Call me a snob, but I’m a bit sceptical when it comes to self-help books. Don’t we know enough already? And haven’t we heard enough of good advice from our parents, teachers, bosses, spouses, friends, even kids, telling us how we need to manage our time, money, relationships, health and life in general just so that we can keep all those around us happy and, in the bargain, ourselves, too? And haven’t our experiences in life and mistakes we’ve made in the process, taught us enough too?

So are we happy? And more importantly, have we figured out all the answers?

If you paused at the two questions above, I suggest you move on, unless you are in the mood for some heavy-duty rumination.

I call these questions a maze. Once gone in, I’m not sure I’d be able to find my way out of.

Anyway, coming back to the point – the relevance of self-help books.

This piece of rumination was conceived when I read the books feature A few rules for life. The feature reviews Jordan B Peterson’s second book.

A Canadian psychologist, he shot to fame with his first book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. It was smart (spoke directly to old-school men who felt left behind by rapid changes in social behaviour); and it was sassy (thanks to the language). But in his new book, Jason is hoping to shrug off his extremely patriarchal image. And I feel to a large extent he does.

While writing the book was a cathartic experience for Jason, the message he tries to convey through it has me convinced about the purpose of self-help books – our goal in life should be to find meaning rather than happiness.

As I reset my aspiration compass, let me know what you think…

Reach me at mshekar@gulfnews.com.

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