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This 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. For each topic, Wiseman discusses a number of research experiments (both his own and ones done by others) and then gives a number of concrete suggestions on how you can quickly implement these findings - although 59 seconds is often a stretch. And why the title of this review? Because one of the things I learned from reading this book was the fact that if you've just had a caffeinated drink, you are far more likely to be swayed by someone else's opinion!

The book is based on the premise that quick techniques can sometimes be surprisingly effective at helping us to change and explains (based on research studies) which ones work and which don't. Some examples that I found interesting were:
- a simple five day writing exercise that can lift your mood for several weeks (essentially a more structured gratitude diary)
- how spending money on experiences is a far more effective way to make yourself happy than spending it on things
- how punching a pillow to relieve anger actually increases your anger, while sitting quietly and thinking about how you benefited (or at least learned) from the experience has the opposite effect
- conversational techniques that can build instant rapport on a first date (the trick is to use topics that create intimacy)
- exercises to stimulate the unconscious mind that lead to better decision making
- simple tests to assess your child's emotional intelligence.

Like Quirkology: The Curious Science of Everyday Lives, the book also has lots of facts that seem to have been included just because they're interesting. So we learn that people with bumper stickers are more aggressive drivers, that having a photo of a baby in your wallet significantly increases the chance of it being returned if you lose it, that your initials can influence your life expectancy and that adding plants to an office increases the number of creative ideas that employees will have.

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
10. Personality
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Richard Wiseman has journeyed into the badlands of self-help books with a train of porters carrying academic research on what actually does work when it comes to fulfilling all those rather grandiose goals(losing weight, finding (or indeed fighting as I first typed) the perfect mate, or becoming hugely rich and impossibly attractive). One effect of this is that he packs a lot more advice into the book because the researchers finish off rather quickly some of the wackier (but sadly ineffective) theories that are often used to pad out self-help manuals.

The book therefore has at least two uses. Firstly, it is amusing to see what does work and why it might work (one needs to be careful in assuming the rationales have the same degree of scientific rigour). Secondly, there is some very good advice in here if you want to deal with various problems. My favourites are smiling in front of the mirror with a pencil between your teeth (increases well-being) and the starting a difficult task so you get sucked into finishing it (defeats procrastination). Something that entertains and informs, I recommend it.
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on 25 October 2011
If you don't want to buy this book, you can read this summary to get an idea of what is preached in the book.

When people can afford the necessities in life, an increase in income does not result in a significantly happier life. Part of the reasons is that we all get used to what we have very quickly.

Talking about traumatic experience does not help but writing does! This is because people tend to be more systematic solution based during writing.

You don't know what you've got till it's gone! It means you can re-create happiness by going out of the environment and entering it so that the joy of getting something first time re-appears.

Experiential purchase provides greater happiness.

If you want real retail therapy, help yourself by helping others.

In interview, likeability is more important than qualification and work experience.

Bystander effect - The more people who are around when a person is apparently in need of assistance, the lower the likelihood that any one person will actually help!

If you want maximum return for your investment (donation, act of favor etc.), ask for return favor quickly else recipient will forget it.

If you have a photo of a baby in your wallet, you are more likely to get it back if lost.

To achieve your aims and ambitions, there are four key techniques that will help you succeed: having the right kind of plan, telling your friends and family, focusing on the benefits, and rewarding yourself each step of the way.

Looking at greenery, plants etc. inspires creativity.

There is a strong link between anxiety and creativity. When people feel worried, they become very focused, concentrate on the task at hand, become risk-averse, rely on well-established habits and routines, and see the world through less-creative eyes. In contrast, when people feel at ease in a situation, they are more likely to explore new and unusual ways of thinking and behaving, see the bigger picture, take risks, and think and act more creatively.

To help reduce your heart rate and blood pressure in less than a minute, go online and watch a video of a cute animal.

Being in a group exaggerates people's opinions, causing them to make a more extreme decision than they would on their own. Depending on the initial inclinations of individuals in the group, the final decision can be extremely risky or extremely conservative.

People are far more likely to agree to a big request if they have already agreed to a small request.

