenting back to back workshops, seminars and coaching sessions, earning enough money to do what he wishes with opulence and style. And hopefully, I add, as if I could redress the imbalance, paying his fair share of tax. It’s a grand vision, and if everyone who reads his book were able to follow his advice it would be fair to presume that this successful and rich lifestyle is well within anyone’s reach. But how many of us who take an interest in self-help books actually start flying around with perfect teeth earning a shed load? Not many I guess, which I suppose is why I enjoyed reading a review by Bony Bobbins on Tony’s 512 page book . He writes fairly scathingly and distils the book’s wisdom into four well meaning messages:
1) Make more decisions
2) Feel good about yourself
3) Don’t do things in the short term that will cause you pain in the long term
4) Reward yourself when you do something good.
Simple… but how often do we follow this advice? It is, after all, common sense. But don’t we too often complain among ourselves that we rarely see common sense being applied? So whether we believe self help books work or not, if all they do is help to guide some of us to see the benefit of thinking a bit more and using a bit more common sense that’s a good thing isn’t it?
One quote that Tony uses fairly early on in this edition is: “It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our belief as to what those events mean’ . This got me thinking and pondering on a recent turn of events. What do I want to believe about the fact that I have now sold one book. If what Benjamin Franklin says is true, that the ‘only certainly in life is death and taxes’, then common sense tells me that I can believe anything I want. I have a choice, and as Tony advocates, therefore a decision to make. Do I want to focus my attention on being kind to myself or not? Do I want to orient my thinking so that I feel motivated or deflated?
If you were me, what meaning would you attach to this event?
[Find out more about “Alice Wakes Up”: a work of fiction with a unique self-help theme HERE]
Photo by Robert Bahn