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Publisher's Summary

From pop music to political speeches to commercials, the general message is the same: look on the bright side, be optimistic in the face of adversity, and focus on your dreams. And whether we're trying to motivate ourselves to lose weight, snag a promotion at work, or run a marathon, we're told time and time again that focusing on fulfilling our wishes will make them come true. Gabriele Oettingen draws on more than 20 years of research in the science of human motivation to reveal why the conventional wisdom falls short. The obstacles that we think prevent us from realizing our deepest wishes can actually lead to their fulfillment.

Based on her groundbreaking research and large-scale scientific studies, Oettingen introduces a new way to visualize the future, called mental contrasting. It combines focusing on our dreams with visualizing the obstacles that stand in our way. In Rethinking Positive Thinking, Oettingen applies mental contrasting to three key areas of personal change - becoming healthier, nurturing personal and professional relationships, and performing better at work. She introduces readers to the key phases of mental contrasting using a proven four-step process called WOOP - Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan - and offers advice and exercises on how to best apply this method to daily life. Through mental contrasting, people in Oettingen's studies have become significantly more motivated to quit smoking, lose weight, get better grades, sustain fulfilling relationships, and negotiate more effectively in business situations. Whether you are unhappy and struggling with serious problems or you just want to improve, discover, and explore new opportunities, this book will deepen your ideas about human motivation and help you boldly chart a new path ahead.

©2014 Gabriele Oettingen (P)2014 Gildan Media LLC

Critic Reviews

"How do you get from dreaming to doing? This exciting and important book shows you how to turn your dreams into reality. You'll be surprised at how thoroughly it overturns conventional wisdom." (Carol S. Dweck, Lewis & Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology, Stanford University, and author of Mindset.)

What listeners say about Rethinking Positive Thinking

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Simply unimpressive

What disappointed you about Rethinking Positive Thinking?

This is a case of an author starting with a conclusion and produce "research" that supports the conclusion. At least she admitted early in the book that she was having a difficult time getting her research published because the scientific community would not take it seriously.It might be easier to take it seriously if there were more diversity in the research groups that she chose. Considering that most of her subjects seem to have been college age females it is easier for me to conclude that this model might work for them rather than to make the leap to saying that this model would work for the public at large.That said, I bought this title because I agree with the premise: Positive thinking alone without a plan of action is not likely to get you very far. However, this concept has been widely developed by the serious thought leaders in the self help arena for many years. One of my favorite examples of this is Tony Robbins telling an audience "I am not going to tell you to go into the garden and chant 'there's no weeds'. I want you to recognize the weeds and pull them out". In contrast, this entire book seems aimed at one self help film called The Secret, wherein Jack Canfield and others appear to be telling people that all they have to do is hold an image in their heads and they will get the object of their desires.Aside from all of this, there was a useful concept that I was able to share with my 9th grade son in regards to meeting his goals. It is useful as part of the goal planning process to identify obstacles that stand between you and your goals and develop an action plan for dealing with them.

Would you ever listen to anything by Gabriele Oettingen again?

It is not likely that I would listen to this author again.

What three words best describe Karen Saltus’s performance?

Inappropriately enthusiastic, self-serving

20 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Whomever chose the voice talent should be fired!

I couldn't finish the book nor get the message of the book because the narrator's voice was so annoying.

2 people found this helpful

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Research based book

Lots of interesting thoughts, but be expecting a book with a lot of statistical information on research and case story examples from the author’s years of experience. If you can be patient and focus you can gain some gold nuggets to try in your life.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good content. Terrible writing.

The premise and research is fine but it's like listening to a never ending lecture by Ben Stein. I started using WOOP myself with great success and am teaching my kids as well.

2 people found this helpful

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WOOP is Wonderful but its Messenger is Meh.

This book helped me achieve my WISH of finding a solid alternative to positive thinking and "Just Hang In There" cat posters. It's written by an academic so there is a lot of focus on reviewing study after study. It drives the point home that you can rely on these techniques to get your desired OUTCOME. However it can also get a bit tedious and I found myself tuning it out after a while. A major OBSTACLE is the narrator whose reads in the classic "self-help" style. The one that is cloying, ever chipper, and breathlessly effervescent whether talking about organizational tips or suicide. Maybe I listen to too many podcasts and author read works, but I like a more relaxed and authentic reading of the material. That being said I PLAN to listen to this title again in the future to refresh and reinforce the techniques of WOOP. The message is that good.

2 people found this helpful

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Very good information, but should be shorter

I liked the book, but I thought there was a lot of extra information that didn't add much value. I think this probably would've been better as a white paper. I would have liked more examples of how to utilize the techniques.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Simple but LIFE CHANGING TECHNIQUE

This is a scientific way of looking at goal setting and the underlying motivation needed to achieve goals. I just finished listening to the audiobook and I was already able to use the technique very effectively. EVERYONE should read this book and use the WOOP technique to help achieve their goals. Much better than the more popular SMART technique. The book walks the listener through scientific experiments exploring how positive thinking effects acheivment of goals. The general conclusion is that positive thinking alone does not help us achieve our goals. Then it further explores what we can do to improve our chances of achievement. On the negative side, the voice of the narrator can be a bit annoying and the experiments can be a bit repetitive. I will recommend to everyone I know!

1 person found this helpful

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Ground Breaking message -- teeth gritting narrator

It helps a lot to pause the book periodically and see the author deliver her message and imagine her text in her own voice. WOOP is great stuff and 'positive thinking' (aka maladaptive daydreaming) is even worse in my experience than the author suggests. This book is a great antidote to the whole 'upbeat pose to go upward' cruel side message of so many self help books.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

The narrator is terrible for this book.

Would you consider the audio edition of Rethinking Positive Thinking to be better than the print version?

The narrator's voice made me feel like I'm listening to a corporate training video about safety, bringing back my zoning out, falling asleep, boredom experience, just waiting for it to be over.

I'm better off reading this book.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Impersonal delivery

A rushed, impersonal speed read!! Think the message gets completely lost in all the above!

1 person found this helpful