5 common self-help tips that are ruining your life. If you’re always trying to improve yourself, tell me if any of these statements sound familiar to you:
“I work my butt off trying to be positive all the time, and I end up feeling worse .”
If you said “Yes” to any of the above, block out the next few minutes and read this article. Because it’s not your fault.
Most of the advice given by self-help “experts” are misguided and in many cases, the complete opposite of what you actually need to do to improve your life and yourself.
1) If you want to be successful, follow what other successful people’s advice
Most advice you hear on “how to be successful” are based on personal accounts, not scientific analyses. Unless their advice has been evaluated through evidence-based methods, you can’t judge its validity.
The reasons for their success often blur the lines between cause and consequence. Is someone successful because they avoided meetings or are they able to avoid meetings because they are successful?
What’s more, we only hear successful people talk about their successes, but never hear about the people who failed.
This causes us to be more vulnerable to a bias intuition that success is more deterministic than it really is.
And the truth is, we’re all different. Our careers, priorities, personality, genetics, family, social lives and visions are likely to differ than those who are hailed as successful.
So, breathe a sigh of relief. Just because Elon Musk gets up at 5 am doesn’t mean that you have to. Who knows, maybe you’re wired to do your best work late at night.
2) Follow your passion“You need to quit your job and follow your passion if you ever want to be happy.”
We’ve all heard advice like that before.
But it’s dangerous to follow your passion. In fact, not so long ago, passion was a dirty word.
Philosophers like Socrates and Marcus Aurelius saw passion as a liability, not as asset. Why? Because passion is self-centered.
You know what we really should be focusing on? Purpose. This shifts our attention on people and causes to reach, serve, help and love.
Passion makes it about the individual. Purpose connects us to something bigger.
3) Avoid negative thinkingThe “positive thinking movement” is massive. And why wouldn’t it be? It teaches us to turn our negative thoughts into positive thinking.
We all want to be happier, so doesn’t it make sense to avoid negative thinking?
The truth is, we need to have a balance of emotions.
Perhaps this quote from Osho sums it up best:
“Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That’s its balance.”
According to Osho, the problem with trying to be positive all the time is that it isn’t authentic. He calls it “shallow happiness”. He goes on to say that sadness is actually a friend if you get to understand it:
“Sadness is silent, it is yours. It is coming because you are alone. It is giving you a chance to go deeper into your aloneness. Rather than jumping from one shallow happiness to another shallow happiness and wasting your life, it is better to use sadness as a means for meditation. Witness it. It is a friend! It opens the door of your eternal aloneness.”
Osho is not alone with these sentiments. Recent research has found that experiencing negative emotions aids in the development of our mental health. The moment we suppress our thoughts, we tend to experience a counter reaction.
4) Never procrastinateProcrastination is a dirty word in today’s productivity culture. If you want to be successful, you need to be constantly busy and working. But this isn’t exactly true.
Procrastination is really important to come up with new ideas and innovation. It allows our brain to rest and our thoughts to naturally connect.
Historically, procrastination wasn’t actually seen as a bad thing. The Greeks and Romans generally regarded procrastination very highly because they used it to come up with ideas.
Procrastination is actually a universal state of being for humans. We will always have more things to do than we can possibly do, so we will always be imposing some sort of delay on something.
According to Frank Partnoy in his book, The Art and Science of Delay, he says that it’s not a matter of not procrastinating. It’s a matter of procrastinating well.
This means making time every day to procrastinate. This is called active procrastination, where you’re actually doing something over what you intended to do, but it’s valuable in itself.
5) Read self-help books to improveI’m sorry to say, but if you want to go where you need to go, you need to take action. And reading self improvement books is not taking action.
The truth is, achieving your goals is a lot like climbing a mountain. There are only a few things you need to be doing every day to get closer to achieving your goals. However, reading or watching personal development is not getting closer to your goals.
It’s simply avoiding taking action by looking for a perfect formula to improve your life. But we’re all individual and that perfect formula doesn’t exist. You need to take action and figure it out for yourself.