The Power of Positive Thinking Summary (Norman Vincent Peale)

Want to live a happier, more successful life?

Perhaps you need to stop being a negative Norman.

A classic in the self-help canon, the Power of Positive Thinking summary shows that by changing your focus, you can improve your outcomes.

Despite some controversy around his assertions, Norman Vincent Peale argues the case that self-confidence, positivity and appreciation of your loved ones are integral to a fulfilling life.

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Self confidence and success

Many people lack self confidence, experiencing anxiety and inferiority.

With this mindset, it’s easy to regard our lives as a series of problems.

The result? We become easily overwhelmed and focus on the potential negative outcomes.

The problem? Focusing on negative outcomes creates self-fulfilling prophecies, where the very thing we don’t want is more likely to occur.

For example, start a new job convinced that everyone will dislike you and you’ll soon find evidence for that very belief, leading to further feelings of inferiority and creating a negative cycle.

With self confidence, however, you can create the kind of life you envision.

But this requires moving from passive acceptance to an active changing your thinking, focusing on the positive, with the belief that you can overcome any obstacles.

Visualisation is one method that can help. By imagining positive outcomes and then comparing them to your perceived problems, obstacles will appear more manageable in comparison.

The author instigated a similar exercise when facing a crisis at his magazine. After asking his staff to visualise an increase in readership, the number of subscribers actually rose.


Humans are social by nature and the desire for appreciation is universal.

When so many of us care only about ourselves, however, it’s no wonder this appreciation can feel lacking.

Rather than an external issue, this boils down to your attitude and can be changed by becoming a comfortable person.

To become the kind of person that others like, you must move from narcissism to showing that you care about them.

When you think positively of others, shift the focus away from you and demonstrate interest in others, which will be reciprocated with love and appreciation.

You’re not alone

Often we feel like we can never truly take a break because others are unable to fill our shoes, at home or work.

This can lead to depression as you feel alone in facing your problems.

This feeling of self importance and owning all our problems make us less likely to solve them, with the limited time and energy at our disposal.

It’s easy to allow negativity, hopelessness and self isolation into our lives, increasing the chances of unhappiness and failure.

However, in reality, our situation isn’t unique and our problems have been faced and overcome by countless others.

To help with this:

  • Use prayer of meditation to combat stress and reduce tension
  • Delegate tasks
  • Get organised for better results and improved health


Maybe you’re overwhelmed, stressed and depressed.

Perhaps your life is filled by real and pressing problems.

However, it’s your attitude towards these problems, rather than the problems themselves, which is more important.

Most people think that their life is defined by outside circumstances and luck – in reality, your world is the sum of your thoughts regarding your experiences.

In this way, while your problems might not be solved immediately, your attitude can change instantly.

  • Think positively – set up positive results
  • Think negative – set up negative results

Top tip = sleep is essential as a positive source of energy in addressing our problems.


Worrying about our perceived problems is understandable.

However, it can lead to detrimental changes, both physical and psychological.

Fortunately, worrying is a habit, which can be easily overcome.

Simply imagine yourself to be free from worry and that will be your reality.

All of the techniques used in this process involve draining your mind and freeing it recursive negative and oppressive thought patterns.

This is particularly important before sleep, where such negativity can easily sink into our subconscious, impeding the flow of mental and physical power.

Once drained of negativity, you must replenish you mind with positive thoughts that inspire positive feelings.

Although this may be challenging initially, with daily practice, you’ll experience positive change.

Taking a break

Modern life is hectic, and with its feverishly accelerated pace, emotional illnesses like stress can easily manifest.

It’s important to deal with these issues. For example, the author used to take a break from New York and recharge in the woods.

While we all have real and pressing problems, we have the power to choose our response and create either a positive or negative feedback loop.

Children are the real happiness experts, mainly because they haven’t yet learned that society expects them to be unhappy.

Seeing the positive

While it’s important to prepare for possible obstacles, by expecting the worst, we stop the power flow and our ability to handle challenges, making negative outcomes more likely.

These obstacles are determined by our attitude – if we believe them to be manageable, they will be.

We can solve every problem we face, because there are no unsolvable problems.

To unlock this power, we must simply practice positive thinking to see all the possibilities available.

Even if our subconscious tells us there are unsolveable problems, by training ourselves to imagine positive outcomes, we’re far more likely to discover positive solutions.

The Bible

Many people regard Biblical teachings as abstract, while in fact they are very practical and can lay the foundation for positive thought and action.

As an example, the Bible teaches that we should avoid becoming angry and view others in a positive light.

However, such faith is only helpful if we first know:

  • What we want
  • Where we want to go
  • Whether it’s right to want it – (faith can only guide us if the success we seek is morally, spiritually and ethically right)

How best to answer these questions?

We have prayer, providing a birds eye view on our problems and possible solutions, helping to release negative energy and generate creative solutions.


Mind and body are intricately and related. In this way, psychological issues can easily result in physical symptoms.

While faith alone shouldn’t be relied upon to heal physical ailments, using “God and the doctor” in conjunction can lead to true health.

Why this works?

Even when our conscious mind cries sickness, the majority of our mind lies within the subconscious realm, which we can train to send forth radiant health energy.

This boils down to faith – by trusting in a higher power and truly believing in our physical and spiritual healing, this becomes our reality.

The Power of Positive Thinking summary

  • Focusing on negative outcomes is often due to a lack of self confidence
  • It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy
  • Visualisation and positive thinking creates a positive feedback loop and positive outcomes
  • Caring for others and showing interest in them will likewise be reciprocated, leading to positive feelings of appreciation
  • You’re not alone – your problems aren’t unique and have been overcome by countless others. Meditate, delegate, organise.
  • Your life isn’t determined by external circumstances. Just as Stoic philosophy teaches, the quality of your life is just dependent on how you perceive your experiences. Change your attitude, change your life.
  • Worrying is a habit which can easily be overcome. Drain negative thoughts and replenish them with positive ones.
  • See the positive in every situation and your more likely to see the possibilities around you.
  • The Bible and faith can provide a foundation for positive thinking and spiritual healing.

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