Self-help books are a massive industry. Every bookstore carries a huge selection, offering hope for solving every problem in your life. Is your love life a disaster because you always fall for the wrong guys? Are you unassertive? Does your brain need training? Is your career in the doldrums? There are hundreds of titles for every possible category. But just buying a book will not solve any problems; you have to pick the right book and work hard on following the advice. So try these tips on getting the most from self-help books …
1. Don't Expect Miracles
When you turn to self-help books, don't expect miracles. Just reading the book isn't enough. You have to absorb the messages it contains and put them into practise. Even then, your life won't become magically amazing - a book can only help you start to make changes.
2. Choose Carefully
Be selective in which books you read. Many addicts to self-help books discard one book after another in their search for the one that will finally work for them. As a result, they read too much content and absorb none of it. Take your time to find the volume that best fits you and you are much more likely to gain from reading it.
3. Follow Exercises
Most self-help books contain a number of exercises for you to work through. They're designed to work with the advice that the author gives, and to help you understand yourself better. Don't leave out these exercises, or you won't derive maximum benefit from the book.
4. Library Copies
Rather than investing your money in a book that you may not find useful, search the shelves of your local library. It may not have the best selection, but you should find some useful books. You can always buy your own copy later on. Remember not to write in library books, not even in pencil - if you want to do quizzes or exercises, copy them out.
5. Read and Reread
Skimming through a self-help book won't be effective. You need to read it carefully and take the time to absorb the messages. In fact, you will probably need to read it several times. It may help to read the book once, put it aside, and go back to it after you have had time to think.
It's wise not to assume that the author is always right. Sometimes it is equally productive to question what they say. Some readers have a tendency to treat the authors of self-help books as gurus and blindly believe every word they say. That veers dangerously close to idolization. Always remember that you are ultimately responsible for yourself and improving your life.
7. Put in the Effort
Finally, you've got to be prepared to put in some effort if you want things to change in your life. It isn't enough to read a book and expect automatic change. You need to put the lessons into practice. It takes time to shed old habits and acquire new, better ways of thinking and doing things.
Self-help books can be useful but you do have to be very selective. Just because a book has been published doesn't mean that it's any good. Anyone can write a book. The self-help genre is saturated because authors know there are millions of people looking for answers. So look for one that resonates with you and has an approach that you like. And put the work in! Are you a self-help junkie?