Unit One text 1
The holiday season poses a psychological conundrum. Its defining sentiment, of course, is joy — yet the effort to be joyous seems to make many of us miserable. Its hard to be happy in overcrowded airport lounges or while youre trying to stay civil for days on end with relatives who stretch your patience.
So to cope with the holidays, magazines and others are advising us to “think positive” — the same advice that Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking, was dispensing six decades ago. Variations of Peales positive philosophy run deep in American culture, not just in how we handle holidays and other social situations but in business, politics and beyond. Yet studies suggest that affirmations designed to lift the users mood through repetition and visualizing future success often achieve the opposite of their intended effect.
Fortunately, both ancient philosophy and contemporary psychology point to an alternative: a counterintuitive approach that might be termed “the negative path to happiness.” One pioneer of the “negative path” was psychotherapist Albert Ellis. He rediscovered a key insight of the Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome: that sometimes the best way to address an uncertain future is to focus not on the bestcase scenario but on the worst.
Just thinking in sober detail about worstcase scenarios can help to sap the future of its anxietyproducing power. The psychologist Julie Norem terms this strategy “defensive pessimism.” Positive thinking, by contrast, is the effort to convince yourself that things will turn out fine, which can reinforce the belief that it would be absolutely terrible if they didnt.
In American corporations, perhaps the most widely accepted doctrine of the "cult of positivity" is the importance of setting big goals for an organization. Behind our fixation on goals is a deep unease with feelings of uncertainty. Research by Saras Sarasvathy, an associate professor of business administration suggests that learning to accommodate feelings of uncertainty is not just the key to a more balanced life but often leads to prosperity as well. For one project, she interviewed 45 successful entrepreneurs. Almost none embraced the idea of writing comprehensive business plans or conducting extensive market research. They practiced instead “effectuation.” Rather than choosing a goal and then making a plan to achieve it, they took stock of the means and materials at their disposal, then imagined the possible ends. Effectuation also includes the “affordable loss principle.” Instead of focusing on the possibility of spectacular rewards from a venture, ask how great the loss would be if it failed. If the potential loss seems tolerable, take the next step.
The ultimate value of the “negative path” may not be its role in facilitating upbeat emotions or even success. It is simply realism. The future really is uncertain, after all, and things really do go wrong as well as right. We are too often motivated by a craving to put an end to the inevitable surprises in our lives.［490 words］
1. By talking about troubles of the holiday season, the author intends to .
［A］ exemplify the psychological dilemmas in daily life
［B］ illustrate the profound influence of Peales work
［C］ introduce the prevailing thinking mode of Amercians
［D］ show the necessity of advocating positive thinking
2. To which of the following proverbs would Albert Ellis agree?
［A］ We cannot predict the future, but we can invent it.
［B］ He that hopes no good fears no ill.
［C］ The pessimist borrows trouble; the optimist lends encouragement.
［D］ Selftrust is the first secret to success.
3. The experiences of 45 entrepreneurs are mentioned mainly to demonstrate .