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  • So I think we've probably taken positive thinking too far.


  • - Positive thoughts. - Like I'm happy, I'm happy, I'm happy.


  • - Think positively. - Positive thoughts.


  • In Rhonda Byrne film, "The secret", a film that popularized the law of attraction at the mainstream level,


  • There are several examples and quotes that allude to the fact that disease like cancer can be cured through the idea of positive thinking.


  • In this video, we're gonna go over three reasons as to why positive thinking might actually be a bad thing.


  • We're gonna talk about the progress paradox, we're gonna talk about the thirst effect and the ironic effect.


  • And we'll talk about why negative thinking can be a better way of helping us achieve our goals and also live healthier, happier, more productive lives.


  • Right, so, within this world of self-help gurus, there's this idea that if you think positively, then that'll help you achieve your goals and help all your problems melt away.


  • And the idea does have some good parts about it, but there is a danger that we take things way too far.


  • Up to a certain point, positive thinking can be a pretty good way to help us reduce our anxiety and reduce intrusive thoughts.


  • And because our subconscious brains, apparently, can't really tell the difference between what's real and what's imaginary.


  • If we visualize positive outcomes, that can help reduce our worry and increase the amount of joy that we have.


  • There's a cool study that they did in King's College, London, where they got 102 people who were suffering with generalized anxiety disorder, and they split them into two groups.


  • One group, they asked to think positively about specifically the thing that was worrying them, and the other group, they asked to just think positively in general.


  • The cool thing was that after a month of doing this positive thinking stuff, both groups had a significant reduction in their anxiety levels.


  • Even the ones who were thinking positively in general, rather than just the ones who were thinking positively about their specific anxiety issue.


  • So, clearly, thinking positively can help work in those kinds of contexts.


  • But the fact that our brains can't tell this difference between what's real and what's imaginary is also why positive thinking can sometimes be a problem.


  • And let's start with the progress paradox.


  • The progress paradox is this idea that if we think about something, or explain it, or visualize the outcome enough, then we fool ourselves.


  • We trick ourselves into thinking that we've achieved the thing, even though we haven't necessarily taken any actual steps towards achieving the goal that we want.


  • For example, I'm in the middle of writing a book at the moment, and it's very easy for me to think that I'm being productive, that I'm actually making progress.


  • Uh, when I'm spending two hours doing mindless research, an hour browsing Twitter on the toilet looking for #writinginspo, and all of this feels like work, but it.... but it really doesn't translate to words on the page.


  • And therefore, I'm bs-ing myself into thinking that I'm being productive and making progress towards this thing, but actually, I'm just not making any progress at all.


  • And, so, the advice I'd give to myself is that I should, kind of, just stop thinking about making progress on the thing, and actually start to actually make progress on the thing.


  • And there's a similar story that Ryan Holiday talks about in his book "Ego is the Enemy".


  • And he writes about this guy called Upton Sinclair, who was running in the 1930s for governor of California.

    他寫道有個叫 Upton Sinclair 的人,在1930年時要競選加州的州長。

  • Now, just before he ran, this guy, Sinclair, wrote a whole book in the past tense about exactly what he accomplished when he became governor of California.

    在他競選以前,這位 Sinclair 寫了一本用過去式描述他任職加州州長時完成的成就。

  • And so, this is like positively visualizing the future to the extreme.


  • The guy's literally written a book, talking about this future where he has won this election and he's going to be the governor of California.


  • But after he published the book, he actually lost interest in running his election campaign, and, weirdly, ended up losing the actual election.


  • And the reason for that is probably that he ran out of steam because he visualized it so much; he thought about the future and then didn't actually do the work taken to get there.


  • So that's the progress paradox.


  • It's one reason why visualizing a positive outcome might be bad.


  • Let's talk about another one, and that's called the thirst effect.


  • There's another cool series of experiments, where they got a bunch of thirsty people in a room together, and they asked them to visualize what it was like drinking a glass of cold water.


  • And the researchers found that for the people who visualized drinking the drink, their energy levels and motivation to actually get a drink fell because they'd already visualized having this drink.


  • And obviously, they were still thirsty, like, physiologically, they were still thirsty, but psychologically, they'd sort of convinced themselves that they didn't need to drink water.


  • So, the positive feelings and positive thinking give us... gives us this kind of full sense of security, where we think that we're doing well and we're achieving stuff, but the reality is completely different.


  • But there's also research that shows that positive thinking can sometimes even make us feel worse.


  • And that is the ironic effect.


  • There's another study I found that looked at whether self-affirmations could be useful.


  • [inaudible] the phrase, "I am a lovable person."


