A recent New York Times opinion piece suggests that positive thinking may not be the cure-all that many of its proponents say it is. As we have reported before, this isnít the first time that the possible negative consequences of positive thinking have been exposed. The author of the article performed a number of studies focused on results obtained by observing practitioners of positive thinking and found that in some cases, positive thinking may actually hinder people from realizing their goals.

One result found was that dreaming about a positive outcome can produce a calm demeanor and lower stress, but it can also keep you from actually doing what is needed to realize the dream. One study cited in this article showed that students who positively fantasized about an upcoming study week felt less energized than those in a control group and ended up accomplishing less during the week.

Several other studies seem to corroborate these results, ranging from weight loss programs to dating to job searching. In each study the results showed that simply fantasizing about a positive outcome did not culminate in the desired outcome and in fact usually resulted in a less satisfying outcome than a control group.

So should we instead focus on the negative and only consider the challenges and obstacles we face? That is not the solution, according to the author. In fact, we should take a more holistic approach that combines positive thinking with a realistic assessment of the task at hand. This type of mental contrasting has proven to drive better overall results.