This book began with a healthy dose of scepticism towards the self-help industry. And, having stripped it bare of its useful tips and advice, it should conclude the same way. The modern self-help industry is just that: an industry. It has inputs (insecure people like us) and outputs (books and DVDs and lecture tours and surgeries and TV shows and even the odd gizmo). And it has a process: focusing the mind of the input on his or her own happiness and/or fulfilment and/or potential.

As Stephen Covey points out, it has also changed with the times: moving from a 19th-century focus on character building, in which virtues such as hard work and efficiency were promoted, to a thoroughly modern obsession with quick-fix ...

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