Here’s How to Think a Little But Change a Lot (In 59 Seconds)

Short 59 Seconds Summary

In this 59 Seconds summary, you’ll discover a treasure trove of psychology-based self-improvement hacks to enhance your mindset, happiness, and life—all in less than a minute.

Meet Richard Wiseman, an English psychologist who’s far from ordinary.

With over 2 million subscribers on his magic-themed YouTube channel, he’s also the sole professor of Public Understanding of Psychology at University of Hertfordshire.

Not to mention, he’s the mastermind behind an app (DreamOn) designed to influence your dreams.

Wiseman’s passion lies in debunking paranormal phenomena, and he boasts a portfolio of more than ten published books.

His unique approach, encapsulated in the “59 Seconds” concept, challenges the conventional wisdom of lengthy self-improvement journeys.

This book offers a refreshing alternative, proving that significant personal growth can occur in mere seconds. Here are three valuable lessons from the 59 Seconds summary to quickly enhance your life:

LessonsHow to Apply
Have a clear planDefine your high-level goals. Write them down. And start taking action.
Don’t wait. Start right away.When you have a brilliant insight or idea, start executing it without delay.
Use “but” after a negative commentWhen addressing something negative in another person, follow it with “but” and add something positive. Apply this practice in various relationships to improve communication.

Are you ready to make substantial life improvements in just three minutes each? Let’s explore some of the ingenious 59-second hacks outlined in this book!

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Long 59 Seconds Summary

59 seconds summary in 3 sentences

  1. Self-Help Insights: Many folks are drawn to self-help because it promises quick fixes for life’s challenges.
  2. The Catch: Most self-help methods fall flat in delivering the results.
  3. The Real Deal: The most effective strategies are rooted in scientific research.

5 key takeaways from 59 seconds

  1. Money ≠ Happiness: An income boost doesn’t guarantee a happier life once your basic needs are met.
  2. Rewards for Enjoyment: Encourage others to do what they love by occasionally rewarding their efforts.
  3. The Favor Effect: Get people to like you by asking them for a favor.
  4. Dream Realism: Fantasizing about an ideal world feels good but won’t make your dreams come true.
  5. Savor Each Bite: Eating slowly tricks your brain into feeling full and aids digestion.
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Insights from 59 seconds

  • Success Begets Happiness: It’s happiness that leads to success, not the other way around.
  • Money Isn’t the Key to Joy: Materialism often stems from low self-esteem, and experiences trump possessions in the happiness department.
  • Act Happy: Emulating a happy person can actually boost your mood.
  • Intentional Changes Rule: Opt for intentional over circumstantial change for maximum happiness.
  • Rewarding Enjoyment: Rewarding kids for doing activities they enjoy might hinder their motivation.
  • Highlight Weaknesses Early: Presenting weaknesses early on can signal openness.
  • Embrace Embarrassment: We tend to overestimate how much others notice our mistakes and looks, so don’t let embarrassment hold you back.
  • Central Seating Charisma: Sitting in the middle during a meeting can help you make a good impression.
  • The Favor Exchange: Asking for a favor increases the chances of someone liking you.
  • Gossip Mirror: When you gossip about someone, others unconsciously associate those characteristics with you.

  • Birds of a Feather: We’re more persuaded by people who are like us.
  • Bystander Effect: The more bystanders there are, the less likely one person will offer help in an emergency.
  • Small Thoughtful Favors: Small and thoughtful favors are most effective between acquaintances.
  • Dream vs. Reality: Daydreaming feels nice but won’t make your dreams come true.
  • Savor Each Bite, Again: Eating slowly tricks your brain into feeling full and aids digestion.
  • Glass Shape Matters: To cut down on drinking, choose tall, narrow glasses over short, wide ones.
  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Hiding food out of sight can curb your consumption.
  • Distracted Dining: Eating more while distracted is common, so stay mindful during meals.
  • Change Your Tableware: Reducing portion size can be as simple as swapping your plates and utensils.

  • Track What You Eat: Keeping a food diary can help with weight loss.
  • Guilt Can Motivate: Thinking about regret can motivate action, like going to the gym.
  • Future Legacy: Considering how you want to be remembered can help you identify long-term goals.
  • Creative Visualization: Think creatively by describing a typical artist or musician.
  • The Last Cookies Are the Tastiest: Near-empty cookie jars make their contents taste better.
  • Heart Racing Dates: Choose exciting activities for successful dates.
  • Perceived Benefits Heal: Focusing on the positives in a hurtful situation promotes forgiveness and reduces anger.

  • Reminders of Love: Keeping reminders of your partner strengthens your relationship.
  • Small ‘Yes’ Leads to Big ‘Yes’: People are more likely to agree to larger requests after agreeing to smaller ones.
  • Conscious vs. Unconscious Decision-Making: Use conscious thought for simple decisions, and let your unconscious mind handle complex choices.
  • Regrets of Omission: People often regret what they didn’t do more than what they did.
  • Establish an ‘Honest Baseline’: To detect deception, establish an honest baseline and look for shifts in behavior.
  • Project Time Estimation: People tend to underestimate project completion times, so examine past project durations for accurate estimates.
  • The Power of Unpacking: Breaking down tasks leads to more accurate time estimates.
  • Alphabetical Success: Surnames near the start of the alphabet are associated with more success.
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➤ 3 Key Lessons from 59 Seconds

1️⃣ Don’t just daydream. Have a clear plan.

