Category: Personal Growth

Has the Self-Help Industry Sold Us a Pup?

English folklore tells of an old swindle. A peasant goes to market to buy his family a piglet. Piglets are much cheaper than adult pigs, and they can be fed on scraps. Once grown and fattened, they are slaughtered to provide a source of food for the whole family through the lean winter months.

The peasant has saved every spare penny to buy this piglet. And when he gets to the market, he notices an extra special deal. There’s a trader selling piglets, already put into sacks, at a discount. With the money he saves from what the thought the piglet would cost, the peasant can buy himself a beer or two on his journey home.

Dizzy on beer, he’s in a jolly mood the whole walk home. In his hut, he opens the sack, his whole family gathered around to see this piglet, a small animal they will put all their hope in to help them survive the winter months. The sack wiggles, the peasant shakes it, laughing with glee. That is, until the piglet emerges. It’s not a piglet. It’s a scrawny little dog.

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Why Trying to Be Charismatic Backfires (and What to Do Instead)

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of being charismatic. It seemed like such an exotic and fascinating trait to have, and at one moment in my life I believed that I lacked it entirely. So soon enough, I decided to try and become charismatic.

The first thing I did was to read about the behavior that makes a person charismatic and to study the behavior of people around me who were deemed charismatic. Then, with fierce determination, I started trying to adopt the very same type of behavior. Often, this is a good approach to developing certain traits. You deconstruct them into specific behaviors and you practice those behaviors until they become second nature. Paradoxically though, with trying to be charismatic, this approach failed me miserably. Not only that I did not become more charming, but I actually became tenser in social situations and I started enjoying them less.

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