How Norman Vincent Peale Inspired the New Book from Bobby Schuller

Pastor Bobby Schuller’s Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World was influenced by Norman Vincent Peale’s legacy of positive thinking.  

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- Posted on Jul 3, 2019

Photo Credit: Trever Hoehne

Bobby Schuller grew up in the shadow of positive thinking—literally!

His grandfather, Dr. Robert Schuller, was a pastor whose uplifting sermons landed in the same vein as his close friend Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. Dr. Peale even supported Dr. Schuller as he launched his Hour of Power television show.

 “Doctor Peale was very, very geared towards encouraging people [and] being positive,” Schuller told Guideposts.org

Schuller, who grew up attending his grandfather’s church and remember meeting Dr. Peale at a young age, now hosts the Hour of Power show.

It is Dr. Peale’s ideas that continue to influence Schuller’s ministry, including his recently released book Change Your Thoughts, Change Your World. The title is directly adapted from a famous Peale quote.  

“I opened the book by talking about Norman Vincent Peale and the importance of positivity and the importance of your thinking,” Schuller said.

Dr. Peale was one of the first preachers who encouraged people to seriously examine their thoughts—an idea Schuller says is rooted in the Bible.

“Paul is really big on [being] Christian meaning being a disciple,” Schuller said. “Probably most famously when he said, ‘Be no longer conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’"

Schuller believes “our thinking is perfectly designed to give us the results we’re getting” and that if people can change their thinking, they will change their results. His book, he said, is geared towards trying to give readers some new thoughts to improve their lives in practical ways.

Of course, Schuller believes positive thinking cannot cocoon someone from experiencing pain.

“All of us are going to go through suffering in life,” Schuller said. “But it is amazing how two people can have the exact same thing happen to them, but come out of the other end of that very differently.”

Schuller believes that by cultivating healthy thinking patterns during good times, people can prepare themselves to weather hard times faithfully. He says this process is helped in large part by learning to tune in to appreciate divine timing.

“For people that are struggling, for example, with anxiety and depression or addiction, one of the most haunting thoughts that people can have when they're there is it will always be like this,” Schuller said. “But God is so patient with us. He's with us even when we fall off the wagon and have another drink or whatever it is we're struggling with. God will get us there in time.”

So how can someone begin to change their thought patterns? Schuller recommends starting each morning by jotting down your goals for the day.

“I think to most people that sounds exhausting,” he said. “But it [only] takes two minutes to do. And it actually makes you feel excited about your day because you sort of begin the day waking up for a reason.”

The important thing, Schuller notes, is to recognize that thinking does not change overnight. Like any other skill, it takes practice.

“In the same way that an athlete has to train their body for a competition that's coming up, we first have to begin by practicing disciplines that change our thinking,” Schuller said. “That makes all the difference.”

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