Blog Archive

Stop Being So Positive


by Gabriele Oettingen  |   9:27 AM October 27, 2014

We’ve all heard a great deal about the power of positive thinking. Organizations encourage it among their employees in an effort to boost performance and engagement, and it’s a key tenet of “managing yourself” well; affirmative messages about perseverance, resilience, and vision adorn many an office wall. In the wake of the Great Recession, some businesses even hired happiness coaches to get their workers looking on the bright side. And an optimistic attitude is expected of leaders; politicians and corporate executives should always have that “think it-do it” spirit on display.
There’s just one problem, however. Research my colleagues and I have performed over the past two decades suggests that positive thinking doesn’t actually help us as much as we suppose. In fact, across dozens of peer-reviewed studies examining the effects of positive visions of the future on people pursuing various kinds of wishes — from health-related, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, or recovering quickly from surgery, to the improvement of professional or academic performance (for example, mid-level managers wishing to reduce job-related stress, graduate students looking for a job, or school children seeking to get good grades) — we’ve consistently found that people who positively fantasize make either the same or less progress in achieving attainable wishes than those who don’t.
This makes perfect sense, if you think about it. Dreaming about a successful outcome in the future is pleasurable, leaving you with a nice, warm feeling of satisfaction. But in a workplace setting, that’s counterproductive. You’re less motivated to buck up and make the strong, persistent effort that is usually required to realize challenging but feasible wishes. In some of our studies, we found that positive thinking produced measurably lower systolic blood pressure — a key measure of how energized someone is. In others, positive thinkers were as likely as participants in a control group to take easy steps toward a goal, but significantly less likely to take more cumbersome and difficult steps, such as donating meaningful amounts of their time or money.
“Okay,” you might say, “Forget positive thinking. I’m going to dwell on all the daunting challenges I face in my job.” But, unfortunately, dwelling on reality doesn’t help much either.
What does help is mental contrasting, an exercise that brings together our positive fantasy about the future with a visualization of the obstacle standing in the way. Even more beneficial is adding if-then planning that allows you to address the obstacle when it arises.
In our research, we’ve developed a mental contrasting tool called WOOP — Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan. Here’s how it works: Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, switch off your devices, and close your eyes. Name a wish that is attainable or realistic for you — say, landing a new client. Then imagine for a few minutes what would happen if that wish came true, letting the images flow freely through your mind. Then change things up. Identify the main obstacle inside you that stands in the way, and imagine it for a few minutes. Now on to your plan: If faced with obstacle X, then you will take effective action Y in response.
WOOP is simple, easy, and inexpensive — so much so that you might not think it would work. After all, behavior change usually requires expensive  coaching or training programs, right? Our results suggest not. In a study of health care providers, we found that those who used WOOP were significantly more engaged with their work and less stressed than members of a control group. In studies of college students enrolled in a vocational business program, we found that it helped them manage their time better. And we’ve also used WOOP to help school children study more for the PSAT, do more homework, and get better grades.
Why does it work? Because the process either helps people understand their wishes are attainable, giving them energy and direction, heightening their engagement and prompting them to act; or it helps them realize their wishes are unrealistic, leading them to disengage  and freeing them up to pursue other, more promising endeavors.
Although positive thinking feels good in the moment,  it often bears a false promise. Only when it’s paired with a clear view of potential obstacles will it consistently produce desirable results.
More blog posts by

Gabriele Oettingen is a professor of psychology at New York University and the University of Hamburg and the author of Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation.

 Follow me on Twitter  View my profile on LinkedIn  Like my page on Facebook  Read my articles on my personal blog  Subscribe to my Feed  Visit my Google+ Page

