self-help bullshit

Color! Journal! Take a personality test, Left Or Right Brained?!?!

Each week, it seems like there’s a new bullshit trend aimed at making you slimmer, happier, or more productive. Most of them claim to be backed by psychological or physiological research, but many of them are not or they got proven to be false (which often gets ignored by the masses)

So here goes I created this list to help you sort out which tricks might be helpful and which ones are better forgotten. Take a look.

Tidying up to be healthier: Try it — research backs it up.

Some studies suggest that physical orderliness — a clean, neatly organized office, for example — is linked with some positive outcomes, like eating healthier.

A 2013 study, found that when they gave a set of volunteers in two types of rooms a choice between a chocolate bar and an apple for a snack, the people in a cluttered room were more likely to choose the chocolate bar, while those in the neat room were more likely to choose the apple. When the same participants were given the option to donate money to a charitable cause, those in the orderly room also tended to give more money than those in the disorderly room. So give it a shot.

Taking multivitamins to avoid getting sick: Skip them; most of them don’t work.

Decades of research has failed to find any substantial evidence that the vast majority of vitamins and supplements do any significant good. Some of them might even be harming us. Several supplements have been linked with an increase in certain cancers, for example, while others have been associated with a rise in the risk of kidney stones. Still others have been tied to an overall higher risk of death from any cause.

That said, certain vitamins — like Vitamin D and folate — are tough to get from food, so you might want to add those to your daily regimen.

Using astrology to boost your success: Skip it — it’s not scientific in the slightest.

One easy way to determine that astrology is unscientific is this: It’s so-called predictions can’t be tested, which is one of the standard components of the scientific method. Instead, horoscopes are carefully worded to be highly general, such as “You will face great difficulties ahead.” Well duh. Any result, from getting fired from your job to getting a raise, could be seen as fitting those expectations.

Still, horoscopes remain popular, something psychologists think is at least partially a result of the fact that we’re biased to see “personalized” results as accurate. This is called the Forer Effect after psychologist Bertram Forer. In 1948, Forer gave each of his students a personality test and then told them that each “result” was individually unique. He asked them to rank the tests accuracy and on average, they said it was 85% accurate. Later, he revealed to the students that he’d lied and given them all the exact same result.

Low-fat diets to lose weight: Skip them — they don’t work.

Low-fat diets don’t work. Our bodies need fat, protein, and fiber to function properly.

An 8-year trial involving almost 50,000 women, roughly half of whom went on a low-fat diet, found that those on the low-fat plan didn’t lower their risk of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, or heart disease. Plus, they didn’t lose much weight, if any.

Meditating to calm the mind: Try it — research suggests it can help.

Meditation facilitates more communication between two brain regions involved in self-control and focus, and second, it lowers levels of a substance called IL-6 that’s been linked with stress and inflammation. IL-6 can also sometimes be used as an early indicator of later health problems.


Using personality tests to pick your career — skip them; science suggests they’re not worth it.

One similarity the Meyers-Briggs personality test shares with astrology is that it relies on binary choices. According to the test, for example, you’re either “introverted” or “extroverted.” In reality, very few people would qualify as simply one or the other.

This point is hammered home by the fact that statistical studies of the Myers-Briggs show that its data follows a normal distribution — where the data falls around a central value with no bias to the left or the right, forming a balanced hill shaped curve — instead of a bimodal one, where the data are lumped around two peaks.

Thinking positive to turn your dreams into reality: Skip it — studies suggest it may do the opposite.

Positive thinking” — a school of thought in the psychology world that suggests that viewing the world more optimistically can help you feel more satisfied and less stressed — has some limitations. While thinking optimistically sounds great on paper, it falls short in reality. People who daydream about a better world end up merely fantasizing about a reality rather than taking concrete actions to make it happen.

So, I hope that helps and you can ignore some of the BS out there and focus on what works and as always, thanks for reading and until next time.

P.S. If you liked this post then you’ll like my books as well. You can get them on Amazon.