Hate how positive & fake-feeling the self-help genre can seem?
Then read this longer New Yorker article: Improving Ourselves to Death by Alexandra Schwartz. It’s an impressive survey & criticism.
Self-help advice reflects the beliefs and priorities of the era that spawned it.
In the January 15, 2018 issue, it’s fitting for those who ponder New Year’s Resolutions, which she addresses, and then she covers:
- The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg
- SuperBetter, by Jane McGonigal
- Grit: the Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth
- Smarter Better Faster, by Charles Duhigg
- The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne
- Desperately Seeking Self-Improvement: A Year Inside the Optimization Movement, by Carl Cederström and André Spicer
- The Wellness Syndrome, by Carl Cederström and André Spicer
- Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers, by Tim Ferriss
- Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing to Us, by Will Storr
- You Do You: How to Be Who You Are and Use What You’ve Got to Get What You Want, by Sarah Knight (my blog post on her TED Talk)
- Stand Firm: Resisting the Self-Improvement Craze, by Svend Brinkmann
Ending with Stoicism, this reminds me of my buddy Jesse, and what’s surely his addition to the above:
- The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, by Oliver Burkeman
So what’s the answer?
There’s a lot of different ones in the article. I’m currently looking into Stoicism.