There is No Formula: Why I Hate Self-Help Books

31 Mar

As a therapist and personal consumer of the wellness movement, I have read more than my fair share of self-help books. But quite frankly, the industry is saturated. “Five Steps to the Perfect Orgasm.” “Eight Ways to Solve World Hunger.” “How to Heal Everything.” “Earn Billions while Eating Bon-Bons.” 

The same solution based mentality permeates every other aspect of our culture. Join this internet dating site and the love of your life will instantaneously appear. Undergo plastic surgery and your life will be bliss. Swallow this pill and watch all psychological ailments dissolve. Oh, if life were so simple…

I hate self-help books because they promote formulas that don’t always work according to plan. And they would have us rely solely on ourselves for salvation instead of allowing something Higher to occasionally intercede on our behalf.

Instead of self-help books, I prefer literature more mysterious and complex: The Bible. Shakespeare. Greek drama. The poetry of Rumi and Hafiz. The words of Robert Frost. Even children’s books offer more wonder when it comes to the magic of living. There are pearls of wisdom in “The Little Prince,” and the rhymes of Dr. Seuss. 

How wondrous when love knocks on our doorstep when we least expect it. How miraculous when after sobbing buckets, we suddenly wake up one day feeling happy. How funny when the thing we thought we most wanted suddenly no longer matters and when the one person we couldn’t stand winds up being our best friend and/or greatest teacher. Thank God there is no formula.

Leave a Reply