The Self-Help Aisle

  1. “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” -Aristotle

I remember the first time I found the self-help section at Barnes & Noble. I was living by myself on Long Island, commuting to my new job in New York City. I had no car and lived by myself. I exhausted myself enough during the week between my commute and the job to crash early every night. But the weekends during which I did not travel were long and lonely. Sometimes I would travel in to spend a day exploring all the wonderful nooks and crannies of New York City. But during the days I wanted to remain local, I would walk to the local B&N Bookstore and lose myself in the hope of all those shiny new books promising me a shiny and perfect life.

With all the self-help books I have read during the past twenty one years, you would think I would have the peace, fortitude and stability of the Dalai Lama. I’ve read countless books about being happier, being skinnier, being stronger, being bolder, being a better manager, being a better leader, being a better friend, being a better listener, being more in control of my destiny and of course, being a faster reader so that I could read more self-help books! I should be so fabulously perfect by now that you’d be able to crown me God.

Unfortunately, that large investment in all those books never quite got me to where I wanted to be. One and a half years of therapy has gotten me further than another twenty would have in the self-help aisle. What’s funny is that I have surfaced far more questions than answers. But the best part is, I have more hope that ever, that the answers I’ve been looking for are not out there, but are actually buried deep within myself, underneath all of the rubble I have piled on to myself for the last 42 years.

I suspect it will take at least another ten years to answer all my questions, unearth all my issues, comb through my anxieties and surface my depressions. But for all the nights that I woke up at 3am in a panic or hid underneath a blanket in the middle of the day, I believe that true happiness and infinite peace do exist. I know enlightenment as I’ve read about for so many years is attainable. We are all on a journey and this is mine. You happen to be coming along with me for the ride. And somewhere within the best version of me, will be the power to give back to the planet and make this world a better place.

 

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