17 Jul 2019
How many self-help books have you got on your book case or lying around half read? Self-help is a multi-billion industry. In the USA alone it was worth $10bn in 2018. It fills bookstores, packs out conference rooms and is all over the web and social media.
Self-help may have changed your life for the better or perhaps you think its snake oil, either way it’s all around us. Type in ‘get more done’ in Google and you get over 2.9bn possible results!
The problem with so many self-help experts, is not everyone can be right and a counter culture is growing against these gurus and a leading exponent of this movement is the Danish psychologist Svend Brinkman.
His first book ‘Stand firm’ criticized what he calls the Self-help mania and his latest publication the ‘Joy of missing out’, sets out a modern manifesto for not only individuals but governments.
He extols the virtue of making do with the talents we possess and the resources we have, rather than adopting a lifestyle of wanting everything in the future. Svend argues that this is not sustainable or healthy for individuals, governments or the planet.
His central argument is both personal and political. It can be best summarised as:
If we want to live a life that is sustainable for both ourselves and the planet, then all of us needs to learn the art of self-restraint, halt our excessive western consumerism and curb our desires to have it all.
He argues we are only able to live up to our obligations as human beings if we are willing to miss out on something in order to be there for other people.
I tend to agree in so far as too many of us stress about the future and neglect the potential and opportunities of the present.
Do you ever obsess over details which are not and will never be within your control? Dwelling on a scenario and every possible outcome long and hard rarely works out, does it?
Of course, plans must be made and careful consideration given to future events. However, how often do we move far beyond planning to preoccupation and worry? When this happens it’s not healthy for your body or mind.
But how do we maintain focus and self-worth in a world so full of choice and temptation?
The biggest barrier to this according to Brinkman is a personal and cultural problem he calls FOMO (Fear of missing out) the regret we feel when we miss out on an experience, an event or most likely stuff!
Perhaps, that’s why we look for guidance and self-improvement and how the self-help industry is so profitable.
Planning is of course a fundamental part of life and business but the present and the opportunities we have now should not be overlooked for a desire for the future.
Letting go of our obsessive desire to control the uncontrollable future can be terrifying but also liberating. I’d argue that three simple principles can help many of us focus on the here and now and stop worrying about what we are missing out on. I’d like to share these with you now:
Why not give it a try concentrate on what you have and perhaps read Sven’s new book. Then perhaps you can experience the Joy of missing out.
John Joe McGinley Glassagh Consulting July 2019