Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation by Gabriele Oettingen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Like a lot of other reviews I’ve read, “dry” is an accurate description for this book. I read this book because Goodreads recommended it based on some of my other reads. I think from now on, I’m going to read the other reviews, and not just the first one or two reviews, but the entire overview of the book. I know most normal people do this already, but I’m learning.
Anyway, the book itself is a response to the ideas coming from “The Secret” or what is normally thought of as “positive thinking.” “Just putting your wish out into the universe and it will come back to you” kind of thinking. This book basically debunks that idea.
It’s not that wishful thinking or daydreaming is necessarily bad, it’s just that there are other steps to the process of getting what you want. You have to also think about the obstacles that stand in your way of reaching the desired outcome and make a plan to overcome those obstacles. In fact, the WOOP that the author suggests includes an entire step of imagining the outcome that you want in complete detail, but then you think of the obstacles as well.
I hesitate on this idea because it really requires a person to be self-aware of the obstacles in front of them, to take the time to reflect, and then be able to make adjustments as needed. You have to be constantly looking at the bigger picture and the details. I’m not saying humans are incapable of doing this, it’s just that in the harried lifestyle of most people I know, it would take a considerable amount of slowing down in order to embrace the process.
Finally, to address the dryness. The book reads very academically. The author goes over study after study that she and her partners did in great detail. Every experiment, the variables, and the controls. I think it would have been easier to just talk about the outcomes of the experiments instead of talking in length about each one. The last three chapters went by slightly faster because they were more about application and examples instead of experiments, which I think the average reader would be more interested in.
Because of it being such a dry and slow read, I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who just likes to read light self-improvement books. It’s more for those interested in sociology or psychology on an academic level.
You can get your copy on Amazon here!
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