Rethinking Positive Thinking

Inside the New Science of Motivation

by Gabriele Oettingen

Number of pages: 240

Publisher: AMACOM

BBB Library: Psychology and Strengths, Personal Success

ISBN: 9781591846871

About the Author

Gabriele Oettingen is a Professor of Psychology at New York University and the University of Hamburg. Her research focuses on how people think about the future, and how this impacts cognition, emotion, and behavior.


Editorial Review

Approached by someone who wants to achieve a specific dream, many of us offer simple advice: think positive! Don’t dwell on the obstacles, since that will only bring you down; be optimistic, focus on what you want to achieve; imagine a happy future in which you’re active and engaged; visualize how much snazzier you’ll look when you’ve lost that twenty pounds, how much happier you’ll feel when you’ve snagged that promotion, how much more successful you’ll be when you’ve started that new business. Channel positive energy and before you know it, all your wishes and goals will come true. Yet dreamers are not often doers. The pleasurable act of dreaming seems to let us fulfill our wishes in our minds, sapping our energy to perform the hard work of meeting the challenges in real life. Rethinking Positive Thinking is about wishes and how to fulfill them. It draws on twenty years of research in the science of motivation. And it presents a single, surprising idea: the obstacles that we think most impede us from realizing our deepest wishes can actually hasten their fulfillment.

Book Reviews

"In her smart, lucid book, “Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation,” Dr. Oettingen critically re-examines positive thinking and give readers a more nuanced — and useful — understanding of motivation based on solid empirical evidence." - The New York Times

"Rethinking Positive Thinking does more than just give people an overview of Oettingen’s fascinating research. It also gives them a simple structure for helping to get motivated for achieving new goals." - Psychology Today

"You might resist Oettingen’s viewpoint at first, because it so flies in the face of what we have been taught over the years, but give it a try, and you may be surprised how effective her methods are. " - Spirituality and Health

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Wisdom to Share

We are just beginning to rethink positive thinking, evolving the new science of motivation and mobilizing it to improve individuals’ lives and address social problems.

Mental contrasting would work beneath the rim of our consciousness to help us achieve tangible results in our lives.

If the wish is unlikely or even impossible to attain. It seems people benefit most from pursuing not just any wish, but a feasible wish.

What makes dreaming even more damaging to staying engaged and moving ahead in life is that it skews how we search for information about the world, leaving us with an imbalanced and possibly unrealistic view.

Our minds have already shot ahead to the end state of success and accomplishment.

As a result of dreaming, our minds tell us that we don’t need to pound the pavement and show up at interview after interview in search of a job.

We spent twenty years observing people of different ages, in different contexts, in both Germany and the United States.

There was no reason to think dreams were any different in their practical impact than expectations; all forms of positive thinking seemed inherently helpful.

Rethinking Positive Thinking is about wishes and how to fulfill them. It draws on twenty years of research in the science of motivation.