Based on her twenty years of scientific research into motivation, Gabriele Oettingen argues that the common advice to “think positively” impedes our progress toward our most important goals. It turns out that the pleasure of having positive fantasies about the future saps our energy to perform the hard work of meeting challenges. We enjoy our dreams rather than taking action toward making them real.
A better approach is what Oettingen calls “mental contrasting” in which we still dream about the future, but also visualize the barriers that stand in our way. Adding an element of realism makes all the difference. In rigorous studies, people who tried mental contrasting became more motivated to quit smoking, lose weight, get better grades, sustain healthier relationships, and negotiate more effectively at work.
Leading readers through a journey of scientific exploration, this book shows why we should rethink one of the most cherished tenets of modern psychology.