The Power of Positive Thoughts: Believe  and Succeed

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 believe that you can manifest reality with your thoughts? How do thoughts influence one’s personality and life experiences?

Your thoughts are powerful—they dictate the type of life you lead, the kind of person you are, and the experiences you have. Your thoughts can create or change the conditions around you. You can think yourself into or out of a situation.

Here is how you can embrace the power of positive thoughts to change yourself and your life for the better.

The Power of Thoughts

Great thinkers like Ralph Waldo Emerson realized the power of positive thoughts. Emerson once said, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.” Similarly, Marcus Aurelius said, “A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it.”

Positive thoughts create positive outcomes; negative thoughts lead to negative outcomes. Thoughts can contribute to illness or health. If you’re unhappy with your current circumstances, you can remake your life by getting rid of your old, negative thoughts and filling your mind with new thoughts that reflect faith, creativity, love and goodness.

Your thoughts can drive you to failure and unhappiness, but you can also think your way to success and happiness. 

Believe and Succeed

When you start thinking differently, the conditions around you will change. To do this, form a positive mental picture of how things should be—don’t just accept the way things are.

Hold that mental picture and believe it deeply; pray about it and do what you can to make it a reality. This process will help unleash creative thinking, helping you manifest this mental picture. Peale calls this ability to actualize your mental image one of the “greatest laws in the universe.” It is the key to prosperity, happiness and success.

7 Steps to Change Your Thoughts

These practical techniques will help you change your mental attitude from negative to positive, releasing creative new thoughts that will help you actualize what you visualize.

  1. Try optimism for 24 hours. During this time, speak optimistically about all aspects of your life, health and future. 
  2. After speaking optimistically for 24 hours, try next for one week. Then give yourself a day or two off to be “realistic.” You may see that what you used to think of as realistic thinking is actually pessimistic thinking.
  3. Feed your mind positive thoughts. Peale recommends the beginning of the New Testament. He advises marking up your Bible with all the passages about faith you find. This will help an understanding of faith sink deeply into your mind.
  4. Memorize these faith passages, one by one, until you know them all by heart. Though this will take time, think of how much time you’ve spent becoming a negative thinker. 
  5. Think of your friends. Who are positive thinkers and who are negative thinkers? Stay closer to the positive thinkers for a while, then go back to the negative friends; you’ll be able to share your positivism without absorbing their negativism.
  6. When faced with another’s negative attitude, respond with positivity and optimism. 
  7. Say prayers of thanks for all the wonderful things God is giving you. The idea is that God wants to give you great blessings, but he can’t give you anything greater than what you can believe in. So believe big.
The Power of Positive Thoughts: Believe and Succeed

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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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