Why I Stopped Reading Self-Help Books

in order to understand why I was so attracted to self-help books you have to understand what my childhood was like I remember spending summers with my grandma and she would sometimes trip on something because she wasn't paying attention out of nowhere she would start cursing the president and the Prime Minister and the rest of the government for about the next hour or so the funny thing is I'm not even exaggerating I grew up in an environment where everything was always somebody else's fault you spent all your days complaining about how somebody gave you something but it wasn't enough and my financial education consisted of walking around markets for hours and hours so we could save a few cents here and there if you grow up in an environment like this where you're set up to fail any sort of appeal to personal responsibility will either deeply piss you off or will be the most liberating breath of fresh air for me it was the latter even with the tiniest amount of self-awareness I could see that the overwhelming reason why I was not doing as well as I wanted to was not because of someone else but because of myself I mean look are there problems and politics and everywhere else absolutely but when I looked at myself and I saw that I had wasted hours and hours the day before and I wasn't doing so well the day after the major problem was me and not what the Prime Minister had said or done I don't even say wasted time judgmentally it'd be totally fine without the complaining but what I don't think is fine is watching shows for hours and hours the night before and when you wake up the next day being so self unaware that you think that the reason you're not doing well financially for example is primarily somebody else's fault let's just say if my grandma had spent half the time complaining about politics and watching it on television and practicing and developing a skill she might have been twice as happy and prosperous see if you identify with that maybe not to such extreme but still the self-improvement genre will either make you very mad or appeal to you in almost an addicting way the following is definitely not about not reading books or even the self-help genre I think my beginners list is pretty decent and there are also many other good books to be read but it is about the emergence of this new stereotypical human that I keep seeing a lot of a person who has turned into in some ways a professional self-help book reader in my case I think it was a little more understandable because I had essentially created platform around summarizing these books so it was sort of my job at that point but the more I read it the more I started getting nauseous of reading the same unsophisticated arguments page after page so here are some reasons why self-help books are problematic in my opinion most self-help books are written in one of the following two ways you either make a claim and you follow it up with science or you make a claim and you go look for examples to confirm your claim now out of those two you might think that the first one is better but it's actually worse in my opinion whenever a self-help book uses science it's usually something like social science which calling that science is a stretch this deserves its own video and we won't be spending much time here but most of these studies are of course as scientific as looking at the NBA and observing a correlation between the melanin in the skin and success in basketball in concluding that the melanin in the skin is the causal factor for great basketball players and not an extremely complicated combination of endless other more important variables like height and athleticism and so on at the end you recommended to inject melanin into your skin as a five-foot-two unathletic person to be a great basketball player yeah that's fortunately not how science works so I actually prefer the second confirmation bias approach to writing self-help books because at least it doesn't pretend to be science or fact but opinion you come up with an opinion and you go look for examples to back it up the problem with this approach is that even an opinion like playing the lottery is great can be backed up with thousands of examples now I don't quite take the extreme view on this like some people do that you can never listen to anyone that's ever slightly more successful than you because it's always survivorship bias in fact these are the two common extreme and toxic views in my opinion that nothing is ever possible or anything is always possible but when you start telling people what they should do based on people like Jeff Bezos and LeBron James while still always better than spending hours every day thinking and complaining about what the president is doing it can also ruin people's lives if you happen to be average athletically there isn't much advice from LeBron that applies to you the exact same logic is true of Jeff Bezos and the average person but it's funny that people have more of a problem with these not so obvious traits that you can't observe like physical hype it blows my mind how many people think variation magically stops at physical traits so put in a more simple way the first reason these books are somewhat problematic is because they're full of now you don't disregard something in a juvenile fashion just because it's you ask a more important question of it is but what would happen to a person who acted like it were true they would at least start doing something and be more pleasant to be around and so on unlike my grandma so in that way it's much better the problem that I have isn't necessarily that these books are full of but that they lack nuance so in a 5 foot 2 person gets motivated by LeBron and starts playing basketball along he's already done way better with his physical and mental health for example than the version of himself that complains about being short and other people being tall 24/7 but now he's dedicating his energy to a path in life that he isn't as optimized for as maybe his much better talent of painting because he bought into the sort of everything is possible believe in yourself mentality the same thing is true of a five-foot-two business ability or some other mental ability people for example when they're doing