Richard Wiseman’s book exposes self-help myths, and presents scientifically proven techniques that help you achieve your aims and ambitions in less than a minute. From mood to memory, persuasion to procrastination, and resilience to relationships, 59 Seconds presents the new science of rapid change.
A few years ago I was having lunch with a friend called Sophie. Sophie is a bright, successful, thirty-something who holds a senior position in a firm of management consultants. Over lunch, Sophie explained that she had recently bought a well-known book on increasing happiness, and asked me what I thought of the industry. I explained that I had serious reservations about the scientific backing for some of the techniques being promoted, and described how any failure to change could do considerable psychological harm. Sophie looked concerned, and then asked whether academic psychology had produced more scientifically-supported ways of improving people’s lives. I started to describe some of the quite complex academic work into happiness, and after about fifteen minutes or so Sophie stopped me. She politely explained that, interesting though it was, she was a busy person and asked whether I could come up with some effective advice that didn’t take up quite so much time to implement. I asked how long I had. Sophie glanced at her watch, smiled, and replied ‘About a minute?’.
Sophie’s comment made me stop and think. Many people are attracted to self-development and improvement because it offers quick and easy solutions to various issues in their lives. Unfortunately, most academic psychology either fails to address these issues or presents far more time-consuming and complex answers (thus the scene in Woody Allen’s film ‘Sleeper’, where Allen’s character discovers that he has woken up 200 years in the future, sighs, and explains that had he been in therapy all this time he’d almost be cured). I wondered whether there were tips and techniques hidden away in academic journals that were empirically supported but quick to carry out.
Over the course of a few months I carefully searched through endless journals containing research papers from many different areas of psychology. As I examined the work, a promising pattern emerged, with researchers working in quite different fields developing techniques that help people achieve their aims and ambitions in minutes not months. I collected together hundreds of these studies drawn from many different areas of the behavioural sciences. From mood to memory, persuasion to procrastination, resilience to relationships, together they represent a new science of rapid change.
Watch Wiseman explain what it’s about…
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