Every self-help book you read, every motivational video you watch, every inspirational person you listen to—you always learn the same stuff:
- Do what’s hard. Do what’s challenging. Do what you’re afraid to do.
- Be proactive. Take action. Just do it.
- Live in the moment. Breathe. Focus.
- Know yourself. Be(come) yourself.
- Amor fati. Love thy fate. The obstacle is the way.
- Do what you want. Enforce your True Will. Follow your heart.
- Love, support, and empower others.
Self-improvement is always the same, which is good and how it should be.
Self-improvement is always the same because the principles of personal development don’t change.
No matter what you read, you’re confronted with the same shit over and over again, and that’s how it should be—because that shit is golden.
If you repeat a word over and over again, it becomes meaningless, yet hypnotic. Self-help ideas (or words of wisdom) give you the same hypnotic effect when you read or hear them hundreds and thousands of times. However, the words and stories expressing the ideas constantly change, so they rarely seem meaningless (they don’t appear as clichés, although they are just that).
You want the hypnotic effect because you need it to brainwash yourself, and you want to brainwash yourself with positive ideas because otherwise you won’t ever act upon them. Ideas are easy to think, yet hard to implement. Self-help advice and pieces of wisdom are notoriously simple, not easy. They’re most effective in the long-term. Your mind needs to be constantly exposed to them so that your nervous system can adapt. Over time, you’ll have integrated the ideas in your brain, making you more likely to actually act upon them in real life situations. Still, you’ll have to remind yourself of the basic principles forever. Lasting change requires constant effort.
The language varies, the principles don’t—such is the nature of self-help resources. They are, in essence, reminders—reminders that nurture your mind, direct your attention, and motivate you to take action. One such reminder is my book Willpower Condensed, although its theoretical part contains plenty of new ideas. (Hmm, this post didn’t start out as a marketing effort; now it looks like a cheap promo post—shame on me! but buy it anyway…)