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Why Is Self Help Advice So Generic?


I've been interested in the self help space for about 20 years. One thing I've noticed is after watching enough speeches, Podcasts, blogs, videos, conferences it all begins to blend together and sound hopelessly generic.

I was on a self-help/business development Zoom meeting a couple days ago and the group was sharing their morning routines. The topic was both what is your morning routine and how can one do better? I heard suggestions like don't put your phone next to the bed, get up at the same time everyday, don't party on the weekends, don't feel like you need to answer every e-mail instantly, schedule time with your family, schedule time with your wife, and many other suggestions were given. 

While hearing these suggestions I'm thinking, really? Do these things and your life will become drastically better?

What I've noticed is most self help advice is generic and overhyped. These things WILL add up and make your life somewhat better, I truly believe that, but what we are ultimately after is really an EMOTION. The emotion of happiness, the emotion of our life mattering, emotion of joy, emotion of connection, etc. You life will never get better unless the daily emotions of life get better. Simply not checking your phone or going on social media less on Sundays and doing all the incremental things will not magically add up making you happy and feeling like your life has meaning.

A more productive strategy, in my opinion, is looking for what makes you emotionally happy, think about what has made you truly happy in the past. Tony Robbins talks a bit about this. You can be a billionaire, but if your day to day experience is anger, frustration, stress, sadness, guilt, shame, and that's where you emotionally live that will be your human experience no matter how much money you have.

So what do you do? Think about what has made you happy in the past, what were you doing? Who were you with? What were you thinking? If your current life circumstances don't match up with what made you happy, maybe you need to make a change. Also, don't think when I use the word "happy" I'm talking about easy. Sometimes the most difficult things/struggles make us the most happy. Like running a ultra marathon or climbing a mountain. I'm not talking about a societal conditioned definition of happiness like upgrading your phone, I'm talking about what it truly means to you.