Perhaps try harnessing the power of negative thought for a new path to happiness. Psych Your Mind writes:
When you walk through the self-help aisle of any bookstore, you are likely to see plenty of books based on the notion that positive thinking is the key to getting what you want. The message is clear: just keep telling yourself “I can!” and envision yourself accomplishing your goals. Success will surely come your way.
Not so, says years of psychological research. Certain kinds of positive thoughts, known in the research as fantasies, can actually be detrimental to performance. When we fantasize, we idealize our futures. Fantasies are not based on past experiences, meaning that we can have fantasies about achieving things for which we have no training or practice.
To understand why fantasies are a type of harmful positive thinking, let’s take a look at four negative consequences of them.
1. Reduced energy
Generating positive fantasies about desired outcomes can sap energy. For example, researchers asked undergraduates to imagine that they won an essay contest. Those who fantasized about positive outcomes reported that they felt less energized than those who did not fantasize.
2. Mental, but not actual, attainment
Indulging in thoughts about a bright future can lead to “mental attainment” of that future: thinking as though you have achieved it.
3. Bad planning
This one’s pretty simple: if you only think about how positive your future might be and how easy it will be to get there, then you don’t plan for obstacles that might be in your way!
4. Pursuit of unfeasible goals
One problem with positive fantasies is that they don’t help people distinguish between feasible and unfeasible goals. When people fantasize about a positive future, they show levels of goal commitment that are independent of their expectations for achieving those goals.
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