People who are shown the options but then kept busy working on a difficult mental activity make better decisions than others do. When the going gets complex, the mind has only a limited ability to juggle a small number of facts and figures at any one time, and so the result is not so good. Instead of looking at the situation as a whole, the conscious mind tends to focus on the most obvious elements and, in doing so, can miss the bigger picture. In contrast, your unconscious mind is much better at dealing with the complex decisions that pervade many aspects of our lives.

People regret not doing something more than doing something wrong because in the former case, outcome what might have happened are many more compared to the latter.

Satisfier - stop once you found what you wanted.
Maximiser - carry on till you get the best deal.

Happiness is wanting what you have, not having what you want.

Praise children's efforts rather than their achievements.

People who visualize themselves taking the practical steps needed to achieve their goals are far more likely to succeed than those who simply fantasize about their dreams becoming a reality.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 November 2009
Most would agree that Quirkology: The Curious Science Of Everyday Lives was a brilliant book. So, given its strength, I bought 'Did You Spot The Gorilla' and was very disappointed by what felt like a rushed out book(let! of barely a 100 pages), and a poor distant cousin of Quirkology. Thus it was with some degree of hesitation, that I recently bought :59 Seconds...

And was I happy with it? Very much so. Professor Wiseman has definitely returned with gusto! 59:seconds is a book which proves that the man who wrote Quirkology had plenty more tricks up his sleeve. Although some have unjustly criticised his straying off course at times - insofar as when he has an interesting social experiment's results to hand, he cannot help himself, and slips same into the text - even when the accompanying pages may have less relevance to the results he's just disclosed. But I still say: interesting reading is interesting reading! And so what if the professor has seasoned his text with some liberal snippets of curiously entertaining information!? The book is all the better - not worse - for it.

In this most interesting & well written book, he seeks to find out if it's possible to change your life (from decision making and parenting to creativity, stress and relationships etc.) in the minimal of time? And, some 340 pages later, you'll be in no doubt that it is. It's clear that Professor Wiseman took no shortcuts in writing this book, which has some 27 pages of extensive reference notes; and is to be congratulated for producing arguably one of the best books on 'self help' ever written. On that note, Happiness Hypothesis: Putting Ancient Wisdom to the Test of Modern Science is another most brilliant book which takes a slightly different approach, but is also strongly recommended to you. Both books succeed in appealing to a wide audience, without being patronising, and do not labour readers with too much academic jargon etc.

Lastly, I am at a loss as to why at the time of writing this review, :59 Seconds has only 4/5 stars! It deserves far greater praise. Nonetheless, I very much look forward to what Professor Wiseman will publish next.
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on 15 August 2009
I bought the book having listened to Richard talking about it on Radio Four one morning. I found most of the facts interesting and concentrated on the ones that interested me the most. I found the tips both interesting, useful and practical. I've read a lot of the self help books and doubted the effectiveness of them, finding many being too airy-fairy and , frankly, classic cases of wishful thinking. It's a good book, buy it within the next 59 seconds. You won't regret it.
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on 17 July 2009
I bought this book yesterday and read it last night - just couldn't put it down, which is pretty unusual for a book on research. Yes, some of the research I knew (which I should as an occupational psychologist!) but certainly not delivered in such a humorous, readable and interesting style. It provides lots of helpful tips around issues everyone faces in day to day life. The difference between this book and all those self-help mumbo jumbo ones, is that the tips given are quick and realistic to implement but the biggest and most important thing is that these are based on psychological research and therefore proven to make a difference.
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on 3 May 2010
The best thing about this book is it's condensed, focused and information dense style. Subjects from creativity, attraction, happiness, motivation, to persuasion are nicely broken down into clearly written chapters. Each chapter focuses on about eight significant factors for each theme. These factors are illustrated with lively case studies and made into to practical self-help advice. Errors of popular self help guidance, like visualizations, are also debunked or improved upon.

For example, in the chapter on 'happiness' you will learn how money is not important; the relative weights of nature vs nurture; how thought suppression is counterproductive; the power of writing things down; why experiences are better than materialism; tips on self-fulfilling happy body language and much more.

