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This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you think you can influence your life outcomes with your thoughts? How can simply believing that what you want is possible help you make it so?

When you expect the best in life, you get the best. When you expect the worst, that’s what you get. When you change your mental habits to a state of constant belief instead of doubt, everything becomes possible. When you embrace the power of belief, things that seemed impossible before moving into the area of the possible.

Here is how a simple belief it’s possible can make it so.

Learning to Believe

The basic factor of succeeding in anything is learning to believe it’s possible. William James summed it up with this famous quote: “Our belief at the beginning of a doubtful undertaking is the one thing that insures a successful outcome.”

When you expect the best and believe it’s possible, the law of attraction is triggered and you are able to draw the best to you. But when you expect the worst, you’re actually releasing the power of repulsion—pushing away the best outcome. 

How to Get a Belief Mindset

The Bible teaches a spiritual power technique that allows faith to take hold, enabling us to expect the best and put our whole hearts into what we want to accomplish. The crux of the method is faith, illustrated by the verse mentioned above, Mark 9:23, which says “all things are possible to those that believe.”

This method involves reading the New Testament and noticing how many times faith is mentioned. Choose about a dozen strong statements about faith—whichever appeal most to you (and there are many). Memorize each of these faith statements, saying them over and over again, allowing them to sink into your subconscious mind. As suggestions, in addition to the Mark 9:23 verse, there is also Matthew 17:20: “If you have faith, nothing will be impossible to you,” and Matthew 9:29, “According to your faith, be it unto you.”

When you’ve embraced the power of belief, you’ll have a new capacity to get what you truly want from life. 

Give It All You’ve Got

When your heart isn’t in your endeavor, you are easily defeated. But faith power works because it allows you to put everything you’ve got into what you want to accomplish. When your heart is fired up, you are free from self-doubt. 

Faith and belief unleash the ability to go after your dreams wholeheartedly. Faith allows you to bring physical, emotional and spiritual resources to your endeavor, which is incredibly powerful. You’re able to throw everything you’ve got into what you’re trying to achieve. 

While instructing a fearful student about trapeze performance, a famous trapeze artist said to “throw your heart over the bar and your body will follow.” This symbolizes faith. When approaching a daunting challenge, you symbolically throw your faith, positivity, belief, and visualization “over the bar” and your physical self will follow. This is your mind expecting the best, and your heart achieving what it wants. 

Knowing What You Want

To achieve what you want in life, you have to clearly define your goal. Belief, faith, and expecting the best can only happen when you have a clearly defined objective. Too many people go nowhere because they just don’t know where they want to go. No objective means no end result. 

Nurture a Mindset of Expecting the Best

When you want to achieve “the best” outcome, it’s important to visualize specifically what that means. Nurture this idea, visualizing it, praying about it, and surrounding it with faith. The faith you nurture will give you the courage and character you need to achieve your goal. 

The Power of Faith

Faith power is dynamic, creative, and a tool for success. Having faith allows you to overcome any obstacle and achieve tremendous things. 

You develop faith power by reading the Bible and memorizing important passages such as the 11th chapter of Mark, which says, “Have faith in God. . .Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.” Throwing mountains into the sea represents casting aside your challenges, while not doubting in your heart means truly believing—having no deep, fundamental doubt in your subconscious.  

Absorbing such passages can actually change you, developing your faith power, and turning you into someone for whom great things happen.

Specificity is important in faith power; great things don’t happen for some people because they’re not being specific enough. For example, in the passage above, note that it says “anyone says to this mountain—a specific mountain, or challenge to overcome. This means don’t apply your faith power to the whole mountain range—all of your problems—but rather attack the one thing that is holding you back in the moment. 

When you want something, first ask yourself if you truly should want it. Be honest. If the answer is still yes, ask God for it with no doubt and with specificity. 

Don’t allow doubt to creep in when you’re asking God for something; doubt closes the flow of power, while faith opens it. To boost your faith power, tell yourself every day that God gives you the power to achieve what you want. Never mention or even think about a poor outcome. Rather, repeat many times daily that you expect the best and God can help you get it. This conditions your thoughts toward the best outcomes and will guide the best to you.

The Power of Belief: Dreams Start at the End of Doubt

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Power of Positive Thinking summary:

  • That there is no problem or obstacle you can’t overcome with faith, positive thinking, and prayer
  • The practical techniques of applied Christianity
  • How to take control of the events in your life rather than be directed by them

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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