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The Power of Positive Thinking (1952)

by Norman Vincent Peale

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2,350175,030 (3.94)23
Dr. Peale shares his formula for positive thinking and success.
  1. 10
    The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (djryan)
    djryan: Why this book is impossibly useless.
  2. 00
    A Guide to Rational Living by Albert Ellis (PlaidStallion)
    PlaidStallion: How can one fault him? He was married to Ruth Stafford Peale for 63 years until his death. But as Ellis states:

      Various answers to “rational living” have been given over the centuries by philosophers, religious leaders, psychologists, and other thinkers. Many of them take the form of “positive thinking” or “positive visualization”—as shown in the writings of Emile Coué,—Norman Vincent Peale, and a host of their followers. These kinds of Effective New Philosophies (Es) are partly on the right track—because they acknowledge that you, as a human, can harm yourself with negative thinking and can, instead, constructively choose—yes, choose—to help yourself with more positive thoughts. Thus, you can take the negative thought, “I can’t control my feelings and desires and am thoroughly at their mercy” and you can change it to the positive thought, “To a large extent I can control my feelings and desires and can change them so that I lead a happier existence.” You can take the negative thought, “Life sucks and will always be miserable,” and can change it to the positive thought, “Life sometimes sucks but can also be very enjoyable and I can definitely make it much more enjoyable.”

      Positive thinking, along with positive visualization, enables you to create rational coping self-statements and images that aid your goals and enhance your life. However, it is limited, and sometimes even dangerous, because you can easily use it unrealistically and pollyannaishly. Thus, you can positively tell yourself, “I can accomplish anything I want!” But, of course, you can’t. You can enthusiastically think, “Everything will happen for the best.” But, alas, it won’t.

      Positive thinking, moreover, often covers up and doesn’t really remove your underlying negative thinking. For example, you can tell yourself, “If I keep taking this course and doing my homework, I can—yes, I can!—pass the course.” This will help you much more than the negative thought, “I’m unable to pass this course. No matter what I do, I’ll fail it!” So, again, positive thinking is often more “rational” than negative thinking, and often brings you better results.

      However, most people who advocate positive thinking and positive visualization do not realize that it does not reveal or Dispute the important musts and shoulds that underlie your serious negative thinking. Thus, when you tell yourself, “I’m unable to pass this course. No matter what I do, I'll fail!” you first have a hidden demand, “I absolutely must pass this course and must show everyone what a great person I am. If I fail, it will be terrible and I will be worthless!”

      Largely because of this hidden demand—this must—you may put yourself down and falsely conclude, “I’m unable to pass this course. No matter what I do, I’ll fail!” Unless you clearly see and unless you forcefully Dispute your underlying musts, your positive thinking won’t work. Because while you keep telling yourself, “If I keep taking this course and doing my homework I can—yes, I can pass the course,” you will also keep having very negative thoughts. Such as: “But suppose I still fail—as I absolutely must not! What a horror! I’d be a total idiot!”

      So positive thinking often works well—but not well enough to get you to see your absolutistic musturbatory thinking and to give it up. Even when you do positive realistic thinking, you often still achieve light rather than profound rational thoughts, and they tend to bring you poor results. Thus, suppose you unrealistically believe, “If I fail at this job interview I’ll never be able to get a good job. I’ll always ruin my interviews and wind up as a dishwasher!” You can help yourself much more if you realistically tell yourself, “If I fail at this job interview, I can get a number of other interviews and still get a good job. In fact, if I learn from this failure, I can succeed better in future interviews and even get good at interviewing!”

      This realistic rational coping self-statement is fine. But, once again, it may cover up your underlying Irrational Belief, “I absolutely must pass this interview to show what a good person I am! I have to get and keep a fine job to prove to everyone how competent I am! Otherwise I'm nothing!” If you do have these basic musturbatory Beliefs, not even realistic rational coping statements will help you very much. You will not convince yourself that they are accurate and will still tend to make yourself anxious and depressed.
    … (more)
  3. 00
    On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt (PlaidStallion)
  4. 00
    Self-Help That Works: Resources to Improve Emotional Health and Strengthen Relationships by John C. Norcross (PlaidStallion)
    PlaidStallion: Bill Clinton said, ‘The name of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale will forever be associated with the woundrouosly American values of optimism and service.’

