Saturday, October 15, 2016

Helping You Help Yourself: Some Guides to Modern Living

We confess, self-help is not a genre we've given a lot of attention to. We're more of the mindset of Sarah Bennett, co-author of  F*ck Feelings: One Shrink's Practical Advice for Managing All Life's Impossible Problems, who has said:

The first step is accepting what you can't control. So many people who come to my father [psychiatrist and co-author Michael Bennett]—they want something they can't have. They want a happy relationship that’s never going to be happy, or they want opportunities that are not easy to come by. So it's going into accepting what you can't control, the factors that are out of your hands, and seeing what you can do with what you can control. And learning to be proud of yourself not just for accomplishing what you can, and not beating yourself up for what you can't. Not seeing yourself as a failure, when you haven’t really failed because it’s not something that you could have controlled in the first place. And admiring your ability to withstand a feeling of rejection, and the frustration and the pain, and keep going on towards a more reasonable goal while being a good person. That’s also what’s emphasized so heavily. Figuring out your own values and sticking to them.
That said, we have a lot of admiration for people who have faced adversity, have worked on their personal problem using creative means, who are "able to laugh at how much life sucks."  And we are not totally averse to dipping into self-help - Dear Abby might be a bridge too far, but we have certainly perused the occasional Ask Polly column and taken in the Dear Sugar podcast now and then, and like the So Sad Today twitter feed, sometimes we feel like we'd like to "borrow some dopamine", and reading that someone else has "same anxiety different day" is oddly comforting. Sometimes succor comes from unusual sources; sometimes from just feeling seen and feeling understood.

The modern world has its own set of manners and mysteries, pratfalls and perils; we've collected some books that might serve as guideposts along your way or to make you feel like one of the gang, even if, like Groucho Marx, you would "refuse to join any club that would have [you] as a member."

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice On Love and Life From Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

How to Be a Person In the World: Ask Polly's Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life by Heather Havrilesky


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