I’ve decided to write a self-help book. These are the books that are supposed to help you live a better life, lose weight, influence people, be happy, win friends, pick up girls, understand your spouse. (Don’t attempt those last two at the same time.)

If there’s anything that’s keeping you from being a happy, well-adjusted, self-actualizing person, there’s a book with 12 easy steps to overcoming that obstacle. People who need help with one of the above pay good money so a perfect stranger can tell them how to achieve their innermost actualization, usually by telling them what they already know they should do.

At first I was a tad hesitant about the whole project. I’m not even sure what “innermost actualization” means. Then after perusing the self-help aisle I noticed that every self-help author has written a sequel. And the really famous ones have whole shelves full of sequels of sequels. I thought about that for a while and realized that a self-help book isn’t actually supposed to help anyone. If it does, there’s no reason for them to pay equally good money for the sequel. And repeat business is what the self-help author is looking for. 

Don’t believe me? Try this experiment: Go to Barnes and Noble. Grab a book from the shelf. It doesn’t matter which one, since you’re not actually going to read it. Find a spot where you can observe the self-help shelves and nonchalantly thumb through the book while keeping a close eye on the self-help books. Watch the people who walk in the front door and go directly to the self-help shelf. Hint: they go directly there because they’ve been there before. They go over and over again and buy book after book, and it doesn’t take. If it did, they wouldn’t have to keep going back.

Let’s face it, the only person most self-help books make rich and famous, have six-pack abs, or make friends and influence people, is the author of the self-help book.

If you look over the books themselves, the first thing you notice is that It doesn’t matter what the title of the book is — something that will get people to plunk down $19.95 without thinking. It doesn’t have to be original, just sound vaguely clever.  I’m thinking about What Happens in Kindergarten Stays in Kindergarten. Of course, The Porpoise Driven Life has a nice ring to it. Why porpoises? They may not be wiser than we are, but they look wiser. And they look cute at the same time. Porpoises will go great on the cover. Some people will buy the book just for the cute but wise porpoises on the cover.

Inside, after the title page and the nifty author’s bio and airbrushed photo (my daughters assure me I need an airbrushed photo), there’ll only be one piece of advice: “Burn all your self-help books, including this one.” I’m convinced self-help junkies would get their money’s worth if they took that one piece of advice. 

Still, some might take that that as, well, a cheat. Certainly, anyone who paid $19.95 for the hardcover edition might see it as cheating. So, I decided I should include a few affirmations, something that doesn’t scream “Hey, I wrote a book and I’m making a fortune.”

So, here are some of the affirmations I came up with. Remember, an affirmation doesn’t have to be wise, it just has to sound wise, which means it either has to be vague, self-contradictory, or vaguely self-contradictory. At least that’s what it says in How to Be Your Own Guru. (On the discount table for $3.87.) Poets call that “poetic license.” Self-help book writers call that “license to steal.” Try these out on your fourteen year old. If he nods his head wisely, you know they has full affirmation value—and no real value. Here they are, my first set of affirmations. Another 2,000 or so and I’ve got a book I can charge $19.95 for.

You’ll never be as rich as Bill Gates, but almost all of us are better looking.

If the following is true for you: “Everything I know I learned watching Jersey Shore” then not only have you been brainwashed, you have had your brain washed away. 

Money can’t buy you love, but it can lease a reasonable facsimile. 

Failure is a good teacher, but most of us don’t want to learn

Google is smarter than you are. Get used to it.

Whoever dies with the most toys is still dead.

Finish something, anything. Life doesn’t reward you for starting projects just for finishing them. 

If fate made you a pathological liar, become a politician. If not, find out what you are good at.

Angelina Jolie will never follow you on Twitter. So find someone who will.

Pre-purchasing your burial plot is just plain stupid. Sure, everyone dies. Plan for life, not death.

Don’t sweat it. Every slacker is successful—the rest of the world just hasn’t noticed yet.

There are people in every profession with 20 years of experience; and there are people with one year of experience repeated twenty times. Don’t stop learning.

By the time you learn everything you need to know, you’re too old to have any use for it.

$19.95 will buy a nice steak dinner. Check this book out from the library, then go to dinner.