I have no idea exactly how many personal development, self improvement or so-called self help books were sold over the last year – but I do know that it is one of the fastest areas of growth in the publishing world with millions of books being sold every year. I also know that these self help books aren’t making a blind bit of difference. How do I know that? Well, turn on your TV, open your newspaper or take a quick glance at the web’s chat-rooms and forums. The world is a more insecure, fearful and confused place than it ever was. At the very least, more and more people feel insecure, dissatisfied and unhappy in the lives.

Surveys testify to people being more fearful, stressed and worried than ever before – even the Second World War didn’t give rise to such abject fear as we are witnessing in a millennium where we all were led to believe that humankind was finally making major strides. Indeed, the wartime spirit that galvanized communities together and nations into powerful forces during the Second World War, is nowhere to be seen in a world were obsession with money – whether it’s wanting more of it or fearing that you don’t have enough of it – is the order of the day, in a society where it is increasingly becoming every man for himself. So what the hell is going on – and I use the world ‘hell’ advisedly because it seems to me that the normal life is far closer to hell than it is to heaven.

Books like ‘The Secret’ or ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ point towards a brighter, better life if you know how to use your mind and point it in the right direction. On the other hand, Barbara Ehrenreich in her book, Smile or Die, claims that positive thinking has destroyed the US and ruined the world – she states that positive thinking has blinded people to the all too obvious problems and risks that should be noticed, taken into account and counteracted, citing the banking crisis and all that followed as a classic example of the problems inherent in blind positive thinking.

Having worked in the personal development field since 1996 – long before it was fashionable to admit to your friends or colleagues that you were ‘into it’ – I am firmly of the belief that people who read these self help books – and people who are into positive thinking – are not only fooling themselves but are a danger to themselves and those around them. They read a little, get a ‘feel-good’ after-glow, perhaps put a little of what they’ve read into practice for a short while and then convince themselves that things are either better or, worse, that things are about to get better when all the signs point to the exact opposite. Of course, the attitude that things are about to get better is a widely used excuse for not doing what you should actually be doing to make things better yourself.

Reading books doesn’t change your life. Thinking doesn’t change your life either. Action is the only thing that changes your life – real action on a daily basis – action that you have to take yourself. And I’ve seen precious little evidence of action. Sure, I see plenty of reaction – but everybody reacts, does it regularly and makes things worse rather than better. Reaction will, at the very best, simply give you more of the same. And more of the same simply will not do.

So, put down your self help books, throw away your positive thinking and ask yourself this searching question? What action could you take today that would make your life better? Be clear, I am not asking you what would make you feel better – I’m asking what will actually make a positive difference in your life – one that will provide you with ongoing lasting benefit. Not knowing your life, I’ve no idea whether something major needs to be done or, perhaps, it’s just something small. But I do know this – I am constantly questioning myself, challenging myself and ensuring that I keep taking the little and large actions that need to be taken to push – yes, you’ve got to push yourself – my life in the right direction. And I’ve the results to show for it.

So, what am I suggesting? Very few of us can run out the door and do something startling in the twinkling of an eye. I am also not suggesting that you do something outrageous based on the impulse of the moment – that’s just a recipe for more trouble. I am suggesting that you get yourself used to the idea that you can take different action. Your subconscious mind is not used to this idea at all so it needs to be reconditioned. Again, I use the term reconditioned advisedly because we were all conditioned in the first place – by our upbringing, by society even by the trendy notion that positive thinking works.

To recondition your mind you need to start small. Simply doing one of your morning chores differently will, believe it or not, awaken your slumbering mind to the possibility that you can do anything or everything differently – I’ve seen the enormous benefits of such small steps – so have my clients. The greatest journey starts with the first step – why not take that step this morning and see what happens.

Author's Bio: 

Willie Horton has been enabling his clients live their dream since he launched is now acclaimed two-day Personal Development Seminars all the way back in 1996. His clients include top leaders in major corporations such as Pfizer, Deloitte, Nestle, Merrill Lynch, Wyeth, KPMG, G4S and Allergan together with everyone from the stay-at-home parent to sports-people. An Irish ex-banker and ex-accountant, he lives in the French Alps from where he travels the world as a much sought after motivational speaker and mentor. In 2008 he launched Gurdy.Net where is self-help seminars are now online. For more information visit Willie Horton’s Personal Development Website Gurdy.Net