Feb 8, 2018

4 min read

We Don’t Want Science, We Want Hope

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Personal Development is exactly what it says— it’s yours. Do not get conned into giving others attention. They’re not helping you, they’re distracting you while they rake it in.

If I tell you there’s no known preventative medicine available for the common cold, you might come at me with Vitamin C or Echinacea. They’ve been marketed as such. Placebo might even boost your immune system, so what’s the damage?

If I told you Green Tea has the same cold-resistant benefits and you should drink a cup a day, I’m flat-out lying to you. But just like me and everyone else, you’d rather believe something simplistic, something black and white, than be unsure or totally skeptical of cold cures.

Like the priests at my local church, I pay them money and they take away my sins. I am now pure and able to pass into heaven, until I make another mistake and have to go back. My priest now has a Lamborghini while I battle with debt but who cares, because in the future I will be in heaven with the Lord and I will have a lovely time.

You’re gonna tell me that’s not how it works. For a lot of people — that’s exactly how it works. I don’t even go to church. M.Night. Shyamalan-ed.

The reason people dislike Religion isn’t simply because it causes people to fight about imaginary beings in the sky. It’s because Religion tells people they are special but they are flawed. And that makes them not only complacent, but programs them for a life of perceived failure.

Which brings me nicely to the point.

Like many of you I’ve watched the self-improvement blogs take off here. They all seem to want you to sign up to their mailing list, at which point they will tell you more stuff you should be doing to achieve your true goal. Whether this is getting up early, taking cold showers or writing self-help posts that people love to read. We eat them up. One post I saw got 35K claps.

Am I to imagine that 700 people (if everyone on the post gave 50 claps) achieved success from reading that post?

I certainly imagine 700 people, and definitely more, wanting to be successful. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of motivation. I’ve read these posts when I needed a pick-me-up.

If I want to make a million dollars this year, which route am I going to choose? To go out there, try to sell myself and work hard on my passion with no map; or will I read 500 blogs about how other people did it and then take a nap?

We don’t want to admit it, because that’s exactly what we do. We read these blogs to go into the fantasy world; where we don’t have kids or a family, where we don’t have that shitty day-job or crumbling debt in the background. a world where we know exactly what our passion is and it helps us get out of bed in the morning even though the temperature is -2.

We’re being sold a dream and we allow it because we don’t want to be told the odds. We don’t want practical advice, and we certainly don’t want to have to google it for ourselves.

The science of success most definitely involves learning from others. But in this instant gratification society, we get a buzz reading positive words from others. To the point we no longer feel motivated after reading them. We feel good, satiated, but not motivated.

The science of success means going out there and carving your own path. You can listen to what everyone else is doing until you die, but it’s not going to magically start your project, or give you any ideas about what it is that burns in your very soul. Go out, experience, find your own path.

That’s not what people want to hear. That’s not what personal development people want to tell you. They want to hear ‘of course I signed up to your advice emails’. Whatever makes them more successful. They get their book deals and their payouts and you get stuck reading their pseudo-science bullshit.

Get up at 5am in the morning so I don’t have to.’

Join my mailing list so I can profit from your dreams, keeping you too busy reading my stuff to chase your own future’.

This is exactly what self-help artists are doing to us, and we cling so desperately to absolutes, promises and supposed facts that we let them. It’s time to stop.

There are a range of writers who do fantastic work on this website. They write poetry, fiction, life-stories, they write about epidemiology and the future of science, about politics and the future of the world. They’re not getting as much space as the self-help articles that have been recycled a million, billion times over. That’s our fault.

Medium isn’t a website simply for business success, it’s a place to celebrate the many forms of writing as an art. It’s time to get some variety back, to inspire people and to open our imaginations to something more than social status and financial gain. What do you know, it might even give you some ideas about what you actually want to do with your life.

If you like what I’ve written, why not sign up to my — just kidding.