Story: Man Locked In Cold Room

in - on 6/13/2014 08:15:00 AM - No comments

Juan worked at a meat distribution factory. One day, when he finished with his work schedule, he went into the meat cold room to inspect something, but in a moment of bad luck, the door closed and he was locked inside with no help in sight. 
Although he screamed and knocked with all his might, his cries went unheard as no one could hear him. Most of the workers had already gone, and outside the cold room it's impossible to hear what was going on inside.
Five hours later, whilst Juan was on the verge of death, the security guard of the factory, eventually opened the door and saved Juan's life.
Juan then asked the security guard how he got to open the door, as it wasn't part of his work routine, and he explained thus: "I've been working in this factory for 35 years, hundreds of workers come in and out every day, but you're one of the few who greets me in the morning and says goodbye to me every night when leaving after working hours. Many treat me as if I am invisible.
Today, like every other day, you greeted me in your simple manner ' Hello ' at the entrance when resuming for work. But curiously, after working hours today, I observed I've not heard your ' bye! see you tomorrow '. Hence I decided to check around the factory. I look forward to your ' Hi ' and ' bye ' every day. To you, I am someone. By not hearing your farewell, I knew something had happened.

Then I Sought and found you! 

"Moral Lesson to reflect upon":
Be humble, love and respect those around you. As life is too short! Try to have an impact on people in ways we can't even imagine, especially the people that cross our path every day. Someone seemingly so insignificant and irrelevant today could be the only help you can get tomorrow.

 Follow me on Twitter  View my profile on LinkedIn  Like my page on Facebook  Read my articles on my personal blog  Subscribe to my Feed  Visit my Google+ Page

Story: A Cry for Help

Once upon a time, there was an island where all the feelings lived: Happiness, Sadness, and all of the others, including Love.
One day it was announced to the feelings that the island would sink, so all repaired their boats and left.
Love was the only one who stayed. Love wanted to persevere until the last possible moment.
When the island was almost sinking, Love decided to ask for help.
Richness was passing by Love in a grand boat. Love said, "Richness, can you take me with you?" Richness answered, "No I can't..There is a lot of gold and silver in my boat. There is no place for you here."
Love decided to ask Vanity, who was also passing by in a beautiful vessel, "Vanity, please help me!" "I can't help you Love. You are all wet and might damage my boat," Vanity answered.
Sadness was close by so Love asked for help, "Sadness let me go with you." "Oh...Love, I am so sad that I need to be by myself!"
Happiness passed by Love too, but she was so happy that she did not even hear when Love called her!
Suddenly, there was a voice, "Come Love, I will take you." It was an elder. Love felt so blessed and overjoyed that he even forgot to ask the elder her name.
When they arrived at dry land, the elder went her own way. Love, realizing how much he owed the elder, asked Knowledge, another elder, "Who helped me?"
"It was Time," Knowledge answered.
"Time?" asked Love. "But why did Time help me?

Knowledge smiled with deep wisdom and answered, "Because only Time is capable of understanding how great Love is.
Author Unknown

 Follow me on Twitter  View my profile on LinkedIn  Like my page on Facebook  Read my articles on my personal blog  Subscribe to my Feed  Visit my Google+ Page

Short Story: The Unhappy Young Lady

in - on 2/07/2014 02:53:00 PM - No comments

The old Master instructed the unhappy young lady to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it. "How does it taste?" the Master asked. "Very bad" Said the lady.

The Master then asked the young lady to take another handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake and when the apprentice swirled his handful of salt into the lake, the old man said, "Now drink from the lake."

As the water dripped down the young lady's chin, the Master asked, "How does it taste?" "Good!" remarked the apprentice. "Do you taste the salt?" asked the Master. "No," said the young lady.

The Master said, "The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount we taste the 'pain' depends on the container we put it into. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things..... Stop being a glass.  Become a lake!"

 Follow me on Twitter  View my profile on LinkedIn  Like my page on Facebook  Read my articles on my personal blog  Subscribe to my Feed  Visit my Google+ Page

