I am currently not a self-help expert, but if I ever manage to completely fix my life, perhaps I should qualify as one. :-)
In July 2014, I launched Non24.Com and Non24.Org. Those sites are primarily about sleep issues like Non-24-hour Sleep-Wake Disorder, but the main goal of those sites is to help everyone, both with or without sleep issues, to achieve more happiness, prosperity, freedom, and control over our own lives and schedules.
I believe I probably have Non-24-hour Sleep-Wake Disorder (a physical problem with my circadian rhythms). Which is such a bad problem that I believe it actually might have done more harm to my life than even other serious problems such as my family's poverty, and the credit card debt trap I fell into when I was younger and more naive.
And even the sick, oppressive so-called child support system, which drained my family of tons of money and tremendously worsened our lives (including the lives of 4 children - me when I was younger, and others) - long before I was old enough to be able to do much of anything to improve the situation.
The so-called child support system also didn't help the intended recipients of our family's money as much as it should have, because I heard that the evil ex-wife wasted a lot of money on things like a luxury car, designer purses, and unnecessary new furniture, rather than spending it on the children.
And her children were mostly deprived of a relationship with their father until after they turned 18, because the evil ex-wife continually interfered with visitation.
That was all truly awful, but, I still think my sleep issues might have harmed me even more than the evil so-called child support system did. If my sleep issues didn't make it much harder for me (compared to the average person) to be a wage slave, I and my family would have been at least a little less poor.
Though, on the other hand, having an easier time being a wage slave would have been bad too, because then I wouldn't have had so much free time to spend on improving my computer programming skills.
After reading the wonderful book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell around July 2015, I have even more appreciation than I already did for what a gift it has been - despite the many drawbacks of my situation - to have so much free time as a result of having had little choice but to let my family support me.
Most of the time, I've tended to be largely financially useless, but, sometimes, I've actually been able to financially support my family, such as when I went into massive credit card debt to help my family.
(Eventually none of us could afford to keep paying those credit card bills, and we started getting hopelessly buried by huge late and overlimit fees, so I had to default in summer 2007.
And, given all the damage that has been done to me, my family, and the world by credit cards, and the fact that we honorably paid so much that if the credit card companies hadn't been allowed to pile on tons of usurious interest and fees which ought to be illegal, we quite possibly wouldn't have "owed" anything anymore... I believe that rather than us supposedly "owing" anything to the credit card companies, the credit card companies should have to pay massive reparations to me, my family, and everyone else the credit card companies have harmed, duped, and taken advantage of.
Hopefully someday, people will create ethical alternatives to credit cards, banks, and lame bank-like credit unions (or if there are good, ethical alternatives already, I hope they'll get more popular), and the ethical alternatives will hopefully make it ever more difficult for all those despicable financial so-called services crooks to even stay in business.)
And, during various family financial crises, using money donated or microdonated to me, I supported my family and paid most of our bills for a few months, which unfortunately used up the majority of the money people donated to me.
Thank you so much to everyone who ever donated any amount. It did a lot of good, though I wish I could have spent a lot more of that money on things of longer-term benefit than just paying our mortgage and other bills for a few months. Not all of it was used up that way, but a lot was.
Luckily, ever since we got Medicaid, at least I haven't been forced to make triage-like decisions like I had to make in May 2013 - which was the month when it was financially out of the question for me to even consider getting a root canal instead of an extraction for my aching tooth, because my family was in serious financial trouble again.
Tremendous thanks for someone's $4000 donation at that time - the most I ever received in a single donation. I hope someday I'll get prosperous enough to be just as generous in return and repay everyone's kindness.
Medicaid is in some ways very nice to have, but, unfortunately has its flaws. Quoted from my blog post from July 6, 2015:
Another reason I haven't been as focused on money lately is because my family finally got on Medicaid in summer 2014, and I'm afraid that I would be in big trouble with my relatives if I somehow manage to earn so much money that we'll get kicked off of Medicaid.
I think it's very doubtful that I'll be able to find a way to make enough money that I'll be able to afford to buy mandatory health insurance for me and my relatives, or even to pay the oppressive $325 yearly fee (per person!) inflicted on people with the misfortune of having neither Medicaid nor health insurance, which probably costs a lot more than $325 a year per person. And the penalty fee is going up to $695 per person in 2016.
Absolutely despicable, oppressive, and un-American. Fees like those kick struggling people when they're already down. And everyone should be free not to buy health insurance if they don't want to. I am especially disgusted with the health insurance industry after having watched Michael Moore's documentary Sicko.
So, because of the threat of these huge fees, and the high cost of health insurance, and the high cost of health care if you have neither Medicaid nor insurance, me earning money might actually do me and my family more harm than good - unless I manage to earn quite a lot of money, which might be impossible for me.
So, I'm now even more trapped than I already was, because I'm now afraid to even try very hard to earn money, except perhaps in Second Life.
Nonetheless, I still hope that someday, some kind rich person, or massive numbers of kind microdonators, might decide to rescue us permanently by donating some truly gigantic amounts of money which will permanently liberate my family from the time-wasting hamster wheel of having to make money, among other problems.
