American Civic Life

Kate Bowler Wants to Take Down the Self-Help Enterprise

November 4, 2021

DURHAM, N.C. (RNS) — Atop a bookshelf in a room next to her office, Kate Bowler and her team have assembled a series of framed anti-self-help sayings. “The universe stabbed me in the back,” reads one. Another: “What doesn’t kill you might try again tomorrow.”

And perhaps the punchiest and most direct: “Okayest life now.”

The latter, a reference to the 2004 bestseller “Your Best Life Now,” is a direct refutation of a book by televangelist Joel Osteen, which preached that anyone can get rid of negativity by unleashing positive thoughts. Happiness and prosperity are within reach if people would only believe in themselves.

Osteen’s relentless positivity is precisely the mindset Bowler wants to take down.

Framed sayings poking fun at the self-help movement line Kate Bowler’s “Everything Happens” podcast offices in Durham, North Carolina. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron

Framed sayings poking fun at the self-help movement line Kate Bowler’s “Everything Happens” podcast offices in Durham, North Carolina. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron

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