59 Seconds

by Richard Wiseman

Troy Shu
Troy Shu
Updated at: February 23, 2024
 3 min read
59 Seconds
59 Seconds

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What are the big ideas?

  1. True happiness comes more from our actions and mindset than from financial success or material possessions.
  2. Spending money on experiences rather than material items tends to lead to greater happiness.
  3. Materialistic attitudes often start in childhood and are linked to lower self-esteem, affecting how we find joy in activities.
  4. Our self-perception, especially in social situations, heavily influences how others perceive and interact with us.
  5. Building positive relationships often involves showing vulnerability, doing favors, and connecting with like-minded people.

Summary

Happiness Comes More from How We Think and Act Than from Money or Things

  • “Happiness doesn’t just flow from success, it actually causes it.”
  • “When people can afford the necessities in life, an increase in income does not result in a significantly happier life.”
  • “Want to buy happiness? Then spend your hard-earned cash on experiences.”
  • “If you want to cheer yourself up, behave like a happy person.”
  • “To maximize happiness, choose intentional over circumstantial change.”

Being Too Focused on Things Can Start Early and Be Linked to How We Feel About Ourselves

  • “Materialism takes root in early childhood, and is mainly driven by low self-esteem.”
  • “If you set children an activity they enjoy and reward them for doing it, the reward reduces the enjoyment and demotivates them.”
  • “To encourage people to do more of something they enjoy, try presenting them with the occasional small surprise reward after they have completed the activity, or praise the fruits of their labour.”

How We Act and What We Think Affects Our Relationships with Others and How We See Ourselves

  • “It seems that presenting weaknesses early is seen as a sign of openness.”
  • “From assessing the effects of a bad-hair day to performing badly in a group discussion, those who feel embarrassed are convinced that their mistakes are far more noticeable than they actually are.”
  • “If you want to increase your chances of making a good impression in a meeting, sit towards the middle of the table.”
  • “To increase the likelihood of someone liking you, get them to do you a favour.”
  • “When you gossip about another person, listeners unconsciously associate you with the characteristics you are describing, ultimately leading to those characteristics being ‘transferred’ to you.”
  • “We like people who are like us, and find them far more persuasive than others.”

Questions

  1. How do my thoughts and actions impact my happiness more than money or material things?
  2. Can spending money on experiences rather than things make me happier?
  3. How does rewarding children affect their enjoyment of activities and their motivation?
  4. What effect does sharing my weaknesses have on how others see me?
  5. How does my perception of my own mistakes compare to how others actually see them?
  6. How does doing favors for others increase their liking towards me?

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