Story: German Food

Germany is a highly industrialized country. In such a country, many will think its people lead a luxurious life.
When we arrived at Hamburg , my colleagues walked into the restaurant, we noticed that a lot of tables were empty. There was a table where a young couple was having their meal. There were only two dishes and two cans of beer on the table. I wondered if such simple meal could be romantic, and whether the girl will leave this stingy guy.
There were a few old ladies on another table. When a dish is served, the waiter would distribute the food for them, and they would finish every bit of the food on their plates.
As we were hungry, our local colleague ordered more food for us.When we left, there was still about one third of un-consumed food on the table.
When we were leaving the restaurant, the old ladies spoke to us in English, we understood that they were unhappy about us wasting so much food.
"We paid for our food, it is none of your business how much food we left behind," my colleague told the old ladies. The old ladies were furious. One of them immediately took her hand phone out and made a call to someone. After a while, a man in uniform from Social Security organisation arrived. Upon knowing what the dispute was, he issued us a 50 Euro fine. We all kept quiet.
The mindset of people of this rich country put all of us to shame. WE REALLY NEED TO REFLECT ON THIS. We are from country which is not very rich in resources. To save face, we order large quantity and also waste food when we give others a treat.
(Courtesy: A friend who is now changed a lot)
THE LESSON IS:- THINK SERIOUSLY ABOUT CHANGING OUR BAD HABITS. Expecting acknowledgment, that u read the message and forward to your contacts.

5 Life Lessons a Mosquito Can Teach You.

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” –attributed to the Dalai Lama XIV

Bzzzzzzz. We all know this sound. We all know the nightmares and suffering it can produce during our much-needed and desired sleep. We all know when this creature is approaching. Its revealing buzz, simply unstoppable and greatly feared by us. This amazing little creature is even more amazing than we think. Its simplicity can teach us more than what we could ever have imagined...

“It is very hard to be brave,” said Piglet, sniffing slightly, “when you’re only a Very Small Animal.”

1. Never Give Up

What a cliché. Never give up. It is one of those life tips that we find in almost every life guide. Far from being useless, it is surely a must. Mosquitoes get this idea pretty well. They can simply pass all night trying to get into our ear, or trying to suck all of our blood. If a pea-sized creature can give its maximum effort, why can’t we? We should at least be able to put up with a mosquito. We can always go farther, and when it comes to our dreams and passions, never giving up is the key to achieving these.

Never forget that refusing to give up is a way of seeing life. It is about learning that, even though life is supposed to flow, part of this beautiful experience is building the momentum and going for it! Just as Thomas A. Edison said, “Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won’t work”.

2. Don’t Underestimate

We tend to underestimate things for their appearance. Size, for example, is one of those misleading qualities. We might think that because something or someone is small, it is powerless and inferior, like an ant or a mosquito. Did you know that an ant can hold more than 100 times its own weight? Or that mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on the planet?

Underestimating someone’s abilities because of their appearance is just insanely misleading and counterproductive. Like the example of the ant and the mosquito, we find countless instances of underestimation in life, such as underestimating the ability of your mom to help you with your problems. If we want to flow in life, we should acknowledge people for their inner qualities and not for their exterior appearance or the first impression they give. Just as Toba Beta said: “Don’t belittle anyone who you don’t recognize. Don’t be fooled by anybody who underrates you”.

3. Accept

Ultimately, there will be times when we can´t beat the mosquitoes. Sometimes they are just too fast and somehow too powerful. It is a fight between the mosquito and our will for sleeping. It is then we have to learn to accept, which is one of the only ways to really win over mosquitoes, or to manage life’s casualties without painful attachments.

It is easier to flow with the water current than to resist it. Accepting is learning to let go, to be with the experience and don’t fight it. Sometimes in life we find something we call Reverse effortAs Alan Watts once wrote: “When you try to stay on the surface of the water, you sink; but when you try to sink you float. Whosoever would save his soul shall lose it”. 

4. Don’t Fear Taking Risks

Mosquitoes take this too far, yet they teach us that taking a risk is worth it. For them, taking a risk is ultimately necessary, for it is one of their ways to get their food. Mosquitoes take the risk of fighting with an animal which is enormously much bigger than them. They don’t even try too hard to go all in, they just do it, and even try to get into our brains! How courageous is that?

Risk-taking is one of those much-feared things. It is totally natural, for breaking out of our comfort zone is hard and takes boldness. Yet risk-taking is certainly the best way to learn, experience, and do the undone. We humans are instinctively adventurous and committed, just like any other being. This is what has led us to thrive, evolve, and advance. Let’s go with our intuition and instinct and use our abilities to fulfill our dreams and passions. Just as Albert Einstein said: “A ship is always safe at the shore—but that is NOT what it is built for”.

