How to Become a Positive Thinker

Norman Vincent Peale shares four easy steps you can take to cultivate a positive attitude.

By Norman Vincent Peale

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The world in which you live is not determined by outward circumstances as much as it is by the thoughts that occupy your mind. You can think and believe your way to misery or to a life of joy, satisfaction, and abundance. You have the power to choose.


The concept of positive thinking is a philosophy, an expression of faith. It doesn’t ignore life’s problems, but explains a practical approach to deal with, and overcome, them.


Anyone interested in seeking a better, promise- filled way of life, can find it through positive thinking and faith in God. To become a successful positive thinker, here are some ideas to think about:


1. To every disadvantage, there usually is a corresponding advantage.
Consider the old truism that behind the darkest clouds the sun is shining. In the toughest situations there is always some value that is inherently good. The positive thinker will look for the good, for the advantage, and will therefore do far better with the difficulty than the negative thinker will. What you deeply think and visualize has a strong tendency to happen. So always think positively, believingly, expectantly, hopefully.


2. It isn’t what is happening but your attitude toward what is happening.
Two men of equal intelligence are facing a hard task. One man says. “This is an overwhelming difficulty, more than I can handle.” So he is defeated from the start. The other man says, “This is a tough situation, but with God’s help, I can handle it.” And he proceeds to do so successfully. It is the attitude toward the situation that is crucial—more so than the situation itself.


3. Develop a positive mental attitude toward the bottom.
I have often had to deal with glum and discouraged people who have said, “I’ve hit bottom and there is no hope.” To one such man I replied, “Congratulations. Having hit bottom, you can go no lower; the only direction is up. So start thinking up.” He did, and after a time new ideas came that helped him to move up well above the bottom.


4. Put thoughts of God up against your trouble.
A friend of mine, at 84, had her leg amputated. Even so, she does all her housework from a wheelchair. When asked if she ever becomes discouraged, she answered, “Certainly I do.” Then I asked, “What do you do when you get discouraged?” She replied, “What is there to do but get over it? I simply take the attitude that, with the Lord helping me, I can sweep all dark shadows from my mind, as I do the dust in my house.”

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Excerpted from The Positive Thinkers Club Newsletter by Norman Vincent Peale.
Copyright © 1980 by Peale Center for Christian Living.