December 2, 2008

How good does it get?

Here is a new article based on some earlier posts on this site: How good does it get?

Positive thinking seems to be back in style. Positive psychology, appreciative inquiry, solution-focused change, and positive deviance are some popular positive change approaches. These approaches tend to focus on resources and virtues that enable individuals and organizations to flourish. Positive change approaches hold a great promise. Maybe they can help us to improve our lives, our organizations and hopefully even our world. But just how positive can we expect life to become? This may be an important question. If our expectations are too low, they can make us passive and thus prevent us from improving our circumstances. In these cases our expectations have become self-fulfilling. High expectations may be self-fulfilling too, up to a point. If they are unrealistically high, they can turn into a recipe for disillusion and frustration. Expectations play an important and sometimes paradoxical role. An example is a party. Sometimes you go a party with low expectations and you are pleasantly surprised by how much fun it turns out to be. At other times your expectations are high -this is going to be so much fun! - and it turns out rather disappointing. In these cases the contrast between what we expect and what we find seems to impact our feelings and behaviors dramatically. So, what is wise to expect about life? How good can life actually get? Is a problem-free life within our reach? Can we ever approach a total peace of mind, free of worries and fears? Can we always be feeling good about ourselves and our accomplishments and live in peace with our fellow human beings? Or is it wise to lower our expectations drastically and expect life to be one damn thing after another? Or is there a middle way? When is life good enough? Read on.

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