I write self help articles for a living. The last article I wrote was about cultivating happiness by choosing positive thought and making positive conversation as often as possible. I also touched on approaching negativity with a learning mindset.
Sometimes my most popular articles are not always the most nuanced. I think people crave definitive sound bites on Facebook and since that’s where these land, that’s what often resonates.
But there is something I want everyone to know about my self help articles. They are not written for people with serious problems. If your child has overdosed on heroin, I am not suggesting you choose happiness. If you husband beats you, I am not telling you to stop thinking like a victim.
Self help articles assume you’re not grieving, abused or suffering from human-initiated injustice. Self help articles assume you are in the peace time, and not war time, of your life.
There may be spies, cold relations, nuclear treaties and other serious shit going on, but you’re not supposed to read this banter for enlightenment if a cloud of mustard gas is floating over your trench.
There are real things for that… like therapy, prayer, inspiring literature and medication to name a few.
One commenter on my “Decide to be Happy” article said: “It must be nice to not have crippling untreatable mental illness.”
And to this suffering woman I say, “Yes. It is a fucking gift and I know it. It is glorious, in fact, to be privileged enough to write about the nuance of expanding happiness for already happy people.”
Self help articles should come with all kinds of warnings and directions. Do not read this if… Or try not to believe this is gospel because… Side effects include….
There are some clear truths that emerge in research about motivation, success and well being, but there is also much gray and many caveats. So as a peddler of tips and tricks for better living, I apologize to those who need more than tips and tricks. I wish I could talk to you about existentialism, injustice, grief, death and philosophy in my bread winning gig. I’d like it. I’d love to be Maria Popova or Cheryl Strayed, but I am not.
Not yet anyway.
Just know that I see you. I hear you. I get it. And I am not trying to diminish your struggles.