Personal development and self-help books by their nature tend to be happy, optimistic, and positive. If people wanted something to make them feel bad, scared, or hopeless they could simply turn on local evening news.
I have personally read/listened to around 200 non fiction books/audio books with more than half being personal development books. Many of them have overlapping principles, paradigms, tactics, advice, themes, and tones. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene is by far the most unique personal development book I have ever read. If personal development books are pop music, then The 48 Laws of Power is Nirvana and Robert Greene is Kurt Cobain.
A summary of the 48 Laws can be found here.
Looking over just the first few laws, you’ll notice a striking difference between the advice offered and the content of books by the likes of Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, and Stephen Covey. I would say that it is the opposite which is a good thing. Variety is the spice of life. Human beings, especially those living in urban environments, need to be aware of the concepts that The 48 Laws of Power presents.
Positive thinking is important. Treating other people the way you want to be treated is worthy of being called the golden rule. Honesty is the best policy.
Over reliance on rah-rah self-help material can lead to naïvety. It did for me. We must know how the world, outside of our circle of influence, operates. We must see the best in people but also be aware of and prepared for dealing with the worst in and worst kind of people. The 48 Laws of Power will prepare its reader for the types of people, situations, and aspects of life we wish didn’t exist and choose not to acknowledge, but are there, and affecting our lives nonetheless.
As someone who actively studies/reads up on politics, economics, and environmental news, I see those in power utilizing concepts in The 48 Laws of Power in order to get what they want at the expense of those beneath them on the social, political, and economics pyramids of society. One need not put anything from The 48 Laws of Power into practice, but all the concepts are important to be aware of.
Awareness is one of the key concepts of personal development and self-help. Often, personal development books for all the right reasons, want us to be hyper aware of the positive, the light, and beauty of life. Those are all good things to be aware of, happy, and grateful for in every present moment of every day of one’s life. At the same time, on the opposite end of the spectrum, we must also be aware of the negative, darkness, and ugliness of the world we live in. Maybe keep the awareness of the latter towards the back of your mind, with awareness of the good things at the forefront.
Naivety is the fuel for manipulation. I recommend every adult human being read The 48 Laws of Power because it will make you less naïve and less prone to being manipulated. In a world of Ponzi schemes and political scandals, con artists and corruption, wolves and takers; one need not become a bitter, distrusting, paranoid, zealot simply by reading a book about methods of manipulation used by those in power to maintain and expand it. But awareness of the principles to balance with the power of positive thinking can help a person become more well-rounded and more capable of navigating the outside world that is full of things outside of their ability to control or influence. That is at the heart of what personal development literature is all about and that is why The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene is a personal development book, just an alt rock version.