(But, smaller amounts are still welcome too. If I ever somehow manage to get enough income that I really have to worry that we might get kicked off of Medicaid - well, in a way, that's a good problem to have.)
And hopefully, the more and better stuff I manage to create and release on my websites, the more likely it is that that will happen someday.
And I really should probably get around to making some goods of some sort available on Zazzle.com or Lulu.com. At least that would probably be less potentially time-consuming than providing services could be.
(Again, sorry to anyone whose email I might have missed due to my flaky avoidance of solving the various nuisances with my email. At least I'm a bit more reachable now because I finally gave in and provided a way to send mail to my Gmail, despite wishing I could stop using Gmail because it would be better to use something free (as in freedom), libre, and open source.)
OK, back to the topic of how my sleep issues harmed my life possibly more than any other major problem in my life.
The frequent sleep deprivation (especially when I was younger and had to go to school) naturally resulted in me getting extremely depressed, overly emotionally sensitive, and avoidant of social situations, since it's very difficult to have an enjoyable or interesting conversation when you're so exhausted you can scarcely think, and are extremely shy and anxious due to many bad past experiences of awkwardly being unable to think of anything to say, or saying stupid or absentminded things because of tiredness.
And I've been so traumatized by past bad social experiences that now, even when perfectly well-rested, I find it difficult to relax with and talk to most people, except some of my close relatives. Even internet communications can be rather stressful for me, except if I'm completely anonymous.
I'm 34 (as I write this on Nov. 25, 2015) and I doubt I will ever fully recover from my social anxiety at this point.
And I suspect I wouldn't have ended up with such huge social anxiety and extreme depression in the first place if I hadn't been chronically sleep-deprived for so much of my youth.
But, even social anxiety isn't totally without benefits. I might be a better writer and computer programmer than I would be without social anxiety, because I spend a lot more time on programming and writing than I would if nothing held me back from socializing and from seeking jobs.
And I'm a lot less depressed than I used to be, largely because of various odd but hope-inspiring phenomena I lucked into stumbling upon.
And, other than the things I mentioned in the preceding link - one of the best, most self-helping things I ever did was get into computer programming.
So, I now have a lot more hope that someday I'll manage to create some really nice, useful, popular, free (as in freedom and probably as in price too), libre, open source software, and somehow make enough money from that to live on.
I'm pleased that, despite my limited circumstances, I've been improving my programming skills a lot, and making good progress with various of my projects, which I hope will someday turn out to be of profound long-term benefit for not only myself and my family, but hopefully even the world.
Fortunately (or is it unfortunately?), I have quite a stubborn focus on my various projects, and a pretty good ability to somewhat imperviously largely ignore the fact that due to poverty, my life is missing numerous basic comforts and freedoms.
So, hopefully I somehow manage to be less affected than the average poor person by the problems mentioned in this article:
Rather than let my discomfort and oppression pressure me into focusing mainly on possibly futile short-term solutions - I continue to focus on my long-term projects, which, given my crippling social anxiety and sleep issues, are quite possibly my best hope of eventual prosperity and other good things.
Thanks again to everyone who has ever helped me and made my life more bearable.
Stuff Hosted Here
From my blog:
- About Steve Pavlina's Book Personal Development for Smart People - a review.
- Expanded Table of Contents
- Expanded Table of Contents Printable Web Version (probably prints best with Firefox)
- Expanded Table of Contents Printable PDF Version
Here's a transcript I made of a Steve Pavlina podcast: Transcript of Steve Pavlina Podcast #11 for 2/12/2006 - Raising Awareness Through Multiple Perspectives
The transcript is in the public domain, as is the original podcast. Steve, with astounding and admirable generosity, released most of his work to the public domain in Dec. 2010. More details are available in this blog post from Steve's site: Releasing My Copyrights
I probably am not going to make more Steve Pavlina podcast transcripts, because someone else is going to do them. (I did this one mainly so I would have an example of transcription work to add to my oDesk portfolio).
So, for more transcripts, go to: PavlinaPlus.com/podcast
PavlinaPlus.com also provides Steve's newsletters, video transcripts, Dexterity Software articles, and workshop articles.
The main reason I created this Self-Help section of my site to begin with is because I needed an appropriate place to put this article:
- How to Be a Woman - An article that never would have been written if Steve Pavlina hadn't asked on his blog for people to try writing an article by this title, and offered to link to the best ones. I don't take the idea of gender roles very seriously - maybe I've had too many past lives as a man :-) - so, it's written in a not altogether serious (but unfortunately not incredibly humorous) way. :-) It's actually applicable to anyone of any gender.
Software useful for self-help
- VUE: Visual Understanding Environment - One of my favorite software programs, which you can use to make concept maps or flow charts. Very useful for thinking through various problems, and taking notes.
- GNU Emacs - not just a text editor. Seems to contain everything but the kitchen sink!
