Rethinking Positive Thinking

That’s the fascinating title of a new book by Gabriele Oettingen that argues keeping in mind obstacles to your dreams is a more effective way of achieving goals.

Norman Vincent Peale and Dale Carnegie are turning over in their graves over this new theory, I am sure.

The author has what she thinks is a better way – wish, outcome, obstacle, plan or WOOP for short.

I have an obvious fascination for that which motivates us.

For me, picturing in my mind’s eye that which I want to accomplish and spending hours and hours seeing my wish in vivid terms (colors, smells, feelings, outcomes) allows me to put up with a lot of suffering to get to my goal.  I am relentless once motivated in this way.

I also appreciate the fine art of not getting what I want as a motivator.


Because when I hit the wall, it gives me a chance to either retreat, climb it or run into it again.

But I don’t dismiss the benefits of rethinking positive thinking – the simplistic “you can do it” attitude that permeates our world in a way that just sounds like snake oil to most.

Whatever works for you is positive thinking.

Because in the end, no dream is attained without a plan to get there along with the necessary constant tests to see if we really want it that badly.

That’s a good thing.

“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” — Gabriele Oettingen

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