Alana Sousa

I’ve Read Hundreds Of Self-Help Books—Here’s What I’ve Learned

In today’s world, self-help has become a movement. We have access to some of the greatest thinkers of our generation without ever having to meet them. However, with great power comes great responsibility, and we’ve also become obsessed with consumption in the process.

We’re always looking for the next big idea—the next ideology that will change our lives. But nevertheless, this can pose a problem, because instead of actively changing our lives, we stay still. We read a lot of books, but our lives remain the same. I’ve read hundreds of self-help books throughout my life. In a nutshell, here’s what I’ve learned after doing so.

1. Take Action On What You Learn

If you don’t take action on what you’ve learned, you’re wasting your time. The truth is, there is no shortage of ideas to learn from on a single topic. With so many perspectives, it’s easy to get lost in craving more information to decide what the best one is. But creating the ideal life for yourself comes from trial and error—not from seeking more information.

What may work for one person may not necessarily work for another. That’s why it’s so important to apply the knowledge that you learn—otherwise, you are going to be stuck in a constant loop of staying the same. I wish I could go back and read less books.

2. It’s Okay To Put A Book Down.

If a book doesn’t resonate with you, that doesn’t mean you have to finish it. I can recall numerous occasions where I’ve continued reading a ‘popular’ book without actually aligning with what the author was saying. Everyone resonates differently with ideas. While it may be tempting to read as many books as you can, it’s much better to focus on the books that will have a true impact on you. It’s okay to put a book down… I wish I had done that too.

3. Reflect On Your Own Life.

While reading, I’ve learned that it’s so important to reflect on your own life and take mental notes. If you don’t take the time to think about what you’re reading in relation to the impact it will have on your own life, you may end up adopting ideas and perspectives that aren’t who you want to become.

For example, not everyone wants to wake up at 5 a.m. I tried it once and failed miserably. Sure, I could have kept going, but eventually I realized that I really had no intention of getting up that early and that’s okay. It’s better to take the time to actually understand who you want to be, then seek knowledge that doesn’t reflect that through books.

On a deep level, you may already know what you need to be doing but you’re just looking for distractions because you don’t want to do the work.

4. Be Your Own Person.

And on that note… You can take ideas from someone, but you should always think for yourself. Self-help books have a funny way of trying to convince you that their ideas are right above all else. But at the end of the day, you need to make your own decisions in your own life. Don’t get caught in a loop of thinking you need to become someone else to succeed in your life—you have the tools, now adopt them to your lifestyle.

While there’s a lesson to be learned in every book that you read, this is the gist of most. I’ve read a ton of books and learned a ton of amazing things, but over time, there has only been a few great books and a handful of great ideas that have changed my life.

There, I saved you a ton of time. Instead of procrastinating, let’s instead start building our lives instead of fantasizing about it in our minds.