About the Project

Until fairly recently us Brits were not into self-help. That was something for Oprah-loving Americans, people happy to talk about ‘feelings’ and their childhoods – but things have changed.

Recent figures show that UK book sales have dropped by 1 per cent since the recession but in that same period sales of self-help books have increased by 25 per cent.

It’s estimated that in Britain self-help has earned publishes £60 million in the past five years – while in the States, the self-improvement industry is wroth more than $10 billion (£6 billion a year).

Paul McKenna alone is his own industry – making £35 million out of telling us how to be thinner, happier, and more confident. In just seven days.

It seems that in times of insecurity – when banks, religions and communities are collapsing – many of us find comfort in the idea that somebody has all the answers, even if it’s an ex radio DJ/ hypnotist.

But do any of them actually work?

That’s what I want to find out. For the next year I will follow a different self-help book each month – to the letter. And I mean really, really follow the advice no matter how ridiculous, embarrassing, cringe-making it is.

The idea is that millions of us read these books but do nothing that they tell us to do. We buy them, read them, nod in agreement then promptly go back to life as usual. But what happens if we do what the gurus say?

What if we really did Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway? Dutifully copied the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People?

Could the life of this broke, perpetually single, chronically anxious woman be transformed?

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7 thoughts on “About the Project

  1. Looks to be a bit like Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project… I hope you’ll be just as successful (for your readers and yourself). FWIW I used to be addicted to self-help books myself (late thirties, early forties), but one advantage of getting older is that you finally get to be more comfortable with yourself …. or maybe the books did help and I finally don’t need them anymore. Still like reading them tho – and blogs from people like yourself. Best of luck! And well-done on your first Fee-the-Fear month.

      • Being a bit of a natural worrier (not warrior), I found the “Don’t sweat the small stuff” series quite helpful – must have bought half of his books (Richard Carlsson). Not sure if ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ qualifies – those are more feel-good stories. I am now much more in meditation and, if anyone is looking for something in the overlap between self-help and meditation/awareness, I can most strongly recommend Rirchard Tolle’s “Now!” (I am less impressed with his later work.) Another route for people to explore is the “simplicity” approach (which, for me, happened inbetween my Selp-Help and Meditation phases … it all sounds a bit funny when written like that but I surmise many people go through phases these during middle age (which is most definitely the best part of my life so far).

      • Meditation and mindfulness is coming up time and time again as the best approach for anxiety. I will do a mindfulness month and would love to try Vipassana – 10 day silent meditation. Meant to be very, very hard but amazing if you can stick it. Thanks for the recommendations.

  2. YES, Marianne! Please do have a meditation/mindfulness month – meditators often forget how difficult it was in the beginning so it takes wonderful people like you to verbalise the first steps/fears/etc for other newcomers. And yes, I can highly recommend Vipassana though I would personally really only advise it for people who’ve already got a few year’s meditation experience … it makes it more manageable and you’ll benefit perhaps more from it. Why not try a gentler 3 or 5-day silent but guided meditation retreat instead first? It’ll allow you to focus more on the meditation aspects. With a 10-day Vipassana, you have to manage the physical issue of sitting still for hours on end, the food & day/night cycle regime, the meditation pose aspect, the complete silence/no communication issue and others all at once. With love – Jean-Paul

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