Why Are Self-Help Books Important?

Amongst the several hobbies that exist, reading appears to one of the most beneficial. People favor reading for different reasons: some for entertainment, some for education, some for self-improvement. Whatever the reason, there are several books- in their numbers as well as their genres that cater to these needs. One thing is for certain though, avid readers are often distinguished by their wealth of knowledge, their curiosity about the world around them as well as their openness to the possibilities life has to offer. One of the book genres that are particularly good for the mind are self-help books

Self-Help books are written to improve the lives of their readers by increasing self-awareness, giving instructions and/or advice that aim to improve performance. This niche took its name from an 1859 book called “Self-Help” by Samuel Smiles. Despite the bad rep self-help books have gotten over the years for being supposedly redundant and sometimes tone-deaf, several people would readily swear by the books from the likes of Napoleon Hill, Mark Manson, Stephen R. Covey, amongst several others.

There are people who by virtue of birth have had their paths straightened, who already have systems, structures, and connections put in place to ensure their comfort and overall success, others however aren’t so lucky and many have had to be on the path of improvement, learning the importance of placement and taking steps that consequently and substantially better their chances of having an easier life, not just financially, but also in respect to interpersonal relationships.

The meaning of  “self-help” is denoted by the prefix “self”, which infers that this is a journey by one’s self without necessarily including the assistance of other people, except of course the book’s author (which of course is indirectly implied). It behooves the subject to make improvements in his or her life without involving a lot of contribution from other people. Oxford puts it simply as the use of one’s own efforts and resources to achieve things without relying on others.  Self-improvement is usually a gradual, often slow process and often requires a degree of intentionality and has a significant psychological basis.

The many benefits of self-help include:

  1. Knowledge gaining: Knowledge is inexhaustible. There is always so much to learn and then some more. The more you know, the more you realize the well of knowledge is endless. Self-help books usually are written by people who are very knowledgeable in their fields and can pass down this knowledge which has been tested and proven in forms that have been simplified and can therefore be replicated with similar or even better results.
  2. Motivation: as much as external motivation is important, it won’t always be there. Self-motivation is a vital habit that needs to be cultivated. Self-help books not only give you the motivation you need, but they also help you strengthen internal resolve which definitely will be needed in the absence of external motivation to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and keep pushing.
  3. Inspiration: Self-help books sometimes contain personal stories about overcoming or achieving stupendous feats in the face of great adversity. These stories serve as a form of inspiration, authors use this tool to create a spark or even reignite fires that have lost their vigor. Being able to relate closely with an author’s story or process usually helps in successfully internalizing what is being read.
  4. Perspective: Self-help books often offer perspectives that are most likely different from your default. Sometimes the reason for perceived stagnancy isn’t that there’s no way out, but that most probably because of a blind spot or just ignorance, an alternative route is being missed, other opportunities are being missed out on. Seeing things from a different perspective could help broaden the scope of your possibilities and help you notice outcomes that you might find satisfactory or a bonus.
  5. Develop interpersonal skills: for people who chase career-related goals, great interpersonal communication skills cannot be overemphasized. This skill has to be developed and honed as it is instrumental in moving you up that ladder. This skill of course is useful outside the corporate world; self-help books help develop these skills as well as instill you with the confidence needed to handle human relationships with respect and tact.
  6. Leaving your comfort zone: Self-help books help you challenge yourself, often pushing you to do things that are naturally uncomfortable, and as these new feats are completed, greater capacity is built and you’re enabled to shoulder things that you formerly thought impossible. They make you less satisfied with mundane things and push you to go for more, making you more competitive and less lazy and entitled.

The most popular self-help themes include and are not restricted to personal growth, romance and other personal relationships, self-awareness, identity, and confidence. In selecting what self-help books to read, some self-reflection is needed to readily admit areas where you seem to be lacking and those that need finessing. Goals need to be identified, for example, “I want to be able to hold conversations in public spaces confidently”.

After identifying the changes that need to be made and getting the necessary materials (re: the books), then comes the dicey part of reading, digesting, and replicating. As mentioned earlier, self-improvement requires a level of intentionality and it definitely isn’t a comfortable process. This process shouldn’t be rushed.

As humans, we each have our idiosyncrasies, so, you might not readily agree with all that’s in the book, personal opinions and biases often are in play, so it’s important to keep your mind open to suggestions.

A sign of seriousness also is that you’re taking notes and that there are concrete plans to act on the new knowledge so that learning is effective. Also worthy of mention is journaling – it is important to journal your progress as real progress is measurable.

Self-improvement might be work and is a long journey, but it cannot be overstated that there is a need to consciously enjoy the journey. Celebrate the victories, especially the seemingly insignificant wins, and be careful not to wallow in setbacks. Self-help books can be a valuable tool to aid one in changing thoughts, ideas, and habits