Saturday, 24 June 2017

Is reading self-improvement books really helpful?


Image result for books

Mona: "I feel I have wasted all my 20’s."
Sona: "It’s okay. You can read self-improvement books and become better now."
Mona: "Varun gave me a similar suggestion recently. But I see no improvement."
Sona: "Oh! Is it ?"
Mona: "Yeah! I wonder if self-improvement books really bring any change!"

It is not just the doubts of Mona and Sona. But many of you too. You don’t see any improvement after reading a book. And then you just term that self-improvement books are not useful.


Why do you not see any change after reading self-improvement book?


You read with a misconception that change is not possible:

You read just because others asked you to read. You will criticize what the author has written and term it as impractical. It is good to criticize but criticism should be balanced. Instead of approaching the book negatively, approach it with open mindedness. See what the book has to offer. You don’t lose much by implementing what the author mentions. Try this approach and then tell me if it still does not work.

You don’t take time and put efforts to implement the advice:

When you read a self-improvement book, you read it as a novel. You finish it off in one night. No one is giving you an award for finishing it. The true reward is becoming better by implementing what you read. You can still finish the book but you need to revisit it, till you master the concepts. If there are any exercises mentioned in the book, do them. If you are stuck with any exercise, keep going back to it till you get it right.

You expect immediate results:

Anything which you can earn easily, is lost easily. It takes time to build habits and master them. Given that, you have been telling yourself all your life that you can’t be any better, it takes time to over-write that negativity with positivism. When I read ‘13 things which mentally strong people don’t do’, I allotted one month for each thing I need to avoid. Even though I finished reading the book, it will take 13 months for me to become a totally transformed person. So, delay gratification. Work on long term and ever-lasting changes instead of a short term change.

You don’t acknowledge the small change which has happened:

Change happens every day. But the change is too small to notice. Instead of giving up as you don’t see the change, persevere it till it becomes big enough to notice. You can’t see a plant becoming a tree over night. It takes years for it to become a tree. Only then you could see the visible growth. So is this. All you have to do is trust yourself and the good habits you do daily. You will be surprised at the results after a few months.

Other Complaints:


Motivation does not last for long:

External motivation is always temporary. If you are looking for external motivation, you have to keep reading motivation books every day without fail. It is like taking drugs. Once the effect is lost, you have to take them again. For how long will you be able to do that?
Instead, build habits which will help you do the same work without the need for external motivation.

Who is the author to tell me how to live my life?

Every idea you get is either transformation or consolidation of existing ideas. Self-improvement books are not there to dictate how you need to live your life. The author only writes on how he lived his life. The more the ideas you are exposed to, the better ideas you get to live life in your own way.

How are they better than fiction?

There are a lot of lessons to learn from fiction. But there are lot of obstacles to it. The book title does not mention what lesson the book is going to teach you. In case of self-improvement books, the selection of book is easy. When you read a fiction book, since it is in the form of a story, the lesson author wanted to convey might be different from the lesson you understand. Where as in self-improvement books the message is direct and clear. To learn life lessons from fiction, you need to be intelligent to read between the lines and transform those ideas to implement in your life. You don’t have to interpret the meanings in these books as they are backed by science and already tested on a large set of population.

Self-improvement books are easy to read and implement. Everything is made simpler for you. All you need to do is digest them.

"I have read a few but they have not changed my life":

Every book has changed my life in its own way. If I mention that one book has changed my life more than the other one, I will be lying. The books which did not have much impact on my life are the ones which built the intelligence in me to understand the books which changed my life the most. So don’t give up after reading just a few books. Every book has it is own message to convey and change you.

Now that you want to read books to get better, here is the guide for you.

How to select a book?


Step 1:

Do some soul searching. Discover your pain points. Write down what is bothering you the most. Relations? Confidence? Happiness? It can be anything. Write them all down.

Step 2: 

Prioritize them. Solving which problem will improve your life by 50%? That will be the first thing you should concentrate on.

Step 3: 

Now search for books on that. You can look for them on good reads or amazon. Read the reviews and short list the books you want to read.

Step 4: 

Don’t read them like a novel. Read one concept at a time. Go to the next concept only after you have thoroughly practiced the first concept. If you can’t wait for long, you can finish off the book. But keep reading the concept till you become good at it.

How to read?


           Choose a book of your reading level and interest

     Don’t read high level philosophy in the beginning. Choose something which is easy for you and can keep you engaged.

          Set a time or place for reading
    
    I read while commuting. I read in the nights on weekends. Similarly you can also set place or time and stick to it.

       Now increase the level of books you read and the time for which you read
     
     You will be bored if you are reading the same level of books. Slowly increase the level and time.

How to implement?


Make notes

     If you find it difficult and time taking to keep re-reading the same stuff, make notes while you read. I find it distracting to make notes when I read the first time, so I have to read the book for second time to make notes. But once the notes are there, you can keep reading them over and again till the concept is clear.
    
     Doing the exercises mentioned in the book
   
     Most of the books have exercises after each chapter or at the end of the book. Take them seriously and do them. Apart from that create your own exercises too. When I was reading ‘Will Power’, I came across an experiment. It was about a research on the top urges. I made a note of my top urges and asked my friends what theirs were. Even though it is not an explicit exercise mentioned, doing such fun exercises helps you remember better and also makes reading, a fun activity.

       Create action point list
   
     You need not implement the same things which author has mentioned. Think how, what the author has mentioned is useful for your life. If required, discuss with your friends and well-wishers. Then create the action point list. Give a deadline to implement each one of them. Gather the resources if any are required. Don’t look at it as a task but take it as a fun-activity.
     
     Comment below what do you want to improve on or if you need any book suggestions.

Happy reading!

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