If your "new year, new you" pledge is ancient history, get back on track by embracing the trend of light-heartedly titled, but seriously no-nonsense self-help books.By Kara CutruzzulaMar 17, 2017 10:00 AM
Cut the crap. We’re two months into 2017 and this is where my head is at, and where yours might be, too. After December’s chaotic denouement — holidays, parties, cross-country travel — we were all given the gift of a shiny, brand-new year. Optimism reigned supreme. Personal trainers invaded your inbox: Squat your way to a better booty! In this hopeful hustle and bustle, even the most jaded resolution-phobe can’t help but list one or two or ten things she’d like to change about her life. It’s natural!
But now, weeks have passed and we’ve failed. Or maybe only I’ve failed. Either way, the persistently cheery mentality it takes to chip away at your flaws — or lay a foundation for your goals — gives way to the same problems of your old life. You know, the life from two months ago. The bloom is off the rose.
Traditional self-help books are great when you want to be zipped into a life vest, placed into a canoe, and gently pushed into a babbling brook. Who can afford those luxuries now? As the weeks tick by, what you really need is to be shoved off Niagara Falls. Metaphorically, of course.
What if, to truly unstick your habits, transform your life, make more money, or stop living a slothful existence, all that’s required is a more aggressive attitude? Enough hand-holding and sweet-talking. To really get shit done, I’m convinced, sometimes you need zero excuses — and maybe even a few F-bombs dropped along the way.
A number of recent books ascribe to this same take-no-prisoners approach. Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, defines not giving a fuck as being comfortable with being different and not caring about, in his words, “trivial shit.” He says, “It’s okay for things to suck sometimes” — and isn’t that exactly what you need to hear when things do suck?
In her parody of Marie Kondo’s decluttering book, Sarah Knight also implores us all to give fewer, ahem, cares about what’s going on around us. With a few (okay, 332) well-placed curse words, she cuts through typical self-help jargon. And you know what? Her advice actually sticks. Maybe the key to fulfilling a resolution isn’t gently reminding yourself with a vision board stuck to your bathroom mirror; maybe it’s getting no-B.S. counseling funneled into your ears.
Because when you listen to self-help books on audio, it’s nearly impossible to stay still. Absorbing talk of taking agency, cleaning up your messes, and realizing that of course time is finite and of course you need to take advantage of every moment of the day, well, it makes sitting around in your pajamas with your hand in a bag of chips a lot less attractive. You begin to move while listening. If you keep paying close attention, the advice can work magic in real time.
So if you’re stuck in first-quarter malaise or want to gin up some enthusiasm, try out these five unconventional personal development books. The narrators don’t yell or chastise, but rather sound like inspiring friends whose straight-talk mantras come across loud and clear.