The Downside of Positive Thinking

by | Jan 29, 2024

Positive thinking often backfires when it’s used as a strategy to achieve success.

For example, one study demonstrated how positive thinking led post-college job seekers to fewer job interviews, less job offers, and lower salaries.

In another study, students who fantasized were less likely to ask their romantic crushes on a date and more likely to struggle academically.

In a third study, hip-surgery patients recovered more slowly when they dwelled on positive thoughts of walking without pain.

What gives? Why is positive thinking often connected with negative results?

More study may need to be done on this topic, but the two most common hypotheses on why this happens are:

Less Preparation. Ceaseless optimism about the future only makes for a greater shock when things go wrong.

By fighting to maintain only positive beliefs about the future, the positive thinker ends up being less prepared, and more acutely distressed.

False Feeling of Working Towards Goals. Positive fantasies hamper progress and dull the will to succeed.

Imagining a positive outcome just conveys the sense that you’re approaching your goals, which takes the edge off the need to achieve.

So, now that everyone is depressed, what does work?

Some of the more traditional ideas like hard work, tenacity, and a focus on doing whatever it takes to accomplish the goal.

This is what most researchers call grit, and it’s a framework that reliably leads to better results.

PS.  We’re almost done with January.  Have you established a grit-filled recruiting routine that’s starting to produce tangible results?  If not, schedule a free consult with one of our coaches, and we’ll help turn things around.


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