Why I Hate Self-Help Platitudes

One of the most delightfully frustrating experiences I get is receiving book review requests. Normally, I don’t mind receiving these requests. If your book is brilliant, I’m more than happy to promote it without any compensation.

However, I’ll often get press release emails for books which advocate an idea I’ve explicitly argued against on this blog. I’d like to hope that the sender of that email is simply sending me spam, and that they haven’t actually read my blog to see that I completely disagree with their book’s thesis.

But part of me worries, that in having a website with a tagline, “Get more from life,” that people believe I automatically subscribe to every piece of self-help nonsense that gets published.

A Brief List of Ideas I Don’t Support

Just for the record, here are just a few ideas I don’t feel are important, am skeptical of, or actively disagree with (links are to articles explaining my disagreement):

I did say brief. I believe in the broad idea of self-actualization. I just disagree with a lot of the advice out there on its implementation.

Advice Needs to Mean Something

Advice needs to have the possibility of being wrong. It needs to suggest one thing at the expense of something else. And, when the evidence is mixed, it should polarize some people to agree and others to object strongly. If advice can’t be wrong, it doesn’t mean anything at all.

If I look back over my archives from the initial months after I started this blog, I’d wager that at least 80% of the older articles I wouldn’t have written today. In some cases, I still agree with the main idea, just that I would have written the article completely differently. In other cases, I’ve completely reversed my opinion.

But, isn’t that the point of advice? I would be far more worried if I didn’t disagree with some of my early posts. Either that means I’m stubborn and unable to change my point of view. Or it means that my advice was essentially meaningless. If it couldn’t be made wrong later, it couldn’t have meant anything to begin with.


  • Robin

    You can’t patent a naturally occuring chemical. You couldn’t make very much money selling an herb compared to a proprietary compound that does the same thing. This is why big pharma reformulates their drugs whenever the patent is about to expire.

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