5. Be Humble

Yes, we are advanced; yes, we have a lot of money; yes, we have big houses, cars, buildings, and guns. Yes, we have complex minds, prodigy pianists, violinists… Yes, a mosquito drives us insane. Yes, we can´t control the weather. Yes, we are powerless in front of an angry volcano, a furious tornado, a violent tsunami.

We are not the most powerful, nor invincible, nor infinite. We are mortal just as any other being. We are in a continuous process of evolution and thriving. Life is beautiful. We are here to coexist rather than to oppress or repress. Mosquitoes teach us this simply and easily by demonstrating to us that in a room, in the forest, or anywhere, we are almost powerless in front of them, and if we have insect repellent, we are powerful for a couple of hours just to return to our normal, ordinary, human state.

Life is much more enjoyable when we live together and share together. There is no need to show superiority over others. If we ever have the idea that we are superior and invincible, certainly life will take the task of showing us the contrary. 

”Good things come when we are open to live! Go out and live life! Listen to the mosquitoes and their wise bzzzzzzz!
 Follow me on Twitter  View my profile on LinkedIn  Like my page on Facebook  Read my articles on my personal blog  Subscribe to my Feed  Visit my Google+ Page

What to Do If You're Smarter than Your Boss

You want to work for a great boss — someone you can respect and learn from. But what if your manager isn’t good at his job? What if you’re more competent or have greater skills? Should you be raising a ruckus or keeping your head down? And how do you get what you need without making your boss look bad?
What the Experts Say
“There are a lot of bad managers out there,” says Annie McKee, founder of the Teleos Leadership Institute and coauthor of Primal Leadership. So it’s not unusual to feel smarter or more qualified than your boss. Still, being in good company doesn’t make the situation any more tenable. Toiling under someone who you feel is incompetent can be demoralizing. But not all hope is lost. Even less-than-great bosses have something to teach, says Linda Hill, the Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and coauthor of Collective Genius and Being the Boss: “There are very few people in this world that I don’t think I can learn from.” So try not to discount your boss completely. Here’s how to make the most of the often frustrating situation.
Be honest with yourself
Before you declare your boss an incompetent fool, take a close look at what’s really happening. “Some people need to believe they’re better to keep their self-esteem intact, or they may just be more qualified in one area,” McKee says. Ask yourself if you’re genuinely smarter than your manager or if it’s possible that you’re more qualified in some areas but not others. “As people move up it’s natural to get better at leading and managing while losing your technical edge,” says McKee. Be honest with yourself about what skills you have and which your boss lacks. “Being smarter than your boss doesn’t mean you’re going to be more effective,” says Hill. After all, to be good at your job, you don’t just need smarts. “You need experience, strong relationships, social capital, and emotional intelligence,” she says.

