By Richard Wiseman
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Additional resources for 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot (Borzoi Books)
Even more distressing, 30 percent of the residents who had not looked after their plant had died, compared to 15 percent of those who had been allowed to exercise such control. Similar results have been found in many areas, including education, career, health, relationships, and dieting. The message is clear—those who do not feel in control of their lives are less successful, and less psychologically and physically healthy, than those who do feel in control. A few years ago I was having lunch with a friend named Sophie.
Friday: Reviewing the Situation Think back over the past seven days and make a note of three things that went really well for you. The events might be fairly trivial, such as finding a parking space, or more important, such as being offered a new job or opportunity. Jot down a sentence about why you think each event turned out so well. ” Seconds later, you find yourself heading to the nearest shoe shop or gadget emporium, convinced that your forthcoming purchases will lead to a more blissful existence.
So what form of incentive does work? 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 praising the fruits of their labor. When it is something that they don’t enjoy, a realistic, but not excessive, reward is effective at the start, followed by feel-good comments that encourage them to pursue the activity (“If only everyone was a good park-cleaning citizen like you”). However, there are methods of persuasion other than praise, modest rewards, and cheesy comments.