  • Now self-affirmations is one of those classic things that's supposed to help us think positively and help us be happier.


  • But, weirdly, the researchers found that people who already had low levels of self-esteem, they felt even worse about themselves when they were doing this positive affirmation stuff like, "I'm a lovable person."


  • Now this is something that Harvard psychologist Daniel Wegner calls ironic effects.


  • It's similar to the idea that if you try not to think about a polar bear, you will end up just thinking about a polar bear.


  • Like, the study says that it can kind of be the same with positive thinking.


  • Like, if you're a person with low self-esteem anyway, and therefore you feel like you need these positive self-affirmations to help you feel better about yourself.


  • The fact that you're having to repeat this affirmation to yourself over and over again, ironically, means that you are conjuring up counterexamples as to why it's not true.


  • And ironically, making yourself feel worse.


  • I'll put a link to the study in the video description if anyone wants to check it out; it's kind of interesting.


  • But it just kind of goes to show that sometimes thinking positively is not as useful a thing as it can sometimes seem if we're not really examining the second-order effect of it.


  • I think the solution here is to actually reframe the way that we're thinking about negative thoughts and maybe even embracing negative visualization.


  • Right, it might seem counterintuitive, but thinking negatively about the future rather than positively might actually help us achieve our goals more easily.


  • And there's broadly two ways that we can do this.


  • There's number one, mental contrasting, and number two, defensive pessimism.


  • Method number one, mental contrasting.


  • If we visualisze a positive outcome that generally has a relaxing effect on the body, like, if you imagine yourself winning a thing, or like getting the girl or whatever,


  • it generally reduces our systolic bl... blood pressure, it makes us feel relaxed, it reduces our levels of anxiety.


  • And, so, if you're the sort of person who feels particularly anxious, then as the earliest study that we mentioned a while ago showed, positive thinking can help reduce that anxiety.


  • But the problem is that if you want to do something that requires taking action and, like, being a go-getter, then in a way, that slight sense of anxiety is quite useful as a thing that helps improve our performance.


  • And if you have reduced levels of anxiety, it might even decrease our performance.


  • I've certainly found this true in my life.


  • Like, in uh... in med school when I was preparing for exams on the exams where I was like, "Oh, I got this, it's gonna be a breeze," I ended up being quite complacent in the way that I was studying.


  • Whereas on the exams where I was like, "Okay, this is actually kind of hard."


  • I have, like, some, like, slight level of anxiety and stress around this exam that meant that I was putting in more effort into studying for them, which meant I ended up doing better.


  • Equally, these days when I run my course, the Part-time YouTube Academy, I always have this slight sense of anxiety of, a, what if no one signs up to it, and b, what if the course is bad?

    相同地,這幾天我在管理我 Part-time YouTube Academy的課程,我一直會保有這種輕微的焦慮感:A 萬一沒有人報名怎麼辦?B 萬一課程很爛怎麼辦?

  • And that means I put a huge amount of time and effort into marketing the course, and, like, spending tons and tons and tons of time, really refining the material and trying to make it as good as it can possibly be.


  • And I think if I didn't have that anxiety, if I... if I was a bit more complacent, if I was a little bit less anxious about the outcomes, then I would've put so much less effort into it.


  • And it wouldn't have been as good of course, as it is now, if I say so myself.


  • And so, if we wanna achieve our goals, whatever they are, but we don't wanna fall into this trap of positive thinking, there is this thing called the WOOP framework, which is kind of interesting.


  • And that stands for wish, outcome, obstacle, and plan.


  • And the idea here is that when we're planning a goal, we shouldn't just think about the wish and the outcome, like what we want to happen and, you know, what the desired outcome is gonna be, which is how we often think about goals.


  • But we should also think about what the obstacles are, that's the second "O", and the plan that we're gonna do to overcome those obstacles.


  • And the person who came up with this, this psychologist Gabriele Oettingen, says that this method of mental contrasting helps "circumvent the calming effects of dreaming and mobilized dreams as a tool for prompting directed action."


  • And that's from a book called "Rethinking Positive Thinking".


  • So, basically, it's fine to dream big and think positively, but we need to contrast that mentally with the obstacles and the plan to get around those obstacles.


  • Because whatever we do, we are gonna come across obstacles along the way.


  • And if we're just, like, single-mindedly focusing on positive thinking, we are deluding ourselves into thinking that the road is gonna be easier than it actually is.


  • This idea of negative visualization and mental contrasting is nothing new, really.


  • The Stoics, who I'm a big fan of, um, Ancient Greek school of philosophy, they called this "premeditatio malorum".


  • I always have to look that one up.


  • It's called a premeditating adversity.


