Archive for February, 2016

Some people scoff at self-help, associating it with fake optimism and mental horn-tooting.  I get it.  I know it’s not possible to always feel happy, present, and fulfilled; to never feel tired, jealous, or afraid.

But for those who would find it altogether risible, I would ask them not to dismiss the forest because of a few rotten trees.  Just because Isaac Newton spent much of his life chasing the philosopher’s stone, doesn’t make bunk the rest of his work on calculus, optics, and gravity.

To me, self-help has never been about earth-shattering discoveries and previously unknown magic-bullets, but rather the gradual accumulation of infinitesimal changes that can transform our lives when viewed as a whole.

I think another reason self-help gets a bad rap is that some of its proponents have a nasty tendency to dismiss others’ claims of disadvantage.  No, poverty is real.  Death is real.  Accidents, disease, and family dysfunction are real.  Self-help should not be a weapon to bludgeon someone into self-blame and censorship; it is simply a tool to improve one’s lot, even if by a little (but sometimes by a lot) despite your starting position.

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I once read that Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace both came up with the theory of evolution independently.

They both traveled to exotic places (the Galapagos Islands and the Malay Archipelago, respectively), observed the local species of flora and fauna, and sought to explain the cause of their differences.

The funny thing is that they were both stumped until each read Malthus’ essay on human overpopulation and applied its ideas to the species they were studying.  Many famous biologists have since noted how obvious evolution by natural selection seems and wondered why the theory took so long to formulate.

Can you imagine?  All because of some paper they read.

How many ideas have you come up with, dear reader, because of some random article you read, or some rare conversation you had?  How many stories of mythology were heard, how many interactions of schoolchildren were observed, before J. K. Rowling wrote the masterpiece that is Harry Potter?

Good output, it would seem, requires good input, and plenty of it.

Other times, you might have more than enough swimming around inside your head, but you just need time and space to process it, like cream separating from milk.

That’s where those long walks on the beach come in.


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