Visit the self-help section on Amazon or browse the shelves of your local bookshop and you will find hundreds of books that promise to improve your life in any number of ways. In Britain, ita€™s estimated that the cult of self-help has earned publishers some A?60a€‰millionA  in the past five years.
Yet the very fact that there are so many self-help books on the market is likely to be a sign that none of them is particularly effective.
In his book Sham: How The Self-HelpA  Movement Made America Helpless, author Steve Salerno argues that there are huge costs associated with the public acceptance of the self-help movement. In fact, scientific research shows that some forms of positive thinking are, indeed, beneficial. Like many self-help books, there are other problems with The Secret besides its questionable science. In 2007, Rhonda Byrne, who wrote the book The Secret, was listed as one of Time Magazine's 100 people who shape the worldThe problem with self-help books like this one is that they can steer people away from effective solutions to their problems by suggesting that good health, love, and riches are theirs for the asking if they just think about them. The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Rhonda Byrne is the creator behind The Secret, a documentary film that swept the world in 2006, changing millions of lives and igniting a global movement. Read the latest teen books for free and more on Riveted, where YA Fiction is Our Addiction! Get book club recommendations, access to more 1,000 reading group guides, author updates, and more!
Get relationship help, parenting advice, healthy recipes, and tips for living a happy life from our author experts. Get access to the best in romance: free reads, specially priced offers, and exclusive content! You can read, among other things, about the secrets to daily joy and lasting fulfilment, how to find career success, five simple steps to emotional healing, and how to stop worry and anxiety from ruining your relationships. After all, if one of them really did unlock the secret to everlasting happiness, wouldna€™t itA  corner the market and crowd out all the others? Buying into the overblown claims such books make, he argues, can lead to you blaming yourself for failure when you dona€™t achieve theA  outcome you hoped for a€” and avoiding treatments that actually work. For a small investment, we get hope in return a€” the dream that all our problems will soon be solved, without any real expectation that they will be. Think, instead, about slipping on a pair of your favourite jeans and buttoning them over a perfectly flat stomach. Again, though, self-help books typically ignore this research and embed their messages in questionable ideologies.


Rhonda Byrne reports that she cured herself of farsightedness in three days by imagining that she had perfect eyesight a€” to the point where she no longer needs reading glasses. Now, with The Secret Daily Teachings, Rhonda Byrne takes you through a year of teachings, sharing wisdom and insights for living in harmony with the laws that govern all human beings, so that you may become the master of your life. Later that year Rhonda’s book, The Secret, was published, which has been translated into over fifty languages and remains one of the longest-running bestsellers. Little wonder, then, that these books sell in huge numbers a€” and sell fast, particularly during an economic downturn. Instead, there is what is known in the self-help industry as the a€?18-month rulea€™ a€” which is that the person most likely to buy a book this week is someone who bought one 18 months earlier.
I tend to agree.Furthermore, very little of the advice offered in self-help books has been tested scientifically, despite the fact that there are ways to do so. In Rhonda Byrnea€™s case, the belief system is a New Age philosophy that is unabashedly evocative of the Da Vinci Code. If you dona€™t get those Louboutin shoes, that promotion, or you have an accident, well, apparently ita€™s yourA  fault.
Even more startlingly, in the book a woman claims that she cured herself of breast cancer in three months, without medical treatment, by believing that she was healed. Building upon The Secret’s powerful truths, your knowledge of the law of attraction is about to expand far beyond what you can imagine. Rhonda has written three more bestselling books: The Power in 2009, The Magic in 2010, and Hero in 2013. While UK book sales were down recently by 1A per cent overall, sales of self-help books for the same period soared by 25 per cent. As an example, leta€™s take a look at one of the most popular publications of recent years, The Secret (a€?Whatever you dream of can be yoursa€™), written by Australian TV producer Rhonda Byrne. The a€?Secreta€™ has been known by a select few throughout history, Byrne informs us a€” including the Babylon-ians, Plato, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein a€” but has been hidden from the rest of us until she uncovered it.
Little wonder there have been reports of people seeking therapy when a€?the universea€™ has failed to deliver. Instead, they offer mantras and a€?remediesa€™ that are designed to make people feel good a€” but they dona€™t actually cure what ails them. The third step is to a€?livea€™ the idea of having what you want, feeling as you will once you get it.
Worldwide, the DVD has sold more than two million copies, and the book more than four million.
Research reveals there are three key ingredients to human happiness: meaning, hope, and purpose.


For us to feel truly content we need a spiritual andA  ethical framework a€” be itA  religious or otherwise a€” that gives us an understanding of our place in the world, in a way that allows us to make sense of why bad things sometimes occur.
Second, it helps to be optimistic a€” not because positive thoughts magically attract things to us, but because optimistic people cope better with adversity. It turns out to be pretty simple: the a€?law of attractiona€™, which says that thinking about something makes it more likely to happen to you. Third, it helps to view ourselves as strong protagonists who set our own goals and make progress toward them.
Once you understand this basic a€?law of the universea€™, there are three simple steps to getting whatever you want.
The good news is that there are relatively simple exercises any of us can do to shape our views in these directions. If you are trying to shed a few pounds, for example, Burns advises you should not think about the fact that you are too heavy. THE PENNEBAKER EXERCISE Is there something in your life that you are particularly worried or upset about right now?
All you have to do is commit to writing about your problem for at least 15 minutes a day for three or four consecutive days a€” ideally, at the end of the day, and without interruption.
Writing your thoughts and feelings down about a specific issue really can help you to analyse and change your feelings and approach to it.THE STEP-BACK-AND-ASK-WHY-APPROACH THIS helps people get over events from their past that they find particularly upsetting or depressing. Close your eyes, and go back to the time of the experience and see the scene in your minda€™s eye. Move away from the situation to a point where you can now watch the event unfold from a distance and see yourself in the event.
What were the underlying causes and reasons?MAINTAIN A SENSE OF PURPOSEWhen everything we do feels futile, we should remind ourselves of our most important goals in life and find ways of making progress toward them. Caring for our families is the most important goal for many of us, and for many of us there are ways we can do it better.
Whatever it is that gives us a sense of purpose, we should be sure to make time in our lives to pursue it. People often forget to follow it when choosing careers or deciding how to spend their leisure time.THE DO GOOD, BE GOOD PRINCIPLE Some of us may be slightly pessimistic, and some of us endure blows such as losing our jobs or seeing a relationship disintegrate.



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