A Wiseman once said …

Hello there. We loved this short Q&A with Richard Wiseman in this month’s Psychologies magazine and wanted to share it with you all.


You say that self help books don’t really work, why is that?

They usually tell people to change how they think, but that’s difficult and can set up false expectations. If you tell someone to visualise their perfect self and that doesn’t materialise, they will give up entirely.

What do you suggest instead?

Put actions first. A huge body of research suggests that while thoughts cn cause actions, your actions can also determine your thoughts. The idea originated from psychologist William James’s As If theory, last century. He said you don’t smile because you are happy, but that smiling makes you happy.

What areas of our life can we apply this to?

It works in many different areas. Clenching your fists gives you more will power. Acting affectionately towards your partner can help you fell more loving towards them … It can help in anger and stress management, too. Freud said punching a pillow lets your anger out, but acting calmly has been found to be more effective in subduing stress. It can also help with healthy eating, using your non dominant hand to eat draws your attention to that action, so you notice how much you’re eating and consume less.

How can we test this?

Try simple actions, such as smiling, which can make you happier, and putting a spring in your step to make you feel more energetic.

(Rip It Up: The simple Idea That Changes Everything, by Richard Wiseman is published this month)


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