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59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot (Borzoi Books) Hardcover – Bargain Price, December 29, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 171 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, December 29, 2009
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Editorial Reviews


"This is a self-help book, but with a difference: almost everything in it is underpinned by peer-reviewed and often fascinating research."
 — New Scientist

"For all those who are tired of the usual self-help formula--homespun anecdotes, upbeat platitudes, over-the-top promises--Richard Wiseman's 59 Seconds is just what the PhD ordered."
 — The Wall Street Journal

"Seemingly perfect for this age of short attention spans and instant gratification."
 — The Chronicle Herald

"At last, a self-help guide that is based on proper research. Perfect for busy, curious, smart people."
 — Simon Singh, author of Fermat's Enigma

“Wiseman is a brilliant name for a psychologist, and this book proves the professor is not misnamed. . . . [59 Seconds] contains dozens of fascinating and useful nuggets, and they all have science on their side.”
 — The Independent

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Richard Wiseman is based at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom and has gained an international reputation for research into offbeat areas of psychology, including deception, humor, and luck. He is the author of The Luck Factor, Quirkology, and numerous other books. A passionate advocate for science, Wiseman is well-known for his media appearances, high-profile talks, live demonstrations, and mass-participation studies. Wiseman also regularly acts as a creative consultant for print, broadcast, and new media.

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Product Details

  • Series: Borzoi Books
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (December 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307273407
  • ASIN: B0057DCE7M
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.3 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (171 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,073,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Julia Flyte TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
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
- how to create the perfect plan to achieve almost any goal
- 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 from the experience has the opposite effect
- conversational techniques that can build instant rapport on a first date
- 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.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Subtitled "Change Your Life in Under a Minute," this fascinating book resulted from a conversation the author had with his friend Sophie, who was questioning a recently purchased self-help book she had on happiness. She asked him what he thought of the whole self-help industry. As he opined on his professional opinion of many of the techniques touted by these "experts," Sophie asked if he had some information that would be more helpful in less time. After all, she is a busy, successful professional. When Wiseman asked how much time he had, she glanced at her watch, smiled and said, "About a minute?"

Thus 59 seconds was born. This intriguing and highly practical book is replete with scores of studies on a wide range of topics that are the targets of the self-help, pop psychology industry, notably happiness, persuasion, motivation, creativity, attraction, relationships, stress, decision making, parenting and personality. Wiseman combines solid research with whimsy and practical activities to aid the reader in executing the subtitle of the book - Change your life in under a minute.

The author closes the book by providing Sophie with ten techniques that can, on a good day (according to Wiseman), be explained in under a minute (say, 59 seconds?).

Here they are:
1. Develop the gratitude attitude.
2. Be a giver.
3. Have a mirror in your kitchen.
4. Buy a potted plant for the office.
5. Touch people lightly on the upper arm.
6. Write about your relationship.
7. Deal with potential liars by closing your eyes and asking for email.
8. Praise children's effort over their ability.
9. Visualize yourself doing, not achieving.
10. Consider your legacy.

Do yourself a favor and don't just copy and try these ten techniques. Read the book and apply them.
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Format: Hardcover
Depressed? Overweight? Angry? Failed every which way but loose? No accident, my friend, but help is here. Pour a cup of tea, grab a comforter and thank god.

I have some grounding in the study of psychology and much of its clinical research over the past 20 years, and know that Wiseman knows whereof he speaks. In addition to my academic study, I've so many books on these subjects that at a garage sale starring my self-help library, someone asked me if I was a psychiatrist. No, I said, I'm just nuts.

Yes, it's true that Wiseman offers jokey (and political) asides that might annoy some readers, but that is nothing compared to the enormously helpful distillation of psychological research offered here and the ease of application to one's own life.

The book is well organized, well written and lucid. It explains in lay terms why common and familiar "self-help" directives simply don't work, have never worked and are really no more than endlessly reiterated (and successfully marketed)myths. He then prescribes remedies that not only work fast, but have been proven by scientific study to provoke lasting change. Some are counterintuitive, some make immediate sense, all are easier than I had any right to expect.

I was quite surprised, not only by how quickly Wiseman's recommendations work, but by the holding power of the changes that ensue. Good work, good book, badly needed and it's about time.
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Format: Paperback
I appreciate this book on several levels.

The first, and most important to me, is that all of the advice has scientific studies to back it up. There are plenty of advice books out there who will tell you to do this or that, because it was something that worked for the writer, or it was something that just felt right to them, etc. etc. To me, someone who's been so inspired in their life to write a book without having read an advice book themselves doesn't really seem like the best person to be getting advice from. I'm much more comfortable putting into practice advice that's been drawn out of scientific studies, where every-day people are the test subjects, and the author has presented all of those studies for us to explore ourselves if we so choose (instead of just relying on hearsay).

The second is that the advice is straight forward and practical; there are simple steps to take to make huge changes. It really would only take a few seconds a day to try out the advice in the book, and you'll see changes in yourself and how others respond to you.

And finally, it's an easy read and not repetitive in nature. There are plenty of other advice books out there that will give you 400 pages to reiterate what could be summed up in a paragraph or two; this book is just the opposite. Even if you're not in it for the advice, it's still a fascinating read. I've been inspired to look to the appendix and find out more about several of the studies listed in the book.

In the end, I learned a lot from this book, not just what actions to practice more in my own life, but so much about human nature as a whole.
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