Summary of Rethinking Positive Thinking

Inside the New Science of Motivation

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Rethinking Positive Thinking book summary
Apply “WOOP”– “Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan”– to make your dreams a reality.


8 Overall

9 Applicability

7 Innovation

7 Style


Psychology professor Gabriele Oettingen offers an antidote to common beliefs about positive thinking, goals, desires and the human mind. Some of the information she shares will be familiar to those who read actively in these fields, but much of it will be new, especially to the average reader. For that reader, though, this could have been a bit shorter, perhaps by tightening the accounts of the discovery process. (Given that, busy readers might want to focus first on Chapter 6.) Oettingen walks you through the “Wish-Outcome-Obstacle-Plan” (or WOOP) process as a path to logical reasoning free of over-optimism. Her exploration will help you approach life more realistically and get out of your own way. getAbstract recommends her research on positivity to anyone who’s trying to reach a goal and everyone interested in the workings of the human mind.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What problems positive thinking can cause
  • What the alternatives to positive thinking offer
  • What methods you can use to work toward goals more realistically


The “Cult of Optimism”
Books like The Secret and contestants’ attitudes on reality competition shows like American Idol reflect a common worldview – that imagining your “deepest wishes” makes them more likely to come true. This reflects a larger cult of optimism pervading...
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About the Author

Gabriele Oettingen is a professor of psychology at New York University and the University of Hamburg. She has published more than 100 articles or chapters on the effects of future thought.

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