The global personal development industry is valued at USD 38.3 billion as of 2019.
If you search “books” in amazon, the results will show self help books rather than classics as most of the NYT bestsellers are self help books. What led to the drastic growth of the self-help industry and what are the problems associated with it?Let’s see.
The two main reasons are :
Humans as far as we know always try to associate themselves with a group. Earlier, it was a tribal band, then it was religion for quite some time and then it was ideology during the world wars. That’s how humans evolved to live as a band or a group and they don’t want to be left alone. But this wave of individualism forced us to focus on ourselves , doing the exact opposite of our basic human nature. Individualism is important , there’s no doubt. But do humans have really evolved into a complex being that can survive alone?This might be one of the reasons for depression in a modern human.
To those who don’t know nihilism,
“the belief that nothing in the world has a real existence”
Nihilism tells us the absolute truth about our lives.But it is a pessimistic approach to see life.If all the humans ever lived were nihilists, we would still be nomads living in forests. So as a human, one must believe in something,so why can’t it be something positive? Unlike other ideologies , nihilism is widespread. One might be nihilist without even knowing the term “nihilist”.So what led to the growth of Nihilism?
Buddha preached about nihilism but Buddhism is seen as a religion of wisdom now. Friedrich Nietzsche spoke about nihilism but he also offered a way in between traditional religions and nihilism.Now the main reason was the growth of science and colonialism.Science constantly disproving the basic thesis of religion made people lose their faith in religion.Even now people of faith try so hard to associate their religion thesis with scientific theory as they don’t have any other choice. What does nihilism have to do with colonialism? For a large amount of time, humans of a particular religion thought that only their religion existed, they didn’t know about others. But during the colonialism period, humans of different beliefs were forced to live together ,questioning their own faith. And with time, religion just became a mere political thing rather than preaching moral values to human beings.
(from the movie “Seven” by David Fincher)
Now, coming back to our main topic, with the growing amount of depression in modern humans and not believing in anything, an ideology or set of principles which satisfies all basic scientific theories and also should help humans to cope up with their lies was the need of the hour in the 21st century. And there's the internet , so people around the globe interact with each other and also can unite under a single belief virtually. This gradually led to the growth of the self-development industry. It doesn’t need any explanation,anyone using a phone knows about this or even be a part of it.Now why do I call it a religion? Here are some of my observations about the industry.
People blindly believe in this ideology without questioning.
The way one handles things, sees life and works are more subjective and they can’t be learnt from a book. They can only be done by trial and error method.
But people here blindly follow things told in the book rather than choosing what’s best suited for them.
It causes a lot more damage (than good) in the long run.
These people are less practical and they have this illusion of being pragmatic.
And finally people who believe in this ideology (or ideologies) try to spread it to their friends and family just like traditional religions.
There’s some good things that happened in this period. Many people speak about money and try to build passive incomes. The number of people going to the gym increased. So there’s some good in self-improvement also. Philosophically speaking, “self-improvement isn’t the answer, self-destruction is”. In Conclusion, self-improvement is the new religion as people here are blinded by faith and ideologies.