Every day of our lives, our mind diverts into private thoughts—wishful dreams of our future, regrets and ruminations over what went wrong yesterday, nervous anticipation about tomorrow. Gabriele Oettingen’s book is the single best guide to the power and consequence of these private thoughts. It will teach you nothing less than how to think better.”
MORE IDEAS FROM THEBOOK
The solution isn’t to do away with dreaming and positive thinking. Rather, it’s making the most of our fantasies by brushing them up against the very thing most of us are taught to ignore or diminish: the obstacles that stand in our way.”
So often in our day-to-day lives we’re inundated with advice to “think positively.” From pop music to political speeches to commercials, the general message is the same: look on the bright side, be optimistic in the face of adversity, and focus on your dreams. And whether we’re trying to motivate ourselves to lose weight, snag a promotion at work, or run a marathon, we’re told time and time again that focusing on fulfilling our wishes will make them come true.
Gabriele Oettingen draws on more than twenty years of research in the science of human motivation to reveal why the conventional wisdom falls short. The obstacles that we think prevent us from realizing our deepest wishes can actually lead to their fulfillment. Starry-eyed dreaming isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and as it turns out, dreamers are not often doers.
In Rethinking Positive Thinking, Oettingen applies mental contrasting to three key areas of personal change .
1. becoming healthier, nurturing personal and professional relationships, and performing better at work. She introduces readers to the key phases of mental contrasting using a proven four-step process called WOOP.
2. Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, plan.
3. offers advice and exercises on how to best apply this method to daily life. Through mental contrasting, people in Oettingen’s studies have become significantly more motivated to quit smoking, lose weight, get better grades, sustain fulfilling relationships, and negotiate more effectively in business situations.
While optimism can help us alleviate immediate suffering and persevere in challenging times, merely dreaming about the future actually makes people more frustrated and unhappy over the long term and less likely to achieve their goals. In fact, the pleasure we gain from positive fantasies allows us to fulfill our wishes virtually, sapping our energy to perform the hard work of meeting challenges and achieving goals in real life.
It is natural to daydream about the things we want - how wonderful it would be if you learned a new language or wrote a novel. But, merely visualising a brighter future won't make it more likely.
Research shows that we should make pragmatic plans to accomplish our goals. To prevent our good intentions from remaining wishful thinking, we should compare our vision with our current circumstance, identify the obstacles, and find the best way to overcome them.
There is a correlation between positive thinking and ineffective performance, because expectations of a successful outcome demonstrably relaxes a person so much that they lack the energy to achieve the desired outcome.
When you pretend you’ve achieved something you want, the brain thinks you have and there goes the get up and go.
Use the WOOP strategy for achieving goals:
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