Control in our Lives

In his book 59 Seconds, Richard Wiseman writes about psychology and the ideas behind many self help books and strategies.  Early on in his book Wiseman discusses the problems with self help strategies that are built on myths and a scientific backing.  When people invest in scientifically backed strategies and funnel their efforts toward productive habits their happiness can be boosted. However, if these strategies do not have a scientific backing, then they can ultimately do more harm to the individual than good, and Wiseman writes that the failure associated with following poor self improvement strategies leads to a lost sense of control in ones life.


Regarding the loss of control in ones life Wiseman writes, “The message is clear — those who do not feel in control of their lives are less successful, and less psychologically and physically healthy, than those who do feel in control.”  He provides this quote after a study that followed individuals in a nursing home who were asked to look over a houseplant.  The individuals who had control and responsibility in regards to the plant seemed to be living healthier at the end of the experiment than those who had a house plant that was taken care of by the nursing home staff.


In my life I think I can find ways to implement the idea of building a level of control.  The fist step to me seems to be a basic level of self awareness where one identifies what they do and do not have control over in their daily life.  Recognizing what is in your domain allows you to more closely consider the choices that you make so that you can decide to make better decisions.  Focusing on what aspects of your life you do control, and then maximizing those moments gives you a real sense of meaning.  Time spent idly distracted by social media or entertained by television is time that we do control, and it is time that we can better use to give our lives more meaning.

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