59 Seconds Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: 59 Seconds shows you several self-improvement hacks, grounded in the science of psychology, which you can use to improve your mindset, happiness and life in less than a minute.

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59 Seconds Summary

Richard Wiseman isn’t your average researcher. The English psychologist has a Youtube channel with over 2 million subscribers about magic, is the only professor of Public Understanding of Psychology and created an app that helps you influence your dreams.

He loves to debunk paranormal phenomenons and has published over ten books. He’s also one of the few sources where you can learn something faster than on Four Minute Books, thanks to his 59 Seconds concept, which also gave name to this book.

Most self-improvement books lay out big plans and long journeys of transformation. Richard thinks there’s no need for that, when there’s so much you can do that takes less than a minute.

Here are 3 lessons from 59 Seconds to improve your life quickly:

  1. Ask yourself what you want your speaker to say at your funeral to make sure you go for your long-term goals.
  2. When you have a brilliant thought, jump right into executing it and skip the brainstorming.
  3. Whenever you point out a flaw in someone, use “but” to smooth out the negative.

Ready to improve your life in three ways in just three minutes each? Let’s look at some 59 second hacks!

Lesson 1: Think about your own eulogy to align your actions with your long-term goals.

One of the most popular techniques in self-improvement is visualizing your goals. You sit down, close your eyes, and imagine yourself achieving your dreams, as well as doing the things necessary to get there. I’ve done it for a while as part of my Miracle Morning and found it to be helpful.

However, there’s also some opposing evidence to this with some studies finding people tend to work less for their goals if they visualize them.

One thing that’s timelessly been proven to work is this: having a step-by-step plan. When Richard examined the New Year’s resolutions of 5,000 people, he found that planning and breaking down goals made all the difference.

But to do that, you first have to know what your high-level goals even are. A great 59-second exercise to get clarity on that is to just think about your own eulogy. What do you want the speaker to say about you at your funeral? If you want to be thorough, you can even write it down.

Similar to the funeral test, this’ll show you what’s really important to you and help you align your daily actions with your biggest dreams.

Lesson 2: Skip the brainstorming and go right from eureka to execution.

You know what ruins a great idea? Thinking about how to implement it. Brainstorming is supposedly this creative process, but it really suppresses ideas, because it creates delay and friction between having an idea and getting to work.

This is especially true for groups, where people often refrain from even voicing their ideas, because they fear the judgment of their peers. But don’t lie to yourself, you can just as well spend forever in “brainstorming hell” all by yourself – I know I have.

Instead of procrastinating by deliberating, what if you went immediately from distracted to doing, from eureka to execution?

Salvador Dalí had the perfect technique for doing so: He sat in a chair, holding a heavy key right above an upside down plate on the floor, waiting until he dosed off. The second he did, the key’d slip out of his hands, hit the plate and wake him up with a loud noise. Right on the verge between sleep and consciousness, he’d instantly start sketching the images in his mind.

This is called a hypnagogic nap, and the same principles apply any time you’re distracted and let your subconscious go to workRight when you have a brilliant insight, drop everything and start executing it.

This’ll save you plenty of planning time and make you loads more productive, keeping the ideas flowing as you need them.

Lesson 3: Use “but” every time you point out something negative in another person.

When following couples around for a year to determine what makes some relationships successful while others break, researchers Sandra Murray and John Holmes found one word to be particularly useful: “but.”

Imagine you make your sweetie dinner, she twists her mouth upon first bite, grins and says: “You’re such a horrible cook!”

Supposedly cute, but still stings, right?

Now, imagine instead, she’d say: “You’re such a horrible cook…but at least you’re funny!”

Feels entirely different, doesn’t it? That’s because using “but” after any negative statement allows you to smooth out the minus with a plus, get the other person to focus on the upside and view your relationship in a different light.

However, it’s probably a good idea to extend this practice beyond your significant other and adopt it in any relationship, as I can easily see this greatly improve our communication with co-workers, family and friends.

My personal take-aways

This was refreshing! Interestingly, a topic that makes for so many bad blog posts (“10 Confidence Hacks To Make Yourself Look Better In Front Of Your Boss”) can actually be engaging, helpful and properly argued for, if given the right amount of time. By not rushing this out the door and giving us his ideas in book-form, Richard has done the self-improvement community a great service. Thanks for that. It allows us to get some quick, yet still efficient wins. Which one will you get next?

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What else can you learn from the blinks?

  • How to nail your next job interview
  • Why spilling fruits when presenting a blender is a great idea
  • What happens when people hear you gossip
  • Which item you can at the hardware store that’ll make you more creative
  • Why you should always look for the benefits in even the worst situations
  • How you can spot liars

Who would I recommend the 59 Seconds summary to?

The 22 year old who failed her “no alcohol in January” resolution last year, the 49 year old painter who can never decide which masterpiece to paint next, and anyone who frequently points out other peoples’ flaws without adding compliments.