something that they are wasting their time on and should really be picking another path against still much better than that do nothing and complain always approach but not quite as nuanced as somebody sitting down with you and realistically analyzing your ability while keeping in mind your goals in life and so on the second reason is how boring reading these things is the funny thing is this is also in my opinion by far their biggest advantage in a world where people have an anxiety attack because they just sat down on the toilet and realized that they forgot their phone if you can read 300 pages of being told the exact same thing on every page and a slightly altered way over and over again you will be God among men seriously that's like having superpowers in a world like this but if you want to benefit from this I think there are much better ways of doing it so many people who are physically unhealthy sitting there on their weekend reading the 94th page of why you should start doing things take that time and go for a walk for an hour or two you will get the benefits of doing things that down regulate your stimulation and also benefit yourself much more the third reason is how ineffective these books are at communicating with you it again stems from the book needing to be 300 pages and the author wanting to say that you should take some personal responsibility most of these things should be short essays at best but they follow Parkinson's Law which states that work expands us to fill the time available for its completion remember I was talking to someone about a topic and he said recommend me a book on this topic I said there was a good page page and a half all about it on Wikipedia and you could see so much resistance like it had to be a 300 page book otherwise how would he feel good about it this leads to the fourth problem that books today are so overrated and they're not written to help you see when you look at something like meditations by Marcus Aurelius you have a book that people preserved for centuries through all kinds of adversity because that's how much they had enjoyed and valued the work today nine out of ten books are written by some guy who built a little Instagram following and now feels like he needs to write a book I remember being approached about writing a book and sitting there and thinking I've never wanted to share anything that would require something more than a short essay or animation there's no reason why I should write a book now to be fair is probably how lazy I was about just the thought of writing that many pages more than my impeccable integrity but I remember thinking how much I was giving up by that decision ever watch a guy come up on stage and they're introduced as entrepreneur and the best-selling author and everyone's like yeah well here's the thing the entrepreneur part you just called yourself that and the best-selling author part is literally why these people write these books the next time you buy 9 out of 10 of these books it's so that some guy can get up on stage and jerk off to himself about being an author reach a few more people while doing it and make a little money as a bonus they write books just like they create Instagram accounts but this time while buying the book you're essentially following their Instagram account and it costs $15 there are better ways to spend your money but more importantly your time the fifth and final problem we'll discuss for now is this emergence of the all-new professional self-help reader I was very happy about being influenced to read a lot and then influencing tons of other people to read a lot as well it was the school movement on YouTube or all these people that you looked up to made videos telling you to read instead of do drugs or some other terrible path that a lot of young kids get exposed to and I still look back at that with a lot of positive feelings in nostalgia but here's the advantage of drugs over these self-improvement books I know I know hear me out I've never met a person that was addicted to hardcore drugs and was messing up their life as a result while still thinking that the drugs were a great thing but with self-help no matter how much some of these people are paralyzed from reading too much ER wasting their time where they could be doing much more enjoyable and much more productive things it seems to be this thing that they're doing that's obviously positive again nothing wrong with reading these things per se I have a list of recommendations myself but here's where some self-awareness needs to come in and you need to ask yourself if this is the best way to spend your time and I see so many of these stereotypes where it is obvious that they would be much better served with a list of endless other activities with that in mind here is a short recommendation on what you could do instead if you're in the beginning stages of recovering from your constant victimhood indoctrination like I was definitely read a few books I have a list other people also have great recommendations but once you get that out of your system make sure you don't become some self-help junkie always pick practicing your craft over reading about it always if you need to consume information about it stop glorifying the book as a median realize that there was a time where that glorification was deserved not anymore all you have to do is have a few followers on social media and now you're an author you can consume the information and a much more enjoyable or concise form with things like Wikipedia and so many great podcasts and videos and people sharing their experience online if you're doing it to fill in the time after you have practiced your craft realize that there could be much better ways of doing that as well there are so many different interesting hobbies you could take up and so many great relationships you could build this is just a short list of things you could do there's no reason you should be waking up on a Saturday and reading yet another book lacking nuance that was written to promote some guy in stroke his ego telling you something that you've heard a million times in the most repetitive way possible page after page for 300 pages be compassionate to yourself there are much more beautiful things in life to be experienced than that you

