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Every self-help book ever, boiled down to 11 simple rules

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The first self-described self-help book was published in 1859. The author’s name, improbably, was Samuel Smiles; the title, even more improbably, was Self-Help. A distillation of lessons from the lives of famous people who had pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, it sold millions of copies and was a mainstay in Victorian households. Every generation since had its runaway bestseller, such as How to Live on 24 Hours a Day (1908), Think and Grow Rich (1937), or Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (1997). 

By now, the $11 billion self-help industry is most definitely not small stuff. Yet when you strip it down, there’s very little new information. After all, we were consuming self-help for centuries before Smiles, just under different names. Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius gave tweet-sized advice in Meditations; so did Benjamin Franklin In Poor Richard’s Almanack. Even self-help parody isn’t new. Shakespeare did it with Polonius’ “to thine own self be true” speech in Hamlet: basically a bullet-point list from a blowhard. 

The 21st century has seen a measure of self-awareness about our self-help addiction. There’s the wave of sweary self-help bestsellers I wrote about, such as The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. They hover somewhere between parody and dressing up the same advice as to their forebears in earthier language. More recently, there’s a trend you might call meta-self-help: books in which people write about their experiences following self-help books, such as Help Me! (2018) and How to Be Fine (2020), based on a similar self-help podcast By the Book

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A small selection of centuries-spanning advice.A small selection of centuries-spanning advice.
Image: chris taylor / mashable

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Click the link below for the article:

https://mashable.com/article/best-self-help-book-advice/

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