Confession: I am a consumer of self-help products.
It started decades ago with Harry Lorayne and his book:
The Harry Lorayne Mental Magnetism Course
With a title like that, how could I resist? I was in high school for God’s sake.
The sales pitch went like this. How To . . .
- Organize the Power of Your Mind
- Organize the Power of Your Personality
- Develop Steel-Shutter Concentration
- Build a Will of Iron
Lorayne was a successful magician and author in the 1960s, well known for feats of mental recall during his shows, such as memorizing the name of every audience member. If his methods worked for him, why not me?
I was hoping to develop a little mental magnetism of my own, the first step towards solving all my problems.
It Didn’t Work
Did I honestly believe it would?
Trying to achieve mental prowess while still in high school is a losing battle. All of my mental energy was consumed by trying to look cool for girls and simultaneously not appearing as easy prey for the bullies. It’s a delicate balance.
What mental energy remained was spent on homework.
I continued my self-help quest over the years. I’m hardly alone. In the US alone it’s $10 billion/year business.
If the stuff actually worked, would it continue to grow year after year?
I’ve read a lot of book reviews that say:
“This book totally changed my life”
I always wonder — if we checked back in 6 months, what degree of change really occurred.
Are they buying a new book every 6 months?
Are they being “totally changed” every 6 months?
This isn’t a recent phenomenon. You could argue that the self-help concept goes all the way back to the writings of the Greek philosophers.
And Stoicism is making a big comeback. Check out Amazon and see how many books have been published in the past few years on the Stoic philosophers.
Why are millions of us reading this material? What are we hoping to achieve?
Personally, I’m looking for the following.
- More peace of mind and less stress
- Improved self-awareness and mental clarity
- More efficiency and productivity.
My list probably matches millions of others.
The terms “more” and “improved” are very subjective.
But, since I’m listing those, it’s obvious that I consider my current levels inadequate.
Achieving high levels is the key to success — or so we believe
And, that’s what drives the industry.
I’m sure some people are actually helped. Whether or not the benefit comes from the methods or the placebo effect—I’m not sure that really matters. If a person is convinced it’s helping, then who can argue?
But, none of the self-help I consumed seemed to be doing a great job. So, I developed The Clarity Journal.
The basic premise behind my effort is to get clarity and self-awareness. Clarity includes external events, actions, and other people. Self-awareness in simply knowing yourself, what motivates and energizes you, what are your negative patterns of behavior and traps you fall into.
It just seemed obvious that the path to self-improvement requires these two components.
- Clarity ( a clear and unbiased understanding of the external conditions)
- Self-Awareness (a clear and unbiased understanding of myself)
If I can achieve these, or even come close, then the correct decision in every situation should be obvious.
How do I get there? I journal every day.
If you want to join me, here’s a link to my habit challenge. It’s a great way to make journaling a part of your daily routine and to supercharge all your other habits as well.
Here’s another post on the benefits of journaling you may enjoy.