Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Self-Help Books I Have Known

Whenever I am reading a self help book, I wonder why I ever waste my time reading chic-lit or mediocre comedic memoirs.

Self-Help books are the best, because for about 1 month I am self-helped! I am nicer and happier and more optimistic! It really works! For like a month! Then I return to fearing the world and being miserly with my money and being jealous of people I barely know.

And I figure....a month here and there of being a good person is better than nothing.

Here are a few that have been so amazing until I forgot all about them:

The Secret
I was a freshman in college (and a crazy 'raw vegan'- ugh) when I read The Secret (and watched that dramatic little movie) and realized: Yes, I WAS going to be rich and famous like I had always hoped, as long as I obsessively cut out pictures of things I wanted and put them in a little tin box. Actually I printed them off Google Images, THEN cut them out: Pretty houses. Pretty clothes. Theaters. Skinny people. Strawberries (?). Dramatic Parisian looking balcony tablescapes. Cobblestoney places. Anthopologie looking displays. Gardens. Old Bikes. I believe there was a picture of a rustic, english country mudroom strewn with tartan Wellingtons. I got stressed because if I ignored one part of my life, then it wouldn't HAPPEN, because I wasn't actively manifesting it. Right? So I cut out sillhouettes of happy people in relationships where you couldn't see the faces because it could be ME. Even though the concept was so weird and I was too chill for that desperate ridiculousness. Right? Anyway, in the end, many many happy models were living inside my tin box, manifesting amazing things.

I couldn't make a vision board and put it up like they suggested because that was SO embarassing. It would even be embarrassing if anyone ever opened my box and was like What the Hell is This, Caroline?

Then through The Secret I convinced myself that I should stop being a raw vegan (good) and instead think myself to health and beauty (sort of good). So I started eating cupcakes all-day-every-day, sprained my ankle when my brother tried to double bounce me at my cousin's First Communion, and lay in bed all summer eating chips and trying to think myself healthy- and instead gained like a million pounds.

Well, anyway, this was the beginning of my foray into Self Help Books.

You Can Heal Your Life
This is written by a woman (Louise Hay) who cured herself from cancer by thinking happy thoughts. The main lessons of this book are: to forgive everyone, be positive, and ...other stuff like that. She has a whole list of mental/emotional causes for physical ailments- which is what I primarily focused on- because I hated the idea of her waking up and drinking green juice and lying on her stretching board and THEN thinking happy thoughts. I just wanted to wake up and eat a chocolate breakfast and think happy thoughts. Here are some examples I just googled:

Sore throat – feeling unable to express some message in words, holding in unpleasant words
Leg problems – being uncertain about the future
Pain in the lower back – concerned about money, being uncertain of future money inflow
High blood pressure – being too emotional, unable to find emotional release
Flu – letting others control your life, not thinking for yourself
Hip problems – fear to make important decisions
Indigestion – dreading future events

Just recently I had debilitating upper back pain for about three days. Apparently I am holding in my love. Isn't that nice to know? Sort of?

The Power of Now/ A New Earth
These are both written by Eckhart Tolle and they both essentially say the exact thing. In fact... I have never actually read The Power of Now (but I did actually steal it from the book shelf of my alternative doctor in college -and never returned it becaues I never went back -because she never healed me -and I got tired of taking homeopathy). And in truth, I only read the first 3/4 of A New Earth. But I really was the happiest, kindest, most trusting person you have EVER met for over a month, until I went to Dublin on a College Summer program, and was having a hard time bonding with my roommate because I was so kind and boring and accepting of everyone. (I mean really. That is boring to be around.) When I finally caved and started doing my usual impressions of everyone and making fun of people behind their back, she loved me all the more, and then God smited me by giving me vocal nodes. I'm not kidding.

Working on Yourself Doesn't Work
This is a nice little paradox of a Self-Help Book. This is written by a husband and wife who searched the world for inner peace. Yoga, India trips, meditation, self-help books, affirmations, and realized that none of that shit helps.

The only way to not be a miserable drama-queen is to live in the moment and - that is it. It is a really short book.

However, their "live in the moment" prescription isn't just like, "YOLO!!!!!!!"- its more like "no like, actually live in the moment, like don't think about the future or the past or the not real" (yea RIGHT). My #1 favorite activity is walking around with my iPod (now I guess its my Phone with Spotify) and living in stories that aren't real. People on the street probably think I am crazy or very sad. Or very happy. Normally it is some drama, and the music is my soundtrack. Or in the (distant...) past, it was that I was introducing the Weasleys to muggle music ( and they LOVED IT). Or often I am pretending I am singing the songs that are playing at some logistically impossible to put together Cabaret-of-sorts, performing for anyone and everyone I want to impress. And all the songs were assigned to me by some benevolent song master, so I don't get embarrassed by the love songs.

So, really, it is impossible for me to live in the moment because then I would start live my own life and what would I fantasize about when I walked around?

What I am really trying to say is, if I was forced to live in the moment I would never exercise.

I have read (many) more. But I think I will save them for a rainy day post.

I will leave you with this: One thing I will never forget - is this book cover. I never actually bought or read the book because I chose another Self-Help book that day at Barnes and Noble, but I still think about it all the time, and fantasize about the day when I finally do read it- and then can rule the world from my couch.