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Richard Wiseman: 59 Seconds Book Summary


The Book in Three Sentences

  1. Many people are interested in self-help because it offers quick and easy solutions to various issues in their lives.
  2. The problem is most self-help techniques are ineffective.
  3. The most effective techniques come straight from the scientific community.

The Five Big Ideas

  1. “When people can afford the necessities in life, an increase in income does not result in a significantly happier life”.
  2. “To encourage people to do more of something they enjoy, try presenting them with the occasional small surprise reward after they have completed the activity, or praise the fruits of their labour”.
  3. “To increase the likelihood of someone liking you, get them to do you a favour”.
  4. “Fantasizing about your perfect world may make you feel better but is unlikely to help transform your dreams into reality”.
  5. “Some research suggests that eating more slowly helps people eat less, perhaps because it fools our brains into thinking that we’ve eaten more, and allows extra time for the body to digest food”.

59 Seconds Summary

  • “Happiness doesn’t just flow from success, it actually causes it”.
  • “When people can afford the necessities in life, an increase in income does not result in a significantly happier life”.
  • “Materialism takes root in early childhood, and is mainly driven by low self-esteem”.
  • “Want to buy happiness? Then spend your hard-earned cash on experiences”.
  • “When it comes to happiness, remember that it is experiences that represent really good value for money”.
  • “If you want to cheer yourself up, behave like a happy person”.
  • “To maximize happiness, choose intentional over circumstantial change”.
  • “If you set children an activity they enjoy and reward them for doing it, the reward reduces the enjoyment and demotivates them”.
  • “To encourage people to do more of something they enjoy, try presenting them with the occasional small surprise reward after they have completed the activity, or praise the fruits of their labour”.
  • “It seems that presenting weaknesses early is seen as a sign of openness”.
  • “From assessing the effects of a bad-hair day to performing badly in a group discussion, those who feel embarrassed are convinced that their mistakes are far more noticeable than they actually are. Why? It seems we focus on our own looks and behaviour more than others, and so are likely to overestimate their impact”.
  • “If you want to increase your chances of making a good impression in a meeting, sit towards the middle of the table”.
  • “To increase the likelihood of someone liking you, get them to do you a favour”.
  • “When you gossip about another person, listeners unconsciously associate you with the characteristics you are describing, ultimately leading to those characteristics being ‘transferred’ to you”.
  • “We like people who are like us, and find them far more persuasive than others”.
  • “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”.
  • “Favours have their strongest effect when they occur between people who don’t know each other very well, and when they are small but thoughtful”.
  • “Fantasizing about your perfect world may make you feel better but is unlikely to help transform your dreams into reality”.
  • “Some research suggests that eating more slowly helps people eat less, perhaps because it fools our brains into thinking that we’ve eaten more, and allows extra time for the body to digest food”.
  • “If you want to reduce your drinking, stay away from short, wide glasses, and stick to tall, narrow ones”.
  • “Research shows that just placing food or drink out of sight or moving it a few metres away can have a big effect on consumption”.
  • “To cut intake, make sure that tempting foods are out of sight, and in a place that is difficult to access, such as a top cupboard or basement”.
  • “People eat significantly more when they are distracted at mealtimes and therefore not paying attention to their food”.
  • “Try cutting down on your eating by replacing your crockery and cutlery”.
  • “Research conducted by the Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research suggests that making a note of how much you eat can help you lose weight”.
  • “Research conducted by Charles Abraham and Paschal Sheeran has shown that just a few moments thinking about how much you will regret not going to the gym will help motivate you to climb off the couch and onto an exercise bike”.
  • “Christopher Peterson from the University of Michigan believes encouraging people to consider how they would like to be remembered after their death has various motivational benefits, including helping them to identify their long-term goals, and assess the degree to which they are progressing towards making those goals a reality”.
  • “To prime your mind into thinking creatively, spend a few moments describing a typical musician or artist. List their behaviours, lifestyle and appearance”.
  • “According to work conducted by psychologist Stephen Worchel from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, biscuits taken from a jar that is almost empty taste significantly better than identical cookies taken from a full jar”.
  • “To help promote the chances of a successful date, choose an activity that is likely to get the heart racing”.
  • “The theory is that your date will attribute their racing heart to you, rather than the activity, convincing themselves you have that special something”.
  • “The results revealed that just a few minutes focusing on the benefits that flowed from the seemingly hurtful experience helped participants deal with the anger and upset caused by the situation. They felt significantly more forgiving towards those who had hurt them, and were less likely to seek revenge or avoid them”.
  • “Surrounding yourself with objects that remind you of your partner is good for your relationship”.
  • “People are far more likely to agree to a big request if they have already agreed to a small one”.
  • “When making straightforward decisions, stick with the conscious mind by thinking about the pros and cons and assessing the situation in a rational, level-headed way. However, for more complex choices, try giving your conscious mind a rest and letting your unconscious work”.
  • “Research shows that when most people look back on their lives, they tend to regret things they didn’t do”.
  • “To help spot possible shifts, try establishing what researchers have referred to as an ‘honest baseline’. Before asking questions that are likely to elicit deceptive answers, start with those that are far more likely to make the person respond in an honest way. During these initial answers, develop an understanding of how they behave when they are telling the truth by looking at their body language and listening to the words they say. Then, during the answers to the trickier questions, watch out for the behavioural shifts outlined above”.
  • “Research shows that people have a strong tendency to underestimate how long a project will take, and that people working in groups are especially likely to have unrealistic expectations”.
  • “It seems that to get an accurate estimate of the time needed to complete a project, you need to look at how long it took to finish broadly similar projects in the past”.
  • “Those who carried out the mental unpacking produced estimates that proved far more accurate than other participants”.
  • “Research shows that people with surnames beginning with a letter towards the start of the alphabet are more successful in life than those with names towards the end”.

 

Shout out to samuelthomasdavies.com for doing this written summary

 

To buy the book, click the link in the image below to purchase from Amazon

 

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