37 thoughts on “Why I Stopped Reading Self-Help Books

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  2. I love to read old sef help book,religious and ancient philosopher. Modern self help is just for them to make money,they just brag about how they get 1M dollar in 3 month

  3. Thanks for saying what needed to be said. I sometimes fall into this trap, so I'm very happy I saw this. I would recommend you turn this into a Medium post and give some more personal examples – I'm sure it's gonna do great and many people who want to be better will appreciate it. Thanks for doing what you do.

  4. funny that i get an add of an ave person reading about 2 books a year and the ave CEO reading about 6 books a month

  5. Does this video say writers write what the readers want to read??
    Are books just products to invade our time and money???

  6. You seem to complain as much about your grandmother (directly and indirectly) as you say she does about politics. It's wise to not judge your grandmother, she may have had a neurological issue that influences negative behavior.

    She probably tried her best to look after you when you were a kid, so its better to try being grateful for her.

    If she wasn't a loving grandmother…..sorry about that

  7. Most book are same as what you are saying. One inch thick books that can be summarized in as little as a page or two. Most of them contains too much blabbermouths. (Unless they are scientific books containing scientific information)

  8. this is because you aren't selective in the reading thing. of course, if you don't read about your goals or passions you are wasting your time you just say your opinion without thinking that maybe you're wrong.and after all if you hate books this much why do you post summaries of them.

  9. I love ur channel. Thank u for always keeping it real and coming back to upload again. U are truly awesome

  10. Hay man, glad to have you back! Have you considered setting up a Patreon account? I love what you do, and will be happy to put some money down for it.

  11. Yes. After a while you start to pick up on patterns. I have also come to some of the same conclusions thought personal experiences that the authors present. What I wonder is how many of these authors have independently discovered some of these self help rules or are they repackaging what they have read in other self help books. I do think you do need a little pick me up here and there. I see a lot of these self help books as a replacement for the Bible in some peoples' lives. I grew up in a very Catholic household. Every Sunday we go to mass, the priest reads a reading from the Bible, a sermon reflecting on the reading, we are asked to reflect on the reading in our personal lives, and go out and apply it somehow. I do see a major difference from when I was super religious to now. Not a bad thing. I guess what a lot of self help reading people are missing is the reflection and applying to their personal lives. Religion I have grown to see as a framework for people to live their lives (everything from the belief system to the getting up and going to church on Sundays to rituals) and you can see the self help as a kind of non secular framework but it does not have some sort of social reinforcement of taking actions or a leader to guide (i.e. going to temples, priest guiding you, ect…).

  12. I only read self-help books in the area that am struggling with. Obviously I apply the teachings that resonate with me or actually work.

    This is such a good video, I have a friend like this who knows every self-help book yet her life has not improved in the last 10 years. Everyone is annoyed with her unsolicted advice. Once she took action and qualified as a life coach and was going to start her own business, two years later she is still working in a job she hates, a job she was demoted to and in the same organisation I met her in 10 years ago.

  13. Nailed it. Most self help books can be communicated in a dozen pages.
    Can't sell a pamphlet.

    So filler is needed now it's a book to sell.

  14. Reading self help books is as useless for some people as writing down big plans was for me…
    I consciously stop myself from writing down ideas, goals and plans for the future. Because I recognised that for me it negated action. I would trick myself into feeling like just having a plan was enough. I would rely on hope, hoping God will bless me, hoping that if I continue to be a good person who is kind and lives with integrity that some thing big would happen for me.
    I finally woke up to myself. It doesn't matter how much you learn from something/someone/God.. let's say a personal trainer, having him stand beside you explaining every move… if you just demand he gives you muscles.. you gotta do the necessary actions.. you got to pick up the weights….
    Now I hold the idea and because I can't write it down it forces me to take action.
    Take action. You got to take action.

  15. Reading self help is life changing zero doubts about that. Its all about reading the right books. Reading a decent book is not wortjh your time since there are great books that you can read instead. The problem lies in not reading the right books. Also if you are doing little and reading a lot there is something wrong. Your too lazy or scared to go ahead and do the real work instead of watching a yt video or reading a book which still takes effort but its easier especially since you made it into a habit. It can even be a way to procastinate on the actual thing you have to do to reach your goal. The self help category is more than just positive reinforcement. Philopshophy books, psychology books can be considered self help aswell for example.

  16. I quit self helps books a few months ago myself. I thought I was really doing something with my life by endlessly consuming these dumb books, but I was only jerking off my mind. These books are terrible and only promote self-deceit, 9/10 Authors in this genre you will find have never actually experienced any real success outside of ironically selling you these shitty books. It's crazy how people in these comments are trying to warp reality to say the problem isn't the books it's with the reader when that couldn't be any further from the truth…

  17. Great video. I've experienced something of a 'self help paralysis' which ended in my late 30s in moderate depression and therapy. So much wasted time and mental space for so many years. You put it so well into words: most of these books should be essays and shouldn't claim they're based on science. Thank you for this video!

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