Norman Vincent Peale became famous in part due to his wonderful book, The Power of Positive Thinking.*
I want to open today’s Secret to Peace by sharing some thoughts from this book: “One of the most important and powerful facts about you is expressed in the following statement by William James, who was one of the wisest men America has produced. William James said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” As you think, so shall you be. So flush out all old, tired, worn-out thoughts. Fill your mind with fresh, new creative thoughts of faith, love, and goodness. By this process you can actually remake your life.
You can think your way to failure and unhappiness, but you can also think your way to success and happiness. The world in which you live is not primarily determined by outward conditions and circumstance but by thoughts that habitually occupy your mind. Remember the wise words of Marcus Aurelius, one of the great thinkers of antiquity, who said, “A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it.”
It has been said that the wisest man who ever lived in America was Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Sage of Concord. Emerson declared, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
A famous psychologist says, “There is a deep tendency in human nature to become precisely like that which you habitually imagine yourself to be.”
It has been said that thoughts are things, that they actually possess dynamic power. Judged by the power they exercise one can readily accept such an appraisal. You can actually think yourself into or out of situations. You can make yourself ill with your thoughts and by the same token you can make yourself well by the use of a different and healing type of thought. Think one way and you attract the conditions which that type of thinking indicates. Think another way and you can create an entirely different set of conditions. Conditions are created by thoughts far more powerfully than conditions create thoughts.”
*Peale, Norman Vincent. The Power of Positive Thinking. N.p.: n.p., 1980. Print.
Of course, Mr. Peale’s thoughts were not particularly original on this matter since, as he stated, Marcus Aurelius had discussed this idea somewhere in the years about 170 to 180 years after the birth of Jesus.
Henry Thomas Hamblin also discussed this concept in-depth in at least three of his books written in the 1920’s. Consider these words relating to the ignorance of allowing oneself to engage in negative thinking from Hamblin’s book The Power of Thought:
WE do not believe that there are many who deliberately think negative thoughts. Most people mean well and want to do good and be good (not goody, goody). But, nevertheless, most of us are wrong thinkers, more or less, and this is due, so we firmly believe, mainly to ignorance. Because it is not generally known that negative thoughts are highly destructive, we ignorantly indulge in them, thinking that they do no harm. Actually, thoughts of impurity, anger, revenge, hate, resentment, envy, brooding over wrongs, brooding over sorrows, losses and griefs; thoughts of fear, failure, weakness, penury, sickness, disease, decay, mortality and death, are all highly destructive. They are destructive of health, of happiness, of circumstances, of life in all its departments. They break down the nervous system; they paralyse endeavour; they undermine the will; they make for wrong decisions. It will be admitted that this is a matter of prime importance, yet neither children nor the general public are instructed in these vital matters. Because of this almost universal ignorance we most of us go on indulging in negative thinking, much to our detriment.
*Hamblin, Henry Thomas. The Power of Thought. Chichester: Science of Thought, 1921. Print.
Both Hamblin and Peale discussed, at length, the power that negative thinking has to create illness and the power that positive thinking has for restoring health.
Why then could we ever believe that there could be anything such as an idle thought?
A Course in Miracles* says this: “There is no such thing as an idle thought. For that which gives rise to the whole world you can see can hardly be called idle.”
*A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume. Glen Elen, CA: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1992. Print.
What you need to know from this information is this: There truly is no such thing as an idle thought. Every thought is creating. It is my belief that every thought is a prayer which the Universe has no choice but to answer in accordance with the truth held by the thinker. Since every thought is creating we are always either creating a more loving world or we are creating a more hateful, chaotic planet.
Because our thoughts are always creating, it is absolutely imperative that we think loving thoughts. Every other thought is working to create a world we do not want to see manifest, unless the proliferation of so-called evil is one’s desire.
To change the way we are thinking we must first become mindful of the thoughts we are entertaining. Thoughts arise. They always will, as long as we are in form. There is a mistaken idea about meditation that if we merely work at it long enough, thoughts will stop arising, but as long as we are in form and have a functioning, human brain, this brain is going to think.
The thought arising, by itself, is not the problem. It is merely an indicator of where you place your truth. What causes the challenges is when we run with or I like to say invest in the thoughts. For example: someone cuts you off in traffic. As a fear response you feel anger immediately rise in your awareness. This is completely natural and does nothing to create more hatred in humanity. However, if you allow the anger to simmer, perhaps you chase the person down so they can see your less than loving finger language, or maybe you really take it to an extreme and you chase them through traffic endangering yourself, them, and other drivers. This choice to allow yourself to be hijacked by your fear-based thoughts creates negative energy which attracts more negativity into your life by contributing to the collective consciousness of the human race in an undesirable manner.
Now consider this alternative: The same scenario happens and immediately when you notice the anger rising in our awareness you choose to bless the person instead of reacting. You decide “I am worthy of loving myself and am capable of making loving choices, regardless of the circumstances.” Then, feeling empowered by your recognition of your ability to make loving choices, you decide to also bless the inconsiderate driver and you take a second to wish her well, seeing the path safe for her and for all who intersect in her journey. This second choice creates a wholly different energy in your body and for the collective consciousness of humanity. Not only does such a choice bless the offender, yourself, and everyone around you but it makes you feel better, immediately.
Make the wise choice. You are worth it and so is your brother and sister.
I will close with these additional thoughts from Norman Vincent Peale:
“Think positively, for example, and you set in motion positive forces which bring positive results to pass. Positive thoughts create around yourself an atmosphere propitious to the development of positive outcomes. On the contrary, think negative thoughts and you create around yourself an atmosphere propitious to the development of negative results.
To change your circumstances, first start thinking differently. Do not passively accept unsatisfactory circumstances, but form a picture in your mind of circumstances as they should be. Hold that picture, develop it firmly in all details, believe in it, pray about it, work at it, and you can actualize according to that mental image emphasized in your positive thinking.
This is one of the greatest laws in the universe.”