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Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life

There’s increasing scientific proof that positive thinking affects outcomes.

Positive thinking
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Positive thinking is how you think about a problem. Enthusiasm is how you feel about a problem. The two together determine what you do about a problem. (Dr. Norman Vincent Peale)

As you might guess, as a granddaughter of Dr. Noman Vincent Peale as well as a mental health professional and psychology teacher, when I see the words “positive thinking” or “negative thinking” as a part of a research study, an article, a book or even an advertisement, I like to find out more about what is being said or written.

It’s my impression that positive thinking, countering negative thinking, positive imaging and choosing one’s attitude have been in the news and part of conversation of late.

Start each day with encouragement for your soul. Order Mornings with Jesus 2019

I know that the New Year is often riddled with new ways of thinking and living, but it feels a bit different this year. Perhaps the election has something to do with it. Perhaps people are ready to connect better with themselves in order to relate (and listen!) better to others. Maybe a sprinkling of each? Who knows? But it is good to see.

A friend wrote me last week to tell me that her husband is reading and “loving” Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s book Positive Imaging, and that she is downloading it to read as well. I am thrilled by this. I trust that the messages within the book will prove helpful to them.

The New York Times ran an article last week entitled “The Year of Conquering Negative Thinking”:

“All humans have a tendency to be a bit more like Eeyore than Tigger, to ruminate more on bad experiences than positive ones. It’s an evolutionary adaptation that helps us avoid danger and react quickly in a crisis.

But constant negativity can also get in the way of happiness, add to our stress and worry level and ultimately damage our health. And some people are more prone to negative thinking than others. Thinking styles can be genetic or the result of childhood experiences, said Judith Beck, a psychologist and the president of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. 

‘We were built to overlearn from negative experiences, but under learn from positive ones,’ said Rick Hanson, a psychologist and senior fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. ‘But with practice you can learn to disrupt and tame negative cycles.’”

The article goes on to explain steps to take in order to shift the power of negative thinking. A “change your thoughts and change your life” approach that Grandpa Peale would find familiar.

This morning I received a brochure for an educators’ conference to be put on this spring as part of the Learning & the Brain conference series. The topic? “Positive Student Minds: The Science of Promoting Positive Emotions and Empathy, Grit & Gratitude.”


As I have written in prior blogs, it remains so gratifying to know that our brains are so tied into our attitude, gratifying also that there is scientific proof that our lives can be enriched through positive attitudes, emotions and behaviors.  

Suffice it to say that I am tuned into the impact of positive and negative thinking, and I am very pleased to see that there’s a renewed interest in these ways of thinking lately.

I will do my small part, as a person, a parent, a teacher, a mental health worker, a friend and a granddaughter of Dr. Peale to do what I can to enrich the lives of others through my own actions and attitudes. I know Grandpa Peale is walking beside me as I do so. 

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