Norman Vincent Peale has taken his share of knocks over the decades. Many prominent mental health professionals consider his book “The Power of Positive Thinking” pseudo-science and Peale a con man. Even his founding partner in the American Foundation of Religion and Psychiatry, Smiley Blanton, refused to endorse the book and would not let Peale use his name in any reference to the work.
Whether you are a fan of Peale or any of his adherents, most notably the Crystal Cathedral’s Robert Schuler, there is one thing I think we cal all agree on: The Power of Negative thinking.
Spreading like the media thought that last years swine flu would, negative thinking has few effective vaccines and spreads by casual contact. It festers and metastasizes within its victims, leaving in its wake wounded hearts and fractured spirits. Few are immune to its ravages and all are susceptible to its influence.
Its is easy to fall into the trap of negative thinking. It’s all around us – especially now. We can focus of the economy, the plethora of social ills and the tragedies both personal and corporate, the disasters both natural and man-made. We can find them everywhere we look and we don’t even have to look too hard.
I could go on about the media and the politicians who not only thrive on but also create much of the negative thinking that influences our fair nation, but my purpose here is not to diagnose a cause. I could opine about the way that this epidemic has effected the lives of the good people of America, but my desire is to do more than treat the symptoms. My purpose is to attack the illness itself and bring about a cure.
Toward the end of his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul makes a brief but very powerful challenge:
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Philippians 4:8 The Message
Better read that one again.
Seems like our old buddies Norm and Paul agree on one thing: the best immunization for negative thinking is to focus on the positive. Not the easiest task these days but clearly a very important one.
I’m challenging myself to spend the last official week of summer on a vacation of sorts. I’m taking time off from negative thinking and the power it wields in my life. I’m going to spend a leisurely week focusing on the good things all around me, smiling at the folks I encounter, offering a kind word or a blessing. I’m going to practice the pseudo-science of positive thinking, testing Paul’s hypothesis that I’ll “do best by filling” my mind with these things . . .
Betcha I can be more positive than you can!
Pressing on toward the goal . . .