Last week I watched a YouTube video with a title along these lines ‘why alternative self-help is brainwashing you…’ I loved the three dots at the end indicating that there is more to the story. Because there is. This wasn’t the first video I came across, I’ve also watched videos on the opposite side that shared why the self-development industry is ruining your life, or why new age spirituality is a scam. All these YouTube videos have hundreds of thousands of views, and each one of them breaks down another type of self-help/development or new age spirituality guru or company. I’ve been indulged in both industries and there is one thing I wanted to share with you about both.
No, I am not gonna break one down or the other, nor am I gonna give you an alternative. What I want to do in this article is, share with you why all industries have drawbacks, and why all industries have advantages. It all depends on the one similarity that these industries have. “What’s the similarity?” You ask. It’s us. You and me. We as individuals. We are a similar factor in all of these industries. I have read self-help books, as well as new age spirituality books like A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, and I have watched alternative self-development videos by Nathaniel Drew, and Matt D’Avella. In all these different industries I have been the common factor, I have been the consumer of them all. And I have found that none of these industries are better than the other, nor worse than the other.
In fact, it’s not about which company, guru, or industry is the best or is speaking the truth. What matters is you. Who you are as a person, and if you take everything for the truth, or if you start thinking for yourself.
Part One: Why People are Blaming the Self-Help Industry
I first want to debunk why I feel that people are blaming the self-help industry and all the guru’s out there. I’ve always been saying that we shouldn’t blindly follow everything a guru tells us. That doesn’t mean I say the guru is wrong. I just say that we have the incredible power to think for ourselves. We should use that power, instead of following the leader like a flock of sheep.
I at first totally agreed with the videos that told me about the scammy and harmful mentalities of self-help industries. Until I realized why people were writing and creating these kinds of stories in the first place. You see these videos that break down and blame the self-help industry or any industry, in general, do so because they have felt the negative effects of these industries. For example:
If you read a new age spirituality book that tells you to think of what you want and it will instantly manifest itself, and then think it must happen and you decide to stop working for it, you have fallen into the trap of believing everything these new age spirituality books teach us. Then when it doesn’t work, when the things you want to manifest don’t come to life you start to blame the industry for telling you lies. Or the other way around and the industry starts telling you that you are doing it the wrong way.
And thus you could start to create a video about it. Instead of seeing that you were the one who in the first place took every word the book said for truth. You were convinced this was gonna change your life. Forgetting that the beauty of life is to actually do something about it yourself. Yes, we can sit back and think of how we want our lives to be, believing that everything will come to us. But it’s even more beautiful if we can actually think about what we want and then work for it.
Then when our dreams manifest it’s a delight, and an addition to your life. My point here is that the industries are only giving you guidelines, ideas, inspiration, practices, but it’s you who decides what to do. It’s you who has to choose what is right for you. And it’s you who has to make a difference here. I do believe some people can manifest things instantly, but I also think that this isn’t the only way to live. There are millions of ways to live, just as many ways as there are people on this earth. Reading a book, watching a video by one of these gurus, or attending a keynote talk is not gonna change your life the way they promise you it is gonna change. It’s the way you implement and think for yourself after this that is gonna change the world for you.
Part Two: Take The Best of All Worlds
I like to think of it this way. When I was young I loved to watch fantasy movies like Harry Potter, or Pirates of the Caribbean, and I dreamed of becoming a wizard or a pirate. Now I knew this couldn’t be true, but I did love the idea. These movies planted an idea in my head, a spark of inspiration and nothing more. I decided to start writing one day. Because I loved stories and would love to become like these heroes in these movies. The only way to do that is by writing, and coming up with these stories myself. So that’s what I decided to do. In a different way, but still, I write and create my hero-like journey. I took inspiration from these movies that cultivated into a desire and a dream.
The same goes for all these industries. It might be a bit of a far-fetched example, but self-help gurus or industries are only trying to improve your lives. And yes some try to take advantage of you, but that is only if you stop to think for yourself. If you just hold their views, opinions, and ideas for the truth. That blind belief in anything is what has created a lot of problems throughout our history. It started with religion, were Christians or Muslims started fighting a war because both believed that their religion was the truth. Many people were slaughtered because of this blind belief in a religion. Then world wars started happening because we blindly followed a leader who was trying to create the perfect Nazi race. That too ended in massive bloodshed. In both these cases, some people thought for themselves. Who didn’t blindly follow any religion, philosophy, or leader and wanted an equal world.
