Richard Wiseman wrote the book 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot to bring science to the ideas of self help books. His book examines many popular ideas about how to improve our lives, and provides scientific evidence for what works and what does not work when it comes to self improvement principals. Wiseman is Professor for Public Understanding of Psychology in Britain and has performed many experiments that directly test the efficacy of popular ideas such as positive self projections, writing down goals, and ideas for building creativity. He became interested in studying this angle of psychology because many self help ideas have permeated through society and can have very positive and negative consequences for those who implement actions into their lives. Wiseman writes,
“Both the public and the business world have bought into modern-day mind myths for years and, in so doing, may have significantly decreased the likelihood of achieving their aims and ambitions. Worse still, such failure often encourages people to believe that they cannot control their lives. This is especially unfortunate as even the smallest loss of perceived control can have a dramatic effect on people’s confidence, happiness, and life span.”
Wiseman’s quote shows how important it is to not follow bad advice from self help books, quotes, or guides. By following ideas that do not have any scientific backing you may just be frustrating yourself even more. When promised results do not materialize through a poor practice, frustration will increase, and a greater sense of inability will ensue.
Throughout Wiseman’s book he looks at different areas that are popular in self help communities. He examines what it takes to be creative and how we can build our creativity. Wiseman looks at what practices help us build self awareness to change habits, but in a way that helps us understand the challenges and obstacles we will face on our journey so that we are prepared to handle them. The book reveals not just what works and what does not work in psychology and self help books, but it explains theories as to why some practices are helpful, and why some damaging practices have become so popular.