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Self-Help Books – Kill Me Now

By ZS Roe

The only certainty in life is death … and, well, taxes … and I guess being wrong, too. But death is the big one. Each and every one of us will someday kick the bucket, and likely with a few regrets still cluttering our storage bins.

Apparently, though, many of the dying share similar regrets, or so says palliative care nurse Bronnie Ware who recently wrote a book about the subject. In The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, Ware sets out to help readers live their lives to the fullest. The gist is simple: follow your heart (click here for more info).

Is this a self-help book worth reading?

In all my life, I’ve read only one or two bona fide self-help books. It’s not that I have anything in particular against the self-help industry. Truth be told, I’m not sure why I haven’t read more. Maybe I just don’t want to put faith in something that won’t likely work. Or maybe I just like being a cantankerous curmudgeon.

Still, the book’s premise is compelling, and the top five regrets that Ware outlines are (or at least seem) valid and may be even a little (teensy-weensy) bit eye-opening. Here they are for your consideration:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Personally, I do live my life true to myself … I guess … or maybe I’m just too selfish to ever consider what someone else might expect of me. For all I know, that someone else could be a douche. And as for not working hard enough, I’m pretty confident that I don’t work anywhere near hard enough. I don’t know if it’s a generational thing, but procrastination sure seems to be my constant companion. As far as my feelings go, well … it’s fair to say I’m a card carrying sap—I teared-up watching 300 for god’s sake. And friends? It goes both ways, doesn’t it? (Yeah, I’m bitter.)

As for numero cinq, it seems a little simplistic. To say you can just let yourself be happy is like saying you can just let your toddler use the potty. Give them permission all you want, but sometimes that kid will just sit there and warm the seat.

I’m complaining, I know. Sure, self-help books tend to over-simplify life’s problems and greatly simplify whatever solutions to those problems they offer, but I don’t want to write them off. Not completely, anyway.

What books like The Top Five Regrets of the Dying offer readers is incentive for self-reflection, and a means to keep such reflection manageable.

Life is a mess; your mind, even more so—a little help can go a long way.

Coming soon: Zac’s Guide to a Happy Life: Sell Your Children, Buy a Dog!

Opinion is a bi-monthly column of just that, my opinion.  While opinions are like noses and everyone has one, mine are especially snotty.  Please leave a comment or question—all opinions are welcome, and all contributions are greatly appreciated.  If you like what you read here, please subscribe.


One thought on “Self-Help Books – Kill Me Now

  1. I saw this book a few months back…recommended by Paulo Coehlo. I almost bought it, but held off simply because it smelled too much like the ‘self-help’ books. At 52, I’ve come to the conclusion that human beings and life are way too complex to simply be distilled to 5 easy steps or 10 easy steps. Self-help books are an indication that we wish life could be easier – and so we continue to chase the carrot.

    Posted by Scott Roe (@ScottWRoe) | May 3, 2012, 2:56 pm

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