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Okay, confession time.  Lately  I have become a self-help junkie.   At the library, the WordPress and all other things computer are very close to the religion and self-help books.  These days I can’t seem to stay away from the self-help section.  Self-help books are like the chocolate covered almonds.  You can’t just have one.

Why I Take Self-Help Literature With A Grain of Soy Sauce

Though I am attracted to self-help literature I also resist it.   First of all, it’s emphasis on the self as the end and be all.  Self-help literature sometimes seems to forget that we are social, communal beings.  The hidden message seems to be that if things are wrong, maybe it’s because of how you imagined them to be.

On the other hand, the other message seems to be that the way to change reality is to change yourself.  It doesn’t take into consideration how we can act in concert with one another for social and spiritual change.  (Brother can you paradigm?)  Once I get done reading all of the self-help books in the world 🙂  I am going to read:   Sham:   How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless, Yes You Can:  Behind the Hype and Hustle of the Motivation Biz, and Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America.

Wherever You Samurai Go, There You Samurai Are

On the third hand (Holy Avatars, Batman!), the self is where one starts and connects with the world.   Currently, I am also reading Autobiography:  The Story of My Experiments With Truth by Mohandas Gandhi AKA Mahatma Gandhi.  ($.99 on Kindle)I’m reading it really slowly, reading one chapter after I finish reading to my daughters at night.   One of the things, I’ve noticed so far is that Gandhi does a thorough inventory of his failings and efforts of his life.

People like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.  didn’t change the world by themselves.  They had advisers and networks of people that helped shape and spread their message.  Yet, maybe they also had to start by confronting themselves and transforming what they thought was possible.   They also delved deeply into spiritual and political literature including Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience.

You are What You Read

Self-help literature is kind of like trying to subsist on a diet of pop tarts.  However, one of the big lessons I’ve learned by following All Japanese All the Time (AJATT) is the importance of fun.   I was trying to learn Japanese by doing electronic flashcards until my brain was numb.  I st communicated with Khatz, the mad scientist creator of AJATT, who asked me whether I was having fun.  I decuided I needed more pop tarts and delved into Japanese self-help literature.

Khatz also mentions a heaping helpful of self-help literature from Getting Things Done to The Talent Code to a host of self-help books in Japanese and English.  That’s how I got back on the self-help and pop psychology train.

One Japanese self-help book,   1日30分」を続けなさい!人生勝利の勉強法55 (Continue Each Day 30 Minutes:  55 Study Methods for Winning in Life), Furuichi-san explains that its really important to read while your interest is high.    (Kenichiro Mogi, in 脳を活かす勉強法 or Leverage Your Brain talks about the dopamine factor involved in overcoming learning hurdles.   Fun doesn’t always mean easy.)

Right now I’m playing self-help games.   However, by playing games I am also getting results.  I am writing more consistently (usually no more than 30 minutes a day) and having more fun doing it.  If you got to the bottom of this post, you have tasted of the fruit of my self-help tree :).

Have fun.  Follow your mind,and have fun,  whether it means reading Bhagavad Gita in Norwegian or Who Cut the Cheese?  Enjoy.