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Resolving your resolutions

You might as well write your own self-help book and make money


Don’t tell me about new years resolutions. Every year I resolve to improve myself, and every year I end up even worse. I blame this phenomenon on self-help books. I’ve tried “The One Minute Manager� and “The Two Day Fast.� I’ve studied “The Three Minute Therapy� and “The Four Agreements.� I’ve applied “The Five Tibetan Wisdoms� and “The Six Pillars Of Self Esteem.� I’ve practiced “The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People� and “The Eightfold Path To Midlife Love.� I’ve perused “The Nine Steps To Financial Freedom� and “The Ten Ways To Simplify Your Life.� I’ve practiced “Eleven Weeks To A Younger You,� and “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.� I’ve walked “The Road Less Traveled,� golfed “The Course In Miracles,� had “A Conversation With God,� ingested “Chicken Soup,� and yelled “Who Moved My Cheese?� I’ve bought so many self-help books, shelf help is what I need at this point. Read enough of these things and you’re bound to get conflicting advice. First they told me “Easy does it,� then they said to “Jump and the net will appear.� They told me to “Embrace my adulthood,� then they said to “Find my inner child.� They told me to “Get out of myself,� then they told me to “Go inside.� It all became so frustrating I had to get a book on anger management.

I didn’t just read about self-help, I immersed myself in it. I’ve attended classes, clinics, conferences, and conventions on everything from nirvana to numerology. I’ve been to Jesuit retreats and Buddhist temples, Christian camps and Indian sweats. I’ve bounced from Bradshaw to Baba Ram Dass, from the Bible to the Bhagavad-gita. I’ve kvetched through kabbalah and consulted Confucius, decoded Da Vinci and combed the Koran. I’ve followed my bliss, chanted my mantra, dairied my dreams, and danced with my shadow. I’ve had my tarot read, my auras checked, my chakras cleared and my house feng shui’d. I’ve done grief work, bodywork, biofeedback, and bee pollen pods. I’ve done group therapy, aromatherapy, hypnotherapy, and pyschotherapy. I’ve tried affirmation, meditation, visualization, and deprivation. I’ve tried spirit channeling, astral plane traveling, new life rebirthing, and past life regressing. I’ve tried subliminal tapes, sublingual sprays, coffee colonics, and wheat grass juice. I’ve done it all. I didn’t snap out of it until I realized I was wrapping my legs in seaweed as part of a Loon Point yoga-thon.

All right, I was nuts. I see that now. Crushed by a self-imposed crisis, I finally surrendered to a “Higher Power.� This, I believed, would make the chaos stop. Instead, I ping-ponged from social kamikaze to spiritual samurai, from macho fatalist to new age wimp. One minute I’d be steely-eyed and tighter than an eight-day clock. The next I’d be starry eyed and crying on my therapist’s couch.

Friends reacted to the new me by asking where the old me went. “I don’t know,� I whimpered. “One day I woke up and I was missing!�

Maybe that was the point. I’d spent years getting my act together then I had to get rid of my act.

I’m glad to say it was all worth it. Unencumbered and ego-free, I am nothing but a wisp of humility. There’s no more self to help. Perhaps that explains a dream I had recently. I had levitated to a hilltop high above the city where my life purpose became clear. I am to write my own self-help book. Maybe even take on a pen name to land a fat, three-book contract — Deanpok Oprahman, maybe. Then, with the proceeds, build myself a huge mansion overlooking the Pacific.

Suddenly, my self help journey all made sense. Of course! This would be my reward for becoming the spiritual giant I am today!

My guru thought otherwise. He said my dream only indicated how little progress I’ve actually made.

Dean Opperman is not to be confused with the guitar player outside of the Gap downtown. Humble him at deanopp@cox.net.

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