Sunday, 15 May 2016

The First Self-Help Book I Actually Liked

By Juanita Riveros Villamizar (8th semester undergraduate FIGRI student)

I have never been a big fan of self-help books. In fact, I used to profoundly dislike them and thought that through novels one could learn much more while enjoying good literature. For this reason, when a friend of mine recommended I read The 7 habits of highly effective people, my first reaction was to set the book aside. However, a subtle curiosity invaded me and I ended up googling the name of the book, which turned out to be a well-known book written in 1989 that has sold more than 25 million copies. I then decided to look it up in my kindle book store. I thought I would give it a try, read the free trial and then have enough arguments as to why that wasn’t my type of book. That was the plan, at least.

Having no high expectations I started reading the book but to my surprise I did not feel bored or overwhelmed with unrealistic ideas. On the contrary, I was absolutely captivated by it. Everything in it was real and I could relate to the author’s thoughts and stories. When the trial was over, I did not think about it twice and bought the book.

As the name states, the book lists 7 habits to become a more effective person. However, my purpose here is not to summarize each one of them. Instead, I would like to share a couple of ideas that the book made me wonder about:

1)      The victimization habit we need to be aware of and stop.
Think about something you have wanted to change in your life since long ago. Think about why you have not changed it yet. Is it because of time, money, the people who surround you, or your personality? We are used to blaming others for not achieving or being what we want, but the only ones capable of changing these issues are us. No matter how you were raised, what your genetics are, or what situation you are in. We, as human beings, always have the freedom to choose how to face any situation in life. To illustrate this, the author mentions Victor Frankl, the Jewish psychiatrist who survived the death camps in Nazi Germany. He states that Frankl, after being tortured and having lost his family, realized that the only thing the Nazis could not take away from him was the power to determine his response to such a horrific situation.

2)      Keeping the balance
Nowadays people have more issues to deal with than they did before. We are probably more stressed out because though the day still has 24 hours, the number of tasks that need to be done increases every day. There are always urgent, non-urgent, important and unimportant things to do. Usually, people focus on short-term pressing tasks while completely ignoring the important but not urgent issues that will pay off in the long term: such as exercise, planning and relationship building. These are things we know we need to get to but will probably push off. The clue is to classify our different tasks and to realize the importance of those non-urgent vital issues that in the end will help us achieve our goals.

These are just two ideas of the great variety the book has that hopefully have made you wonder a little about the way you think or the way you act. It may sound basic or easy but I can assure you they are linked to the deepest and most complex essence of being human. That is the reason why I consider this book to be so valuable and interesting. Bearing in mind I could barely condense a part of all the information contained in the book, I strongly encourage you to read it. You won’t regret it.

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