Imagine Person A and Person B have complex jigsaw puzzles to solve in a limited amount of time.  The puzzle has many intricate layers and various pieces, shapes and colors.  Person A searches for as much information as possible to understand what the end result could look like and puts into practice suggestions and tips to increase success.  Person B refuses such assistance and wishes to figure it out alone.  While both may complete the puzzle, who do you think will be more successful and who will have more difficulty? Anyone observing the progress of both individuals would recognize the advantage one has over the other.   Yet a lot of us go through life like Person B and make decisions without helpful guidance.  Whether it is to resolve self-esteem issues, the next career move, or explore relationship advice, Self-Help can be an important first step to solve our personal challenges.

Self-Help: Your Life is a Personal Puzzle

“There are so many people who have lived and died before you. You will never have a new problem; you’re not going to ever have a new problem. Somebody wrote the answer down in a book somewhere.” Will Smith

This quote reinforces the notion that it’s unwise to spend time and energy reinventing the wheel.  I once had a conversation with a friend who asked what types of books I liked to read.  Fiction? Drama? Thriller?  I remember pausing before speaking because I knew the type of response my answer would elicit.  Once I said “Self-Help, I noticed the brief look of disgust and confusion as these books are sometimes viewed as outsourcing and betraying one’s thoughts and decisions to some random person with little effect.  While there can be some truth to that, I’ve always thought that it is empowering to leverage some of the best practices for personal growth from people who may have gone through mistakes.

“There is Nothing New Under the Sun”

While personal problems often find a way of repeating themselves in different forms for different people, they can be solved by common strategies and proven solutions.  I believe, at times, that life can be as simple as an equation.  That certain forms of a “Cause X” plus a “Cause Y” will produce an “Effect Z”.    Ultimately, Self Help is built on this.  Learning from the past successes and failures of others can advise us on how to achieve future wins and happiness and avoid certain losses and sadness.

There are Three Points of Caution:

Lack of Credibility

  • This process only works if it’s backed by credible, reputable and proven techniques.  In this “Age of Information” there are too many resources readily available. Choosing the wrong ones can be ineffective, contradictory and damaging.  Check out The 50 Best Self-Help Books of All Time for a starting point.

Intention over Action

  • We can have the most credible resources in the world, but without deliberate exercise of principles, there will be no result.  This is similar to the intention of living a healthy life style.  You can read all the health books available but by not actually exercising, eating the right foods or getting adequate rest, you will not achieve any growth.

The Gospel Truth

  • Treating a Self-Help solution as if it is an absolute and 100% applicable for all situations and circumstances is not the answer.  It is a potential  guide, not an precise terrestrial map.

What Self-Help Book do you turn to for development?


  1. Shane March 15, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    The 4 agreements! A short and simple read that can drive major change in your life when considered.

    1. Alex Charles May 6, 2017 at 12:23 am

      I’ll definitely give it a look! Thanks for the suggestions Shane!

  2. Islespice March 17, 2017 at 1:57 am

    I agree with your assessment. I don’t believe that self help is a waste of time at all. Using portions of a life road map, through which others have already navigated, can be valuable. It’s like getting a leg up or a head start in life. I do somewhat believe the appreciation or lack thereof for advice or life stories has something to do with the personality traits one has to value the experiences others may have to offer. Those who may be seen as “perfectionists” who would greatly regret a mistake that is made or who looks forward to being a better version of themselves quickly may seek self-help more than those who may probably live life less deliberately- making quick decisions and owning whatever consequences that may arise. Whether someone lives by self-help, by one’s own code or a mixture of the two, the ability to be honest with oneself and truly value the experiences of one’s life and that of others could lead to a more well rounded life. Ultimately, I think we all seek and benefit from self-help-in the life lessons our grandparents/parents tell us, the problems our friends share with us, the qualities our mentors display to us…

    Question: Would autobiographies, especially those of people you admire or who have similar life goals, be considered self help?

    1. Alex Charles May 6, 2017 at 12:32 am

      Agreed about the type of personality one has may have an influence on who is receptive to self-help and who isn’t. And I do believe that certain conditions may warrant a more aggressive response or one that requires help from actual people. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m saying self-help is the only help.

      As far as Autobiographies/Biographies, I definitely consider that to be a form of self-help if it is written in a way that allows you to take a measured look at your own life and possibly learn from mistakes made by other people. It’s then beneficial to personal growth!


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