Text -- 304-412-4065 Danny@DannyPettry.com

canstockphoto38610867A review of Gabriele Oettingen’s (2014) book, Rethinking positive thinking: inside the new science of motivation.

I often read books based on author reviews on the back of a book.

Two of my favorite authors, Carol S. Dweck, author of Mindset; and Angela Duckworth, author of Grit, had both provided reviews of Gabriele Oettingen’s book.

Here are some concepts that I enjoyed from Oettingen’s book:

  • Martin E. P. Seligman was the founder of positive psychology movement.
    • Danny P. comments: I think we, recreational therapists are applied positive psychologists.


  • Over 50% of new business fail in first five years.
    • Danny P. comments: My company, DannyPettry.com (Rec Therapy CEUs) is 10 years old!


  • Masolow’s hierarchy of needs was discussed in the book.  Oettingen points out that one level of need that all people have is “identifying with meaning or purpose in life.”
    • Danny P. comments: This reminds me a lot of existential psychology (finding meaning in life) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) creating meaning in life.


  • Positive wishes does not mean behavior changes occur. It also requires effort and work.
    • Danny P. comments: This reminds of me the documentary, The Secret, about the law of attraction. The secret focused on attracting good things through thoughts. I’d like to argue that the secret needed to go one step more and remind people to take initiative to make things happen.


  • Relaxation: imagining positive fantasies is a good way to relax. However, being relaxed is not the mood needed to achieve results.  The author points out research in 1990 that shows positive fantasies were not shown to bring out achieved results.
    • Danny P. comments: Effort is needed to make a result.


  • Expectations are important. Those who had high expectations of achieved outcomes were more likely to increase effort and the achieved success with wish. People with low expectations that wish would come to fruition were less likely to engage effort.
    • Danny P. comments: Realistic outcomes are important.


  • Mental contrasting: consists of a.) Dreaming/ wishing; and b.) Identifying obstacles/ barriers.
    • Danny P. comments: It helps a person to have a realistic idea on what behavior is needed to make the dream a reality.


  • Standardized testing:  there really isn’t a test for creativity. There are tests like IQ tests, and SAT, and ACT.
    • Danny P. comments: Problem-solving requires creative thinking.


  • Research on mental contrasting:  Creative potential scale (CPS). Mental contrasting was shown to be effective.
    • Danny P. comments: Simply providing positive feedback alone is not enough. The most effective, the mental contracting.


  • WOOP intervention consists of:
    • Wish (W)
    • Outcome (best possible you’d hope for)
    • Obstacle: something that could prevent it from happening
    • Plan: Action steps to get over the obstacle
    • If ___ then I’ll ______

Danny P. comments: the author’s WOOP intervention appears to be helpful.


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