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Read self-help books, but with care

Don’t get too carried away by the advice in the self-help books you pick up. Remember, nothing can be generalised

education Updated: Aug 15, 2012 14:53 IST
Samir Parikh

In times of trouble, people have increasingly started turning to self-help books. These books can at times be comforting and motivating and offer practical guidelines on how to deal with different situations. But self-help books are not the panacea for troubled minds. It’s a good idea to read them, but always try not to get too carried away.

1 Reading broadens your worldview: What books can teach us, no one else can. There’s no better way than to read to unlock your mind, develop a broader perspective and enrich your understanding of life.

2 Develop it as a habit: Anyone who enjoys a good book can never get bored. Cultivate reading as a habit; it’ll hold you in good stead for years to come.

3 Indulge into various genres: Don’t stick just to self-help titles. Reading can be fun as well. Explore various genres. Pore over text about things you really enjoy.

4 One at a time: Even within the same genre of self-help, different books offer different perspectives and different suggestions. Don’t get confused with too many books or too many authors. Go through only one self-help book at a time and take your time with it.

5 Wait a while…: Self-help books lose meaning if you just read them one after the other. Instead, take some time out to implement what you’ve read and practically apply it to your life.

6 Do not be too rigid in following what’s written: Remember that every written word is not the absolute truth but rather just that author’s take on life. Don’t blindly follow everything the author has written; always evaluate the suggestions yourself.

7 Talk about it: Knowledge grows when you share it with others. Discuss the books you read with your peers and elders, share your interpretations with them. It’ll help you understand the book better.

8 Nothing can be generalised: Books hold different things for different people. Think of what you can take back from one, keeping in mind your specific circumstances.

9 Do not turn reading into a task: Reading can be a great way to relax. Peruse what you enjoy and do this at your pace instead of looking at it as some kind of of homework that you have to complete at any cost.

The author is director, Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare