The precursor to The Secret, The Power of Positive Thinking has helped millions of men and women to achieve fulfillment in their lives. In this phenomenal bestseller, Dr. Peale demonstrates the power of faith in action. With the practical techniques outlined in this book, you can energize your life — and give yourself the initiative needed to carry out your ambitions and hopes.
For Peale, there was no greater source of personal power or guidance than the Bible. Biblical quotes are the mainstay of the book and perhaps because it is based on this timeless wisdom, it has amazing power. When statements such as the following are highlighted for us, it is difficult to argue with Peale’s conviction: ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:31) ‘If thou can believe, all things are possible.’ (Mark 9:23)
Peale said we do not have to depend on ourselves as there are incredible sources of power open to us if we only believe in their existence. We make life hard, but an appreciation of the universe’s ability to make good and provide would lead us to see life as flowing and abundant. To gain personal power and peace, we have to be willing to go beyond the personal to something greater than ourselves.
The book features cases and stories, filled with the struggle of humanity, to show defeat is not permanent. Some of the chapters are described below.
The knowledge that what one is doing is supported outside oneself and is serving a divine end, through attunement with the infinite, provides a constantly renewable source of energy. Working only for oneself leads to burnout. Prayer is a space to say whatever is on your mind, in whatever language you choose. Instead of asking for things, give thanks in advance for what you desire and visualise the good outcome. The Peale formula is: ‘Prayerise, picturise, actualise.’
We tend to expect the worst, but an expectation of the best has a way of organising forces in our favour. The subconscious, which regulates many of our actions, merely reflects our beliefs. Alter the belief about an outcome and our actions will seem to be shaped to achieve it. Peale’s phrase is: ‘Doubt closes the power flow, faith opens it.’
Use only positive and hopeful language for a 24-hour period. Then go back to being realistic the next day. Repeat this over a week and you find what you considered realistic a week ago now seems pessimistic. This new understanding of what is realistic moves up to a higher, permanently positive level.
Here are 3 lessons to help you think more positively:
Lesson 1: Believe in yourself and visualize your goals to see how small your problems are.
Yes, confidence is important, because if you feel inferior, you’ll act inferior. We know confidence alone doesn’t solve all problems. After all, it’s not the same as competence, and telling a kid who’s horrible at math that she’s great won’t make her study more for the next test.
However, the case for believing in yourself, that Peale makes, is one we’ve all experienced: the self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s a common idea from self-help books, too, Napoleon Hill already addressed it 80 years ago.
It is up to you to actively change your thoughts and believe that you can bring value wherever you go. Peale suggests an exercise to help you do that, which happens to be backed by science.
Visualize your goals and the positive outcomes you want. What should your life look like in 6 months? Which goals do you want to achieve? Then, contrast those by visualizing the problems and obstacles that you might face along the way.
This is called mental contrasting and has been proven to cause changes in behavior that last for weeks with as little as a few minutes worth of the exercise.
Lesson 2: Your attitude determines your entire life.
Your world, your reality, is only determined by what you think about everything you experience in life.
For example, if you leave your house tomorrow morning, and are almost hit by a car, which breaks at the last second, you can treat this as a bad sign and spend the rest of the day walking around afraid of anything and everything. Alternatively, you can take this experience as a wonderful gift, a miracle even, and live your life to the fullest, enjoying every single second of the day and being grateful.
Don’t choose negative thoughts, when you can choose positive ones. Ever.
Lesson 3: Imagine your life free of worry to become less concerned about the future.
Here’s a super meta hack for worrying less: Imagine yourself as a worry-free person in the future. Just imagining that it is possible for you to live without worry will take a lot of your current worries away.
Worry is a major source of stress, and thus often leads to heart disease, arthritis and other sicknesses which cause your life expectancy to go down. So it is in your best interest to eliminate it, wherever possible.
Close your eyes, look into the future, and imagine yourself a few months or years from now, living free from all the worries that currently plague you, and you’ll feel much better when you open your eyes again.
Peale calls this draining your mind and it’s especially helpful before going to sleep, because then positive thoughts will sink into your subconscious, instead of negative ones.
The book’s principles are easily moved from its original time and place and applied to life. It is refreshing because there are no gimmicky techniques. Expect to find only a bag of well-worn tools for chiselling away cynicism and hopelessness.
Although the book contains things like a ‘prayer for salesmen’, it is something more than a hotchpotch of Christian and capitalist morals. Consistent with most of the self-help classics, it says the highest morality is fulfilment of potential: to give up is to deny yourself all the spiritual and material rewards that are rightfully yours.