Since I was exposed to my very first self-help book back in 1983, “Think and grow rich,” by Napoleon Hill, I was sold. I knew that it was just a question of time before I could usher in my preferred destiny happiness, success and financial abundance. Like any acolyte, I pursued the “staying positive” course with the alacrity of a Spartan and the religious zeal of a Tibetan monk, consuming all that I could find on the subject, and sought still others. I’m an admitted 100 percenter, an all or nothing, do or die kinda person. Often I shudder to think what I may have done in any number of past histories, if I was say an SS Hauptsturmfuhrer officer (head assault leader) in the Nazi Party? Would I have carried out my senior’s orders with the same kind of intensity and commitment? Shudder, let’s rather move on folks.

So the question is, can you solve all your problems with a smile? Does a positive mental attitude, so beloved of Norman Vincent Peale, Jim Rohn, Zig Ziglar and others change your past realities? Can your new thoughts materially shape or change your current existence? The “original” self-help and positivity guru, Samuel Smiles espoused the beliefs that positive or negative thoughts brings about positive or negative experiences, also known as “the Law of Attraction,” first written by 20th century French pharmacist, Emile Coue in his book, “Mastery through Conscious Autosuggestion?” it seems to me that these self-help authors are almost all exclusively white, deeply religious christians, ardent advocates of laissez-faire economics, “champions of the working class,” who also happen to be pretty good writers? Now remember folks we are talking about a $10 billion dollar industry in the United States that grows at a per annum rate slightly better than all the Western economies, bar China, with increased growth in radio and TV seminars, blogs and vlogs, books, lectures, seminars and videos.

So after more than 6-decades of the relentless media brainwashing campaigns of that cartoonishly toothy Tony Robbins and the avuncular Robert Kyosaki, are we better as a society because we managed to change our thoughts a bit and smile a little broader or have we deliberately ignored the many underlying systemic issues of societal inequalities that have existed for more than 500-years, apropos white supremacy, racism, a predatory economic system of neocapitalism, an environment that is slowly dying through our own efforts and a society that has seen and experienced huge upward spikes in mental and physical health issues including industrial addictions to almost every opioid known to man? Surely if Bill Gates was born in Sudan, one of the harshest and poorest countries in the world, he would never have reached the heights he has no matter how many beautiful mantras he recited? If you look at these self-help books, they’re all just about saying the same things but with a slightly different spin? Why aren’t we holding these books by the same standards of honesty, integrity and authority that we hold the English dictionary or the manual of a new appliance we just bought, or are these inconvenient questions? Also, do the authors lives accurately reflect what they preaching, in other words, do their own products really work for them too? 

To be continued….