Sunday, November 9, 2014

U of M Expectations

A previous post covered the power of positive thinking as related to Michigan’s historic 1969 win over the Buckeyes. For me, positive thinking, has to do with one’s level of aspiration based upon previous experiences. It’s not just a wish or a fantasy that’s going to make it happen, it relates to goals, achievements and failures over a period of time.

To contrast, there was a recent article in the New York Times, October 26, 2014 that dealt with positive thinking. This University professor challenged the notion that the key to success is to cultivate and maintain an optimistic outlook. And she went on to suggest that affirmations or eliminating self-talk might not be enough.

Professor Oettingen conducted a study that was related to weight reduction. Briefly, the women in the study were involved in several short open-ended scenarios about future events. Simply put, the researchers asked these women to imagine how they would fare in each scenario. Some of the women were asked to imagine that they successfully completed a weight loss program; others asked to imagine situations in which they were tempted to cheat on their diets. Afterwards, these women were asked to rate how positive or negative their thinking, thoughts and images were. The results were that the more positively women had imagined themselves in their scenario, the fewer pounds that they lost.

Additional research by the professor centered around various kinds of wishes, such as wanting a date, hip replacement for patients hoping to get back on their feet, graduate students looking for a job, etc. Once again, fantasizing about happy outcomes, dreaming about them or just wishing didn’t affect the outcome. And, this positive thinking seemed to hinder people from realizing their dreams. This professor believes that positive thinking and/or fantasizing just fools our minds into perceiving that we’ve already attained the goal, and that slackens or reduces our energy to pursue it.

So, the Wolverines in 1969 just didn’t have positive fantasies about that game. The nine games proceeding this big one, which included mental and physical conditioning, practice, practice, practice, along with real game experience resulted in a series of self-appraisals related to aspirations based on real life events-behavior. So I agree, just fantasizing about an event doesn’t make it happen. The event has to be an important goal, which means that there’s plenty of hard, difficult work involved to attain it. Each success or failure, generally can raise or lower ones expectancy.  Simply put, these Wolverines had a series of positive practice and game day experiences. And as a consequence, their level of aspiration or expectancy was raised, so they believed they were invincible. This team had numerous positive reinforcements coupled with coach Schembechler putting them in a favorable position to win that game. Just ask these players about “the game.” And that victory helped to bond the players for life.

Check your thoughts and wishes and see if they are in any way related to your goals. Thoughts and behavior need to be in concert. Are yours?

Go Blue!

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