Self help: forget positive thinking, try positive action

Jim’s note:  I appreciate the wisdom in following savoring with ACTION!  One of the most powerful distinguishing characteristics that set NVC apart from “self-help” is the REQUEST.  Requests stimulate actions that increase the likelihood that more needs can be met with less cost!

If you want to be happier or more confident, research shows that the best way is to act the part, writes Richard Wiseman…

For years self-help gurus have preached the same simple mantra: if you want to improve your life then you need to change how you think. Force yourself to have positive thoughts and you will become happier. Visualise your dream self and you will enjoy increased success. Think like a millionaire and you will magically grow rich. In principle, this idea sounds perfectly reasonable. However, in practice it often proves ineffective.

Take visualisation. Hundreds of self-improvement books encourage readers to close their eyes and imagine their perfect selves; to see themselves in a huge office at the top of the corporate ladder, or sipping a cocktail as they feel the warm Caribbean sand between their toes. Unfortunately, research suggests this technique does not work.

In one study led by Lien Pham at the University of California, students were asked to spend a few moments each day visualising themselves getting a high grade in an upcoming exam. Even though the daydreaming exercise only lasted a few minutes, it caused the students to study less and obtain lower marks. In another experiment led by Gabriele Oettingen from New York University, graduates were asked to note down how often they fantasised about getting their dream job after leaving college. The students who reported that they frequently fantasised about such success received fewer job offers and ended up with significantly smaller salaries.

Why should this be so? Maybe those who fantasise about a wonderful life are ill-prepared for setbacks, or become reluctant to put in the effort required to achieve their goal. Either way, the message is clear – imagining the perfect you is not good for your life.

However, when it comes to change, the message is not all gloom and doom. Decades of research show that there is indeed a simple but highly effective way to transform how you think and feel. The technique turns common sense on its head but is grounded in science. Strangely, the story begins with a world-renowned Victorian thinker and an imaginary bear…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/jun/30/self-help-positive-thinking