It's pretty hard to get accustomed to, and, as of Nov. 30, 2015, I'm still not used to it myself yet - but if you require a particularly exotic text editing feature, or want to be able to literally program your text editor, it might be the best available option.
It's truly amazing - but often very frustrating. Good thing it has the Emacs Psychotherapist available in the Help menu. :-D
On the web, I keep running into positive recommendations of Org Mode. I haven't figured it out too well yet, but I hear it's useful for plenty of self-helpy things like to-do lists, notes, planning, etc.
I found a nice general overview of Org Mode, and also a cheat sheet for Org Mode's time tracking features:
From SachaChua.com, Jan. 2014: Some tips for learning Org Mode for Emacs
Rather than trying to just meekly accept Emacs' many annoying default behaviors, as you often might have to do with less flexible software - I think it's often best to assume that whatever the problem is, there's probably a way to fix it in Emacs.
A way which will likely involve downloading and installing a new add-on (or add-ons), and/or adding some Emacs Lisp code to your .emacs settings file. And possibly a lot of time spent fiddling, learning, and scouring the web for clues and/or add-ons before you can begin to get things working, even things that seem like they should be simple, like making tabbing and auto-indent behave (in my opinion) properly.
Fortunately, not everything takes forever to figure out, and once you iron out the worst problems, it becomes a lot easier to understand why so many people love Emacs.
In my opinion, add-ons are crucial to making Emacs really nice to use. Someday, I'll probably make a nice big list of all my favorites, how to install them, and assorted other tips.
- Astroblahhh Desktop - I'm a bit a reluctant to recommend this yet, because I still haven't finished renovating it, and it doesn't even have full compatibility with Unicode yet.
But even years ago, Astroblahhh Desktop did wonders to ease a lot of the chaos and disorganization that results from my digital hoarding "problem". :-) And makes it easier to find notes, ideas, web links, etc.
One thing I love about our modern era is that even relatively financially poor people like me can have (or access) a staggering wealth of incredibly beneficial information, education, and tools such as software, thanks to the internet and computers. Even as recently as the earlier part of the 20th century, not even the wealthiest and most powerful people had these blessings.
Another self-helpy idea I'd like to remind people (and myself) of is that knowledge, education, experience, skills, and other things are often tremendously more valuable and powerful than money itself.
And "You can't eat money" - as many activists' posters say.
I think being able to build something like Astroblahhh Desktop myself is far better than being able to pay someone to build something similar for me would have been.
Perhaps if I had been wealthy, I would have taken the seemingly easier road and paid someone else to build things for me, but then I might never have learned to do it myself.
Some excellent self-help/personal development sites
- StevePavlina.com - a site with a tremendous amount of incredibly useful, interesting, well-written material on a wide range of topics related to personal development.
- PavlinaPlus.com - "An unaffiliated companion resource to Steve's website that provides:" Steve's newsletters, podcast transcripts, video transcripts, Dexterity Software articles, and workshop articles.
- ErinPavlina.com - There's quite a lot of fascinating, well-written stuff here too. Since Erin is a psychic, a lot of it is about paranormal topics.
- BrianJohnson.me - I haven't explored this site very much yet, but I love the mailing list.
And some pages which went offline and are now only in Archive.org:
- 1dayhabit.com - by the author of NickPagan.com
Some of my favorite articles
Not a complete list.
- How to Operate Your Brain Perfectly, by Nick Pagan (PDF File) - Incredibly logical, sensible, and practical ideas. I just need to remind myself to keep putting them into practice... :-) As of Nov. 25, 2015, this is still one of the very best self-help essays I've ever read in my life.
- Violent Acres Blog: Most People Are Depressed For a Very Good Reason - I love this article... :-) The blog itself is fantastic and well-written, too. (It's more of a personal blog rather than a blog focusing on personal development tips, so that's why I didn't link to it in the previous section).
- Overcoming Depression, by Steve Pavlina - Useful advice even if the "Law of Attraction" stuff doesn't literally work. Hooray for paying the bare minimum of attention to your problems, and thereby getting yourself into such a good mood that your life improves just because you're in a good mood. :-) Just one of zillions of fantastic articles on Steve's site.
- Lettersquash Blog: The Law of Attraction is Repulsive - A great article which expresses many of the things that have always bothered me about the Law of Attraction, which I never got around to putting into my own words. As well as many criticisms I never thought up on my own, but which I agree with.
Some of my favorite self-help videos
I usually prefer reading self-help stuff rather than watching self-help videos or listening to podcasts, so this section will probably remain relatively small.
I don't make money from having the below link here - it's not a paid ad or affiliate link or anything like that. I'm just a happy, grateful customer who wants to send one of my favorite businesses a lot more customers, and also help out my website readers by pointing out a great place to buy stuff.
- DiscountNewAgeBooks.com - My favorite bookseller! I highly recommend them. Their prices are often amazing.
They sell more than just new age books. (See the left column of their front page for an overview.) For example: self-help books, books on saving the environment, politics/world affairs, cookbooks, fiction, and much more.
They also sell things other than books, like jewelry, CDs, DVDs, Tarot decks, statues, incense, candles, etc.