We’re creating a new Guideposts.org

It’s faster, it’s mobile friendly—and we’d love you to have a sneak peekClick here to preview

Lessons in Positive Thinking

5 tips from the founding father of positive thinking on how to change your thinking and change your life.

By Elizabeth Peale Allen, Pawling, New York

As appeared in

They say ministers are too busy helping others to help their own kids. My dad, Norman Vincent Peale, wasn't like that.

1. Leave your worries at the door.
The night before the SAT, I was so nervous I couldn't sleep...until Dad shared this strategy: "Imagine yourself dropping your anxious thoughts overboard. Leave them in your wake and sail on." The next morning I left my worries in the school hallway and walked into the exam room relaxed and confident.

2. Make enthusiasm a way of life.
My first job after college was as an editorial researcher. My duties seemed overwhelming, and I went home at the end of the day feeling discouraged. "Act enthusiastic," Dad told me. "The way you act is the way you tend to be." When I picked up my attitude, my level of accomplishment rose with it.

3. A healthy body and a healthy mind go together.
No matter where their travels took them, Dad and Mother made sure to take a daily walk, even if it was just around the hotel parking lot. Dad's emotionally energizing habit? Every morning he'd declare, "I will be happy today."

4. Expect the best from each new day.
For months after the death of my husband, John, three summers ago, the future seemed oppressive and colorless. What did I have to look forward to? Then one morning I remembered how my father would tell me, "There are good things waiting for you every day." I lingered over my coffee. I watched birds cavort at the backyard feeder. I called my 2-year-old granddaughters and felt my grief fade amid their giggles.

5. Tap into the source of all energy.
The word "enthusiasm" comes from the Greek en theos, meaning "God within." Dad used to say, "Tap God's life-giving power and creativity on a daily basis." I regularly set aside time to meditate and pray. It's amazing how just a few minutes can renew your entire spirit. Try it.