Why I stopped reading self-help books

After dropping out of college in 2017 I felt lost.

Unemployed, depressed, and without any sort of direction in life, I found myself consuming self-help books by the dozen.

I read everything Tim Ferris had to offer. I read the classic self help books like Think and Grow Rich, The Power of Now, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, and many more.

It made me feel good to consume these books. I felt like I was making progress. I even felt like I was starting to get an edge on people who weren’t reading these books.

But the high of new knowledge gained from reading a new self help book started to wane after a while. So I bought another book. And another. Soon enough my room was filled with self help books. And I displayed them proudly.

But the fact of the matter remained. Even though reading the books felt good in the moment. The effects wore off after a while. And soon enough I would be back to my original, depressed state.

“What’s wrong with me?” I thought to myself. “Surely I must know enough by now in order to stay happy for more than a week at a time.”

So I’d grab another self help book and start the process anew.

It wasn’t until I came across a fellow named Kapil Gupta that I started to realize the folly of my efforts.

Before you turn away thinking I’m about to tell you about a new method of meditation or positive thinking practice dreamed up by Dr. Gupta in order to dream up an enhanced state of enlightenment, think again.

Kapil doesn’t spout about the power of positivity. He doesn’t tell you that you should stop giving a damn. In fact, he even admits that his “philosophy” (if you can even call it one) isn’t for most people.

When I stumbled across his twitter account in late 2019, I didn’t think much of it. His tweets are incredibly cryptic, and I couldn’t make much sense of them.

But eventually I found myself listening to him on a podcast with Naval, and his ideology started to resonate with me.

Kapil Gupta is completely against the idea of following any sort of “prescription.”

A prescription, according to Kapil, is what one would call a tactic, or the means one takes in order to achieve a desired effect.

For example, trying to stay positive in order to find happiness.

Or meditating in order to achieve clarity of mind.

In fact, Kapil would be the first to tell you that even his idea of not following any prescriptions is a prescription in and of itself.

As you can see, this is a direct contradiction to 99.99% of advice commonly passed from human to human.

Instead of following prescriptions, Kapil says that he spends his days searching for truth.

For Kapil, truth is everything.

Why do you get angry when someone calls you stupid?

It’s because somewhere deep down, you believe that you might be stupid.

After all, you wouldn’t be angry if that very same person called you an elephant.

That’s because you know you for a fact that you aren’t an elephant.

Above is an example of understanding the truth of a situation that causes anger.

It’s like a postulate.

It’s base understanding.

Kapil believes that a constant exposure to the truth will allow you to live a meaningful life.

He doesn’t tell you to count to ten in order to calm your anger.

He tells you why you are angry. And you can do with that information as you please.

Above all, Kapil values truth and honesty.

For more from Kapil, start here.

Where I’m at on my journey now.

I don’t listen to Kapil’s podcasts or read his tweets much anymore.

I avoid reading or listening to anything that is aiming to help me.

Which is hard.

Because it seems like everyone on the internet has become an armchair philosopher.

I even struggled writing this piece because I’ve noticed the more I think about “mindset” or “philosophy” or “truth,” the more it puts me on edge.

Kapil helped me put down the self help books.

But then I realized I couldn’t really listen to him either.

After a certain period, I found that I couldn’t live the way that I felt he was suggesting to live.

And things started getting blurry the more I thought about trying to follow a specific path.

Trying to follow a set of ideals is difficult.

Searching for truth all the time proved to be just as difficult as trying to stay positive all the time.

And the fact of the matter is, it’s just too hard to explain how my mind works these days.

All I know is that I don’t read many self help books anymore.

And Kapil is probably the main reason for that.

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Andrew Foronda

Andrew Foronda

Crypto. Stocks. Insights. Not investing advice.