This morning I friend sent me a copy of an NPR lecture with Yale’s Laurie Santos (Psychology of Happiness ) and Gabriele Oettingen, a social scientist from NYU. Gabrielle runs a research lab that looks at motivation and how people respond. Her book Rethinking Positive Thinking Inside the New Science of Motivation is a NY Times best seller.

Gabrielle likes to talk, think and do research about how folks are able to have a positive outcome in their life. In that way she is very much like all of us who are behavioral health care experts out there. We try and teach our clients that they can achieve success and that the world is and can be a place of joy, affirmation and moving forward. We have so many different evidenced based strategies that we might rely on from MI, SFT, ACT etc it is good to see what Oettingen has to offer.

Oettingen pus a new spin on the process .She suggests based on research from the NYU Motivation lab to do the following:

  1. First think about a wish you have and the positive outcomes
  2. Think about what the Obstacles are that stand in your way (real or imagined)-
  3. Do you have the time and the bandwidth available to work on the project.
  4. Do you have the skills necessary?
  5. What is good or not so good about your plan?
  6. How do you go about executing your plan?
  7. What steps do you have to take
  8. Use your WOOP

WOOP- Wish-Outcome-Obstacles -Plan

Oettingen suggest that she is looking at the self-regulatory skills people use to turn their positive fantasies about the future into binding goals and likewise what self-regulatory strategies can people use to disengage from these goals. Not all goals are necessarily good or attainable like staying in a damaged relationship or from an unattainable professional identity. In this schema people are taught to contract the desired future with present reality. If chances of success are perceived as low then one can begin to disengage, if chances are perceived as high and back by reality than they can successfully plan.

The research question is: can indulging in a positive future have beneficial effects of motivation and well- being? As a clinician and social scientist, I know that when we choose positivity backed by reality and action steps we stand a much better chance of success then failure. I have seen this time and time again with clients, family and friends

Just stop for a moment and hit pause:

  1. What do you want more of in your life to- day ?
  2. Have you put your intention out there?
  3. What motivating tools do you use? As for myself I have been working on creating abundance in every aspect of my life, physically mentally, spiritually and consistent with my values.
  4. What action steps are you taking?
  5. What skills do you need to have or learn to actualize your goals?

Lately, I have been beginning my day with meditation (Deprak Chopras 21 Days of Abundance). However, if I just did that ,I like so many of our clients would go no where. I have to section off and choose what part of my life I will work on. What are the steps I must take? What do I need to learn? Who will support me long the way. Then each day, I must work on that intention .

In like manner if I discover if I am in a relationship which is unhealthy i.e. non reciprocal relationship Then I must think about how to disengage or reframe relationships . I have found this process to be extremely helpful to do.

Additionally as a clinician/interventionist I am always helping folks disengage and reframe relationships with loved ones who are experiencing a substance use, process or mental health disorder, are narcissistic or are just down right at times disingenuous.

We all have been in relationships with a friend which went south and we wonder what happen. We all have had to disengage perhaps grieve these relationships and find new ways of being present with others.

Using WOOP and taking a look at what we do and how we do that may just be another way to help our clients. So if you teach WOOP let me know.