I'm very curious about self-help and self-development. With two very different goals - firstly, to advance my career and, secondly, to help manage my depression. Many successful people even in the creative arty world have good things to say about this book or that book. And I've had a few people pass through the various studios trying to get me into this or that and I've always been a little resistant to it all. I have many reservations, questions, opinions on the subject, positive as well as negative and would love to talk them through. But there's too much for one post and too many scattered thoughts for a series of posts so I'll just touch on some stuff here while it's on my mind.
There seem to be two main types of self-development books/seminars/cults/scams etc.:
a) How to achieve your goals by persuading people to do what you want (ie. how to shaft your fellow man).
b) How to achieve inner peace and happiness (ie. how to make you think you're happy).
For this post, I'm just talking about the latter... mostly. One of the biggest self-help and self-development ideas that runs across both types but is key to the latter seems to be that we create our own reality based on perception and how we communicate ideas to ourselves. This is called many different things and there seem to be many different ways to get there but, basically, there is a big push on the idea that you can make yourself happy. There are thousands of books on the subject. There are groups, cults and whatever all based around that idea.
Many of them are trying to take your money (to make themselves happy I guess - living by example) but, if they get results and you get what you pay for, is that really a bad thing? That's a whole other subject I guess.
But the idea of altering your perception to make yourself happy, to me, seems so unbelievably selfish. It requires pretending that the shit in the world doesn't exist. It requires not acknowledging any of that bad stuff. It requires voluntary and practised blindness.
Now there is a view that happiness works with the trickle-down effect. Someone once made this argument to me who was part of a self-help group (kind of like scientology-lite). Well, the trickle down effect in economics is utter bullshit because there are people at the top trying their damndest to make sure nothing trickles anywhere. And it's bullshit when applied to happiness too. Because it requires voluntary and practised blindness.
You can't help make others happy when you are blind to what it is that makes them unhappy. You can't help heal society when you are blind to what is making it ill. You can't stand against injustice when you are blind to all negativity.
Not only that, but while you're totally blind and practising 'b' (making yourself happy), you are leaving yourself completely open to being manipulated and exploited by the people practising the 'a' of self-development: how to shaft your fellow man.
Far from trickling down, the day you find your own inner peace and become truly happy, is the day you become a danger to society. Because you will fall in line with whatever is happening around you regardless of consequences. Because, whatever is happening on the outside, inside you're completely deluded.
No, as far as I can see, the only time that someone can be truly happy and for it to be a good thing is when not one single person on this planet is suffering. Not one child is hungry. Not one person oppressed. Am I wrong? Is it right to be happy when others are suffering?
I don't know. I don't think so.
If you see someone who really looks at peace today, do me a favour and give them a slap and tell them to wake the hell up.