Don't Accentuate the Positive
We often think positive thinking is the best way to achieve our ambitions - but the science shows it holds us all back. Dr Laurie Santos hears how champion swimmer Michael Phelps imagined the worst to help make his Olympic dreams come true. It’s a mental habit that you can learn too.
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Links to references from this episode. . .
“Peale is famous for his 1952 book, “The Power of Positive Thinking.”
“So wrote Rhonda Byrne in her 2006 book.”
“Bob’s visualization technique is based on the latest science of what researchers call mental practice.”
“Mental practice works because our minds aren’t all that great at telling the difference between something that’s really happening to us, and something we just imagined.”
“The psychologist Carey Morewedge and his colleagues wanted to see if simply imagining eating lots of bad food can have the same consequences as actually eating a lot of bad food.”
“Coach Bob Bowman was poolside when the race suddenly went wrong.”
“I’m talking with Gabriele Oettingen, Professor of Psychology at NYU and author of a book entitled Rethinking Positive Thinking.”
“You name the goal, and research shows that positive thinking makes it less likely you’ll reach it.”
• For a review of all this work:
“It’s a strategy Gabrielle calls “mental contrasting.”
Oettingen, G., Mayer, D., Timur Sevincer, A., Stephens, E. J., Pak, H. J., & Hagenah, M. (2009). Mental contrasting and goal commitment: The mediating role of energization. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(5), 608-622.
“Kristin is a transgender woman and the author of Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL’s Journey to Coming out Transgender.”
“In addition to simulating the obstacles, Gabrielle also recommends taking time to imagine— very intentionally— what it would feel like to implement our plan whenever the obstacle comes up.”
“That's right.. . . WOOP.”