Six and a half thousand tons. That is how much the mountain of self-help books we read at this time of year would weigh if we were to stack them one on top of the other. Even if we didn’t put them one on top of the other, I think the total weight would be similar, but don’t rub salt in the wound of my limited knowledge of applied alopecia. In any case, self-help is a necessity in this day and age. If it didn’t exist, people would still be taking those sex tests that appeared in 1990s teen magazines and are probably the reason behind most of the failures of our time, including the fall of the Roman Empire, soy milk, and the slow extinction of six-decker burgers in fast food restaurants.
In an age in which nobody has the least intention of helping you at all, the only way out is self-help, its specialty being that of forcing you to discover yourself, which is something that up until now most civilizations have done with the use of mirrors. There are many self-help authors experiencing skyrocketing sales nowadays. So many, in fact, that it is impossible to read them without your eyes drying up and popping out. That is why this most superb reporter, having read them all, has decided today to offer his most intelligent readers a compendium of themself-help. Why? I don’t know.
There are two important things in life: knowing who you are, and beer. To find out who you are, it’s best to reach into your wallet and grab your ID. Logic dictates that you are that person in the photo, looking like he or she just committed a savage murder, before sneaking into an ’80s photo booth wearing ’70s clothes. If you are unable to find yourself this way, I suggest driving along any old highway at 200 kilometers. You won’t have to wait too long before being approached by a couple of gentlemen in uniform, all too happy to explain to you exactly who you are, where you come from, where you are going, and how much you owe them for the procedure.
Experts say this is the most effective way to get anything you really, really want, in your heart. Maria Sharapova and Scarlett Johansson not included. Personally, I’ve been standing in front of my unmade bed for two hours now, visualizing it neatly made and, so far, nothing at all. If there are any developments, you will be the second to know.
One of the basic pillars of self-help is to believe in oneself. They’ve drummed this into our brains so thoroughly for the last 30 years that the world is now full of guys who believe a little too much in themselves and way too little — or not at all — in everything else. In plainer language, it could be said that these days our planet suffers from an unbearable invasion of arrogant, big headed, people who are oh so pleased to meet themselves.
It’s not very nice to be anyone else. What would your mother say?
To perfect this, you will have to make mistakes regularly. According to the manuals I consulted, if you believe in yourself, are yourself, and visualize what you want, it is impossible to make mistakes. So, if it seems unlikely you’ll be learning from your mistakes, go down to the bar and have a beer.
Try at all cost to avoid thinking about sulfur, mercury, or arsenic. This is a good reason to avoid even the thought of using household cleaning products.
In several self-help books they say that the ideal way to start the day is to go out for a naked walk in the sun in order to soak up all of its cosmic energy. Apparently this connects us with our ancestors — they must be very, very ancestral. Try it, if it tickles your fancy, but I warn you that these practices are generally frowned upon in Western cultures. However, on the other hand, if you live in an Islamic country, it would be best to charge yourself with energy beforehand, because you will need it to run away from the mob when they arrive carrying the rope.
Except, obviously, for authors of self-help books.
Go to the window, empty your mind, and breathe in slowly and deeply, letting the smell of asphalt and tar gently stick to your throat, and the nitrogen oxide from the exhaust pipes travel through every nook and cranny of your respiratory circuit, tattooing little skulls here and there.
If this practice doesn’t make you feel better, stop breathing immediately. Although I’m not convinced that will make things much better.
After many years of detailed studies, research with rats, and heated theoretical debates, the great self-help authors are now convinced that, if you really want to be happy, the best thing to do is to go and be happy.
You were waiting for this one, huh? Of course you were. Engage in some sport: go for drinks and leave each and every establishment without paying, just wait and see how you run.
In other words, try to hit your head as little as possible with the hammer, do not go outside without opening the door first, and avoid placing your hands among the burning embers of a barbecue.
In a relationship, don’t look to your partner to forgive you for your bad actions. Forgive yourself and keep behaving like a bastard. In a matter of days you will no longer have to worry about how your relationship is going but how your relationship has gone.
All authors agree on this point without exception.
Take a selfie of yourself tipping a bucket of something over head or record a TikTok of you imitating a dance from some isolated tribe. The Democrats for instance.
This is one of the most recent findings by self-help experts. Apparently, for 21 centuries men have been living disconnected from their own bodies. It is a hair-raising discovery, assuming hair and head are still connected. It is important that you pick up everything you come across around the house that looks like it might be part of you, go to your room, stand in front of the mirror, and immediately put your body back together, connecting each of your limbs. When you feel totally connected, try to wiggle your little fingers. If you can’t, give yourself a once over, because you may have impatiently attached a foot to your wrist.
Itxu Díaz is a Spanish journalist, political satirist and author. He has written nine books on topics as diverse as politics, music, and smart appliances. He is a contributor to the Daily Beast, the Daily Caller, National Review, the American Conservative, The American Spectator, and Diario Las Américas in the United States, and is a columnist for several Spanish magazines and newspapers. He was also an adviser to the Ministry for Education, Culture, and Sports in Spain. Follow him on Twitter at @itxudiaz or visit his website: www.itxudiaz.com.
Translated by Joel Dalmau