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Does Your Personal Experience Prove Anything? (Anecdotes are Sexy but Not Conclusive)

Many of the book manuscripts I’ve seen over the years present a system for behavior change that’s based solely on a sample of one — the author’s personal experience. The premise of these books is: I did X, and here’s how you can do it, too. (For X, substitute any desirable outcome: lose 25 pounds, make a … Continue reading Does Your Personal Experience Prove Anything? (Anecdotes are Sexy but Not Conclusive)

Finding Credible Self-Help — Separate the Experts from the Hucksters

Self-help books are plagued with a bad reputation. Dwight Garner — a critic for the New York Times Book Review — said it well after forcing himself to consume a stack of them: These books are padded. The vital information in all three, about 900 pages combined, could be edited down and tattooed on my … Continue reading Finding Credible Self-Help — Separate the Experts from the Hucksters

Sentence Completion Exercises — Guiding Readers to Insight and Action

Sentence completion is an under-used tool for helping readers gain insight and change behavior. The trick is to structure these exercises for impact. Start with an incomplete sentence (stem) that begs for completion. For example: My parents speak through my voice when I tell myself… Sometimes I undermine myself when I… An effective way to handle anger … Continue reading Sentence Completion Exercises — Guiding Readers to Insight and Action

Writing for Behavior Change — A Checklist

Most business, self-help, and psychology books have a single purpose — to help readers create enduring and positive changes in their behavior. This usually means teaching a skill, such as reducing stress, responding constructively to a craving, or speaking assertively. The challenge as we write instructions is to appeal to the whole person — our capacity … Continue reading Writing for Behavior Change — A Checklist

Toward a Science of Enlightenment — Four Big Ideas from Jeffery Martin

Jeffery Martin is an entrepreneur who became a social scientist. This career change was driven by his growing interest in the subject of happiness. Who are the happiest people? Martin wanted to know. And what do they have to teach the rest of us? In a conversation with Jeffrey Mishlove, Martin recalls that his success … Continue reading Toward a Science of Enlightenment — Four Big Ideas from Jeffery Martin