Keep quiet
If after reflecting on the situation, you conclude that you’re actually smarter or more qualified, think twice before talking to anyone about it. McKee says it’s tempting to plead your case to higher ups or to try to prove that you should have you manager’s job. But this rarely works. “You put yourself at risk if you decide to go directly into that conflict because bosses usually win,” she says. Sure, you may want to vent to one or two trusted colleagues, but be careful. “If your boss senses you are critical or derogatory of her, that relationship may be over,” she says. Many people in this situation make the mistake of telling others how incompetent or unqualified their boss is. “You need to be respectful. If you badmouth your manager, it’s going to reflect badly on you. People notice and worry you’ll talk about them the same way,” says Hill. Nor should you take it out on her. “Don’t be mad at the boss, be mad at the people who didn’t make you the boss,” she says.
Focus on doing a good job
Don’t get caught up in ruminating about who should have what job. You’re better off focusing on your responsibilities, says Hill: “You want to make sure you do your work and people understand what you’ve been able to accomplish.” It might help to focus on the bigger picture instead of your relationship. “You have to find a higher purpose,” says McKee. “Take it outside of the interpersonal fight with your boss.” Hill agrees: “Don’t come in as the smart, young hotshot. Do what’s best for the enterprise.”
Help your boss be better
There’s no reason not to be generous. If your boss is successful, there’s a greater chance you’ll be successful too. “See yourself as a complement to the person. Find a way to compensate for her weaknesses,” says Hill. If he isn’t good at seeing the big picture, ask questions that help him pull back from the details. If she doesn’t understand the technical ins and outs of your product, offer to cover the part of a meeting where the features will be discussed. “Offer up ways that he or she can use you better,” says McKee.
Don’t cover up
“There’s a big difference between delivering on what you’re supposed to do and covering up your boss’s mistakes,” says McKee. If your boss has a pattern of making gaffes, it doesn’t serve you or the company to continuously clean up his mess. “You need to do your job well and you need to deliver on what your boss is asking of you, but if your work is being used to cover up serious deficiencies, you may need to have a conversation with HR,” says McKee.
Find something to respect
It’s easy to focus on the bad but even the worst bosses have redeeming qualities. “How can you find something you respect?” asks McKee. She recommends looking beyond the work environment if necessary. “Is your boss a good mom or a kind husband?” If you truly can’t find something you admire, you may need to find a new job. “If not now, soon,” says McKee. “It’s soul destroying to work for someone you truly don’t respect.” Hill agrees: “If you think you can’t partner with that person, then you need to think about whether you should be at the organization.”
Learn from someone else
If your boss isn’t giving you the coaching you need, “broaden your network,” Hill recommends. Take your learning into your own hands and, McKee suggests, volunteer for projects that will allow you to interact with other senior people in the company. Be explicit about what you want. You might approach another manager and say, “I’d love to learn more about how you do X. Do you mind if we spend a couple hours together over the next few months?” “You can choose to see every opportunity as a way to learn,” McKee says.
Principles to Remember
  • Help your boss do her job — see yourself as a complement
  • Find something you genuinely respect about him
  • Seek out other mentors to help you learn and grow
  • Assume that you’re more qualified than your boss— chances are she has some skills you don’t
  • Try to take over her job — bosses usually win
  • Cover up egregious mistakes or a long-standing pattern of ineptitude
Case study #1: Help out when you can
When Patricia Wright* was appointed by a government official in South Africa as an assistant, the job was meant to be administrative. But it was quickly clear to her and her new boss that she had valuable technical skills and experience. “My knowledge and experience on IT-related issues superseded those of my colleagues and my manager,” she says.
At the beginning, she found it irritating to know more than her boss. But he was “very open to learning and being shown how things should be done,” Patricia says. “We grew up in different eras so it did take time and patience to teach him but when he used my ideas, he would thank me and attribute the suggestions to me.” So her frustration soon turned to pride.
Eventually Patricia moved on because she wasn’t passionate about the work. Still she got a lot from her experience. “I learned to have plenty of patience and to be a ‘solution seeker.’ This way of thinking helped me get the job I have today.”
Case study #2: Make your boss look good
Soon after Abike Eze* became a marketing and business development manager at a financial services company based in Lagos, Nigeria, he got a new boss — we’ll call her Rose.* Rose moved to marketing from HR and had no background in the function. Abike found himself having to cover a lot of her work. “Even though she heads the marketing unit, I am responsible for coming up with the strategy to grow the business and for cutting costs,” he says.
He admits that it’s frustrating at times, especially when she makes decisions that go against what he thinks is best based on his expertise. Still, he does whatever he can to support her and make her look good. “Humility is the way to go,” he says. “I offer to help when I sense she may be struggling with a task or an idea.” And when he presents an idea to more senior executives, he often gives Rose the credit or at least says that they worked on it together. She is aware of what Abike does for her and returns the favor, saying good things about him to their boss.
This collaborative —rather than combative ­— approach has worked for Abike. He is well regarded by his boss’s boss and he has critical responsibilities in the company, even if he doesn’t hold the “head of marketing” title.  Besides he doesn’t see another good option. “If you have friction with your manager, and the company values him more than you, you may risk being let go,” he explains. “She’s been with the company for over a decade and I have only been here for eight months. Besides she is my boss after all,” he says.
*not their real names

Amy Gallo is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review. Follow her on Twitter at @amyegallo.

