Optimism: Steps to Live a Better Life

More than 50 years ago, a little book called The Power of Positive Thinking took the world by storm. Written by a minister, Dr. Normal Vincent Peale, the book was a remarkable mix of natural psychological insight and faith-based principles applied to everyday problems of living.

The publishers are re-releasing the book, and it crossed my desk the other day. I was astonished when I looked it over. There is a tremendous amount of wisdom in it.

I thought I'd pass along some of the best advice in the book, because it's worth using. It has a very timeless quality to it, and it does have the power to be highly motivating.

The most important principle is to believe in yourself. The secret, said Dr. Peale 50 years ago, and he might just as well have said it yesterday, is to "fill your mind with thoughts of faith, confidence and security. This will force out or expel all thoughts of doubt, all lack of confidence."

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"Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers, you cannot be successful or happy," Dr. Peale wisely observed. Here is how he suggested you build up your confidence.

1. Formulate and stamp indelibly on you mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. And hold this picture tenaciously. You can't ever permit it to fade. Over time your mind will develop this picture, brighten the detail. Never doubt the reality of the mental image, because doing so is dangerous. The mind also tries to complete what it pictures. So always picture "success" no matter how badly things seem to be going at the moment.

2. Whenever a negative thought concerning your personal powers come into mind, deliberately voice a positive thought to cancel it out.

3. Do not build up obstacles in your imagination. Minimize every so-called obstacle. Difficulties must be studied and efficiently dealt with to be eliminated, but they must be seen only for what they are. They must not be inflated by fear thoughts.

4. This might be the most astute piece of advice. Do not be awestruck by other people and try to copy them. Nobody can be you as efficiently as YOU can. Remember also that most people, despite their confident appearance and demeanor, are often as scared as you are and as doubtful of themselves.

5. Dr. Peale advised readers to repeat ten times a day -- starting this minute -- the following word from the bible. And while they refer to god, you could substitute your own belief system: "if God be for us, who can be against us?"

6. Gain self-knowledge. Learn the origin of your inferiority and self-doubts, which often begin in childhood. If necessary, get a competent counselor to help you understand why you do what you do.

7.Another affirmation, also from the bible, also to be repeated ten times daily, was advised as a powerful antidote to inferiority thoughts: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Again, you can alter the wording to suit; it's the thought that counts.

8. Another gem of wisdom: Make a true estimate of your own ability -- then raise it 10 percent. Do not become egotistical, but develop a wholesome self-respect. Believe in your own powers.

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