Death of Self-Help

The categorization of Self-Help books is quietly killing our world.

The fact that we only think to better ourselves in a time of need (when it is “help” we need) breeds a selfish and isolated mindset which is behind much of today’s world problems.

These books of self understanding and betterment should not be crammed into the back of stores, out of sight in the dark corner like some sort of shameful pornography. We should not be forced to scuttle into these sections, head low, steadily avoiding eye contact in fear of the stigma that being found out would bring. The idea that this aisle is for the weak and helpless who have already failed at living and hence need rehabilitation only perpetuates the lie that learning to live is easy, and that only failures need knowledge and guidance on the matter.

It is our duty as human beings in a global society to continuously better ourselves each and every day. Not purely for the happiness and quality of life that these books do bring (albeit a great reason in and of itself) but because it is the collective peace and happiness of our individual minds that, when combined, creates the peace and happiness of the world.

So please, let us abolish the “self-help” classification, and in its wake, reinstate a more appropriately named group of books: “Life” books. Life is the one thing that no matter your religious background, ethnicity or political standpoint, we must all learn to do, and do well. It was said by Seneca over two thousand years ago that “living is the only art that takes a lifetime to master”. In our excessively materialistic world, we need the art of living more than ever. Not just in our low times of depression and crisis, but on a daily basis.

This is not a category for the old and dying; why should we start living only when our lives are coming to an end? We need to be constantly learning to improve throughout life.

Let our libraries and bookstores remove these shameful signs and rescue these books of knowledge and wisdom from their dimly lit corners of shame, not for the chance of pro t but for the sake of morality; because it is the right thing to do. Each newly crowned shelf, center stage in our libraries and shops displaying proudly its plaque of honour that makes clear that learning to live is important, that this aisle isn’t for the shameful failures but for the progressive new generation who constantly seek to master this age old Art of Living.

Creating a peaceful, happy planet is no easy task, but the easiest and most immediate step is by making peaceful and happy minds. That is why this change is not merely a matter of literary classification: it is wholly and truly a matter of world peace.

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Sebastian Kade, Founder of Sumry and Author of Living Happiness, is a software designer and full-stack engineer. He writes thought-provoking articles every now and then on

One Comment

  1. I think what you are saying is that “re-branding” is required. It is billion dollar industry so its unlikely to stop.

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