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:59 Seconds

Soul in Art - Creative Healing Resources

:59 seconds Think a little Change a lot by Professor Richard Wiseman

Published by Macmillan 2009
ISBN: 978-0-230-74429-5
RRP £12.99

Having had an interest in psychology and parapsychology for many years, I met Professor Wiseman briefly some years ago at various events when I was Media Officer for the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena ( At that time he was seen by some of my colleagues purely as a skeptic; someone who set out to disprove paranormal activity. (ASSAP as an organisation remains open-minded, seeking the truth rather than trying to prove or disprove natural or supernatural occurrences.)

Professor Wiseman’s book, true to form, is based very much on provable facts and figures. That is not to criticise it, rather to describe its raison d’être. Professor Wiseman from the outset provides us with myriad references to research into the psychology of happiness, persuasion, motivation, creativity, attraction, stress, relationships, decision making, parenting and personality.

For each topic he describes studies, including his own, that have been undertaken over recent decades, and uses their findings to provide down to earth solutions to life’s problems. Moreover he uses the findings to show us that many things we hold true and dear are in fact complete rubbish. At times this can be disheartening – how many times have we been told to think positively, visualising our goals and meditating on the life we wish for? Only now we are told by Professor Wiseman that this exercise is futile and merely leaving us “unprepared for the difficulties that crop up on the rocky road to success.”

Having said that, who doesn’t want to find workable ways of improving their life in some way? Who wouldn’t like to know the fastest way to enhance a relationship or ease the pain of decision-making?

Those readers with an interest in psychology, self-improvement or professional development will probably recognise many of the studies mentioned, which at times can lead to mild boredom. However, nothing is dwelt on for long and soon you are on to something different.

At the end of each chapter the Professor collates the findings into practical advice for improving one’s lot within 59 seconds. This is when you realise the name of the book is a misnomer. While some suggestions may indeed take less than a minute, they may need to be undertaken daily or more frequently. Others would clearly take much longer than the magic 59 seconds; more the sort of length of a piece of string.

The best thing about this book is its readability; even with all the references to research and statistics the only dryness is in Professor Wiseman’s sense of humour. It is also good as a dip-into book that doesn’t have to be read from beginning to end. Pick out the chapters that relate to you and take what you can from them – the humour, the interest, and maybe even the practical advice.

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