BBQ toes and transformations

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My heart bleeds for them.

Twenty-one participants in a hot-coal walk got, surprise, burns: http://slatest.slate.com/posts/2012/07/23/tony_robbins_hot_coal_walk_21_treated_for_burns_at_san_jose_self_help_seminar.html

It’s not absolutely clear if the coals were part of the Tony Robbins seminar, or just an event next door (the story’s implication is that there was a connection). Regardless, this is an opportunity for me to make fun of people I don’t know, so I will.

Self-help seminars, self-help books, self-help celebrities. I dunno. They just set my crapometer beeping. And it’s not even that their message is wrong. I think positive input can cause positive outcomes. It would be a pretty grim world-view if you thought unhappy people were just doomed to unhappiness.

But there just seems to be something trite about joining 6,000 people for a weekend of ‘improvement.’ And something downright idiotic about walking on coals as a tool of empowerment.

To all you coal walkers out there, chill. You do want you want, and if it’s cathartic, fill your boots. But the idea that particular activity – all five frantic seconds of it – will help you ‘unleash the power within’ just sounds like B.S.

Of course, the mind is a curious thing. If you really convince someone it works, the placebo effect may take care of the rest. But how many people are transformed by a weekend, or a 10-foot walk, or even reading a single book? It’s such a lazy transformation, isn’t it? Slap a few motivational slogans on an overhead, barbecue your toes, and voila! New you!

“It transformed people’s lives in a single night,” said one participant, according to the story.

Um, OK. I guess some people just set the bar pretty low for transformative experiences. 

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