As a kid, I bought a book titled “Learn Sanskrit in 30 days.” That book was my initiation into the world of click-bait. I bought it immediately and started reading it. Needless to say, my fascination lasted all of about one hour. I still don’t know much Sanskrit.
The reason self-help books get a bad rap is because they promise shortcuts. The message they send out is, “It is easy! If X,Y and I could do it, why can’t you?” It isn’t that those books have bad ideas – most of them have good ones that charm the people who read them for a couple of months. But then, they come to terms with how difficult it is to get to the promised land and get disillusioned.
Ideas are like trees. They start as a seed and mostly grow underground until the first shoot surfaces. It takes several weeks of careful nurture for a tree to grow into a slender and healthy plant. Similarly, an idea starts off as a seed in our head. It takes time for this idea to seep into our bones and muscles. It takes daily practice for it to squeeze into our routines and our unconscious actions. It takes deliberate effort over a long period for us to embody the idea. Of course, all of those difficult parts are duly edited out of that 100 page self-help book.
Knowing an idea isn’t the same as living and breathing it, just as a seed isn’t the same as a tree. Besides, how much credibility do we give somebody who promises us a fully grown tree in in 30 days?