It has been reported that the activities that fall under the heading of “self-help” was an eleven billion dollars industry in 2008. Meaning that it is huge and extremely diverse. It certainly is large enough that it is very easy for the neophyte to get lost into that vast world. In an effort to provide an extremely condensed overview of the subject here are some of the basic principles of that discipline.

The main objectives of self-improvement are to improve the quality of life and to stimulate self-actualization. To that effect theories, techniques and methods are promoted. Here are some of them.

1. Positive thinking. A positive attitude will certainly enhance the chances of success in any undertaking or endeavor. Positive thinking does not mean shying away from reality but it does imply that focusing on solutions will be far more effective and productive than waddling in pessimism and negativity.

2. Goal setting. Goal setting is essential to set the course and give the direction to follow in order to get what we want out of life. Goals are intended to design a life. A man without goals is like a ship without a rudder. Just drifting aimlessly.

3. Sharpening the axe. To be efficient, a tool has to be kept in good condition. Same for the mind. Everyday we are bombarded with negativities, stumbling blocks and frustrations. If we don’t do some daily mental conditioning by reading some positive material, listening to CDs or viewing videos on the subject, soon apathy will take over and the drive to achieve will be lost.

4. The win, win attitude. No man is an island. We must deal with others to get the things that we want out of life. And the way that we deal with others will determine the level, extent and duration of our success. The best possible outcome in any transaction is when both parties win. It creates goodwill and fosters a reputation of integrity and fairness.

5. Work on yourself. Jim Rohn said it best, “The efforts that you make in your job will earn you a living but the efforts to you put forth on yourself will earn you a fortune.” The results that you get is the expression of who you are. Work every day in every way to better yourself and the world will be your oyster. No investment yield greater dividends than the investment that you do on yourself.

6. The attitude of gratitude. Being grateful for what you have will put you in the right frame of mind. It will give you a sense of expectation that things always eventually turn out well for you and that you are a winner. The Universe has a way of giving you what you focus on. If you focus on what you already have you will be given more.

7. A sense of destiny. Dedicating yourself to a cause that is greater than yourself has a way of making you bigger than you are. As the cause that you serve grows and expands, so do you. You are the embodiment of the cause therefore, you become the cause. It’s fate becomes yours. As it grows, so do you.

Those are some of the basic tenets in the world of self-help. They are some of the axioms and postulates that must be integrated in the person’s character if they are to be of any use. Knowing something is not enough. It has to be used consistently. It has to be integrated into who we are.

That is the hardest part of the self-improvement discipline. It takes time, dedication, perseverance and self-discipline. Mastery is not acquired overnight. It comes as the result of cumulative and monk-like efforts done over the course of months and years. It’s the natural growing process done in a calculated and intelligent way.

Dr. Raymond Comeau aka Shamou is the Author of ShamouBlog and Administrator of Personal Development for Personal Success Forums.

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