The Power of Self-help Books
And don’t tell me you are too busy to read any!
With over 40 million self-help books sold every year in the US alone, one has to wonder why the Western adult population is not far wiser, wealthier, healthier and freer.
Why are we in the habit of ignoring the pearls of wisdom emanating from this library of knowledge only a click away?
In my first job as a 17 year old admin clerk I once overheard my boss tell his number 2 that it didn’t matter how many courses he enrolled in or books he read he would never change. That criticism stuck with me. I didn’t want to be that person.
Every year 5 million books on diets are sold yet obesity remains a major problem. There are hundreds of books on positive thinking and tips on transforming our lives but we all, with a few rare exceptions of course, continue to work in the same dead end jobs, maintain the same dysfunctional relationships and continue with the same bad habits.
Self-help books cover all manner of subjects offering a limitless number of possibilities for change including:
- Anger management
- Stopping smoking
- Developing a side gig
- Starting your own business
- Getting fit
- Losing weight
Let’s take a look at the top five best selling self help books of all time.
- Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill – 80 million
Subject in a nutshell: Wealth creation
- The Alchemist – Paul Coelho – 65 million
Subject in a nutshell: Inspirational story about not giving up on your dream
- You Can Heal Your Life – Louise L. Hay – 50 million
Subject in a nutshell: Teaches self-love.
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki – 26 million
Subject in a nutshell: Creating wealth
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey – 25 million
Subject in a nutshell: Developing winning habits
Arguably there are three categories of people when it comes to readers of self-help books.
Firstly there are the well intentioned. These are the avid readers of self-help books with the good intention of learning something new. They will probably speak to their friends about their latest great book discovery and provide a quote one or two for good measure. Maybe they will even try out a few of the techniques that they found most appealing. However after no more than a week the book is a distant memory and none of the guidance or advice has been heeded or enacted.
Secondly there are the nonstarters. These are people who are attracted by the idea of learning a new skill or improving themselves in some way but don’t possess the willpower to see it through. In most cases they read the first couple of chapters of their latest purchase after which it sits by the side of their bed gathering dust. This is the largest category. Over 60% of readers never reach the final pages of a book.
Thirdly we have the committed. These are the rare few who are always hunting for pearls of wisdom so that they can make positive change in their lives. Unlike the previous two categories, these people are doers. They are not talkers, they are people of action.
My favorite type of person! They will take away a few of the most striking bits of advice and implement them into their lives. For example they won’t just read about intermittent fasting and discuss the pros and cons with their coworkers. They will give it a try. They won’t just read about what is supposed to be an effective exercise routine for weight loss and toning and never pick up a dumbbell, they will implement the plan the following day. Their motto is, there is no time like the present.
It is this third category of person we must try to emulate. The point is, life provides rewards to doers not talkers. There is no such thing as luck. The difference between what you perceive as a lucky person and an unlucky person is based on the level of action that person is willing to take. A great talker is rarely a person of action.
There are many self-help books on the market with an abundance of valuable advice. And you are never too old to benefit from these words of wisdom. Pick up a book of inspirational quotations to see what I am talking about.
I am always looking for ways to improve or entertain myself. Self-help books have been a great source of valuable information that continues to power my life. We all have an opportunity to learn from the best in their fields. 15 minutes a day of reading or listening to audio books whilst stuck in traffic or waiting in line at the DMV will make a huge difference to your life. Knowledge accumulates quickly. And don’t tell me you are too busy! The most successful people in the world are avid readers. And they are far busier than you and me!
Banner Image: Seize the Day book cover. Image Credit – Harry Maximillian