Focusing on positive fantasies now may bring depression later

Surprising new research suggests that indulging in upbeat fantasies may exacerbate symptoms of depression in the long run, even if it gives a boost to one’s mood in the here and now.

“It’s not that positive thinking is bad, or that negative thinking is good,” said Gabriele Oettingen, a psychology professor at New York University and one of the scientists behind the research. “The idea is that we need to use positive thinking and fantasies in a way that is appropriate for what we want to use it for.”

If your intent is to reach a goal that you associate with feeling happier or more fulfilled, Oettingen said, it’s important to leaven your positive fantasies with realistic thinking about obstacles that stand between you and that goal.

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