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A Self-Fulfilling Paradox

Updated on February 22, 2011

Walking through my local bookstore, I make a wrong turn at the science-fiction novels and end up in the self-help section. At first, I think of making a quick u-turn, but decide that maybe I'll stay and skim over some of these books instead. After all, who couldn't stand to benefit from a little self improvement?

Flipping through a copy of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I begin to second-guess my decision. Something about the “Personal Bank Account” idea just doesn't jive, and I find it hard to believe that people would actually appreciate me treating them the way the book says. On the other hand, the author must know what he's doing; all the things I need to become a better person in just seven easy steps! Maybe the reason people are unhappy is because they don't know the habits. That's when I see the sequel to Seven Habits, aptly titled, The Eighth Habit.

A sudden revelation strikes me; the eighth habit must be for people who are following the first seven, but still aren't better people. Or, maybe if the first habits make a person into a better person, the eighth habit is like Better Person 2.0. Just how can someone be better at being... better? If you're sick, you take medicine and you get better, if you're well, you... just... stay well. You can't get weller, that's not even a word!

I put the book back on the shelf and take another look around. After seeing my fair share of diet guides, motivational texts, and step-by-step schemes to mental wellness, I figure I've had enough. Why would anyone buy a book that assumes the reader is in need of personal change? That just seems arrogant, as if the book is judging you and prescribing advice before even offering a cup of coffee. I'm certainly not perfect, but reading a book isn't going to straighten my teeth or make me a morning person, and frankly, I'd rather read about aliens.


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    • darknezz111 profile image

      Daniel Durand 6 years ago from Southern Idaho

      Really, it wasn't some statement about materialism. I just don't think any person is qualified to tell me how to live without knowing me first.

    • clark farley profile image

      clark farley 6 years ago

      I think you have the answer...the books are there (as they always have been) because they fill a need.

      People have a drive for 'more',

      (more) stuff, more hopes, more better-selfs...pretty much all sorts of more.

      The books filling the self-help sections of bookstores are sort of like blogs, a lot like Hub Pages, only they cost money and my name is not on any of them.

      I like your line about 'getting weller', made me think of a quote from Muhammad Ali, "I'm so mean..I make medicine sick"