Interesting and practical, a book that really changed the way I think about the thought patterns that motivate behavior. The focus of the book is "story editing," rewriting (redirecting) the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, what we can do, and how we feel. Wilson offers story editing as a tool for both personal and societal positive change.
Although I would have preferred that the book focus even more on how to effect change on a personal level, several techniques suggested for supporting personal growth and happiness are already a part of my everyday life. For the first time I actually look forward to keeping a journal, and am able to see writing not just as a form of expression and communication, but as a tool for well-being. On a practical, personal level, Wilson also offers useful parenting techniques.
I felt Wilson's true passion in this book was explaining how to improve the effectiveness of social programs intended to benefit disadvantaged students, children, and families with issues like drug/alcohol abuse, teenaged pregnancy, child abuse, minority marginalization, and poor school performance. Wilson had two points. First and foremost, that a "common sense" approach to helping alleviate these problems is well-intended but may not help, and may actually make the problems worse. It is important to ask the question "does this [intervention] work?" He really pounded on the idea of submitting interventions to study, emphasizing that control groups are essential to proving that a program works, as an individual's experience in an intervention is not a reliable measure of its effectiveness. Wilson also suggested that applying the story editing technique, changing the way at risk individuals perceive who they are, what they can do, and how they feel, may be a useful way to approach intervention design.
I feel that by asking "does this work?" and researching to find the answer, I can make much better choices in the future when donating to charity.