1-Sentence-Summary: The Power Of Positive Thinking will show you that the roots of success lie in the mind and teach you how to believe in yourself, break the habit of worrying, and take control of your life by taking control of your thoughts and changing your attitude.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Listen to the audio preview:
Norman Vincent Peale was an American minister and author and one of the world’s most widely recognized motivational speakers in the 20th century. His most popular book, The Power Of Positive Thinking, has sold over 5 million copies worldwide and takes a Christian perspective and real-world approach to positive psychology.
Since Peale wasn’t a scientist, many mental experts disregarded the ideas from his book, and it received a lot of both favorable and highly critical feedback. However, it’s hard to deny the real-world impact his ideas have had, he himself being living proof that they work – after a long and by any measures successful life, he died at age 95 on Christmas Eve in 1993.
It’s not every day that you get to learn from someone who’s received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, so let’s not waste time, shall we?
Here are 3 lessons to help you think more positively:
- Start with confidence and watch your problems shrink.
- Your world is nothing more than the thoughts you have about your experiences.
- In order to live worry-free, first imagine a worry-free life.
Let’s pump up the positive jam!
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.
When you start a new job and go in on the first day, thinking no one will like you, that you’ll probably screw up and not fit in well, well guess what, you’ll behave in a way that makes sure it comes true! Even worse, when you then get the feedback that “you were right” this drives even more negative thoughts, thus starting a vicious cycle.
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.
This quote really struck me:
Your world is nothing more than the thoughts you have about your experiences.
Of course all the problems in your life are real. And yes, some of them might take a few years to solve, like debt, or a serious illness. But how you react to those problems is entirely up to you. You might not be able to solve those problems at the push of a button, but your attitude is something you can change from one second to the next.
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.
My personal take-aways
I’m a huge sucker for positive psychology. It’s easy for me to get carried away with it, and I’ve spent many years just sitting around, being a massive optimist, but not doing anything to get to where I wanted to be. Eventually, I’ve gotten my own personal reality check and now I know it takes more than a bunch of happy thoughts to make stuff happen.
However, that hasn’t shifted my believe that positive thinking works even an inch. I believe a positive attitude is at the root of every successful person, however you may define that.
This book is a classic, and the blinks do a great job at summarizing the most important point. I think I’ll stick with them for now, though I have to say I’m curious about some of the examples of people who successfully applied the tactics, which are detailed in the book.
What else can you learn from the blinks?
- How you can get others to care about you, by caring about them
- Why you’re not a special snowflake (and how that’ll help you ease the burden of your own problems)
- What you can learn from children “the experts of happiness”
- Why you should focus on the upsides of being stuck in a bad situation
- How the bible can help you solve your problems, and which criteria must be fulfilled for that
- Why it’s important to have faith, no matter what you believe in
Who would I recommend The Power Of Positive Thinking summary to?
The 31 year old worrier, who sighs at every potential obstacle, the 57 year old high performer, who often goes to bed thinking about next day’s problems, and anyone who’s a pessimist.