  • And that basically encourages us to think about all the different ways in which something can go wrong.


  • And in the modern day, we call this defensive pessimism.


  • Now, in a couple of different studies, researchers found that by setting low expectations and envisioning worst-case scenarios, defensive pessimists optimize their performance on a variety of tasks from dots and maths problems to fulfilling real-life goals.


  • This approach might even work across our entire lifetime.


  • For example, there's this other really cool study that they did over 30 years on 10,000 Germans.


  • And they found that people who are older were more likely to underestimate their future life satisfaction.


  • Like, they were more pessimistic about how much fun they'd be having later on in life.


  • But those people who did that ended up living longer and having more positive health outcomes.


  • Obviously, this is correlation rather than causation, but it's kind of interesting how there is this effect of thinking slightly pessimistically about the future rather than optimistically about it.


  • And how that actually potentially translates to a real-world health outcome.


  • And so, negative visualization is great.


  • Like, I do this all the time, where I think, like, whenever I'm making decisions, I think, "Okay, what is the absolute worst-case scenario here? What are the things that could go wrong?"


  • Um, and a, usually I find out that those things aren't actually so bad, like, if I got rejected, or if I, like, you know, a thing, a YouTube video doesn't work out, or if someone leaves a negative comment, like, these things really aren't that bad.


  • But also, it means that once I've visualized the negative outcome, I can then take steps to try and mitigate the risks of that happening.


  • And there's this nice quote from the Stoics that says that we often suffer more in imagination than in reality.


  • And so, premeditating adversity, defensive pessimism, negative visualization, all of this is stuff that helps us recognize the suffering that we do in our imagination, and hopefully, it wouldn't translate into reality.


  • As you guys know, if you've been watching the channel for a while, I'm a huge fan of Stoicism; it is the school of philosophy that I'm most follow.


  • And it's what I generally attribute to my baseline, very high levels of happiness and tranquillity, and the fact that people say that I'm generally unflappable.


  • I mostly put it down to the fact that I've just been drinking the Stoicism Kool-Aid for, like, 10 years now.

    我大部分會歸功於我已經相信斯多葛主義的 Kool-Aid長達十年。

  • And if you're interested in learning more about Stoicism, you might like to check out my Skillshare class on how Stoicism has made me happier.

    如果你對我學習斯多葛主義感興趣,你可能會想去看看我在 Skillshare上的開課,裡頭有斯多葛主義讓我變快樂的課程。

  • That's a class that I've done jointly with my friend, Sam, who is a researcher and teacher in philosophy, and he does a lot of research into Stoicism.


  • And we talk about the real-world effects that Stoic philosophy has had on our lives and how it's made us happier.


  • If you wanna check that out, you can sign up to a free trial of Skillshare, who are very kindly sponsoring this video.

    如果你想去看看,你可以註冊免費的 Skillshare試用,也就是這部影片的贊助商。

  • Uh, there'll be links in the video description.


  • And if you're one of the first 1,000 people to hit the link in the video description, then you'll get a one-month free trial to Skillshare.

    如果你是前1,000位在影片描述欄點擊連結的人,那你就可以得到 Skillshare一個月的免費試用。

  • And during that month, you can watch my class on Stoicism.


  • You can also watch the other eight classes that I've got on Skillshare.

    你也可以看其他8門我在 Skillshare上的課程。

  • Three of them are themed around productivity.


  • Two of them are aimed specifically at students about how to study for exams most effectively.


  • We've got the Stoicism one, we've even got a class with my piano teacher where we're teaching the basics of jazz piano, so that... that's... that's kind of interesting.


  • But in particular, you should check out the Stoicism ones, and the productivity ones, and the studying-themed ones, if you're a student.


  • So, if you're one of the first 1,000 people to hit that link in the video description, you can sign up for a free trial of Skillshare.

    如果你是前1,000名點擊影片描述欄連結的觀眾其中之一,你可以註冊免費的 Skillshare試用。

  • And on Skillshare, there are thousands of other classes about a ton of other topics as well, but definitely check out my ones first.


  • So, thank you, Skillshare for sponsoring this video.


  • And if you wanna learn more about the Stoicism stuff, click this video over here, which is "10 Quotes from Stoicism".


  • Again, a video that me and my friend Sam did together, 10 quotes from stoicism and how they helped our lives.


  • Thank you so much for watching; do hit the subscribe button if you aren't already, and I'll see you in the next video. Bye-bye.


So I think we've probably taken positive thinking too far.


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過度正向思考使人更沮喪? 正面思考跟你想的不一樣! Why Positive Thinking is Bad for You

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    nao 發佈於 2022 年 01 月 20 日