‘The problem with the self-help ethos is that it privatises or individualises social problems. If there are no jobs it’s not due to your lack of positive thinking that you can’t get a job!’
The pace of modern life is accelerating, and the self-help shelves are groaning with advice on how to keep up – and stay positive in the process. But the demands of life in the fast lane come at a price: anxiety, fatigue and depression are at an all-time high, and our social interactions have become increasingly self-serving and opportunistic.
Even as profound social and political events unfold around us, we are repeatedly distracted by introspection and self-improvement. Why are we so obsessed with personal change and growth, and how can we channel this tendency into something more outward-looking?
Leading Danish philosopher and psychologist Svend Brinkmann argues that we must not be afraid to reject the self-help mantra. The secret to a happier life lies not in finding your inner self, but in coming to terms with yourself in order to coexist peacefully with others.