The majority of the advice and methods given to us work
The self-help industry thrives to the tune of nearly $10 billion fueled entirely on reiterated advice and common sense.
No advice is new. No method is new. No brilliant life hack is something only one person has thought of. And many times, we’ve heard them over and over and over again from different roles in our lives.
Sometimes we fail to make the connection a lesson is taught to us the first time and we need it reiterated in a different way. But most of the time, and more recently, we’re not putting the effort into advice to make it work. We’re just consuming it, over and over, with different words, with different experts with different achievements behind it, over and over.
The majority of advice about productivity, dieting, health, concentration, business, making money, finding yourself, etc. will actually work.
But we don’t do them. We listen, we feel inspired, we half-ass it, and then we say “it didn’t work”.
The worst example is dieting. “It didn’t work”. How long did you try? Did you actually try? Because from a scientific standpoint, if you’re eating less calories than you’re burning, you will lose weight. And over 50% of the U.S. did not magically develop a thyroid issue over the last two decades.
Now, many to assume everything is fate and luck. “The world is against me” attitude is rampant. I don’t think this is an American-only issue. I’m living in Europe right now and I see the same thing. People desperately looking for (and paying for) the “golden keys” then will forget they have and never use.
With the amount of information in front of us, we know everything we need to know to change our lives and improve our situation.
What we’re really looking for is the answer to why we don’t do what we know we have to (and sometimes even want to) and how we fix that.
The determining factor in successfully applying advice is ability to identify and kill short term impulses.
Too many people think that their thoughts are truth, fact, must be obeyed. Not enough people realize that thoughts, unless your life is in imminent danger, are not real and not dire. You do not need to do XYZ the second your brain tells you to. You’re still an animal. Your brain is a chemical mess high on stimulus, which for our generation, is abundant.
Who's to blame? The other you:
There’s a really interesting exercise I love from the book Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. He says to imagine the voice inside of your head that talks to you all day as a real-life roommate. Sitting next to you having coffee in the morning. Think about the inner dialogue that happens and picture it coming from someone else. Give them physical features and truly imagine what their voice would sound like.
In your mind, there is the “you” talking and the “you: listening and digesting everything the “other” you is saying. So it’s like there’s two roommates living in your mind. And they do not get along.
If that other voice was personified, you would hate them. They would be the most irritating, condescending, erratic person you know.
Yet we still allow this person to live within our minds and we don’t realize how much they influence us.
That inner voice is who tells us the self-help advice we seek is useless and “doesn’t work”.
If we never learn how to ignore that other voice, the other us, the other person having to live with that voice will never get the opportunity to take the good advice and apply it in peace.
The first step is to learn to identify when the voice is speaking and when the real you is speaking.
I’ve always had huge problems with meditation. I didn’t get it. I make no sense to me. What was I supposed to be doing? How is this helping? It wasn’t until I started thinking about shutting up that other voice that the real benefit of meditation became apparent.
When meditating, just listen to your scattered thoughts and let them pass. Think about it like looking at the sky. When you look at the sky and the clouds pass by, don’t fixate on an individual cloud and follow it to the ends of eternity. Just let it go and focus on the sky.
The realize the true benefit of meditation and begin the process of silencing the voice, you must think about your mind like the sky and your thoughts as the clouds. Just let them pass by. Don’t fixate. Don’t acknowledge and allow them to hijack your attention.
When you pay attention to the thoughts and you give them real attention, you forfeit your emotions, and then you give them real chemical reactions that are much harder to control.
Thoughts are merely suggestions. You don’t have to take them.
The better you get at not taking the advice of your erratic inner voice, the easier it will be to put all of the advice you’ve sought into action.