Because I can’t help myself when it comes to referencing unrelated pop lyrics.
There must be people who read more self-help books than me. Consumers of TED talks that get to the bottom of way more presentations by earnest smart people offering the answer to everything. But I’ve read my fair share…
It is entirely possible that I was ruined by writing poetry. While I’d hate to be held to the poetic standard without exception, I certainly feel free to apply it liberally everywhere else: the best use of words is to say exactly what you mean with as much economy as you are capable of. A book on Essentialism that stretches to 200+ pages is a contradiction that risks the entire premise of the book.
Most books have this problem. We authors tend to fall in love with the sound of our own voice in the same way that children in the midst of a tantrum keep crying: they get used to the rhythm of it and the body just perpetuates the posture. I’m sure I am as guilty as anyone. On the other hand, I get fussed at for writing too sparsely, so maybe it is only the blog where I wax eloquently to excess.
Anyway, pushing aside my digressions, what I’m trying to say is this: much of the self-help advice I’ve come across comes down to a simple chunk of advice. Turn around and face whatever it is you are trying to get away from.
There are many ways to get to this:
- Mindfulness, which advises to approach with curiosity whatever you’re trying to squash in yourself.
- The metaphor of a car in an unwanted spin – turn into the spin to regain control.
- Ariel and Shya Kane – what you resist, persists.
- Dawna Markova (I will be singing the praises of Dawna forever, but even she could have condensed), who advises readers to sit with their demons and seek understanding.
- Deri Llewellyn-Davis says fuck the fear and sends you off to do the thing that scares you the most.
I’d never tell anyone to forgo reading. Buy a book. Buy loads of books. Buy my book, while you’re at it. All I’m saying is that you’re going to come back to the same simple concept time and time again. To find that freedom most of us are seeking, turn around and face what constrains you with curiosity and compassion. Stop running, and your fears will stop chasing you. Give up, but in the nicest possible way. Surrender.
There. Hundreds of dollars in self help books in two paragraphs, one bulleted list, and some tangential rambling about poetry.
Our destiny is frequently met in the very paths we take to avoid it. –Jean de La Fontaine