Book Review: “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale

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Scott Drotar Power of Positive Thinking
A self-improvement classic.

Once again your anticipation is over, Thursday has arrived which can mean only one thing. That’s right, Scott Drotar Literary Review Day! This week I have decided to share with you a book that has withstood the test of time for over 50 years. It has sold more than 2 million copies in its hardback edition, and countless more in paperback and e-book versions. It is a self help treasure. This week’s book is Norman Vincent Peale’s classic, “The Power of Positive Thinking.”

Peale wrote this novel so that the “everyday person” could learn and apply the principles he had observed are the key to living a happy, full life. He states in the introduction that “It is written with the sole objective of helping the reader achieve a happy, satisfying, and worthwhile life.” Does this sound like someone else you know with his own program to help others live better lives? He not only had applied the concepts he discusses in his own life, but he had also seen the principles work for numerous other people as he had taught them as a lecture series at his church for many years. He wanted to make his teachings accessible to as many people as humanly possible, and that is apparent in his smooth, straightforward writing style. The topics are deep and important, and he does a thorough job of explaining them, but he presents them in a way that you can fully understand his message without any formal education in psychology.

The content of the book is great in both quality and quantity. One thing to note is that Peale was a devout Christian, and his faith is a major player in his message. He frequently quotes the Bible and makes other religious references to help illuminate the point he is making. Prayer is also a concept that gets significant attention throughout the book. Depending upon your own spiritual beliefs, this may impact your enjoyment of the book. Personally, I viewed his Biblical quotes like any other quotes, and took prayer to mean deep reflection and thought, and I thoroughly enjoyed his writing. He covers numerous topics ranging from believing in yourself to not giving up to not getting stuck in negative emotions. He also provides you with techniques and exercises to assist you in building and maintaining a happy, successful life.

Although I did like the book, and even promote many of the ideas it teaches in my own work, there are some areas for improvement. As I mentioned previously, he writes from a very religious perspective that at times felt a bit “holier than thou.” Additionally, the book is slightly dated at times which clouded his message in certain passages. The final knock against this book is that he is a large proponent of using positive affirmations to create change. I am all for having an optimistic outlook and thinking about things in a positive way, but I do not think simply repeating certain quotes will change your life. Only by examining, understanding, and applying the lessons learned from these quotes will you be able to improve your life. I feel like this distinction gets lost at times as you move through the book.

“The Power of Positive Thinking” is still a priceless self-improvement resource 50 years after its release, which only shows how valuable the information it presents must be. If you are interested in changing your outlook on life or having a happier, more successful life experience, you should read this book. Despite showing some age, the majority of its lessons are still extremely applicable today. If the author’s religious viewpoint does not deter you, this book will help you get started on truly improving your life, much like it did for me. This book gets a 3 out of 5 rating on the Roll Models Review Scale.

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale

  1. I am in the midst of writing a positive psychology book entitled” Current culture dynamics of positive psychology” and I do attest to the fact that the true father of positive psychology is Norman Vincent Peale who was way ahead of his time. Martin Seligman has been given that title unfortunately it isn’t true, Seligman had elaborated on it and that’s it. Sorry Martin but Norman has the official title… Steven P. Kunkel

    1. I did not know Seligman had been crowned “king of positive psychology.” That is interesting, and it is almost a crime. Peale is, and always will be, the king to me too, sir. He could psychoanalyze circles around old Seligman.

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