Stay positive! Visualize success! If you can believe it, you can achieve it! All of these are very nice sentiments; the only problem is the scientific evidence suggests they aren’t actually all that useful when it comes to achieving your goals. Instead, more than 20 years of research by New York University’s Gabriele Oettingen shows the counterintuitive benefits of a little negative thinking. Oftentimes pessimism is a better motivator for getting things done.
For more on that — including a trick Oettingen recommends instead of positive thinking — watch the latest episode of the Science of Us animated video series. You can also catch our previous episodes, including our last one, which is all about the science of spacing out and why a little mindlessness from time to time is a very good thing.