In self-improvement, many folks practice picturing their dreams coming true. Think about yourself making progress towards your dreams. I’ve tried this in my daily Miracle Morning routine, and it’s helped me.

However, some studies don’t fully agree on whether this visualizing thing really works. They suggest that folks might not work as hard on their goals if they only imagine them.

What does work, time and time again, is having a clear plan. When Richard looked at 5,000 New Year’s resolutions, he saw that setting a solid plan and breaking your goals into steps makes a big difference.

But first, you’ve got to know your most important goals. You can do a simple 59-second exercise. Imagine what you’d like someone to say about you at your funeral. You can even write it down to explore it fully.

This exercise helps you see what really matters to you, and it guides you in matching your daily actions with your biggest dreams.

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2️⃣ Don’t wait. Start right away.

You know what can spoil a brilliant idea? Overthinking how to make it happen. Brainstorming might sound like a creative process, but it often kills your ideas by creating delays and doubts.

This is especially true in group settings, where people might not share their ideas out of fear of criticism. But let’s be honest; you can get stuck in the brainstorming phase even when you’re on your own—I’ve been there too.

Instead of getting caught up in endless thinking, what if you went straight from getting a great idea to putting it into action?

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Salvador Dalí had a smart trick for this. He’d sit in a chair, holding a heavy key over an upside-down plate on the floor, and let himself drift off to sleep. The moment he did, the key would fall, hit the plate, and wake him up with a loud noise.

In that state between sleep and wakefulness, he’d immediately start sketching the images in his mind.

This technique is called a “hypnagogic nap,” and you can use the same concept whenever you’re distracted and let your subconscious take over. When you have a brilliant idea, don’t hesitate—start acting on it right away.

This approach saves you time on planning and boosts your productivity by keeping your creative ideas flowing.

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3️⃣ Use “but” after a negative comment

During a year-long study on relationships, researchers Sandra Murray and John Holmes discovered the power of one small word: “but.”

Imagine this scenario: You prepare a meal for your partner, and after the first bite, they twist their mouth and say, “You’re such a horrible cook!”

It might sound like playful teasing, but it can sting, right?

Now, picture a different response: “You’re such a horrible cook… but at least you’re funny!”

This changes the whole dynamic, doesn’t it? Using “but” after a negative comment allows you to soften the blow with something positive. It shifts the focus to the upside and can make the other person see your relationship in a more positive light.

This practice isn’t limited to romantic relationships; it can be valuable in any interaction. By incorporating this approach with co-workers, family, and friends, you can significantly enhance communication and foster better relationships.

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➤ Popular Quotes by Richard Wiseman

Professor Richard Wiseman Quotes
“Happiness doesn’t just flow from success; it actually causes it.”
“Buy Experiences Not Goods. Want to buy happiness? Then spend your hard-earned cash on experiences…”
“Materialism takes root in early childhood, and is driven mainly by low self-esteem.”
“Visualize Yourself Doing, Not Achieving.”
“Our beliefs do not sit passively in our brains waiting to be confirmed or contradicted by incoming information…”
“When you gossip about another person, listeners unconsciously associate you with the characteristics you are describing…”
“We do not love people so much for the good they have done us, as for the good we do them.”
“The message is that people are more likely to agree with you when they have already said something positive.”
“The message from this type of work is simple – if you want to cheer yourself up, behave like a happy person.”
“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.”
“The results from both studies clearly indicated that in terms of short- and long-term happiness, buying experiences made people feel better than buying products.”
“When it comes to happiness, remember, it is experiences that represent really good value for the money.”
“Thinking and writing are very different. Thinking can often be somewhat unstructured, disorganized, and even chaotic…”
“Napping is often seen as a form of laziness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hundreds of experiments have demonstrated the enormous benefits associated with even the shortest of sleeps…”
“Albert Einstein once said, ‘Sit with a beautiful woman for an hour and it seems like a minute, sit on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour—that’s relativity.'”
“Researchers discovered that people who have just consumed caffeinated drinks were more likely to be swayed by arguments about various controversial topics…”
“In short, when it comes to an instant fix for everyday happiness, certain types of writing have a surprisingly quick and large impact…”
“When trying to write your way to a happier life, expressing gratitude is just the tip of the iceberg.”
“If you need to feel wide awake directly after having a short nap, drink a cup of coffee or other caffeinated drink just before dozing off…”
“Compared to individuals, groups tend to be more dogmatic, better able to justify irrational actions, more likely to see their actions as highly moral, and more apt to form stereotypical views of outsiders.”

➤ Final Thoughts

Richard Wiseman’s “59 Seconds” is a breath of fresh air in the world of self-improvement.

In a landscape cluttered with hasty blog posts promising miraculous transformations, this book takes its time to engage, inform, and present well-argued ideas.

Wiseman’s decision to deliver his insights in book form rather than rushing through quick fixes is a true service to the self-improvement community.

“59 Seconds” offers readers the opportunity for quick yet effective victories.

It’s a valuable resource for anyone, whether you’re a 22-year-old who struggled with a “no alcohol in January” resolution, a 49-year-old artist grappling with indecision, or someone who frequently highlights others’ flaws without adding compliments.

The book provides actionable insights to help you achieve tangible improvements in your life. So, which valuable lesson will you put into practice next?

⬇️ More from ⬇️

🔥 Daily Inspiration 🔥

〝If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.〞

– Albert Einstein
Pavlos Written by:

Hey — It’s Pavlos. Just another human sharing my thoughts on all things money. Nothing more, nothing less.