The minute I feel a twinge of discomfort, I enroll in a class, delve into a new topic (the Battle of Actium, circa 31 BC) or buy a self-help book. A few weeks ago, I felt exceedingly middle-aged, so I signed up for a few personal training sessions. As I went through painful exercises–painful, in that they took me away from my couch–I knew that the sessions were a temporary fix, that I will never be Arnold Schwarzenegger from the 70s. And yet, I can’t fault that impulse to improve.
This is why I love self-help! My stack of self-improvement books takes up most of my bookshelf, lines the walls and makes for a healing tower on my bedstand. I’ve become obsessed with audiobooks for my walks home, especially ones about mindfulness, habit-changing, and meditation. On Facebook, I subscribe to key self-helpful authors and devour, write down, and try to remember their bullet points of advice and wisdom. Several times a day, I scroll down for a nugget and write it in my mostly empty “gratitude journal” (even though I’m very, very grateful for all I have). I’m addicted to that five-second boost, and vow to use the guidance in all future behavior or interaction with others. The skip in my step might last for a day, maybe a week. But then I’m back to who I’ll always be, which ain’t half bad.
Though I adore an engaging read that will educate me, I wonder if I really need another pep talk…or long list of steps to achieve wellness, cure insomnia, ease anxiety? It’s time to have more fun with that twinge of discomfort, develop a sense of humor about it, don’t think I can fix it by wearing a clown nose around the house and recite my self-love in front of a mirror (though that wouldn’t hurt).
For right now, I want to see what it would be like not to listen to experts on how to improve myself. As I try to resist Oprah’s Soul Sunday, Elizabeth Gilbert’s motivational Facebook page, or Eckhart Tolle’s distinct voice in my ear–it won’t be for long–I will try to lift weights to ensure better health and try to be where I am as much as possible. I might also listen to other stories. With current events such as they are, fiction is starting to sound much better. For now, in my spare time, I’m back to thrillers, even more romance, and okay, maybe one book on self-coaching…But to all these affirmations, I maintain this.
(Ps. If you have a great self-help recommendation, let me know!)