The Power of Positive Thinking
In Norman Vincent Peale’s book, The Power of Positive Thinking, he says that we should do everything possible to push negative thoughts out of our mind and replace them with positive thoughts. He believes that positive thinking is the key to solving our many personal and professional problems. Such problems include a lack of energy, anxiety about the future, anger problems, addiction, and having problems making friends or keeping work. Pushing out our negative feelings and replacing them with positive ones is the key to solving all of those problems. Every chapter is filled with story after story of people that have used those methods to fix their problems.
If you’re wondering if the book is worth your time, consider this: Multi-billionaire and US President Donald Trump went to the church Peale ministered at. Peale was a famous minister in his time. His influence on Trump, and therefore the future of the US, is incalculable. What he taught continues to have real, lasting power. I look at results, and the results are clear: Listening to Peale is one method of becoming rich and powerful.
As you might expect from a Christian minister, he talks extensively about things like faith. Faith, or belief, is the core of his thesis. The first chapter is titled Believe in Yourself. Chapter eight is titled I Don’t Believe in Defeat. Belief, faith, is a key element of every bit of advice Peale gives. But, to the person that doesn’t believe in themselves or others, how do they learn to believe?
One of the main tools for developing belief is prayer or affirmations. Take some idea or ideal, write it down (if it isn’t already written down) and repeat it to yourself. For example, the first affirmation he mentions in the book is a quote from the Bible, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13) Many more passages are sprinkled around the rest of the book. Prayers are a form of, Peale writes, “sending out of vibrations from one person to another and to God.” He goes on to say,
All of the universe is in vibration…When you send out a prayer for another person…you transport from yourself to the other person a sense of love, helpfulness, support—a sympathetic, powerful understanding—and in this process you awaken vibrations in the universe.
Bible verses aren’t the only form of affirmation, however. He also advocates for personalized prayers. He often speaks of prayers in scientific terms, reflecting the rising popularity of turning everything scientific in his time, as he does when he describes the prayer “formula” he recommends. “The formula is”, he writes, “(1) PRAYERIZE, (2) PICTURIZE, (3) ACTUALIZE.” A friend of his, relating this formula to Peale, said that when he had a problem, “he talked it over with God very simply and directly in prayer”.
While reading TPPT, you see those elements of the formula come up in every chapter. In chapter 7, Expect the Best and Get It, he writes,
Learn to expect, not to doubt. In so doing you bring everything in to the realm of possibility… If you expect the best, you are given some strange kind of power to create conditions that produce the desired results.
In Christian terms, have faith.
He also writes,
Take the best into your mind and only that. Nurture it, concentrate on it, emphasize it, visualize it.
Once you have the best in mind and visualize it, Peale advocates that you act upon that visualization. Since actualizing requires a knowledge of the details of each problem, he has less to say on actualization. He occasionally gives handy lists of things to do during the prayer and visualization steps of his formula, such as at the end of chapter 9, How to Break the Worry Habit. Number six on that list: “Never participate in a worry conversation. Shoot an injection of faith into all your conversations.” And he does give actualization advice in a sense. In Chapter 16, Prescription for Heartache, one form of actualization he advises for overcoming heartache is physical activity. However, for the most part, Peale focuses on the first two steps of the above formula.
I found a lot of good advice in Peale’s book. In the following video, I will tell you the lessons that were most important to me. At the end, I tell you the next book I’ll be review.
By the way, Peale writes about a conversation he had with Thomas Edison’s wife! He knew Edison personally. It’s crazy to think that we are only a short time removed from that guy.