How The Self-Help Niche Became A Cultural Phenomenon

Have you ever wondered why the self-help section in bookstores is so popular? People are simply fascinated with self-help. Ten years ago, six and a quarter million people participated in self-help groups seeking another form of guidance or treatment, available to the public without the involvement of psychologists. Today, self-help groups assume a central role in the nation’s mental health delivery system. Self-help programs continue experiencing explosion growth and Americans continue spending money on self-improvement books, CDs, seminars, coaching and stress-management programs.

Did you know that the self-help industry was worth $10.5 billion in 2010, and according to Marketdata Enterprises, an independent Tampa-based research firm, the annual growth through 2012 is estimated at 6.2%? Although weight loss and exercise still represent a lucrative market, self-help products excluding those for weight loss and exercise make up roughly 60% of this total self-improvement market. Does that surprise you at all?

Personally, I’m not surprised with these numbers or the interest people are showing in this field. Who doesn’t want to improve their lifestyle or work on self-growth? I know I do.

Is The Self-Help Industry Based On False Promises?

Cynics will say that all industries are built on false promises including self-help. Of course, there are so many deceptive and dishonest “self-help gurus”  promising easy and fast solutions to all of your problems, but come on, only a fool would believe that self-improvement happens overnight. On the other hand, there are certain people who can really offer great self help solutions if you are ready to work on them, or to be more precise, to work on yourself.

Self-Help Books

 I’ve read a lot of books and I’ve found that some of them can even be classified as self-help literature. One of those books is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. You may argue that this book doesn’t really fall under the self-help genre, but if you read Tom Butler-Bowdon’s book Fifty Self-Help Classics, you’ll understand why The Alchemist is considered a self-help book. The book, just like so much of the self-help literature, talks about pursuing our destiny or chasing our dreams. According to Bowdon’s interpretation, The Alchemist sends out a very important message:

We too easily give up on our dreams, yet the universe is always ready to help us fulfill them.

Now, is this just a hope or a promise based on nothing? The book clearly accepts the fact that dreams have a price, but also not living your dreams has a price. What’s false about that? I believe you’d agree that nothing is false about this statement. If you don’t see it as a promise, think of it as an encouragement to follow your dreams and pursue happiness.

Why Are People Fascinated By Self-Help?

The self-help sales pitch clearly resonates, so it’s safe to say that people benefit from self-help products and services. Maybe not from all of them, but from enough to say that self-help works if you put your mind to it. The main philosophical thought behind self-help is to re-build your thinking and take a positive attitude toward yourself and life in general. Such thinking and attitude can help you be the change you want to see in the world. Some opponents of the self-help philosophy would argue against this statement and blame everything on the so called “placebo effect” which can be produced by false information. However, even this description of self-help points out the importance of perception and the brain’s role in physical health, for example.

Top 10 Reasons Why People Are Fascinated By Self-Help

In no particular order, here are the top 10 reasons why people are fascinated by self-help:

  1. You can learn to choose the way you think. When you learn to change your attitude you learn how to change your life to the better.
  2. You become inspired to chase your dreams, set goals and act toward achievement of those goals.
  3. You start doing things you love and pursue happiness doing those things.
  4. You build self-confidence, self-appreciation and self-esteem.
  5. You get motivated and you start discovering your mission.
  6. You start appreciating life within a larger context.
  7. You make a habit out of effectiveness .
  8. You become more creative.
  9. You become more interested in inner satisfaction than in the good opinion of other people about you.
  10. You feel better.

Are you fascinated by self-help and why? If your most important reason is not on this list, don’t forget to share it in the comments section below.


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