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Redirect: Changing the Stories We Live By Paperback – January 6, 2015
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"There are few academics who write with as much grace and wisdom as Timothy Wilson. Redirect is a masterpiece."―Malcolm Gladwell
"Accessible, engaging and consistently WTF-worthy...an instant classic of popular science."―Evening Standard
"This presents a fascinating argument for how humans make sense of the world."―Library Journal
"[In Redirect], a keen observer of the human condition explains how tweaking our personal narratives can have a huge effect on our lives."―Kirkus Reviews
"For those...who find in social psychology a viable vehicle for leading us more surely on the path towards what is true, right and good, Redirect is likely to be a stimulating, valuable read."―New Scientist Culture Lab
"With a deft narrative touch, an engaging metaphor for bringing about psychological change (personal story editing), and a ferocious commitment to scientific evidence, Timothy Wilson has made a remarkable contribution to knowledge."―Robert Cialdini, author of Influence
"Whether you are a parent, educator, employer, or simply someone who cares about making the world a better place, you should read this book."―Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., author of The How of Happiness
"Redirect is a great book!"―Carol Dweck, PhD, author of Mindset
"Wouldn't it be amazing if a very smart scientist could write a book on happiness, crime, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, parenting, and teenage pregnancy--and sum up all the research in clear and surprising lessons on how we should live our lives? Well, Timothy Wilson is the scientist and Redirect is the book, and it is in fact amazing."―Daniel M. Wegner, Harvard University, author of The Illusion of Conscious Will
"Redirect reveals the hidden meanings we assume in our everyday lives, how these meanings shape our behavior, and how we can change our assumptions and the world. Extraordinary."―Greg Walton, PhD, Department of Psychology, Stanford University
"This should be required reading for any well-intentioned person who wants to make the world a better place."―James W. Pennebaker, author of The Secret Life of Pronouns
"This glorious book shimmers with insights. Timothy Wilson has distilled the field's wisdom and shown us how to use it to change ourselves and the world. This may well be the single most important psychology book ever written."―Daniel Gilbert
About the Author
Timothy D. Wilson is the Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. He has written for Science and the New York Times, among other publications, and is the author of Strangers to Ourselves. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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Top customer reviews
The book is very well-written, full of insights and anecdotes (many of them rehashed from a dozen previous books in this genre). If you have nothing else to do and are interested in an overview from social science, this is great. If you're not already aware of persistent racism in the US, this book will set you straight. But if you're looking for a "how to" - this book does contain some specific advice, but that's far from its main focus.
More actionable books in a similar genre are The How of Happiness and Mindset.
What I was looking for, based on the title, was a well researched and tested treatise on helping adults (and teams) constructively redirect their inner stories away from their personal limitations and obstacles and toward achieving their bigger goals. Something similar in nature to Kelly McGonigal's "The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters and What You Can Do To Get More Of It", Carol Dweck's "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" and Daniel Siegel's "Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation." Intuitively, the title of Timothy Wilson's "Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change" makes the book sound like it could be on the same shelf with these other self-understanding and personal transformation writings.
Certainly the first and third chapters, "Redirect: Small Edits, Lasting Changes" and "Shaping Our Narratives: Increasing Personal Well-Being" are what one might anticipate from Wilson's title. The second chapter, "Testing, Testing: Does It Work?" contributes additional food for thought ... but with controversial conclusions. Placebo effects are often found where human behavior and well-being are influenced by human perceptions and expectations! That said, Wilson's point is well made: we should define our expected results and measure to ensure that our interventions are making useful differences.
While the remaining seven chapters are very interesting, these chapters focus predominantly on either raising children or remediating youth social problems ... two very important areas of concern, however not the areas implied by the title. There are too few insights into helping adults `redirect their stories' toward increased well-being.
Where "Redirect's" apparent objective was in encouraging us to redirect our personal stories toward achieving more successful results, "Redirect's" more emphatic theme seems to be about scientific testing for intervention results. That said, I also believe there are many significant ideas within Wilson's writing.
I recommend Redirect with the caveat that many of the fundamental ideas may be significantly less applicable for use with `transforming' adult behaviors.
Tim Wilson introduces these counterintuitive research findings and ties them together with his useful and powerful theory called story-editing. Parents can use story-editing to raise healthy and ethical children. Teachers can use story-editing to get their students to study harder. And psychologists can use story-editing to help trauma victims recover.
Wilson's premise is that we view our world through narratives, "narratives we construct about ourselves and the social world." We can improve our thinking by altering negative narratives. "Small changes in people's narratives," Wilson writes, "can have a lasting impact on their behavior." Wilson distinguishes his approach from self-help positive thinking advanced by Rhonda Byrne. Story-editing, unlike The Secret, has a robust scientific basis.
Wilson organizes the book into applications of theory. Here is a quick, overly simplified overview of some of the applications.
Parenting children: Label kids as helpful to encourage them to focus on others. When they mess up, label their feelings as guilt. Give them latitude to make their own decisions. "The idea is to gently guide one's kids in the right direction while giving them the sense that they are making the choices themselves," Wilson writes. And don't use incentives that are overly powerful because your children will not develop internal motivation.
Teaching teenagers: Get teenagers to engage in regular volunteer work. This gets to change their narrative from alienation to belonging.
Trauma victims: Use the Pennebaker writing technique in which, after waiting some time after the event to gain some distance, write about the event for 15 minutes on each of four consecutive days. Wilson says, "this is a simple yet powerful way of making sense of confusing, upsetting episodes in our lives, giving us some closure and allowing us to move on." The key to this approach, Wilson says, is to achieve a detachment and distance from the event first and then write in order to interpret it differently.
Anyone looking for a happiness boost: Use a twist on the gratitude journal by using the "George Bailey technique." Write about something you are grateful for by writing about all the ways the good thing might not have occured. Or try the "best possible self" exercise, in which you write about the best possible outcome for your future life.
Wilson also includes extended discussions of how story-editing can reduce college alcohol use, encourage cross-racial relations, and lessen the achievement gap. Wilson's approach makes intuitive sense, and it is backed up by dozens of research studies. According to Wilson, anyone can use this approach to raise happier children, teach students more effectively, and live a happier life. Plus, it helps us understand why previous strategies--like D.A.R.E. and post-trauma debriefing--did more harm than good.