My favorite popular scientific self-help books

I've spent several years studying scientific self-help. I'm sharing some of what I've learned in my sequence The Science of Winning at Life, but I probably won't have time to write additional posts in that series for a while. In the meantime, those who are interested in what mainstream scientists have discovered so far about effective self-help methods may want to read some of my favorite popular-level scientific self-help books:

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Sad fact: I am still putting off The Procrastination Equation.

I read it. Luke's article here was more or less a transcription of the more interesting parts. The author essentially agreed. So you need 30 minutes. Set your pomodoro.

Luke's article here was more or less a transcription of the more interesting parts.

http://lesswrong.com/lw/3w3/how_to_beat_procrastination/

Is there a self-help book not about things like making money or being happy, but about being flawless along a set of dimensions the designation of which as desirable is itself considered flawless reasoning? I've only really gotten hints form Taoism, Buddhism, decision theory, and economics thus far; nothing really from science-y folk. This kinda thing:

“One must give value to their existence by behaving as if ones very existence were a work of art.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

But with more detailed advice.

This is getting into other-optimizing territory, but I'm inclined to think that sort of goal is a bad idea. I'll give details if you're interested.

I am interested in why you think that sort of goal is a bad idea.

My own view is that there seems to be an implication that our life is static ("a work of art"). This is a fairly well-known pitfall, not in terms of the psycho happiness research as far as I know, but in terms of the common-sense idea that we are often deluded by the idea that I will be happy if (or if and only if) I get that degree, that job, that girl, &c.

I've recently read Compassion and Self-Hate by Theodore Ruben, which builds on Karen Horney's idea that people who were abused, neglected, or overly manipulated as children are apt to conclude that being a human wasn't good enough, and then they invent inhuman standards (always right, always victorious, the perfect martyr, etc.) in the hopes that they can find a way to be good enough.

I'll add that self-hatred can lead to overreacting to ideals from fiction. I found the book to be a very specific salve to some damage I'd picked up from Ayn Rand. Her preferred characters are very passionate and energetic, and I'm not like that. I hadn't realized how much my concern with the mismatch was (and probably still is) haunting me. I described the book to a friend, and that made him realize he was haunted by Heinlein characters, and not in a good way.

Ruben addresses self-hatred as a semi-autonomous and very debilitating pattern, with compassion towards oneself as a not fully comprehensible or optimizable system as the solution.

Will's "being flawless along a set of dimensions the designation of which as desirable is itself considered flawless reasoning" strikes me as one of those inhuman standards.

If I am trying to live up to an unreasonable standard then I am being unreasonable aka flawed. This is where Taoism is really important. Effortless action, keeping the gears from grinding needlessly, from wasting the chi, the money, the metaness, the subtelty, the self-correcting-ness of the world, building better institutions with low transaction costs...

Maybe swap in "ideal" for "flawless"?

Also: I tried to google that Nietzsche quote and could not find it on the first search page. I wonder how valid that sucker is. There is a lot of poorly translated Nietzsche.

I automatically think of architecture like music. Does anyone know where I might have gotten that meme?

Not that I know of. If Baron's Thinking and Deciding was turned into a 200 page how-to book for the masses, is that the kind of thing you'd be talking about?

Is this roughly what Elizer's books aspire to be?