Rethinking Positive Thinking | Gabriele Oettingen

Summary of: Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation
By: Gabriele Oettingen


Dive into the world of motivation with Gabriele Oettingen’s book, ‘Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation’. This summary will help you understand the difference between positive fantasies and mental contrasting, and introduce you to the WOOP method to help you achieve your goals. You will also learn how mental contrasting works to motivate action and change, and why dreaming alone isn’t enough to reach your goals. Uncover the power of nonconscious thinking and how it enables you to reach your fullest potential in various aspects of your life, from personal aspirations to professional endeavors.

The Dark Side of Positive Thinking

Pop culture and a cult of optimism have instilled a belief that thinking positively about the future guarantees success. However, studies have shown that mere positive fantasies can hinder business performance and cause individuals to counterproductive behavior. There is a far more effective strategy for fulfilling wishes – mental contrasting. Positive fantasies should be replaced with a realistic view of the future.

The Ups and Downs of Fantasizing

Despite the negative effects of fantasizing, it may serve as a source of comfort in challenging situations and aid positive action if used correctly. Entertaining positive fantasies can lead to mental attainment which saps the energy for action, but when used to explore possibilities for solutions or ways to cope, it can provide a momentary escape from depression and a risk-free way to try out ideas. However, relying solely on positive fantasies rather than taking active steps to solve a problem can lead to a distorted view of reality and hinder personal growth and development.

Mental Contrasting and Achieving Goals

Mental contrasting is a process that combines fantasy with concrete action to help individuals achieve their goals. It works by engaging the non-conscious mind and creates real change by connecting present reality with successful wish fulfillment.

We all have dreams and goals we want to achieve, but how can we turn those fantasies into reality? According to a book on motivation and achieving one’s goals, the key is in mental contrasting. Mental contrasting involves following a fantasy with concrete action in the real world, instead of simply relying on dreaming.

Researchers compared different methods of achieving goals and found that mental contrasting motivated only the individuals who believed they had a good chance of succeeding. This finding is positive because it prevents individuals from acting on every wish that comes to mind. Instead, the process encourages people to become passionate about plans they can realistically attain, albeit with effort.

Mental contrasting has various benefits, including allowing individuals to dislodge social fears, negative beliefs about themselves, and to decide when to walk away from one dream and pursue another. It works by engaging the non-conscious mind and connecting present reality with successful wish fulfillment, resulting in real and observable changes in behavior.

The process also helps individuals accept and retain negative feedback they need to learn from their mistakes. Students who practiced mental contrasting were better at processing and translating negative feedback into action and had a more positive self-image than those who didn’t use this tool.

Mental contrasting is a useful tool for individuals who want to strive towards their goals. Unlike more conventional approaches, mental contrasting helps individuals disengage from unrealistic wishes and pursue smarter, more realistic goals. It is a tool that encourages individuals to dream while taking action, bypassing the relaxing power of dreams and enlisting them as active fuel for change.

The WOOP Method

The WOOP method is a process that synthesizes current research and converts it into a step-by-step routine that you can follow to reach your goals. The acronym stands for “Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan.” Start by identifying your wish or concern, visualizing it, and envisioning the positive outcome you want to create. Then, identify any barriers to reaching your goal, both internally and externally. Finally, pinpoint one thought or action you can take and formulate an if-then plan for when the obstacle will next occur. With the WOOP method, you can bring all levels of your mind to bear on attaining what you want.

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