If Wishing Could Make It So

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Building a “positivity bias” in place of our hardwired “negativity bias” is one of the important tools we discuss for building personal resilience in my new book, The Resilience Advantage.

There is a mistaken belief, however, that if we just “think positive” we can then overcome all kinds of adversities, but that is a bit of how thinking positively became know as the “Pollyanna Principle.” The truth is that using positivity takes a lot more than just wishing and hoping.

Research conducted by Gabrielle Oettingen at NYU showed that college students who focused on thinking about their next week as being fantastic actually reported less success than students who just recorded what happened. In follow-up experiments, she discovered that the key to making those dreams come true was to create a challenge for themselves by considering what could get in the way of their success. By identifying the problems or roadblocks the students would encounter in approaching their goals, she found that they created a kind of contest for themselves to see if they could succeed in spite of the impediment in their way.

Taking into account the threats to success may hold the key to helping each of us overcome our most difficult assignments. Don’t be thrown off by these, go ahead and embrace them.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2016

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