59 Seconds

These are book notes for 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman.

“He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.” In other words, to increase the likelihood that someone will like you, get that person to do you a favor.

The quote in the excerpt is from Benjamin Franklin. Something I really like from Derek Sivers is his idea of “directives”. He reads a lot and sometimes his friends really just want a “Just tell me what to do” summary. 59 Seconds gives a “Just tell me what to do” summary of research. It gives practical, straightforward advice for many aspects of life.

In short, when it comes to an instant fix for everyday happiness, certain types of writing have a surprisingly quick and large impact. Expressing gratitude, thinking about a perfect future, and affectionate writing have been scientifically proven to work—and all they require is a pen, a piece of paper, and a few moments of your time.

I’ve written daily in the past, but I haven’t tried publishing daily. When wrote daily I would try to write gratitudes and affirmations. It was a very successful period in my life. So I believe they work. 59 Seconds presents the science of why. I’ve heard Tim Ferriss mention the 5-Minute Journal multiple times.

From a psychological perspective, thinking and writing are very different. Thinking can often be somewhat unstructured, disorganized, and even chaotic. In contrast, writing encourages the creation of a storyline and structure that help people make sense of what has happened and work toward a solution. In short, talking can add to a sense of confusion, but writing provides a more systematic, solution-based approach.

+1 for writing. In On Writing Well, William Zinsser says “clear thinking becomes clear writing”. The other way around, as this excerpt talks about, writing helps clarify thinking. Just another positive aspect of writing and it sure makes all of this seem worth it.

It seems that presenting weaknesses early is seen as a sign of openness.

Humility helps. You want to end on a good note. And you’ll probably want to start on a good note, too. But present weakness closer to the beginning than to the end and it can help paint the rest of what you’re saying in a positive light. It’s always nice to be confident you’re talking to someone who has nothing to hide.

Successful participants broke their overall goal into a series of sub-goals and thereby created a step-by-step process that helped remove the fear and hesitation often associated with trying to achieve a major life change. These plans were especially powerful when the sub-goals were concrete, measurable, and time-based.

Hey, hey. Let’s check these goals out.

Overall goal: Publish 100 posts in 20 weeks. Sub-goals: Publish 5 posts each week.

Zooming in. Overall goal: Publish 5 posts a week. Sub-goals: Publish each day with a 2-day buffer each week for planning and life.

Zooming out. Overall goal: Improve as a writer and increase comfort with sharing my writing. Sub-goal: Publish 100 posts in 20 weeks.