Self-help without the corporate/consumerist propaganda
September 11, 2012 9:48 AM   Subscribe

Self-help without all the cheesy capitalist, CEO-worship and consumerism... does it exist?

Thanks to a change of career and city that isn't quite working out the way I planned (or at least imagined) it might be about time for me to dive back into the self-help world again. I have found some of the self-help techniques to be, well, helpful during times like these. But it is increasingly difficult to get through the cheese-ball middle-management leadership workshop language that pervades the genre.

Any recommendations of self-help(ish) books, videos, podcasts, etc that don't focus on success=$ or the usual Who Moved My Cheese corporate propaganda would be very much appreciated.

For example, I'm about half way through Chris Hardwick's "The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life)" and am liking it a lot.

Bonus points for recommendations that are: free, available online, not new-age-y, about helping helping others while helping yourself
posted by willie11 to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
The Myth of Ability. Not meant specifically as a self help but has useful explanations that some (including me) have found self-helpful. The End of Ignorance is the next book on my list.
posted by tilde at 9:52 AM on September 11, 2012

Aaron Swartz is running a series of posts on his blog that are about "getting better at life" in his words. They're concise, "self-helpy", and pretty good.
posted by musicismath at 9:55 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was coming in here to recommend Chris Hardwick's book, but I see that you're already on it. So let me also recommend "59 Seconds," a very non-woo and scientific approach to self-help and behavioral change.
posted by jbickers at 10:02 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Honestly, much of Mindfulness Meditation fits this. There are books and such that are not woo-woo new-agey at all and focus more on the practical aspects. (although things like generosity of spirit, gratitude and service are not things I'd put into that category)

The one that changed my life is Radical Acceptance.

Ultimately all self-help is about embracing life as it is, giving yourself freedom to make mistakes, and going out of your way to serve others.

Everything else is semantics.
posted by softlord at 10:02 AM on September 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

softlord: Right on. My plan, if asking metafilter didn't pan out, was to go back to mindfulness meditation and buddhism. Although I found that genre to be as rife with new-age nonsense as the self-help industry was with corporate propaganda.
posted by willie11 at 10:22 AM on September 11, 2012

Your best bet is, to be honest, to take everything you already know, and meditate on it. I'm not being facetious; the truest path to enlightenment is to thoughtfully consider the knowledge you've gained, and every bit of "self-help" that comes from other people will have some aspect of not really being about your own growth and enlightenment. As you pursue this path, if you find yourself conflicted or stymied, talk to your friends and family about those things, then meditate on what you've heard -- much or all of which might be less than helpful -- because even consideration of what's wrong can help us realize what's right.
posted by davejay at 11:19 AM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Many of Paul Graham's essays

This is How by Augusten Burroughs
posted by shivohum at 6:23 PM on September 11, 2012

The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation by Thich Nhat Hanh. Can't recommend it enough! It is extremely practical and non-woo yet inspiring and respectable.
posted by threeants at 8:39 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry, that link was broken. Here instead.
posted by threeants at 8:40 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

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