Homemade self-help booklet


We often gather insights that collectively can form a self-help manual for our own lives—but how do we keep track of them all? Journalist Caroline Buijs writes down these valuable reminders in small self-help notebooks, which she never leaves home without.

As I read De lessen van burn-out (Lessons of a Burnout; in Dutch only) in a café, I wrote down all the insights I wanted to remember on loose sheets of paper and took photos of the passages that resonated with me (which I texted to my husband with captions such as, ‘Look, almost all of it describes me perfectly. Amazing, isn’t it?’). I was so relieved that I wasn’t crazy or that it wasn’t all just my imagination. I also knew from my previous experiences with self-help books that I usually forget the tips they offer within a week, and that all those loose sheets of paper would disappear in a drawer, the book would be shelved (I ended up buying a copy), and that I would only thumb through it now and then. How could I remember all these newly acquired insights?



My solution was to write down the insights I had collected in a small, passport-sized notebook, a book that always fits in my bag so that I can read them whenever I feel the need. One Sunday evening, I sat down with Van Bergen’s book and a notebook and started writing. I was now summarizing this book the way I used to prepare an extract for a test in school. Only this time, I was choosing the material that was important to me instead of what the teacher had decided was key.

  • Read the full story ‘Homemade self-help’ in Issue 30.

Text Caroline Buijs