People can get really down on self-help books. Ours is a culture that sees asking for help as a sign of weakness, and reading a book about helping yourself is seen as ridiculously passive by some. In reality, self-help should be empowering; you’re taking control, literally helping yourself. I think burying your problems and refusing to acknowledge them because you’re afraid to even deal with them is a far, far weaker thing to do. But a lot of people don’t see it that way. To some, self-help books are silly, unhelpful, and inherantly feminine (which is inherantly bad, obviously). Clearly, I don’t agree. I love talking about feelings. I don’t think there should be any stigma surrounding self-help books, therapy, rehab, or what have you. I enjoy having deep conversations with my friends were I make them uncomfortable by putting my hand on their arm and saying, “I just want you to be happy,” very seriously. This is fun for me. So naturally I know how to get down with a self-help book now and again.
I can’t remember where I read the best description of anti-depressants (it may have been Sarah Silverman’s book, The Bedwetter), but here it is: Anti-depressants don’t “fix” your depression. Instead, they put you in the correct frame of mind so that you can deal with your problems.
I feel the same way about self-help books. If you’re expecting to read a book and have your life magically changed, you’ll be disappointed. But self-help books can drastically affect your attitude, which can put you in a place where you’re ready to make necessary changes. I know that’s definitely true for me; I can directly credit specific books with helping me to start writing again, encouraging me to start submitting my writing, convincing me to move to a new place, helping me reassess relationships and attitudes, and just generally helping me get out of a negative funk and into a place where I’m in control. So by popular demand (i.e., one person asked), I’ll be talking about some of my favorite self-help books. First up is The Nerdist Way by Chris Hardwick.
The Nerdist Way is, hands down, the best self-help book I’ve ever read, and that’s entirely because of Chris Hardwick’s personality. This book is funny. Laugh-out-loud, quote the lines to my boyfriend funny. This is really rare for self-help books, which tend to take themselves a bit too seriously. But even more importantly than the funnies, Chris Hardwick seems like he really wants to help people. He shares his mistakes and lessons in with an honesty that doesn’t seem desperate for attention; he just seems like a friend who wants to help.
The book’s divided into 3 sections: Mind, Body, and Time. The Body section is interesting because Chris Hardwick has the best attitude about fitness I’ve ever encountered. To be fair, I’ve also read the book Skinny Bitch, so I’m used to people telling me the size of my ass is inversely proportional to how much I deserve happiness. Chris Hardwick shares this revolutionary sentiment with us: Exercise should make you feel good. I know…whaaaat?!?!
The section about Time gives a lot of practical advice, like how to set up your email or how to effectively file your paperwork. But the best section, in my opinion, is Mind. I don’t know about you guys, but I can play some serious head games with myself. It’s so easy to self-sabotage and talk yourself out of succeeding or ever even attempting something, whether you’re doing it because of fear, anxiety, or some misguided belief system. Chris Hardwick gets this, and he lays out all the excuses so clearly it shocked me. How did he get in my head?
Chris Hardwick is pro-self-help, pro-positive thinking, and anti-laziness. Good attitude, good work ethic, and funny? This book not only changed my thinking, it made me develop a weird, student-mentor crush on Chris Hardwick. Whatever, I don’t judge you and your issues. Just let me have this.
I haven’t even mentioned something that most people would find important: the book uses Dungeons and Dragons as a framework. The thing is, though, that I know basically nothing about D&D (not entirely true. I can’t hang out with my boyfriend on Monday nights because that’s his gamin’ time) and that didn’t affect my understanding of the book in the least. Nerds, in this context, are people who are enthusiastic and focused about their interests. If you’re reading this, you probably identify.
Seriously, guys, I can’t recommend this book enough. If you’re feeling blocked or stuck, if you have some big dreams you’re going after, if you’re a creative-type, if you have problems with time management, or if you just want to improve…this is your book!
Also, my self-help recommendations are going to get decidedly more “hippie bullshit” from here on out, so be warned.