Fundamentally, there's nothing new in the central idea of this book but Wiseman typically puts it forward in a modern, thought-provoking & thoroughly digestible manner. It's based on an idea first put forward over 100 years ago by psychologist William James (brother of novelist Henry James
) which Wiseman says is well-known in academic papers but is rarely mentioned in books aimed at the public. He's also backed up James' theory with some modern-day experiments.
The idea is that we have confused the horse with the cart - that instead of investing time & money in self-help books which tell us how to change the very way we think, it's far easier to change the way we act in simple & subtle ways. It's essentially faking it until you make it. Want to feel happier? Force yourself to smile & you will actually feel better. Want to be more confident? Stand in a confident pose & it will effect how you see yourself.
Can it really be that simple? Apparently so. But Wiseman emphasises that the real challenge is in acting in a new way, instead of going back to our old habits. Hence the title - at certain points, Wiseman asks up to rip up certain pages in the book. That's because it's something we wouldn't usually do, so it will prepare us to do other things which we wouldn't usually do.
I'm sure I've heard this idea somewhere before, or perhaps it's merely something which I intuitively suspected. But knowing something in theory is one thing - having Wiseman's practical & well-researched tips into how to put it into practise is another.
Anyway, Wiseman's wise words encouraged me to give it a go. I've been making myself smile while walking to social events (which always make me nervous) & found that it really does make me happier & more confident, thus more sociable when I arrive. Part of it came from a silly little thrill that I may look utterly daft to passes-by & the knowledge that it's only smiling, so it doesn't really matter. It took a surprising amount of effort to remember to keep doing it but was also rather meditative & quite fun. Also, it occurred to me that the most easy-going people I know do actually have subtle smiles on their faces most of the time - I'm amazed I didn't notice this before.
This interesting book will change the way you look at the world & give you a better understanding of how our emotions work & how to use it to your advantage. Highly recommended.