It'll never fly: Self-help

It's self-evident that with belief, focus and drive we stand a better chance of achieving success.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

So why are there 46,000 books in Amazon's self-help category, all promising the same thing - to make us rich, happy and successful? The industry is happy enough - it's estimated to be worth $10bn - while we're all apparently more miserable than ever. There's nothing wrong with self-improvement in principle. As Benjamin Franklin said: 'God helps those that help themselves.' Without such drive, we'd still be living in caves. Capitalism certainly wouldn't have stood a chance. Of course, self-help is a big tent, containing everything from the Power of Positive Thinking to NLP and the Bible. And even this corner of MT. But things get dodgy when a 'guru' dresses common sense in an aura of mystery, suggesting they're giving us privileged access to some deeper truth. Rhonda Byrne'sThe Secret became a worldwide smash by claiming to provide the 'great insight' that drove Plato and Einstein: if you picture something hard enough, it'll come to you. The book sits at 15 on Amazon's overall bestsellers chart. 'I am truly embarrassed that I even read this book,' writes one reviewer on the website. Deal or No Deal presenter Noel Edmonds is less ashamed about such 'cosmic ordering'. In his best-selling Positively Happy, he attributes his TV comeback to his asking the universe for help. Many viewers will wish it had replied: 'No deal.'

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