Coach's Casebook

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

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

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



59 Seconds: Think a little, change a lot is an easy and enjoyable book to read – the kind that you can dip in and out of, picking up interesting tips along the way.


The chapter list gives a good indication of the subjects covered in the book:

  1. Happiness
  2. Persuasion
  3. Motivation
  4. Creativity
  5. Attraction
  6. Stress
  7. Relationships
  8. Decision Making
  9. Parenting Personality

Wiseman discusses these typically of ‘Self Help’ topics and the investigate the research that has been suggested as supporting the claims, using his own and other’s research to outline the flaws in some of the theories. He also offers a number of concrete suggestions for how you can quickly implement his findings in 59 seconds (although practically a little longer in some cases).

The book is based on the premise that quick techniques can sometimes be surprisingly effective at helping us to change and explains which ones work and which don’t.

For example:

  • A simple five day writing exercise that can lift your mood for several weeks (essentially a more structured gratitude diary)
  • Spending money on experiences is a far more effective way to make yourself happy than spending it on things
  • Punching a pillow to relieve anger (Gestalt Therapy) actually increases your anger, while sitting quietly and thinking about how you benefited from the experience has the opposite effect
  • Conversational techniques that can build instant rapport on a first date typically include topics that create intimacy or increase the heart rate.
  • Exercises to stimulate the unconscious mind that lead to better decision making

By way of conclusion, Wiseman offers a few pearls of research wisdom from his investigation:

  • Develop an attitude of gratitude as grateful people are more optimistic and benefit from better physical health as a result.
  • Place a picture of a baby in your wallet as it triggers a deep seated caring mechanism that increases the likelihood that the wallet will be returned.
  • Hang a mirror in your kitchen as seeing your form as you open the fridge will encourage you to eat more healthily.
  • Buy a pot plant for the office as it can help boost the number of creative ideas that you have.
  • Touch people lightly on the upper arm as it makes them far more likely to agree with your and increases their perception of your level of authority.
  • Write something positive about your relationship for a few moments each week as it will boost your chances of staying together.
  • Deal with potential liars by closing your eyes and by asking for email as visual cues tend to be unreliable and people are reluctant to put untruths in any kind of enduring form such as email.
  • Praise children’s effort over ability as it encourages then to try regardless of the outcome or consequences.
  • Visualize yourself doing, not achieving as it is a form of rehearsal not a form of dreaming.
  • Consider your legacy and you will see how others will see you, does it look the way you want it too?

59 Seconds is a well written book with research to back up some fairly simple conclusions. Well worth the read.

Dare to Aspire

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