Psychological Self-Help

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Thus, self-help is not just for overcoming problems; it also involves
learning to become what you truly value, achieving your greatest
potential. That is why your values and strengths should be considered
along with your problems. For every fault or weakness you want to
lose, you have a valuable strength to gain; for every crude emotion to
control, you have an opposing good feeling to experience; for every
awkwardness, a helpful skill to acquire; for every denial, a truth to be
found. Optimally, you will identify your problems, as in chapter 2, but
also decide on lofty goals that are worthy of your life. I would like to
help you find out where you truly want to go. Then, I hope you and I
become sufficiently discontent with our shortcomings and dedicated to
our highest goals so that we are motivated to achieve our greatest
potential. Trying to be good is important, perhaps more important
than solving personal problems. Both are self-help. 
Moral development teachers often say that becoming moral
requires enough emotional development to feel guilty when we do
wrong, enough social development to accept our responsibility for
behaving in agreed upon ways towards our group, and enough
cognitive development to be able to place ourselves in another
person's shoes. But just because you develop some of these qualities,
it doesn't guarantee that you will develop a wise and effective
philosophy of life. 
As Steven Covey (1992), the author of The Seven Habits of Highly
Effective People, points out, many people set goals and strive for years
to achieve one after another, only to discover when they get to the
end goals that they didn't want to go there. He says, "no one on their
death bed ever complains that they should have spent more time in
the office." In a new book, First Things First, Covey (1994) says
everyone and every family (and every organization, every nation, etc.)
should have a well thought out "Mission Statement," a set of values, or
a guiding philosophy of life. At the end of life, intimate relationships
and how you have dealt with others are the things that count. I
recommend his books. 
Are we Americans becoming more moral? Perhaps in some ways.
Reportedly, more and more people are volunteering to help the poor,
the sick, and the elderly. For the first 80 years of this century, US
citizens have gradually paid more taxes (that is doing good!) but more
recently political conservatives have been encouraging us to hate
taxes. In addition, there is a lot of evidence we are backsliding
morally, e.g. a few years ago 9 out of 10 defense contractors were
under criminal investigation. In 1990, when tax payers were required
to give the Social Security numbers for every dependent, seven million
names disappeared! More evidence of backsliding: 
"Yes" in
"Yes" in
Financial success is very important to me.
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