59 Seconds review

59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot by Richard Wiseman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

59 Seconds is a self-help book with a twist – it talks about being happy, etc. but it does so based on a bunch of studies, kinda like Poor Economics. (liking these kinds of books is like liking science!) It covers a lot of different areas – here are the most interesting things I found:

– After experiencing a traumatic event, talking about it doesn’t generally help, but writing about it does. (possibly because writing lets you organize your thoughts and create a narrative)

– As an exercise, writing down five things a day you’re grateful for makes you a happier, more optimistic, and healthier person.

– Not exactly new news, but buying experiences makes you happier than buying things, possibly because looking back you tend to remember them fondly, as opposed to things which you get used to and decay over time.

– In children, low self-esteem tends to cause materialism.

– If you’re presenting good news and bad news (or, in the case of lawyers, a strong argument and a weak argument), it’s better to present the bad news before the good news.

– Favors are most effective (in affecting moods and establishing friendships) when they’re small but thoughtful. If the favor is too big, it can create uncomfortable pressure to reciprocate.

– Convincing yourself to work on something for “just a few minutes” is a good technique for beating procrastination.

– Eating half a meal at normal speed and then slowing down to half speed can dramatically reduce your appetite, crazily enough!

– Having shrubs and trees around seems to reduce crime in an area. (yes, the study was properly controlled)

– Going on a date? Choose an activity that’s exciting and causes your date’s heart rate to rise, and he/she’ll think it’s because he/she likes you. (I believe this falls under the “slightly evil” category of tips)

– To make a complicated choice, it’s best to think about it for a while and then switch to another mentally-intensive activity, like working on anagrams or something. Apparently this is a good way to get your subconscious to do your work for you!

– Praise children for trying hard, not for being smart, lest they get demotivated whenever they run into something tough.

– Putting a mirror in front of someone when presenting him/her with different food choices results in a 32% reduction in unhealthy food consumption.

Anyway, the book was good and dense, but I think I’m ready to move on from the self-help genre for a while.

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