You see all walks of life that are lived with a blind belief that they are the truth will eventually end up destructive. For if you are blind to everything around you, you will hit walls, fall over curbs, maybe even get hit by a bus, because all you cared about was the thing right in front of you.
All of this is debunking, and highlighting the bad sides of these industries, and the people who say these industries are bad. But that’s not what Today I Lived is about. I want to give you a way of living a beautiful life. And I believe that there is beauty in all of these industries, and also in all of the religions on this earth. I highlighted the bad sides of these to share with you the importance of thinking for yourself and being aware that to everything there is a bad side. But let’s end this with all the beauty that you can take from them. In all these industries there are ideas, practices, guidelines, philosophies, and inspirations that have brought my life, and will bring your life massive improvement and delight. Practices like positive thinking, meditation, embracing your emotions, resting, habits, and reading are all incredible practices if they work for you.
That’s the most important thing here. Everything on this entire planet carries both something good and something bad. The only thing that determines this is our perspective. We can hate a person or love a person only because we hold that opinion over them. The same goes for these industries. We can hate them or love them. We can also hate or love religions, but none of this is gonna make the world a better place. It’s neither hating one of these industries nor blindly loving them that’s gonna make you and this world more beautiful. It’s embracing both these sides that are gonna help you embrace the entirety of life.
What I mean by this is that you should be aware of the drawback, the overly positive mindsets that push away all so-called ‘negative’ thoughts, or the pushing your body to such limits that it gets damaged. These are drawbacks that are often seen as the bad sides of these industries. Be aware of these so that you don’t fall into these traps and degrading forms of living. The same goes for falling into the trap of blindly following another’s advice. Including the advice, I am giving you here. If this doesn’t work for you that’s fine, just move on. Then I have made my point. Which is, to think for yourself. To be wise enough to make a decision based on how you want to live. Don’t blindly follow my advice or that of anyone else on the internet.
Follow your advice and take inspiration from all these industries, religions, gurus, or philosophies. All of them carry incredible wisdom, beauty, and truth.
Part Three: The Incredible Power of Thinking for Yourself
If you start to embrace the incredible power of thinking for yourself you will see the difference. Which is that there are common truths and personal truths. Most of the things that self-help industries are sharing are personal truths. They have worked for the author, or the teacher himself, but that doesn’t mean to say that they will work for you. These are personal truths, and only you can determine if something is a personal truth for you. I can not tell you to start meditating and say that it must improve your life. For some people, meditation won’t work its magic and they will much rather do something else that gives them the same effect.
Or kindness which Gandhi shared with the world.
On the other hand, there are common truths. These are more general, and the best examples I can give you for these are the values that great leaders shared. These are universal. Like equality, which Martin Luther King Jr. preached for. Or kindness which Gandhi shared with the world. Or compassion which his Holiness The Dalai Lama shares in his lectures. Or the love for everyone that Jesus his stories share with us. All these humans shared common truths. Those are universal for all women and men. Which are equality, kindness, compassion, love, and there are many more of these common values that were shared by marvelous leaders throughout our history.
These are common values we can all follow and should follow. That is because they don’t involve any practices. They are feelings, and values we hold which then can be translated into practices. Compassion can be translated into meditative practices. Kindness into giving to the poor. And equality by embracing our differences at work or in society. That’s the way we can embrace our personal power.
I want to give you this, and yes this is a practice, but it will help you determine what works for you and what doesn’t. What are your values this determines what works for you and what doesn’t. This is what helps you determine if you want to follow the advice someone gives you, or not. So what’s this practice? It’s very simple. You write down all the values you hold dear. Now don’t go looking for values on the internet. Follow your heart and instinct. Which values come up. Think in single words. Like kindness, love, compassion, motivation, strength, and so many more. Single words that empower you. And write those values down. This is sort of your comparison chart to which you can now hold every practice, idea, philosophy, and religion that you will ever come across and see if it works for you.
This way no industry will ever be bad, nor will it trick you into doing anything that isn’t gonna make you a better person. You were given a beautiful gift to think for yourself. To think, and to evaluate your life and the advice of others. Embrace that, because only you will be able to make your life more beautiful. Only you will be able to say, at the end of your day that Today you Lived! Make the most of it.
Thank you for reading, and of course, if you have any questions or different takes on this be sure to message me whether through email or on any of my social platforms (preferably Instagram) which is @today.i.lived I would love to discuss things with you and hear your advice and take on this. Remember, embrace your own capability to think and evaluate. So even evaluate my story, and if you want to follow it or not.
Remember to end your day and say Today I Lived! I made the most of it.