 Follow me on Twitter  View my profile on LinkedIn  Like my page on Facebook  Read my articles on my personal blog  Subscribe to my Feed  Visit my Google+ Page

20 Ways To Recognize A Good Partner

1) They ignore past mistakes

A good partner puts the past in perspective and doesn’t constantly bring up reminders from the past that serve no valuable purpose in the present. Such as something their partner did months or years earlier. Move on!

2) They don’t compare

The partner realizes that each person they date has strengths and weaknesses and refrains from comparing their current partner to their exes – especially unfavorably. Just because an ex was unfaithful does not mean that another partner will be so too.

3) They understand the idea of ‘give and take’

The partner is aware that all relationships need both partners to put in effort. It’s all about balance, about the give and take. If one person does all the taking, the imbalance will lead to problems. The person doing all the giving will end up resentful.

4) They know the importance of time alone

A good partner understands when they need space and a time out. A healthy relationship involves having interests outside the relationship, and spending too much time together can lead to a feeling of suffocation. Again, it’s all about balance.

5) They prioritize communication

The partner places communication as a high priority. Many if not most issues can be worked out if you have the ability to communicate with one another. Being able to talk openly and knowing you will be heard and not ignored or dismissed is vital for the longevity of a relationship.

6) They are straightforward and/or uncomplicated

A good partner doesn’t engage in game playing. They live with integrity and speak up about problems instead of engaging in underhanded tactics such as passive aggressive behavior or withdrawing affection.

7) They are ‘tuned in’

The partner knows their significant other’s ‘love language,’ from acts of service to affection to spending quality time together to verbal expressions to gifts.

8) They are light hearted

A good partner has a good sense of humor, and you can exchange jokes with them and make each other laugh.

9) They are reasonable

The partner has realistic expectations of their significant other. We’re all human and we all make mistakes. A good partner doesn’t have double standards whereby one set of rules applies to them and a different set of rules applies to everyone else.

10) They are self-aware

A good partner understands when they are projecting. Often, we expect others to show strengths that we wish we had. When they don’t, we feel disappointed. Learn to develop these skills in yourself and use your relationship as a way forward to enlightenment and personal growth.

11) They are optimistic

The partner has positive expectations; they expect the relationship to be good and to last and don’t dwell on negatives. Focusing on the bad parts can lead to self fulfilling prophecies.

12) They take responsibility for themselves

A good partner doesn’t expect their significant other to be the only source of happiness in their life. They  realize that we are all responsible for our own happiness. A partner is a wonderful bonus but not a necessity in life.

13) They are not emotionally abusive, manipulative or controlling

A good partner treats their significant other with respect by not criticizing them relentlessly, embarrassing them in front of others or trying to control them.

14) They are generous with their time and/or resources

The partner shows empathy and works with you as a team. It’s not all about them, just like it’s not all about you. You work together, and they understand the concept of strength in numbers and are happy to offer support.

15) They are dependable

A good partner is reliable and responsible, always there for you in a crisis if thy are able to.

16) They are supportive

A good partner encourages you to be the best you can be. They do not feel threatened by your success and they naturally bring out the best in you.

17) They put consistent effort into the relationship

A caring, good partner realizes that relationships take work and don’t chug along for ever without putting any effort in. The honeymoon phase is really just that, a phase!

18) They are honest and trustworthy

The partner is trustworthy, say what they mean and would never cheat on you. If they did meet someone else, they would end the relationship rather than deceive you and hurt you by leading you on.

19) They are able to say “sorry”

A good partner is self aware enough to know when they are in the wrong and have no problem with apologizing.

20) They are your best friend

A good partner offers a wonderful friendship. Friendship can hold a relationship together when the going gets tough. If you are friends, the other problems can always be worked out, since friendship provides a solid foundation for a happy healthy relationship.
Of course, we are all human and can’t be good partners 100% of the time. A good partner, however, will possess most of the qualities listed above and will generally be someone who is happy with who they are and how they live their lives. Once self-acceptance established, there is always more to give to others.
 Follow me on Twitter  View my profile on LinkedIn  Like my page on Facebook  Read my articles on my personal blog  Subscribe to my Feed  Visit my Google+ Page