in Cognitive Wisdom, Prism of Life

If you ever gone through a rough patch in your professional or personal life and happened to search the existing self help space for any practical solution, you are most likely to stumble upon the omnipresent advice of looking at the positive side of your current situation.

Quite a vast landscape of self help space is often found dispensing the advice of positive thinking. The efficacy of which is debatable to say the least.

In fact, a person with low self-esteem is highly unlikely to become a confident person simply by faking the so called behavioural nuances of a confident person.

Since they didn’t feel particularly confident to begin with, in their honest effort to convince themselves otherwise merely reaffirmed their negativity. In short, “positive thinking” made them feel worse and less happy in the process.

A set of thoughts which are in direct dissonance with your own behavioural pattern will struggle to leave an imprint on your psychology.

The inherent flaw of positive thinking is captured best by one of the character in an Edith Wharton story, “There are lots of ways of being miserable, but there’s only one way of being comfortable, and that is to stop running after happiness.”

Our insatiable urge to find perfection in every day life is one of the major cause of our general unsatisfaction.

Denying failure doesn’t mean that it does not exist. Similarly denial of obstacles and concomitant failure is never gonna help you and prepare you for unforeseen challenges.

Avoidance of impending obstacles is hardly the answer.

The sooner you come to terms with your own set of vulnerabilities and imperfections you are ready to accept failures as a part of growing process. You got to believe that nothing is going to keep you down and out for long.

Your tireless effort to dot every “i” and cross every “t” in life often results into unmanageable stress in life.

In fact mindless pursuit of positive fantasising actually tends to relax people and obstructs them from realising their own cherished dreams.

But if positive thinking is not the best solution then what’s the alternative?

Gabrielle Oettingen and Peter Gollwitzer, experts on the psychology of motivation at New York University, discovered that people are far more likely to achieve their goals if they think hard about both the outcome they want and the obstacles they are facing and plan for both.

Goals without plans and plans without schedule is nothing but a hopelessly unrealistic dream.

Plans and schedules have potential to transform a seemingly unrealistic dream into realistic milestones.

Therefore an approach to goal setting that contrasts the ideal outcome with the reality of the obstacles results in a more robust and successful plan of action–known as mental contrasting.

Why does mental contrasting work so well?

The mental contrasting allows people to direct more energy towards goals they had a chance of achieving.

It enhances our awareness of obstacles in our path. It also strengthens cognitive links between the future and obstacles, as well as between obstacles and what we need to do to overcome them.

All of this primes us to tackle obstacles that seem possible to overcome, and to shrink away from obstacles that we believe are insurmountable.

People with realistic goals invariably apply more effort and perform better, and people with unrealistic goals often tend to leave midway.

The path of least resistance is rarely the preferred choice for achievers. Invariably all breeds of achievers train themselves to face the worst fear without being intimidated by them.

As a result, they are ever ready to adapt their strategies accordingly and tend to thrive under all sorts of challenging circumstances.

“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”

Our cognitive association between the future possibilities and possible impediments prove to be a major factor in deciding–how long we will pursue a seemingly challenging task and to what extent we are willing to stretch ourselves to find a solution.

And a lot of it depends on how you treat your mind and feelings.

Have you seen the sky clinging on to a specific weather condition or trying to get rid of the bad ones?

Human mind is lot like a screen on which our feelings get projected but the screen never gets confused about its own identity by the content of the things that get projected on it.

However we all are committing the mistake of identifying ourselves with emotions that get often projected through diverse set of experiences.

We often let those emotional experiences shape the contours of our identity; which is definitely not a wise decision on our part.

Your current feeling shouldn’t be an obstacle in executing your daily plan of action. Making it a hostage to your ever mutable feeling is not the wisest of decisions. Your feelings are just part of your inner expression. Accept it and let it be.

Your mind can coexist with diversity of your feelings without being affected by it. Just give it a try.

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