While the content of the book is not terribly original or deep; the readable and practical synthesis Wiseman has created more than makes up for this.
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on 17 February 2011
I purchased this book after coming across a review for it online and noting that Derren Brown had endorsed it. I have spent quite a while reading self help books, book on NLP and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. However, I was drawn to Derren Brown's quote of `A triumph of scientifically proven advice over misleading myths of self-help'. This quote alone sums up the book. The opening page is excellent and got me hooked straight away. I have never been one for reading and sometimes find it hard to get into a book with a more complex factual subject matter. But I have to say that this book is very clearly written and easy to follow.

I have always thought that the hardest thing for any human to do is to conquer their own mind. This book helps you understand and break down hard coded negative thought patterns in a way to produce positive results in your life. And best of all, it is not done in a wishy washy way - it is done using solid science and a slice of realism, followed by an incentive to take clear action and positive steps.

I have personally made book marks and notes all over the book and I keep it in my work bag as a reference point. I know this may be a little excessive but for me at this point in my life, it is just what I need to help me achieve the goals which lead me to the world of self help in the first place. Just to finish - I have to add that there is a subtle touch of humour within this book and overall it does not get too hard core but still remains very effective. I would highly recommend this book and see no reason to give it anything over than 5 out of 5. It depends on what you are looking for I guess but I'll be surprised anyone would be truly disappointed. Great price too! Hope this helps, enjoy!
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on 21 August 2009
This book casts doubt over many beliefs that we have unwittingly acquired over the years relating to what it is that makes people tick. It does not directly trash this received wisdom, but offers an interpretation of experiments performed by others which will make you think before accepting the advice of self-help quacks without question.

It is extremely easy to read, understand and believe what is being presented but if that is not enough there is an impressive list of hundreds of references, many from peer reviewed journals that can be followed up if further clarification is needed.

I would recommend this book to people managers, the curious and anyone who has been at the receiving end of poor counselling.

If you are browsing for self-help books this is a must. I suspect that the simple strategies suggested in the book are easier to implement than many a fashionable one and probably more effective as well. This book is set to become a classic - a kind of review of its own genre.
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on 15 July 2016
Knowing how busy we all are, Professor Wiseman set himself the task of summarising a huge amount of accumulated Psychological knowledge in ten short chapters, the summaries of which one can read in 59 seconds flat! Topics covered include ‘Happiness’, ‘Attraction’, ‘Personality’ but also ‘Creativity’, ‘Motivation’ and ‘Persuasion’. Readers are not disappointed.
Looking at ‘Happiness’ first, surely there is nothing wrong with using activities which both help the students learn and make them happier into the bargain? On p. 20 we are introduced to a rather unusual diary writing task, in which students are asked to think back to great times in their past, reflect of the many things they can be grateful for, and imagine fabulous times in the future. Putting things into perspective and creating a healthy ‘narrative’ about your life has been found to make people considerably happier.
The section on ‘Happiness’ contains some amazing, ready-to-use activities for the classroom. In a task which would warm the hearts of all humanist educators (p. 30), psychologists got groups of children to write nice things about each other and present their classmate with their ‘plateful of praise’. Not only does this contribute to overall feelings of wellbeing, it has the additional advantage of boosting class cohesion.
There are implications for teachers in almost all chapters. In the one on ‘Persuasion’, Wiseman quotes a study in which four charity boxes were placed in large stores (p. 70). Each one bore a different message. The most successful one was ‘Every penny helps’ (62% of all takings!) Researchers thought that people often refrained from giving as they thought their contribution would not make a difference and the message countered this. Could it be that our students feel the same? I believe that cultivating an ‘every little helps’ attitude can legitimise the small steps towards learning our students might otherwise not take.
‘Liking’ is of course a crucial component of persuasion. On p. 52 Wiseman reminds us of the advice of Dale Carnegie: ‘to increase your popularity, just express a genuine interest in others’ (funnily enough, it does not have to be genuine; if we keep on faking it, the ‘genuineness’ comes later!) This is a good reminder for us that so-called ‘humanistic’ activities are not just for the learners; students do appreciate it if we find out things about them and we take the trouble to ask them how their sick dog is doing...
And speaking of ‘Liking’, here is an amazing discovery (p. 177) – people bond more readily when they share negative attitudes than when they share positive ones! So next time your students heap insults on the referee who awarded that penalty against the national team, do not forget to chip in with a couple of adjectives yourself... :-)
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