Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Self Help and Delusion


I've been listening to some Anthony Robbins self-help audio lately, and I have to say he's very charismatic. I'm usually highly suspicious of people like Anthony, because of the potential that they are highly deluded. The skeptical argument is as follows:

1.) People are attracted by charismatic people
2.) People are being sold what they want to hear
3.) Success is often an accident
4.) One should not adopt the over-confident attitude which is sold, because it is built on a house of cards and is dangerous

With an attitude like that, it's easy to become submerged under ones own perfectly reasonable assessment of the risks of life. Instead of boldly going anywhere, one meekly tries not to rock the boat. The pain you associate with being bold is greater than the pain of life as usual.

What people like Anthony Robbins do is inject a boost of confidence, and ask you to re-evaluate your beliefs about pain. Anthony's arguments are often simple and convincing - anything a person does is done for a positive intent. If you fail to rise to a challenge, it's not because you are feeble and weak - it's because your brain associates more pain with accepting that challenge. The key to personal change, for him, is to re-associate pain. He argues that our fear of failure is often a false association. One negative experience can forever close our minds to opportunity.

Anthony's postive argument is as follows:

1.) Everyone is your superior in some respect - we all have unique lives and unique abilities
2.) You are everyone's superior in some respect
3.) Our progress in life can be controlled a lot more than most people think
4.) Change happens in a moment - people are capable of sudden, major changes in attitude
5.) One should analyse each belief you hold, and ask yourself "Is this belief helping me? If not, I should try and doubt it - I should challenge it"
6.) Don't fall into solipsism

Well, there's rather more to it than that, but there's a snippet.

I have to say that he has helped me, at least in the short term. Maybe I'm just deluded, but the grass is looking greener already.

What do you think? Can delusion be valuable? Is it better to live in a fool's paradise? Is it a contradiction to say "Fool's Paradise"? Do people mostly succeed for reasons, or by accident? Do you think that one should be skeptical or optimistic?



Anonymous Paul said...

This "positive argument" reminds me of the Desiderata poem made popular in the 1970s when it was turned into a pop song.

"If you compare yourself with others; you may become vain & bitter;
for always there will be greater & lesser persons than yourself. "

In response to your question "Can delusion be valuable? Is it better to live in a fool's paradise? Do people mostly succeed for reasons, or by accident?" I think it is best to seek the truth rather than hold to delusions.

Regarding "succeeding", it may be that very few things are truly up to us, and it follows that it is only in these things that it is up to us whether we succeed or not. This insight can be very liberating. Is one horse better than another because he has a better blanket, or because he has more hay? Has this horse succeeded? Or has the horse succeeded when he has developed his ability to run fast or carry big loads?

5/26/2005 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger MelbournePhilosopher said...

I find it disheartening to imagine that what I do has no bearing on what happens to me.

I would rather avoid having to believe that. But if it's the truth, I suppose it's better to know that.


5/26/2005 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger Illusive Mind said...

Cynics often use delusion as a term to to describe optimistic philosophies.

I don't think it is better to live in delusion, but I do think it is better to live within a world of "what's possible" as oppose to "I know what's impossible."

5/26/2005 03:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Paul said...

MP: "I find it disheartening to imagine that what I do has no bearing on what happens to me."

What you do most definitely has a bearing on what happens to you. But it is an old saying that "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it"


5/26/2005 04:28:00 PM  
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10/02/2005 09:31:00 AM  

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