    Not Recommended. Rated one star. Read at your own risk.
  5. 00
    Fuck Feelings by Michael Bennett (djryan)
    djryan: Something more useful than a fake god.
  6. 00
    The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm (PlaidStallion)
    PlaidStallion: Although many readers felt that positive thinking improved their lives, from the book:

      Religion allies itself with auto-suggestion and psychotherapy to help man in his business activities. In the twenties one had not yet called upon God for purposes of “improving one's personality.” The best-seller in the year 1938, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, remained on a strictly secular level. What was the function of Carnegie's book at that time is the function of our greatest bestseller today, The Power of Positive Thinking by the Reverend N. V. Peale. In this religious book it is not even questioned whether our dominant concern with success is in itself in accordance with the spirit of monotheistic religion. On the contrary, this supreme aim is never doubted, but belief in God and prayer is recommended as a means to increase one's ability to be successful. Just as modern psychiatrists recommend happiness of the employee, in order to be more appealing to the customers, some ministers recommend love of God in order to be more successful. “Make God your partner”, means to make God a partner in business, rather than to become one with Him in love, justice and truth. Just as brotherly love has been replaced by impersonal fairness, God has been transformed into a remote General Director of Universe, Inc.; you know that he is there, he runs the show (although it would probably run without him too), you never see him, but you acknowledge his leadership while you are “doing your part.”
    … (more)

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» See also 23 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Novel, Fictional ( )
  alishkakhan | Oct 18, 2021 |
  hpryor | Aug 8, 2021 |
This is one of the best positive thinking books every. It takes a spiritual and very effective view of positive thinking. I first read it in the 4th grade in 1954. I've read a lot of other positive thinking books since, but none are better. ( )
  TheBigV | May 9, 2021 |
As the entire world grapples with Covid 19, and the United States seems to be falling apart with massive cultural conflict, it seems a good time to read an inspirational book.

"The Power of Positive Thinking" is not a trendy new manual of ideas on how to resolve the countries problems, but focuses on the individual’s ability to bring more joy to everyday life and create inner peace and serenity. Enjoy success, contentment, and happiness all through the old-fashioned proven method of having faith in God and faith in yourself.

Norman Vincent Peale’s concept is based on tapping your own inner resources. Beginning with a chapter on believing in yourself – followed by chapters on how to have constant energy, how to create happiness, how to overcome fuming, fretting, and constant worry, and how to solve problems. Each chapter gives examples of true stories: a business man who feels like a failure, a guy who can’t seem to make friends, a heavy drinker who sees no future for himself, a lonely older woman who feels worthless with no purpose in life… all found positive results and solace in the power of positive thinking. And each chapter ends with a small list of beneficial tips to help achieve the desired results.

Norman Vincent Peale was a respected minister for over thirty years, however when first published his book was controversial in psychiatric circles as many doctors claimed the suggestions Peale makes are dangerous and unrealistic. Peale’s response was that of course you can’t just wish and pray your way into success. He strongly believed in self-analysis, forgiveness, character development, and growth. The bottom line is if you think you can’t do something - you never will, and if you persevere and have determination and a good attitude, with the proper skills, planning, training, and dedication you can succeed.

It’s all about tapping your own “God given” inner powers. Of course, atheists may find the content of this book slightly preposterous.

On finding happiness Peale says “Keep your heart free of hate, your mind free of worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Fill your life with love. Scatter sunshine. Forget self, think of others. Do as you would be done by. Try this for a week and you will be surprised”. It reminds me of the saying “it is better to go through life as an optimist thinking your “glass is half full” than to go through life as a pessimist thinking your glass is half empty. I’m a half full kind of person, and I still found some useful tips in this book. Everyone can always use a little more love, and sunshine. ( )
  LadyLo | Aug 9, 2020 |
Writing: 5.0; Theme: 5.0; Content: 4.5; Language: 5.0; Overall: 4.0; I believe this is the first book by Dr. Peale that I have read. I love his writing style. He writes in a very conversational tone with interesting anecdotal stories throughout. He certainly shares a very positive message with many Bible verses (KJV). My biggest problem with Peale's writing is that he didn't take a strong stand for Jesus Christ being the only hope of salvation. He shares the message of Christ, but with a very watered-down concept. I have read in other places that while Dr. Peale believes that the individual's only hope in this life and the life to come is a relationship with Christ, he doesn't completely share that message in the writing in this tome. He also has stated that he believed that God wanted him to share a more positive message rather than one that stressed sin and hell. I don't believe you can fully share the message of Christ without dealing with sin, repentance, and faith in Christ alone. This I don't believe Dr. Peale accomplished. Recommend with the above caution. ***September 7, 2019*** ( )
  jntjesussaves | Sep 28, 2019 |
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To my brothers
Robert Clifford Peale, M.D.
The Reverend Leonard Delaney Peale
Effective Helpers of Mankind
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Dr. Peale shares his formula for positive thinking and success.

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