Self Help Books - worried about woo. Robert Greene?
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13-11-2015, 04:32 PM
Self Help Books - worried about woo. Robert Greene?
Hi

I'm hoping some of you can lend me some advice and guidance around the topic of self improvement. I put it in this section as it touches on general skepticism/woo, but I wasn't 100% sure this was the right section.

I've been trying to refocus on some self-improvement, aka reading self help books/TEDS Talk. One author I've started to read a bit of is Robert Greene: 48 Laws of Power, Mastery, etc. He seems at least in some of his books to mix in references to some science. One of his books, Mastery, actually has a bit of evolution teaching going on - a positive sign. I've watched one or two you tubes and he seemed to present okay, didn't spot anything obvious. He seems like a consultant for some pretty successful people which lends some credibility to him.

I contrast him to the author of "Think and Grow Rich", Napoleon Hill, which I read a few years back. While there were some lessons to be learned, the constant reference to some mystic source of power (not God per say, but something...) tripped some alarm bells. It was also a popular book and also seems widely read by people trying to improve.

So I have some conflicting thoughts:
- I want self-help, and related fields like TEDS talks, to work because who doesn't want to become better, but sometimes I think often books/speakers overstate the grain of truth they might have
- Just being popular doesn't equal good truthful info, but its an easy/obvious filter
- A lot of self-help seems potential domain of woo artists/charlatans
- I like the science tie in that Robert Greene, and others, seems to use, but in learning about atheism and its related materials that's no guarantee - creationists, woo artists etc attempt it as well.


At the end I'm unsure how to identify resources that I can use to improve myself.

1. What do you guys think about Robert Greene specifically, and self-help in general?
2. What do you guys do to improve yourself and how do you weed out the good vs bad.
3. Is the best we can do is to try and discover what useful pearls of info might be found, even in books that sometimes stray towards woo.

~Jay
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13-11-2015, 04:55 PM
Self Help Books - worried about woo. Robert Greene?
For me, self-help books aren't much actual help. After all, since we're all unique and have had different life paths, how can they be of much help? Also, if they helped, why are there so many? I've been a Barnes & Noble manager; you wouldn't believe the number of new self-help books out there. And that was before publish on demand started!

I recommend reading them with a huge grain of salt. I'd read Robert Greene, but realize that he probably didn't use all that advice. But Marcus Aurelius is a good read. Dalai Lama, Kant, Thich Nhat Hanh, Peema Chodron, Dawkins, Socrates, and other thinkers.

If you're talking specific self-help, then that's different. Unless you did, and I read too fast.
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13-11-2015, 07:00 PM
RE: Self Help Books - worried about woo. Robert Greene?
Some of those are on my list of people to either read about or to read works from, some are new names I've never heard before so thank you for that.

Good point, self-help is a pretty big category, so perhaps I should clarify. My interest is soft skills: persuasion, speaking, writing, charm/personality, presentation and all that fun stuff. I'm a geeky programmer by passion/trade and like the stereotypical type I didn't focus so much on those aspects early in life. Getting kind of to the halfway mark in life and figure if there's ever a time to correct some deficiencies now is the time. Smile
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13-11-2015, 07:33 PM
RE: Self Help Books - worried about woo. Robert Greene?
(13-11-2015 04:55 PM)Clockwork Wrote:  I recommend reading them with a huge grain of salt. I'd read Robert Greene, but realize that he probably didn't use all that advice. But Marcus Aurelius is a good read. Dalai Lama, Kant, Thich Nhat Hanh, Peema Chodron, Dawkins, Socrates, and other thinkers.

Never heard of Robert Greene but those others are damn good reads. Thumbsup

#sigh
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13-11-2015, 07:43 PM
RE: Self Help Books - worried about woo. Robert Greene?
Marcus Aurelius is one of my fav's. As is la rochefoucauld's maxims.

NOTE: Member, Tomasia uses this site to slander other individuals. He then later proclaims it a joke, but not in public.
I will call him a liar and a dog here and now.
Banjo.
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13-11-2015, 07:58 PM
RE: Self Help Books - worried about woo. Robert Greene?
I'm currently reading a self-help book by Michael Bennett called "F*ck Feelings." I'm enjoying it a lot, because it takes a pragmatic approach and doesn't promise the moon.

I love self-help books, but I don't read them with any expectation that they are going to provide much in the way of meaningful change. I just enjoy reading them, in kind of the way I like watching cooking shows while hating cooking myself.

For help with personal change, six or seven years ago I felt at a loss and dissatisfied and went to a counselor for a while who did goal-focused therapy. I set several goals and we worked out strategies, and we talked about how things had gone and made adjustments. I saw her every other week for 7-8 months. That was more expensive than self-help books, but worth every penny because I got set very well in a more productive track. Knowing that I was going to be accountable to someone helped me stay focused and take action, rather than thinking about taking action--which is what happened when I read self-help books.
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13-11-2015, 08:46 PM
RE: Self Help Books - worried about woo. Robert Greene?
I popped over and got a sample of it. Sounds good.

(13-11-2015 07:58 PM)julep Wrote:  I'm currently reading a self-help book by Michael Bennett called "F*ck Feelings." I'm enjoying it a lot, because it takes a pragmatic approach and doesn't promise the moon.
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15-11-2015, 09:22 AM
RE: Self Help Books - worried about woo. Robert Greene?
I may have to read it. Heck who wouldn't want a book called F*ck Feelings right beside God is not Great on ones shelf.
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