The Gist: Self-Help Books Are For Everyone

By Olivia Schmid | | Layout Assistant

Photo Courtesy of amazon.com

For far too long, mental health has been stigmatized.  The battle gets harder when the methods in which we choose to execute personal development/self-help/whatever-you-want-to-call-it is also taboo.  You’re too broken and damaged if you go to therapy, you’re weird if you read a book telling you to “be happy,” and heaven forbid a man confesses that he has anxiety!  The fact of the matter is: we all struggle.  We all have our moments.  And quite frankly, we all need help.

While it’s true that you can’t reach your full potential being alone for all eternity, taking it upon yourself to learn just how to help your mind, body, and soul can work wonders – and books are simply one way to achieve this.  There are so many books available to us that hone in on every single area of life and how you can improve the version of you in school, the workplace, friendships, relationships, social life, spirituality… you get the gist.   

Because it is crucial to grow and develop into the best version of yourself, wouldn’t it make sense for there to be resources available to those of all ages so you can start out early? If we all struggle, no matter how young or old, shouldn’t there be outlets for everyone to learn and benefit from?  The answer should be an astounding yes. There are books out there about how to grow as a person, as a man or woman, as a sibling, as an aunt/uncle/cousin-twice-removed, and yes: as a child.  Personal development is important at every stage of your life. The book I am talking about today (I know, it’s been a while!) is a testament to that.

Amy Morin has written an entire book specifically for kids (targeted for the 7 to 12-year-old audience), titled 13 Things Strong Kids Do: Think Big, Feel Good, Act Brave. This is after writing books for parents, people, and women. 

You may ask, why aim for such a young audience?  In an interview with me earlier this year (you can find the interview here), Amy Morin expressed her hope that if we provide advice and instill certain healthy techniques early on in life, children will get off on the right foot – and I think she is 100% correct.  

I had the pleasure of reading the aforementioned book a few months ago before its public release on April 6, 2021, and let me tell you: it’s jam-packed with insight that even a college student, like myself, can take advice from.

Now, I won’t spoil it, but there’s some seriously amazing stuff loaded in this book marketed for those much younger than I am.  We’ll start with one of her first points: Your thoughts, feelings, and actions are all connected. How we address these, and in what order we do so, proves to be of utmost importance.

Morin asks us to contemplate whether we need to solve the problem at hand or if we need to solve how we feel about the problem.  This segues nicely into how she sets up each chapter, designed to provide timely advice for kids that is both comprehensible and effective.

Every chapter begins by introducing one thing that strong kids do.  Some of the chapters discuss how strong kids empower themselves or adapt to change, while other chapters discuss knowing when to say no and how to balance social time with alone time.  Don’t these themes seem oddly relevant to college life? 

Sometimes we learn best through example. Morin addresses this by sharing with her target audience a testimony from someone their own age going through the same thing, and then how they got through it.

There’s something in every chapter that fits the needs of anyone and everyone.  The following features are found in each chapter:

  • Check Yourself: quizzes to help you understand yourself better (because who doesn’t love a little *brutally honest* self-assessment)
  • Closer Look: provides ways to discover how to learn more if you’re intrigued by an idea
  • Proof Positive: evidence that shows why certain habits are good (because this advice is a little too good to be true)
  • Traps to Avoid: discusses common mistakes and misunderstandings 
  • Quick Tips: offers small tokens of advice for how to keep growing stronger

The main attraction to each chapter, though, lies in the exercises Morin proposes we put in place.

First, THINK BIG.  Morin talks here about how to combat the tricks your brain tries to pull. If we can train ourselves to think a certain way, we can then execute the lives we want to live.  The advice here can include talking to yourself like a friend, looking for the silver lining, replacing problem thoughts with solution thoughts, and remembering successful people who initially failed first.  Next, we gotta FEEL GOOD.  This is the exercise that gets you to deal with any negative emotions you may have.   You’ll read advice about how you should think before you feel, name your feelings, and schedule time to worry.  So, get to it!  The last exercise in every chapter challenges you to ACT BRAVE in order to become your best self.  Saying no, finding your people, and setting yourself up for success are just a few pieces of advice Morin offers to kids.

As you were reading all this, you might’ve thought that she was writing just for you.  Hate to break it to you, but everyone, no matter their age, struggles with these from time to time—it’s relevant whether you’re a kid or not. But in case you were, or in case you happen to know a kid or two, there’s finally a book just for them that you can pass along.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to delve into my inner child and put this all into practice.

And that’s the gist!

First year Olivia Schmid is a Layout Assistant. Her email is oschmid@fandm.edu.

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