59 Seconds : Think a Little Change a Lot (2010) by Richard Wiseman is an excellent compendium of self-help strategies that have been vetted by Wiseman who is a Professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology. It is ‘evidence based’ self-help.
Wiseman sets up the book by positing that a friend of his wanted to know what he could describe in a minute as the best techniques from Psychology that he could come up with that people could use to improve their own lives. This is what he describes as leading to the book.
The book has chapters on Happiness, Persuasion, Motivation, Creativity, attraction, relationships, stress, decision making, parenting and personality and a summary chapter.
The book goes into how some techniques are often described such as visualising success that are actually counter productive. The chapter on motivation goes into how people wanting to achieve a particular goal should visual themselves undertaking the activity, come up with a precise plan with small, achievable goals and tell a friend about what you intend to do. Wiseman also puts forward an interesting idea that he calls doublethink about achieving goals. He describes how being confident of getting to your goal but also thinking about each hurdle that must be overcome towards reaching the goal.
The chapter on Creativity is fun, in it group brainstorming is shown to be ineffective. The book is full of descriptions of techniques that have been shown, at least in psychological studies, to improve various aspects of life.
The book is fairly short and to the point. It does seem like it should be useful to all of us, provided we have the discipline to follow through on a few of the suggestions. There is no grand strategy recommended, instead experimental results are put forward as suggesting particular courses of action regarding particular problems. It’s well worth a read.