The Latest Self-Help Advice? “F*ck Feelings”

A new book called F*ck Feelings is, well, all the rage. On its face, the volume cries out for disdain. The title, with its studied coarseness, is nakedly mercenary. The genre—self-help—practically invites ridicule. And the bloated text, which oscillates between tough love and outright fatalism, could be boiled down to Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer: “God … Continued


You Have More Time Than You Think

Rather than handwringing about “having it all,” Laura Vanderkam encourages women to recognize the balance they already have and consider how much more is possible. Social media and websites dedicated to child-raising and women’s issues create a rich virtual community for women.  Much of this is helpful:  Women get important reassurance from fellow moms about … Continued

Books, Culture

Happy Money

Money can buy happiness, apparently—and it actually doesn’t cost all that much. Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton’s new book Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending is a nerdy but fun beach-read that will make you glad you splurged on the experience of a family vacation instead of a more tricked-out minivan and encourage you … Continued


Self-Help vs. Shakespeare: Which Is Better Therapy?

Reading challenging passages of old-fashioned literature and poetry “light up” your brain more than reading the same concepts translated into simpler prose, British researchers announced this week. The Daily Mail, a UK newspaper, translates this research into the following headline: “How reading Shakespeare and Wordsworth offer better therapy than self-help books.” OK, maybe I’ve dulled my … Continued


Your 2013 Resolution: Help Yourself by Helping Others

For many of us, a new year brings lots of resolutions and hope for personal change in those early days of January. It also brings lots of interesting articles about self-help–whether any advice actually works–which is good, because by the time we settle down to read those articles in mid to late January, our resolutions … Continued

Books, Culture

Why My Toddler Doesn’t Need an Award from Her Gym Class

A few weeks ago, my sixteen-month-old daughter received a “super star award” upon completion of her Gymkhana toddler gym class. In addition to a pale-pink ribbon, she was awarded a certificate that lauds her “abundance of energy” and her “positive approach to loving and learning through sensory motor experiences.” My daughter is terrific. She worked … Continued

Culture, Parenting

Self-Help for Recessionary Times

I’d never heard of Cheryl Strayed, a.k.a. Sugar, before I read this weekend’s piece in The, but anyone described as a “recession-era correction to Elizabeth Gilbert-style indulgence” is someone worth investigating. Writes Elizabeth Greenwood: Eat, Pray, Love’s undertone is that you deserve to be happy; Wild‘s is that you have to earn it. To … Continued


Is Pop-Neuroscience the New Self-Help?

In The New Statesman this week author and journalist Steven Poole argues that practical applications of brain research—from popular books by Malcolm Gladwell and Jonah Lehrer to newer titles like Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain by Elaine Fox—are pseudoscientific ways to make ourselves feel better about our problematic lives. The recommendations of this genre, Poole argues, “boil … Continued


Q&A with Slate’s Advice Maven, Emily Yoffe

As the author of Slate’s “Dear Prudence” column, Emily Yoffe deals with moral dilemmas and human failings on a daily basis. There’s a lot of angst, confusion, outrage and betrayal conveyed in the hundreds of emails she receives each week, but Yoffe has mastered the art of creating entertaining, bite-sized resolvable dramas that we can read … Continued


Is Self-Compassion the Key to Happiness?

You know it’s a late-August vacation week when The Wall Street Journal runs a story, video and interactive chart on the benefits of daily affirmations a la Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live: “Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” Research shows that people who forgive themselves, see the … Continued