I believe the best way to begin (and conclude) the review of the book “The 5 Second Rule” is by attempting to answer three frequently circulating questions about this title online:
- Does it make sense to read this book if I’ve already watched the videos about the five-second rule (hereinafter referred to as the 5SR) on YouTube?
- Is this book more about replicating other people’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts about how the 5SR has changed their lives (thereby indirectly glorifying Mel Robbins)?
- Does the 5SR actually work?
Answering the first question is not straightforward, for one simple reason. The 5SR is simple, and its principle of operation is simple. The moment you feel your instinct whisper that you should do something to achieve a goal/desire, you need to count down “5,4,3,2,1” and take action before your brain stops you with its doubts, fears, and other methods of dissuasion. That’s it!
Mel’s 5SR is not a revolutionary discovery. It’s something that has always existed and will continue to exist in various forms. Instinctive reaction to do something, “1,2,3 and jump,” or “count to 10 to calm down.” The five seconds that Mel Robbins talks about is, at least in my opinion:
- Responding with instinct before the brain “jumps in” with its five million “arguments” why something will not succeed, all in an attempt to (oh, the irony) protect you. Hence, you have a five-second “window” before the brain kicks in with arguments (and “arguments”) and overrides instinct.
- A brief distraction of the brain, conveying a message that by counting backward, the brain must perform an action after those five seconds, which momentarily prevents it from devising ways to protect (or perhaps more accurately, sabotage) you.
Answering the second question is even more challenging than the first. It’s an undeniable fact that at least half of the book (if not more) consists of comments from people on social media about how the 5SR has helped/changed their lives. Is this a form of self-promotion by Mel Robbins and her indirect boasting? Perhaps. Only Mel knows best. However, she did not assemble the comments/praises on a random basis. She made an effort to align them with the corresponding chapters.
Try to understand, Mel talks a lot in her book about her own failures in life and how the 5SR saved her from ruin. Alongside the aforementioned testimonies of people who have tried the 5SR (and shared their experiences on social media), the book also contains many scientific facts that Mel has gathered on how the brain thinks, hesitates, and more. Indeed, you really have to judge for yourself what the right answer to the second question is.
Ironically, it’s easiest to answer the third question – YES. As incredible as it may sound (keep in mind that this still comes from someone who has been, as you’ve probably noticed, trying to remain as objective as possible when it comes to books in the realm of “populogy” or “popsych,” as I’ve dubbed popular psychology 😀). If you look closely at the book’s ratings, you’ll notice something interesting. Criticisms are mainly on the grounds that the book was unnecessary, that it focused more on other people’s testimonies and their gratitude towards Mel… but I haven’t noticed anyone speaking negatively about the 5SR itself.
And why would they? The rule is simple to apply, or as Mel herself said: “Applying the Rule is simple, but I didn’t say it was easy.” Your decision to apply the Rule, as with everything in life, is the crucial factor. Counting down helps because it clearly indicates that you need to perform an action, no matter how daunting. But, if you get scared (“Better to say, if you freeze…” note by the subconscious), give up, or say “threeeeee, twooooo, onnnne…zerooooo….minus oneeeeee…….minus twoooo….” or “just a sec,” it’s not Mel Robbins’ fault the 5SR doesn’t work… you have only yourself to blame.
The writing style is straightforward, direct, and interspersed with social media posts, but it reads quickly, and I don’t have much to add there.
“Should I buy the book or just go to YouTube?” Honestly, now that I’ve reached the end of the book, I’m not sure what the right answer is. Maybe at the beginning, I was in favor of the latter option, but now the book seems like a pretty good supplement to everything related to the 5SR. So, wait for a discount or borrow the book beforehand and read it – those are probably the best responses. 🙂
And finally, I don’t have a question, but a recommendation for dear readers: Try the 5SR and tell me if it works and how did it help you. 😉
(Originally reviewed: 09/02/2019)