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59 Seconds

59 Seconds

Think A Little Change A Lot

Richard Wiseman

Summary in 100 words or less


59 seconds is one of my favorite self-help books because it uncovers many hot self-help myths with science. Almost everything in it is backed by fascinating research; it also offers a bite-size action you can take to live happier, perform better, procrastinate less, improve your relationships and reduce your stress level. I found it a little dull to read this book at first but it got much interesting during my second read.

My Highlights

Having people list three things that they are grateful for in life or three events that have gone especially well over the past week, can significantly increase their level of happiness for about a month. This, in turn, can cause them to be more optimistic about the future and improve their physical health.

Research has shown that low self-esteem somehow causes materialistic tendencies, and materialistic also leads to an unsatisfied and unhappy life. To live a little happier, buy experience but not goods because the positive emotions you can get from the experience is longer (or forever). Besides, focus on giving rather than receiving to achieve long-term happiness.

The Franklin Effect – People like you more when they carry out a favor for you. However, the effect has its limitations and is more likely to work with small favors rather than more significant requests that either make people respond begrudgingly or, even worse, refuse.

The Pratfall Effect – The occasional slip-up can enhance your likeability. However, it is important to realize that the effect only really works when you are in danger of being seen as too perfect.

The Bystander Effect – The more people who are around when a person is apparently in need of assistance, the lower the likelihood of any one person actually helping. If you are unfortunate enough to require assistance, increase your chance of getting help by picking out a friendly face in the crowd, and be specific with your problem you have and assistance you need.

A large body of research now suggests that although visualization might make you feel good, the technique is, at best, ineffective. To achieve your aims and ambitions, there are four key techniques that will help you succeed: have the right kind of plan, make a public announcement to increase your level of commitment, focusing on the action and benefits, and reward yourself each step of the way.

Procrastinators frequently put off starting certain activities because they are overwhelmed by the size of the job in front of them. However, by starting to work on the task for “a few minutes”, they often feel an urge to see it through to completion.

People who visualize themselves taking the practical steps needed to achieve their goals are far more likely to succeed than those who simply fantasize about their dreams becoming a reality. Therefore, rather overly visualize yourself achieving your goals, visualize yourself doing.

Asking people to spend just a few minute imagining a close friend standing up at their funeral and reflecting on their personal and professional legacy helps them to identify their long-term goals, and assess the degree to which they are progressing towards making those goals a reality.

Many standard texts on creativity emphasize the value of relaxation. Genuine creativity can come from spending a few moments occupying your conscious mind. Everyone can be more creative; it is just a case of keeping the loud guy (conscious mind) in your head busy, and giving the quiet guy a chance to speak up.

When it comes to anger management, putting on the boxing gloves or punching a pillow are far more likely to increase, not decrease the feelings of aggression. Instead, it is possible to significantly reduce such feelings by focusing on the benefits that have risen such feelings by focusing on the benefits that have risen from the seemingly negative events underlying your anger.

Long-term couples will feel more attracted to one another when they regularly engage in novel and exciting joint activities which involve working together to achieve a goal. In another word, couples who face life’s foam obstacles together, stick together.

When it comes to the way we think and behave, negative events and experiences are far more noticeable and have a greater impact than their positive counterpart. With that said, for a relationship to succeed, the frequency of positive comments has to outweigh the number of negative remarks by about five to one.

To reduce regrets in decision making, adopt a “will do” attitude to the opportunity because most people tend to regret things they didn’t do. But if you do regret not doing something, see if there is anything you can do to remedy the situation. Finally, if it really isn’t possible to do anything to make things better, focus on the benefits of your “don’t do” to reduce the intensity of feeling regret.

Praising a child’s effort rather than their ability encourages them to try regardless of the consequences, therefore side-stepping any fear of failure. This, in turn, makes them especially likely to attempt challenging problems, find these problems more enjoyable, and try to solve them in their own time; rather than depend on their “talent."

More Book Notes

Rich Dad Poor Dad
The Impact Equation

Master Your Week to Master Your Life

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