Tag Archives: self-help

The Self Help boom & the Happiness Cult

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Tony Robbins: Motivational Speaker. Captured  from The Century of the Self

In last Sunday’s Observer, journalist Carole Cadwalladr, discussed the increase in the huge profiting market of selling happiness: the world of self-help.  Self help books used to be something my dad talked about in the early 90s that made me think he was a little strange and that it was just a way to fake his real self. Yet in some ways I have become to realise that there is some good in enabling people to self administer happiness much like how self medication has become more and more common with the help of the internet. Whether that actually increases paranoia and hypochondria is another matter.

Creating The FATE Institute, a fictitious personalised futures institute was a comment in some ways on the way we all want to have someone/something/somewhere to believe in and have the answers and know more about us than ourselves. For there to be someway to control and manage the unknown and know how to get what we want out of life using techniques, methods and knowledge from the diverse fields of ancient divination, corporate forecasting and personal genomics & genetic futures.

This Observer article describes how this common feeling we have has created an opportunity for psychologists, counsellors, hypnotherapists and entrepreneurs to use their skills and speak to a wider audience by creating their brand empire with books, weekend courses, DVDs etc and in doing so turn self help into a huge money making genre.

Self help means investing time and money to listen to a 3rd party agency describe our potential risks in the future and then explore ways to control it to essentially make us feel happy in the now. We will join societies, buy memberships, read the horoscope, hire foresight consultancies and futurists, read horizon scanning reports, subscribe to predictive gene testing services, listen to counsellors,

This article also reminded me of Adam Curtis‘s doc, The Century of The Self and the way Edward Bernays applied Sigmund Freud’s understanding of  the subconscious to create the practice of public relations. Finding ways to understand and explore the self and introduce techniques to persuade and  encourage consumption and self obsession.  Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society’s belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man’s ultimate goal.

See also The World of Happiness post

School of Life : self-help and self-knowledge go hand in hand



The School of Life is a new cultural enterprise based in central London offering good ideas about everyday living.They offer evening and weekend courses, holidays to unexpected locations, stigma-free psychotherapy, secular sermons, conversation meals, a floating faculty of experts and a new kind of literary consultancy service called bibliotherapy. They also offer daily aphorisms

Film link

Super cool identity by Susanna Edwards

The World Database of Happiness

World Database of Happiness: A Continuous register of scientific research on subjective appreciation of life” is being created by Ruut Veenhoven at the Erasmus University Rotterdam

It collects all the available information about what makes people happy and why. According to the research, married, extroverted optimists are happier than single, pessimistic introverts. Nurses enjoy life more than bankers, and it helps to be religious, sexually active and a college graduate with a short commute to work. The wealthy experience more mirth than the poor, but not much. Sounds to me that if you don’t know any better and feel that you are expected to be happy then you would probably say you were happy,

And currently the happiest people are in Iceland and the country with the highest rate of suicides is Lithuania and the UK gives out the most anti-depressants to its population but the US deems to be the most depressed country perhaps based on their long working hours and the fact that they have no statutory holidays.

other related links:

The secret of happiness | It’s in Iceland | Economist.com

The science of happiness season on BBC last year

Happiness is the measure of true wealth by A C Grayling

Suicide rates of the world

The happiest country in the world

The most depressed place in the world

Bureau of labor statistics: how leisure time is spent in the US

Centre for Economic and Policy research: The No-Vacation Nation

The international labour organization

National Statistics Online