How To…Just Get A Life?


By Guest Blogger: SANDRA GLUSCHANKOFF – Argentinian

We all have our preferences on how to spend our free time. Some of us take naps; others watch movies or go shopping. Mine is bookstores. There’s something about them that puts my mind in gear and turns my free time into a magical experience.

Ever since work, motherhood and my new BFF, “RECESSION,” have occupied most of my time and mind, I haven’t been able to embark on my favorite expedition, for what seems like an eternity.

However, last week, I was finally able to snap out of my daily routine, put on my intellectual hat and walk into my neighborhood franchise bookstore. I strolled through the aisles, excited after my long absence. And just like that, I felt that I was being assaulted. An endless collection of “HOW TO” books chased me down every aisle.

The “HOW TOs” ranged all the way from how to give birth, raise your children, get rid of them, get into college,  drop out of college, get married,  get divorced,  get re-married, re-gain your independence, plan your retirement,  plan your death and then your funeral.

I went so far as to take a quick glimpse at a title that offered how to plan re-incarnation. According to the store’s clerk, the best sellers among these so-called “Self Help Books” are the ones that come with the promise of doing all of these things in the simplest manner and shortest amount of time.

The word ‘self’ suddenly jumped out at me and an amusing thought crossed my mind – it won’t we too long before the next best seller will be, “MASTURBATION” 10 easy steps to a blissful sexual life. Why not? At the end of the day, sex is not a charitable contribution to society, but “self help.”

It would seem that we are under the illusion that we can do everything ourselves without the physical help of others. Have we become so obsessively competitive that the mere act of sharing an eye to eye conversation with a member of our same species could be a distraction that represents a danger to our survival?

I walked out of the bookstore with a burning question: how did we get here? How did a society as culturally rich and diverse as ours get to the point where we need to resort to formula books, written by Tom, Dick and Harry, to learn how to live and die? Are we underestimating ourselves to the extent of following generic advice without realizing that we are individuals and not just an indistinguishable mass?

Maybe the hippie movement was not only a protest against war but the last chance to hang onto a society that will be no more.

Then it hit me! We have arrived at a point where we desperately attempt to be anchored to a society that is portrayed as the model for communication, but has failed to extend emotional ties to itself. We have forgotten how to communicate one-on-one as human beings.

It is true, from the moment our babies are born, we take pride in acquiring the latest technology in child rearing, and let a soft spoken computerized voice teach our children how to speak, read and write. Yes, by the time our kids are two years old they can read the Harry Potter books from cover to cover, but they can’t look us in the eyes because we have failed to connect with them.

Consequently, the lack of personal communication has inevitably led us to relate without talking. We all have a Twitter account, a Facebook page, several e-mail addresses, and “texting” electronic devices. Sadly, we have become a society that seems to communicate solely in the same way we were taught to talk…without feelings.

Ultimately, the question is, what are all of these “HOW TOs” for? I believe they are a cry for help…but, unfortunately, they don’t work.

We seem to be more messed up as a society than ever. We can’t live our lives according to a recipe book; we can barely cook whilst following a recipe unless we add that personal touch that makes it ours, in or for us to get any gratification from it.

Going back to basics is a good idea, but let’s not try to find it in some generic formula contained in a best seller. We would do better as a society if we could go back to a family structure where the dinner table is a tradition. Talking and communicating would become part of our everyday.

Instead of throwing a party to celebrate that we finally got rid of our very green eighteen year olds as soon as they step out of high school, we as parents should stick to our roles an offer an extended stay for these kids who otherwise would end up lost, looking for answers in how to live their lives at the local bookstore, in books written by people who have no idea what they are talking about.

These so called authors, who are also victims of the big social detachment, are as emotionally injured as the ones buying their ill advice.

17 Responses to “How To…Just Get A Life?”

  1. brenda mckoy says:

    I agree with Sandra 100 percent! Personally, I think self help books are nothing but brain fodder. If you need good advice from a higher source, I think people should consult with a professional psychic or medium after all people have been looking to them for advice for thousands of years. Not that I am prejudice or anything!

  2. Big Mac says:

    What garbage. if you need good advice from a higher source, miss psychic, you need to turn to the only source, God, not that medium garbage. and what does prejudice have to do with anything.

  3. Big Mac says:

    Maybe you need to write a how to for miss psychic – how to get back on the right path with God. That’s a good idea.

  4. Maggie says:

    I enjoyed reading your article. I love bookstores too and I am fedup myself with all the “how to” books and feel we have to learn as a nation how to get back to family and relationship with one another. I look forward to reading more of your candid opinion on things.

  5. Laura says:

    Great article Sandra! I enjoyed reading it. It seems like at the end, our occidental culture has to re-discover the value of things that money can’t buy, things that can’t be tought with a How To book. Personally I think there is nothing better that a loving home, looking at your children’s eyes, listening to their words and trying to understand those that are unspoken, and being there for them. Is the best present for them…and for us.

  6. Cynthia says:

    Great article..Living in our society should force us to become better communicators with our family, friends and community. Raising our children as individuals thinking for themselves, leaders not followers, will give them the advantage they need to listen to their own voices, not the voices of strangers that because they have written a book profess to know everything. By empowering our children we give them hope for a stronger and more confident future. God bless our children!

