If you’re looking for a book that really helps you, isn’t full of mind myths, and gets its information from real studies instead of thin air, then 59 Seconds: Change your Life in Under a Minute by Richard Wiseman is for you. This is not your typical self-help book, and for that I am grateful. It is, in fact, the holy grail of self-improvement books, covering everything from managing your anger to obtaining favors to achieving goals and being more successful. It shows you how you can make real changes in your life—each one in about a minute.
When common knowledge is wrong
As I was reading through 59 Seconds, I did a few fist-pumps, glad to see that the author knew and was reinforcing some of the things I have known for years (don’t you hate fighting myths?). Okay, I realize that statement might sound totally prideful and arrogant, and that’s not how I want to come across, so I’m going to clarify. I really do not think I know everything—that’s why I have read 15,476 books now and keep reading every day. I do know some things, though—and not just from books—and it’s frustrating when you know that what “everybody knows” about something is wrong.
For example: anger. It’s common to hear that you should scream into a pillow or pummel your bed with your fists when you’re angry. Even professional counselors, who should know what works, tell people this all the time. It’s supposed to “let off steam” and “vent your anger” so it decreases, but, anyone who has done that has experienced not a decrease in anger, but an increase in anger. Screaming, cussing, ranting about it…do you feel better as you go along? You might feel empowered, but you won’t feel more serene. That is not the way to get rid of your anger. Go for a walk, listen to soothing music, watch a water fountain, list things you’re grateful for. Any one of those things, though they go against what “everybody knows,” is better for helping you stop feeling angry.
When you’re fighting “conventional wisdom” about something, you’re swimming upstream, and it’s tiring. So when someone else—an expert— says the thing that you know to be true and have been the lone voice in your corner of the world about for so long, it’s validating and it feels good. This book is full of things like that. The author uses actual studies and real data to back up each of the 59-second-tips.
Learn something new in 59 Seconds
There were some things in this book that I did not know—certainly some things that I had not read before—and that was nice to experience. Because I have read so many books, it is unusual for me to come across something I haven’t read before—in the areas in which I read. I am not widely-read in automotive, physics, or tech of any kind (just to name a few), so if I did read a book in one of those areas, I’d definitely come across things I did not know. But I digress. I learned some things about habits and self-help, and I think that most other people will, too, when they read 59 Seconds. I recommend it, and am adding it to my shelf. You won’t hear me say that about many books. Oh, I’ll eat up all sorts of books, yes, but very few are good enough to merit shelf space. This is one of them.