The As If Principle

The Radically New Approach to Changing Your Life
by Richard Wiseman | Simon & Schuster © 2014 · 304 pages

William James once said: “If you want a quality, act as if you already have it.” In this book, Richard Wiseman, Britain’s official professor in “the Public Understanding of Psychology” walks us through the astonishing array of research that proves what he calls the “As If Principle.” Big Ideas we explore include an exploration of the fact that feelings follow behavior, how to make yourself happy, the paradox of rewards, and how to create a new you.

If you want a quality, act as if you already have it.
William James

It’s time for positive action.

Self-help gurus and business coaches preach the same simple mantra: if you want to improve your life, you need to change how you think. Force yourself to have positive thoughts, and you will become happier. Visualize your dream self, and you will enjoy increased success. Think like a millionaire, and you will magically grow rich. In principle, the idea sounds perfectly reasonable. However, in practice, the approach often proves surprisingly ineffective. …

Over a century ago, the brilliant Victorian philosopher William James proposed a radically different approach to change. Since then, researchers from across the world have carried out hundreds of experiments into James’s theory and discovered that it applies to almost every aspect of people’s lives. …

This book is all about the impact that your actions have on your mind, and the exercises encourage you to actually experience these phenomena rather than just read about them.

You are about to encounter a new approach to change. An approach that is grounded in science, overturns conventional thinking, and provides a basis for the easiest, quickest and most effective ways of changing your life.

So sit up straight and take a deep breath. Forget all about positive thinking. It’s time for positive action.”

~ Richard Wiseman from The As If Principle

Richard Wiseman is Britain’s official professor in “the Public Understanding of Psychology.” That has to be one of the coolest job titles out there. And, his last name has to be the best possible name for a guy who does what he does. “Wiseman”? Hah!

Professor Wiseman grounds his wisdom in the best of modern science. He’s also a funny guy.

This book takes a fascinating look at the power of BEHAVIORS driving FEELINGS rather than the other way around. We’ve talked about the idea a fair amount throughout these Notes but it’s great to see a book exclusively focused on the *science* of what happens when you “act as if.” (Get a copy of the book here.)

It’s packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share some of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author


Richard Wiseman

Psychologist, author and magician.