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I finished reading “Ruling Your World: Ancient Strategies For Modern Life” by Sakyong Mipham the other day. In short, this book is about the importance of moving away from the “what about me” attitude and how to live a meaningful life based on the ancient strategies of the warrior kings and queens of Shambhala.
If you tend to be alerted by a cheesy, preachy, motivational, and even spiritual self help book written by a self-proclaimed guru as I do, I can reassure you that this is not one of such books. I highly recommend you to take a look at this book and to read it.
What particularly caught my attention is its emphasis on the importance of moving away from the “what about me” attitude, which many of us tend to have.
From the way I ridiculed self help books as above, you may have guessed, but I’m inclined to think that the whole self help genre is a little bit fishy. Of course, there can be various motivations for desiring to help yourself, and I’m sure not every self help book or author is cheesy and preachy, but there is something about it that turns me off.
I mean, I have read more than a handful of books that belong to this genre, and I have been interested in improving myself so I can become a better person. One friend of mine described this blog as a self help blog, and perhaps some of you take it that way too. On the contrary, a self help blog is the last thing I want this one to be, and I never want to preach like a guru either.
What I do want is to have a conversation with you all and to influence each other. For me, this whole thing is more like training martial arts together. Yeah, I’m talking about love and relationship. Let’s talk about love and relationship and deepen our understanding together. I’ve been thinking a lot about these things from the perspective you may not have considered before, so I may have some ideas you may never thought about before, and that’s how I can contribute to your growth. It’s not like I’m a guru standing somewhere higher than you and telling you what to do. There are too many of them, especially on the Internet anyway. So, let’s do something else here…
Back to the “what about me” attitude and why it caught my attention. “Ruling Your World” is a fascinating book and its content is superb. But more than anything else, it gave me a clue as to why I have been unhappy about the whole self help thing. Why? It’s exactly this “what about me” attitude.
I believe the ultimate goal of self help is to… help yourself, or to find your own happiness. That is, the most basic question in self help is, “how can I be happy?” I have nothing against you being happy and I’d be happy if you are happy. But, if you are simply focusing on your own happiness, I believe it’s unlikely that you will find it, at least you won’t find the highest form of happiness, whatever that looks like.
Happiness is a bit abstract, so let’s talk about money. If you are focusing on your own wealth without thinking about how to make other people wealthy, I believe you won’t be able to get the wealth you want to enjoy.
This is very interesting to me, because I read some top entrepreneurs writing that running a business is a great way for personal development. I think personal development and self help are two different concepts, but they are similar enough and used interchangeably, I believe… What makes me curious is what the major differences between business and self help are. What comes to my mind straight away is that business focuses on helping others while self help focuses on helping yourself.
Instead of happiness or money, we can talk about sexual pleasure as well. If you are focusing on your own sexual pleasure without giving it to your partner, again, I believe you’ll miss out something so much better than the sexual pleasure you can have by focusing just on pleasing yourself.
What’s going on?
One possible way out of this self help dilemma would be to use what you learned to help others. No, I’m not suggesting you to write a self help book or to start a cult, though you might be able to help others by writing a self help book or starting a cult.
Or perhaps another solution is to stop assuming that you are someone who needs self help and to enjoy improving yourself by doing something meaningful and beyond yourself rather than by reading self help books.
What do you say, my dear readers?