Thoughts on Positive Thinking

by Melinda Young

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale – ahead of his time on the power of positivity

In the first issue of These Curious Times Newspaper,last month I posted a review of “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale, one of the first and most influential books on positive thinking ever written. Although many of the examples in the book are dated, it was informative and a great place to start when exploring the power of our thoughts and how those thoughts, positive or negative, shape our reality.

In his book, Dr. Peale gives a ton of instruction on changing thought patterns that inhibit the quality (and maybe even the quantity) of our lives. I chose one simple activity to put to the test. It seemed easy and a good place to start since in only involved seven days.

The instruction was to think positive thoughts and use positive words for one week. Dr. Peale recognized that negative thoughts would come up and suggested that every time you have a negative thought, stop and replace it with a positive thought or recall a positive experience in your life. I thought, “Challenge accepted, this will be a breeze!” After all, I did consider myself to be reasonably positive.

Here is how my experiment went…

I began this exercise on Monday morning. Mondays are a great time to begin, for me anyway! But alas, when Monday morning came I was already in a mood because our lovely little KitCat had kept me up the night before. She slept all day Sunday and decided Sunday night was her time to jump on furniture and knock things to the ground for sport and attention.

Tuesday is a better day to start anyway, right? 

Tuesday morning had a great start. I was up on time and thinking optimistically! At work, I had a negative thought but I turned it around just like the Dr. Peale instructed. Easy Peasy. Then another thought came up and I realized two things; I have a lot of negative ‘micro thoughts’.  These are the tiny passing wisps of thoughts and notions. This was going to be much harder than I realized. Still, I forged ahead.

Wednesday morning came and so did an itty bitty case of road rage on the way to work. Maybe I should start over. Maybe I should begin NEXT Monday. Maybe this exercise is not so simple.

I tried this exercise three times before I was able to think and speak positively for seven days straight. I actually decided on use the old rubber band trick.  I wore a rubber band on my wrist and snapped it when I had a negative thought or word. The irony of doing something negative, i.e. snapping a rubber band, in order to get a positive outcome did not escape me.

Studies show that our subconscious brains cannot process negative words so when we hear things like ‘don’t touch that’ our subconscious hears ‘touch that’. Of course, our conscious brain processes the statement, but the subconscious actually skips the negative word! Have you ever heard someone say, “I wish I was as fat as the first time I thought I was fat”? Did we think ourselves fat? Maybe. Our thoughts guide our lives and control our conscious thoughts, eventually; they begin to seep into our subconscious.

I learned a lot from this experience. I learned that I am much more negative than I had previously recognized. I began to see the negative talk in others more quickly, and instead of judging them and feeling superior, I felt a kinship, realizing that I am right there with them, the only difference was that stupid rubber band on my wrist reminding me to take a different path. 

The result of the week? It was positive! I mean of course it was; how could it not be? I felt better, my outlook was improved, I found myself thinking happy thoughts about the future, my family, and my job. I also found that when I was positive, it cleared the path for me to pray and listen to God. Thinking positively is not about being fake. Thinking positively can change your life. It is as simple, but not as easy, as that.

I am currently looking for my next book to read. Log in next month to find out which book I read, and how I put it to the test.

Oh! Be sure to check out the rest of the March 2020 issue:

Leave a Reply