For more than twenty-five years, I’ve been reading self-help books of all kinds. As someone who has struggled with sadness and depression, many of these books have given me a sense of comfort and hope, while some provided a bit of relief for a short while.

In March of 2020, I reflected on the processes of these self-help programs I’d studied – and searched for one to ease my worry. I was seeking a concept that was uncomplicated, but unfortunately found that most I could recall were simply not very instinctive.

It was during this time that I had felt a certain responsibility to dig a bit deeper and discover what mattered most in my life. I asked myself, how could I learn to live in an organic way, more freely and naturally, without obsessing over the results or benefits and without overanalyzing everything?

The answer I found: By acting in a way that is foundational to who I am. In other words, being rather than doing. It was the type of insight I sought elsewhere but couldn’t quite find. This breakthrough then prompted another significant mindset shift. To be light, I first had to be solid.

And so, I began to consider how having a foundation could make my life stable and solid. It was by laying the right foundation - a foundation for being rather than doing, that I could act naturally and live in way that was more free-flowing and light, without having to overthink - or having an artificial process control my routine.

I then determined that to get to the core of what I really needed, I had to get out of my own self-absorbed head and begin focusing on being kind to others, grateful for what I have, acting with integrity, living humbly, and accepting life as it is rather than regretting how it isn’t.
As simple as it sounds, I discovered that those five principles were a clear path to peace and joy: kindness, gratitude, integrity, humility, and acceptance. Simple, but not easy. However, it seemed that I had found a practical perspective both sensible and uncomplicated.

Going further, for each of the five principles, I distilled one key ingredient that guided them. For kindness, we need compassion. For gratitude, we must have awareness. To have integrity, the focus should be on decency. With humility, perspective is needed. And acceptance requires flexibility.
It’s a back-to-basics perspective that simplifies in order to strengthen, and one I consider to be an Un-Self Help approach. The key word, of course, is “self”, and when we can look outside of ourselves, it frees us of many of the worries and anxieties we tend to carry.

The essence of this Un-Self Help approach does not feel like an approach at all. With selflessness as the common thread connecting each of the principles, they allow us to get out of our heads – and out of our selves. And when we release the burden of ego, we let go of a weight that’s often rooted in self-importance, absorption, and centeredness.

Each principle does this in its own unique way. Kindness eases our minds; gratitude shines a light on the positive; integrity makes us solid; humility soothes the soul; and acceptance grounds us in what is. Together, they provide for a strong basis for living and take our own self-regard out of the equation.

It’s in my discovery of this foundation that I viewed my previous studies through a different lens. Much of what I read purported to be the way to a certain outcome, without conceding that there is no one size fits all solution. I had typically found that a few suggestions from these books resonated more strongly that others, and it was my responsibility to incorporate them into my life. But therein lied the problem. The process of incorporating them was indeed too much of a process.

At the heart of this newfound perspective is that it encourages everyone to ask themselves what matters most – and then make that fundamental to their being. It’s why I turned inward in order to look outward; to determine what I knew for sure and understand how that could ground me in a stronger foundation with a lighter sense of being. It has since changed the way in how I both begin my days and move through them; along a path I now take with a very clear sense of peace and joy.

Author's Bio: 

Joshua Kramer is the creator of The Unicorn in You, a personal growth and development perspective that emphasizes five key principles as the foundation for peace and joy. He is the Managing Partner of Kramer Chandler, a real estate business founded in 1922, and an active member of YPO. When not pursuing his passion for traveling, he can be found walking around town with his beloved Havanese, Buddy.