Monday, March 29, 2010

Book Club... And Then Some!

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

Book Review by
Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

In a word: fascinating! 59 Seconds is one of those, “I just couldn’t put it down,” types of books. Having previously cited some of Wiseman’s research on humor in the final chapter of Edgar E. Willis’s book, How to be funny on Purpose: Creating and Consuming Humor, I was already familiar with one area of his research. Other areas include deception and luck. What makes this book utterly fascinating is his ability to distill (and make palatable) thousands of papers (research studies) in psychology, then apply them directly to the way we (readers) live their lives. The way he destroys many of the myths that often are taken for granted, is eye-opening.

Wiseman’s chapter titles reveal how closely the research studies (and his applications of them) relate to our lives: happiness, persuasion, motivation, creativity, attraction, relationships, stress, decision-making, parenting, and personality. How can anyone deny that at least one, and probably more, of these areas relates to his or her life?

Wiseman’s close dependence on scientific studies, while maintaining complete and easy readability, I might add, makes this book a valuable resource and practical guide to change. Wiseman explained his method and approach in this manner: “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 researches in quite different fields developing techniques that help people achieve their aims and ambitions in minutes, not months. I collected hundreds of these studies, drawn from many different areas of the behavioral sciences. From mood to memory, persuasion to procrastination, resilience to to relationships, together they represent a new science of rapid change” (p. 8).

Wiseman’s delightful, sometimes dry, sense of humor not only makes the text engaging, but it makes it entertaining as well.

With the specific, practical tools Wiseman offers, clear reporting of the methods the researchers used, and the delightful encouragement of the author himself, you cannot help but be moved to grow, develop, and change in new purposeful and meaningful directions. His 59-second sections full of useful, applicable advice are thought-provoking and valuable. I remain fascinated! (If you want to see a short video of Wiseman, there is one on the website where his book is advertised.)


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