I need help! I have to fix a leaking pipe in my bathroom but I'm not sure where to begin. I know I lack the necessary DIY skills, but luckily there are numerous books and online videos that will hopefully give me the information I need. Publications that help us to help ourselves are nothing new, but the range of them is increasing with advice being given far beyond practical tasks around the house.
Bookshops these days are full of titles which claim to boost your self-confidence, your wealth, your love life or your career. Some claim to improve your life within seven days! It's big business and it's thought that the self-help industry is worth $10bn in the US alone.
The first self-help book called 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' was published in 1936, and has since sold 30 million copies and is still popular now. It includes guidance on how to make people like you and how to make your life happier. It might seem strange to think that we need a book to tell us how to live our lives but self-help books remain a go to remedy for those of us looking for enlightenment.
There are, of course, trends in what we need help with. Emma Marshall, who works at British bookshop Waterstones, says "at the moment we're in the tidying up, getting rid of things trend… I think the trend right now is about slowing down in your life." It seems there is always something we need help with, and reading about it can be very therapeutic – it makes us feel good, even if we don't do anything about it.
Of course, the internet has become the place to go to for salvation. We've got used to searching for solutions online, and now these solutions even include how to fix or improve our lives. Interestingly, psychologist Caroline Beaton, says people called 'millennials' are self-critical – they are aware of their own faults – which also means they're more likely to spend time and money on self-help. There's also a theory that the self-help industry does well during a recession – people are perhaps even more likely to reach for self-help to improve their situation.
Whatever the reason for the continued interest in self-help, it's good to know help is at hand when we need it. The alternative to finding a happier life is just to come to terms with yourself as you are – I know, I read about it in a book! Do you believe in self-help books?