Change Your Life in 59 Seconds?

I’m skeptical of books that promise instant happiness; I figure the only person who is happier as a result of one of those books is the author who rakes in bazillions in sales (remember Ronda Byrne’s book THE SECRET?) But the other day, a book by Richard Wiseman called 59 SECONDS: CHANGE YOUR LIFE IN UNDER A MINUTE caught my eye because he debunks a number of  widely quoted “studies” of human happiness that he says never even happened.  He explains why “positive thinking” often fails, and suggests that we can all become happier by doing what he calls “affectionate writing”, by performing small acts of kindness and by cultivating an attitude of gratitude.

What is affectionate writing and how does it promote happiness? He cites a study conducted at Arizona State University in which a group of volunteers was asked to spend 20 minutes writing about someone they loved and about why this person meant so much to them. A second group was asked to write about something that had happened to them during the past week. Each group repeated the exercise three times over the course of five weeks. At the end of that time, the “affectionate writing” group showed marked increases in happiness and reductions in stress  ( he does not say how this was measured, though) and  a significant increase in cholesterol levels. This actually does make sense since our bodies produce elevated levels of cortisol when we are stressed.

Wiseman suggests that by consistently practicing thanksgiving, by focusing on pleasant events from the past,  by anticipating future successes and by writing a short letter to someone who is dear to us, we can feel more content with present circumstances and more positive about the future.

With Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday, this might be a good time to give Wiseman’s strategy a try. Certainly can’t hurt. Might help.

What things do you do on a consistent basis that helps you stay positive, focused, and motivated?

My better half is taking a few days off next week for some “reconnecting” time after two November 1 deadlines rendered me incommunicado for a couple of weeks, so I’m not posting here next week. From our home to yours, have a blessed Thanksgiving.

2 thoughts on “Change Your Life in 59 Seconds?

  1. Leanna Ellis

    Happy Thanksgiving, Dorothy! My kids usually keep me positive. There is always something going on in their lives that keep us busy. But things I use to stress over I don’t anymore, because in the big scheme of things my kids (being healthy and safe) is the most important thing to me. Besides they are always there when I need a hug. We also have always tried to cultivate an environment that we are blessed, which always makes us so grateful. Even in hard times, when my husband lost his job 2 weeks before Christmas a few years ago, we knew it was a blessing…a hard blessing…and that something good would come from it. Have a happy thanksgiving and count those blessings! Do you remember that song…If you’re worried and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep…. I used to sing that to my babies as a lullaby. 😉 Blessings, Leanna

    1. dorothy Post author

      Leanna, thanks for such a lovely comment. Sometimes it is hard to remember the simple things, and I think that’s what Wiseman is saying in his book: gratitude, thanksgiving and a focus on the future can help us live in a more positive place. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

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