The early 20th-century self-help was focused on prosperity.
After half the world fell apart and everyone lost a massive amount of money, the 1950’s focused on hope and humanity.
As peace beckoned, the 1980’s became about people yelling at you for 18 straight hours as a form of motivation and while you were motivated: sell you shit.
Toward the end of the 20th century, spirituality started to accompany the self-help dictum. This was a reprieve after a psychological-breakdown of a century.
The Internet was growing fast and opened up one of the most peaceful times in human history: the 21st century.
This, however, wasn’t great for the personal development/self-help world. The paradox of that world is you can’t stop having problems. So we invented new problems: relationships, passion, happiness, anxiety and the likes.
Of the many options, we believed happiness was the answer.
And so, the onslaught began. Books, courses, and products – all promising one thing: a Happy life. I even called my first blog pursuit of happyness. Vomit bag, please.
Soon, there were a gazillion different ways to be happy. The problem was we didn’t know which one to choose. And that made us really unhappy. It’s one thing to call the emperor naked. It’s another when you realize you are the emperor.
This was great for one thing: Rejection. A form of self-help with insecurity problems. Nihilism without intellect.
Rejection in the 21st century manifested through ideas such as I don’t give a shit about what people think about me; I am special; No one understands me; hey, want to hear me construct an entire sentence using just the F-word? etc.,
This nihilistic freedom was great. For a while at least.
But in the excitement of this new found power, we forgot all about the spider-man spiel that the 20th century tried to teach us: with great power comes great responsibility.
Responsibility suffers when the operating model is I don’t give a shit about anyone/anything. Without responsibility, you are just another delusional freakshow. In this state, what’s worse is that you don’t even realize you need help.
If anything, here’s some self-help we badly need: start caring.
About something. Because when you do, what everyone else thinks automatically falls in the wayside. You don’t have to explicitly give everyone the finger.
The real solution is to find something bigger to care about instead of not caring about anything. Not caring about anything may look liberating on the outside, but it’s really a lazy escape on the inside.
If you truly want to stop caring about what people think, find something important enough to care about. You don’t have to find an elusive purpose. You just need to care about something. However small. To care is responsibility. To care is scary. It’s vulnerable, harder and requires infinite perseverance. And that’s what really makes you happy.
The 21st-century idea of not caring, as Anton Chekhov observed, is a paralysis of the soul, a premature death. If you want to make a difference and feel a semblance of the wild and precious life that is yours – find something worthy of that life. However. Small.