The Power Of Negative Thinking

Episodes

TitleFirst
Broadcast
Comments
Abandon Hope20161122

Abandon Hope20161122

Jim Trodden has recently retired, after decades as a safety supervisor on North Sea oil rigs. In this harshest of workplace environments, merely hoping for good outcomes, or remaining positive, was inherently to invite disaster. Instead, Jim describes his dominant offshore mindset as one of 'chronic unease'. Constantly and vividly envisaging the worst possible outcome of every scenario was a key tool in helping to prevent disaster and - potentially - saving thousands of lives. It's just one example of deploying "Negative Visualisation" - a technique extolled in Sun Tzu's Art of War and by philosophers in Seneca's Stoic tradition, and grasped instinctively by generations of military leaders from Alexander the Great to Winston Churchill. In part 2 of Oliver Burkeman's series The Power of Negative Thinking, the psychology writer finds it can also be applied in modern contexts, and in all our lives.

Abandon Hope20161122

Jim Trodden has recently retired, after decades as a safety supervisor on North Sea oil rigs. In this harshest of workplace environments, merely hoping for good outcomes, or remaining positive, was inherently to invite disaster. Instead, Jim describes his dominant offshore mindset as one of 'chronic unease'. Constantly and vividly envisaging the worst possible outcome of every scenario was a key tool in helping to prevent disaster and - potentially - saving thousands of lives. It's just one example of deploying "Negative Visualisation" - a technique extolled in Sun Tzu's Art of War and by philosophers in Seneca's Stoic tradition, and grasped instinctively by generations of military leaders from Alexander the Great to Winston Churchill. In part 2 of Oliver Burkeman's series The Power of Negative Thinking, the psychology writer finds it can also be applied in modern contexts, and in all our lives.

Death Can Make You Happy20161125

In the final episode of Oliver Burkeman's series The Power of Negative Thinking, it is finally time to confront what many of us see as the most negative of all experiences: death. Could there really be a path to happiness through thinking more about our own, and our loved ones', mortality? Oliver will speak to a death 'doula', and ask what lessons we can learn about living from those who are near-to-death. He'll also explore the modern-day rediscovery of "memento mori", constant reminders of death in daily life. In deliberately confronting death, can life take on a new and vivid sense of meaning?

Death Can Make You Happy20161125

In the final episode of Oliver Burkeman's series The Power of Negative Thinking, it is finally time to confront what many of us see as the most negative of all experiences: death. Could there really be a path to happiness through thinking more about our own, and our loved ones', mortality? Oliver will speak to a death 'doula', and ask what lessons we can learn about living from those who are near-to-death. He'll also explore the modern-day rediscovery of "memento mori", constant reminders of death in daily life. In deliberately confronting death, can life take on a new and vivid sense of meaning?

Send In The Fungineers!20161124

"Are we having fun yet?!" There is a growing trend for companies, particularly in fields of technology and new media, to employ happiness engineers or - in at least one case - 'fabulous facilitators' to boost morale among the workforce. Oliver Burkeman, psychology writer and proud curmudgeon, is a firm believer that forced fun is no fun. He is appalled and perplexed by the idea that happiness should be prescribed - even enforced - in our workplaces. In episode 4 of The Power of Negative Thinking, Oliver explores a phenomenon that has come to be called 'fungineering'. He meets a 'Head of Happiness', and asks what really motivates employees and makes them happy.

The Backfire Effect20161121

The Backfire Effect20161121

To achieve any major life goal, conventional wisdom tells us we must think positively. Picture yourself delivering the perfect presentation and it shall be so; envisage the ideal job interview and it will go well; imagine yourself sprinting first across the finish line and you will romp home as champion. While these strategies sound compelling, they have been shown to backfire. In the first of 5 programmes on The Power of Negative Thinking, psychology writer and proud curmudgeon Oliver Burkeman explores the positivity 'backfire effect', and finds that people are often more successful - as are organisations, armies and governments - when they focus on reasons they are likely to fail.

The Backfire Effect20161121

To achieve any major life goal, conventional wisdom tells us we must think positively. Picture yourself delivering the perfect presentation and it shall be so; envisage the ideal job interview and it will go well; imagine yourself sprinting first across the finish line and you will romp home as champion. While these strategies sound compelling, they have been shown to backfire. In the first of 5 programmes on The Power of Negative Thinking, psychology writer and proud curmudgeon Oliver Burkeman explores the positivity 'backfire effect', and finds that people are often more successful - as are organisations, armies and governments - when they focus on reasons they are likely to fail.

The Lottery Winner and the Paraplegic20161123

The Lottery Winner and the Paraplegic20161123

In episode 3 of Oliver Burkeman's series The Power of Negative Thinking, the psychology writer asks where happiness comes from, and whether we look for it in the wrong places. We hear from someone who won over £13 million on the Euromillions lottery, as well as someone who will live the rest of her life as a wheelchair-user after a serious illness affected her spine. In each case, are they happier or unhappier than before the incident that changed their lives? According to psychology studies, the answer is neither. Even the most life-changing events, after an initial adjustment period, have little impact on our overall happiness levels. Understanding this may calm our pursuit for the presumed external trappings of happiness. By the same token, can it help us to stop neurotically avoiding, or being terrorised by, sad or negative experiences?

The Lottery Winner and the Paraplegic20161123

In episode 3 of Oliver Burkeman's series The Power of Negative Thinking, the psychology writer asks where happiness comes from, and whether we look for it in the wrong places. We hear from someone who won over £13 million on the Euromillions lottery, as well as someone who will live the rest of her life as a wheelchair-user after a serious illness affected her spine. In each case, are they happier or unhappier than before the incident that changed their lives? According to psychology studies, the answer is neither. Even the most life-changing events, after an initial adjustment period, have little impact on our overall happiness levels. Understanding this may calm our pursuit for the presumed external trappings of happiness. By the same token, can it help us to stop neurotically avoiding, or being terrorised by, sad or negative experiences?