Rethinking Positive Thinking

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Gabriele Oettingen is up on stage to talk about positive thinking and personal change.

How do we achieve personal change? Often people say: Think positive, be optimistic, focus on your dream. However, positive thinking in fact turns out to be much less promising. Dreamers are often not doers. It is helpful for pleasure, but as you already fulfill your dreams in your imagination, you are less likely to put in enough effort to achieve your goals.

Studies show, the more positive students think about their job opportunities the less they will succeed. If you look at weight reduction programs, you will see that the more positive participants think the less they loose weight. So shall we dismiss positive thinking alltogether?

To explore our possiilites in the future positive thinking can be helpful. You just have to combine it with a good sense of reality.

Oettingen recommends a 4-step process she calls Woop:

  1. Ask yourself: What is my dearest wish? What do I really want?
  2. Dream about the best outcome fulfilling your dream
  3. Think about what holds you back?
  4. Make a plan what you will do if that obstacle occurs.

Take this process as a friend you can apply in different areas throughout your life to achieve your goals.

DLDw14 Conference – “Relevance!” – Munich, Germany, July 2014 © Dominik Gigler

Mentioned in this live blog

Oettingen bw quadrat
Gabriele Oettingen
Professor of Psychology
New York City

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