  7. Bethany says:

    To Big Mac’s comment, God loves us all and his grace covers us all, including psychics. You don’t have the monopoly. Cynthia, I agree with you about raising our children to listen to their own voices, but the influence of television is also a major factor that’s hurting the family structure. How are they going to develop far less listen to their own voices if we are not also addressing the influence of television.

  8. LuLu says:

    I read your bio and you have a very interesting background. I would be curious to know what family life was like growing up in Argentina and have you adapted to America fully?

    • Sandra G. says:

      Growing up, life with family and friends in Argentina was very tight. Lunch and dinner with your parents and siblings at home was a rule for everybody I knew. As a Jew, I had a very rich cultural and social life, being Argentina at that time the third largest Jewish community in the world. My parents were always cautious as to find a balance in my education and I attended after school activities were I mingled with kids from other backgrounds. Also, I was raised with an eye to the world. In Argentina the education goes beyond our borders and our history. We grow up fully aware of the international community and from a very early age most of the kids know that America is one continent and not three as I learnt when I moved to the U.S.
      I can consider myself in a constant adaptation to the American life. As my kids grow older and meet more people, I discover new things about this country. I feel very fortunate that I can incorporate in my family life bits and pieces of both worlds. Dinner table at my house is a must. I sit down with my two teenage boys and we talk. They actually do talk! In Spanglish, we share our day’s experiences and I gain knowdledge from theirs as much as they do from mine.

  9. Gabby says:

    As a mother, I understand completely. We are preparing our children for a life of co-dependency without even realizing what we are doing by supporting these books. The last “How To” book should probably be “How to Wean Yourself Off the How To Books.” Seriously, it is a big problem, but when we look at the bigger scope of things, there are many more other pressing problems facing families, some of which you addressed in your article, that we should be dealing with, such as the disintegrating family structure.

  10. Sandra: Co-Founder of this Blog says:

    I agree with your position on the “How To” books, but with the little emphasis being placed on education, I would say that we need some of these books as we are raising a nation of idiots. Maybe we need just one more “How To” book and that should be about revamping the educational system nationwide to make a good education a right and not a privilege and to allocate more funds to paying teachers a higher salary so we can get the best of the best to educate our children.

  11. Jean Davis says:

    I absolutely agree on this. But what I am most curious about is why we resort to these “How To” books. Like you wrote, in a country as diverse and progressive as ours, shouldn’t we be able to answer our own questions without the help of some person that we don’t even know. Using these authors for guidance is representative of the growing gap of communication. Teenagers, and many adults alike, have lost all sense of communication because they have learned to follow lives of impersonality. These days, I commonly see people struggling in order to merely start a conversation.

    Great work, Sandra! Looking forward to more!

  12. Don Chuchi says:

    Dear Sandra;
    Although an interesting subject and perhaps a bit annoying for some us, I believe that you have generalized it too far.
    I have been married for almost 20 years with the most beautiful woman any man can wish for. She is intelligent and talented but most of all I am madly in love with her. Sometimes I wish that I can find a ‘how to’ book to learn the many things that I should be doing to make her happy. Perhaps the book on us hasn’t been written yet. However, I would not hesitate to buy any book that would help me keep her joyful by my side, for the rest of our lives.
    “Great writing”, look forward to your next subject.
    Don Chuchi

  13. Michele Nolan says:

    Wow! This guy Don Chuchi is really in love. He could teach a thing or two to those little boys, Tiger and Jesse James about staying faithful and appreciating your wife EVEN after 20 years.

  14. Norma says:

    Sandra: Me resulto muy interesante tu articulo, yo pienso que si dejamos que la tecnologia{mal utilizada} puede llevarnos a actuar como maquinas , mas aun comprando libros que nos marquen como llegar a la perfeccion, en las distintas etapas de la vida . Lamentablemente muchos no se dan cuenta que el afecto , estar presente y escucharnos, son la base para una vida mejor. Yo lo experimente naturalmente tanto con mi hija Valeria como con mis nietitas Lola y Olivia , Tambien tengo el recuerdo muy vivo de mi abuelo Jose que murio cuando yo tenia tan solo 9 anos, y su dedicacion, sus cuentos los llevo desde hace mucho. Sandra te seguire , felicitaciones. Un beso . N O R M A R O T E N B E R G

  15. Ms Thing says:

    Very appropriate to our time. I’ve enjoyed reading this post Sandra and to Don Chuchi, do you have a brother?

  16. Sandra G. says:

    This is the translation of the comment posted in Spanish by Norma Rotenberg.

    Sandra, I found your article very interesting and I think that if we let the ill managed technology take over us we can become machines, even worse if we buy books that hold the promise to make us reach perfection during the different stages of our life. Unfortunately many people don’t recognize that affection, being around somebody you love and listening to each other are the basisfor a better life. I personally experience it with my daughter Valeria and my granddaughters Lola and Olivia. I also have the vivid memory of my grandfather Jose who passed away when I was only 9 years old, but his dedication and beautiful stories will always be with me.
    Sandra I’ll be following your articles and congratulations;
    A kiss;
    Norma Rotenberg

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