You might be surprised to learn that most of the modern self-help ideas that we practice today really aren’t new ideas at all. Every modern book that you’ve read on self-help, including “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, came from ideas from the past – even ancient ideas.
Yoga – This method of self-care has been around for eons and comes from Asia. There are many different types of Yoga practice today that purport to help everyone take care of mind, body and spirit.
Prayer – Studies have shown that prayer changes brain chemistry and helps people who pray positively to have more positive lives and feel happier. Various types of prayer have been around since civilization started and likely before. By giving over problems to a higher being, humans have found ways to become happier.
Meditation – Originating in Asian countries, meditation has actually appeared in many different cultures as a way to relax, focus on big questions, and try to access parts of our mind that we don’t know how to get to. Today, mediation is thought to lower blood pressure and help people with serious diseases deal with treatment better.
Positive Thinking – You might think of this as new-age but nothing could be further from the truth. The idea of positive thinking actually started with the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Today, positive thinking can be seen in books and programs like “The Secret” .
Self-Acceptance – Some people believe that everything is derived from fate and that our lives are preordained. So, to be truly happy you have to come to acceptance of the divine, and control your actions through self-discipline rather than try to control what happens.
Self-Sufficiency – Epicurus taught that the best way to be happy is to try to experience a lack of pain. And that you can do that through surrounding yourself with friends and family and experiencing pleasure as much as possible, but not in a hedonistic sort of way. But, we ourselves are responsible for our happiness, not outside forces.
The Golden Rule – Confucius is said to have come up with the idea of treating others as you would have them treat you. Today, this can be said to be the “Dr. Phil” style idea: that you show people how to treat you by how you treat them and yourself. You set the standard and the idea on what can be done to you and around you.
Self-Actualization – The Greek philosopher Plato came up with the idea that you needed to study yourself deeply to understand and uncover the gifts that God has given you so that you can find your true purpose. You can find some of these ideas presented in the book “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren.
As you see most of these self-help methods were started long before you were born. They were just repackaged into new by various authors, doctors, and theologians as their own ideas. Some of these self-help masters are not so straightforward about where their ideas came from, whilst others quote directly from the ancient philosophers.
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