Need a Boost? Say Hello to My Little Friend...
Let me lay it on the line - I'm not really a fan of self-help books. I find they can be so full of unsupported psychobabble my brain refuses to believe what it's reading or the book takes so long to read you forget what 'help' you were looking in the first place. One book I read took over 220 pages to essentially say 'go vegan'. Yes, I'm talking about you Skinny B**** (hate that word). Or there are the rascals that take you down a path in which you 'discover' there's far more ‘wrong’ with you than you previously thought... but let's not go on the 'journey'.
I'm aware I’m generalising here, but I also often find self-help books a bit smug and full of words that sound nice – live your truth, be the best you, etc. – but sadly lacking in practical advice on how to actually do these things. Or they cloak their theories in some spiritual or mystical light - and if your life doesn't miraculously transform after following its steps, that my friend, is because you that can't be 'doing' them right. Also if a book really can guarantee wealth/health/happiness, why are there so many out there?
But I do, and you probably do too, go through times when I'm not quite myself and in need a bit of a boost or, as I like to call it, a brain reboot, just to shift those negative thoughts or doubts I'm having about myself. When I was younger I thought I’d have it all figured out by the time I hit my forties but ha! how naïve was I? Age does bring a certain amount of self-awareness and wisdom but we are human, and no one is immune to insecurity at times – no matter what they say. I'm lucky that I've got a few really good, supportive friends - female and male - but sometimes it's not a long chat that's needed or even possible, it's a quick fix and that's when I turn to my little library of mini marvels like the one pictured above.
I first realised the value of motivational quality over quantity (you’ll be able to read these books in less than an hour or so but will always find a ‘reward’ on each rereading), when I bought Paul Arden’s It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be about a decade ago (maybe even longer). Although it was written with a bias on the world of advertising, there are little nuggets in there for everyone and its quirky content, design and advice encourages you to think about situations or problems from different angles and approaches. I still refer to it today, hence its well thumbed appearance below.
I don't actively seek out to these little books of inspiration and aspiration and tend to find them in unlikely places like Topshop, where I found the You Are So Awesome book. On down days, I like to open this at a random page and usually find the motivation I need to get up, dust myself down and get the heck on with making the most of this often crazy, usually frustrating but always interesting life I'm so fortunate to be living. This truly ‘awesome’ book features quotes from everyone from Goethe to Jimmy Carter to Tyra Banks and I initially picked it up as a Secret Santa gift but on first flick knew it would be staying in my stocking. There are tons of get quotes with one of my favourites being ‘Be a voice, not an echo’ and I’d like to think I follow that advice 95% of the time as 5% of the time it really is just easier if you smile and wave…
Another book I picked up on a whim (this time in Urban Outfitters) was Pocket Dolly Wisdom: Witty Quotes and Wise Words from Dolly Parton. This is more amusing than life affirming, although Dolly does have her moments including; ‘Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life’ and ‘When someone shows you their true colours, believe them’.
A recent addition to my mini motivation library has been a box of Mindful Moments cards, gifted to me from my sister at Christmas. They come with a wooden stand and sit on my bookshelves and I've no got in the habit of turning them to reveal the next card each day. Some fall into the psychobabble bubble, but most can raise a smile or even my optimism for the day ahead.
So what about you? Where to you find your motivation when life gets a little on top of you? Do you have a little stack of books like me or do you reach for your phone and use one of the Mindfulness or Motivational apps? If so, which would you recommend? And please don't be put off by my cynicism, if you actually do find self-help books rewarding. I'd love this blog to be a two way conversation and I am open to self-help suggestions. Just not Skinny B**** (224 pages of my life I am never getting back...)
All Photography by Susie Cormack Bruce