Have you ever held a book in your hands which you felt was truly special and worth sharing with others?
Earlier this year I bought the book “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale. I felt that I might have read this book many years ago and, indeed, may have it in the collection of my personal library that has remained hidden away in storage since we sold our home in Australia in June 2006. In any event, I read with fresh eyes and insight this time.
As I began to read the precious book a few months ago, savouring each page before going to sleep at night, I felt more and more that it was a book I was meant to be reading at this juncture in my life. It seemed that I had been guided to it. Whilst at first unsure about whether or not it was something I ‘ought’ to be reading, I had bought the book anyway in the hope that it would help to lift some energy I was battling with. I am so pleased that I listened to my instinct! I have since purchased additional copies, which I have given as gifts to others, trusting that they might be blessed as much as I feel I have been by the clear wisdom and no nonsense approach of (the late) Norman Vincent Peale.
There is much contained in the pages of “The Power of Positive Thinking” which I feel would be of help to many, and I would recommend that each person buy the book to see how it might help you to enhance your life. It is simply written and it is profound. I am aware that there are some who have criticised the author of this book for the way that his beliefs shifted, but equally there are many who have spoken very highly of him and his life held fruit that inspired thousands. Norman Vincent Peale and his wife, Ruth Stafford Peale, led exemplary lives, which I find gives sufficient reason to quote his work and recommend it.
At the start of writing this article, I had intended to put down only my own thoughts on finding help with solving problems in a couple of key areas of life, which I am dealing with at the moment, hoping that they might offer inspiration and help to others as well. However, for the purpose of illustrating some of the thoughts and experiences I have had recently, I am going to share a little out of one of the chapters of Norman Vincent Peale’s book, which sums up what I think is sound advice and says it all so much better than I could.
The two areas that I am referring to are in how we might access the power to assist us at solving personal problems experienced in
a) business, and
b) having things that we need manifest positively in our lives.
Let’s focus on the business side of things first.
We are all becoming increasingly aware of the need to act mindfully in how we live, how we play, how we consume, how we operate our working lives, how we ‘do’ business, how we affect those around us, how we impact the planet through our operations and management of resources, how we produce goods for sale to others locally or globally, the impact that we are making on the lives of those who are providing raw materials and finished products, on those who will follow us in future generations, and much more besides. “Sustainability”, “circular economy” and “environmental impact” are buzz words and phrases that abound, quoted by some to show ‘nouse’, but there is also a lot of ‘greenwash’ going on. How do we keep to the core ethics that the planet needs us to practise now? How do we operate our businesses and our lives in order to sustainably succeed, to do well without harming others in the process?
Business people are in the business of making money and they are conducting a service to add value to others through their businesses, as well as providing valued and valuable employment opportunities. Those who are adept at conducting business, will often buy and sell without giving a second thought to the broader impact that they are having and the business world is known for not having a conscience generally … but that is showing evidence of changing. Every day we hear news of a huge awareness shift that is happening around the world.
I have a philosophy about life generally, which is that it is simply a good idea to approach any project or ideal with the end in mind and to take steps to achieve that by using the least amount of energy to do so. This means that we often have to put in more energy investment at the start, in order to set up the structure, the systems and the ethics, to provide a concise and clear framework from which and in which to operate – and only then do we get on with the business of operation, with as few unnecessary hiccups and potholes resulting to trip us up. Life presents enough challenges of its own and, while challenges do provide opportunities for growth, it is so much easier to make smooth progress in any area, when we have a clear and concise framework to operate within, a solid foundation to launch from and smooth wheels to run along on. I see this as a way to operate most, if not all, areas of life … and no less so in the business world.
If we are able to approach our businesses with an attitude of wishing to achieve success with care, with the knowledge that we are giving of our best, that we have the pins in place and the tools in our belt to best help us to serve, then we have a clean, clear slate and pad to launch from. To me, it makes the utmost sense to ’employ the services’ of the most profound and omnipresent power in the universe to oversee, guide and keep us on the narrow path that will lead to our ultimate success. After all, we do not have eyes and ears everywhere and we cannot see the future, so why not engage the assistance of One who can and does? I think this makes sense, simply and profoundly, and can be applied with absolute, child-like (not childish) trust with excellent results.
Thus, from this standpoint, it is clear why these words penned by Norman Vincent Peale acted as validation and concise enlightenment to me, when I read his description of an encounter with a business man:
“Then he said: “I don’t know anything about preaching or about writing the kind of books you write, or any books for that matter, but let me tell you this – whenever you get a chance to talk to business men tell them that if they will take God as a partner in their business they will get more good ideas than they can ever use, and they can turn those ideas into assets. I don’t merely mean money,” he said, “although a way to get a good return on your investments, I believe, is to get God-guided ideas. But tell them that the God-partnership method is the way to get their problems solved right.”
This incident is just one of many similar demonstrations of the law of Divine-human relationship working itself out in practical affairs. I cannot emphasise too strongly the effectiveness of this technique of problem solving. It has produced amazing results in the many cases coming under my observation.” *
In other words, by making God your business partner, you will find that life flows far more smoothly than if you leave out the Excellence and Power Factor that is freely available to anyone in the Universe. And you will have ‘someone’ on board to help when problems arise!
The second point I wanted to make on finding the power to solve our personal problems, which includes in our business lives, is how we might experience things and situations manifesting positively in our lives. When we suffer in life, we are able to grow in a number of ways and to learn a range of useful skills – not least empathy, compassion, and various other aspects of emotional intelligence – but in order to come out strong, we need tools to help us through the rough spots. Here, I suggest the ’employment’ of faith as a vital component of the Tool Kit of Life.
What is faith?
Faith is believing (for) that which we cannot yet see, hear, touch, smell, feel … and faith requires the use of our imagination to fire it.
When we are coping with anything difficult or challenging in any way in life – emotional, mental, physical, financial – it helps to feel that we are not alone, that there is at least one other who agrees with or can help us. Sometimes it is not possible to find another person who can be present and, even if they can be, there is no human being who can fill or fulfill all of our needs. When we tap into the invisible, when we put our faith in a power greater than ourselves, more wise than any human being, bigger than any situation, more powerful than any challenge that we might imagine or come across, we have HOPE. When we have hope, we can breathe.
I have found that focusing on hope is the one thing that has helped me to endure, to sustain, to find courage again after breaking, and to go on in times when I thought I might not be able to take another step. But we do not need to reach a climax of difficulty or any other extreme in life, in order to benefit from the universal power that is available to each of us.
How do we tap into that universal power?
We have faith.
We exercise our imagination.
We employ a childlike trust that there is a God who loves us, that there is a power with us and within us, that we can be ‘SuperWoman’ or ‘SuperMan’ in a sense, regardless of what life presents us with, or when, where or how we come under attack. We simply trust and we simply decide to believe. Having faith is nothing more than making a decision to believe in what we do not yet have or see or feel or taste … and it is a key ingredient in manifesting that which we are hoping for. Faith has the power to dig us out of the deepest, darkest pit and faith is the trigger for the light that we need when all else falters in our situation, in business or in life generally.
To continue in the words of Norman Vincent Peale, from the same chapter of his book, “The Power Of Positive Thinking”:
“In the very necessary business of solving personal problems, it is important, first of all, to realise that the power to solve them correctly is inherent within you. Second it is necessary to work out and actualise a plan. Spiritual and emotional planlessness is a definite reason for the failure of many people to meet their personal problems successfully.
A business executive told me that he puts his dependence upon the ’emergency powers of the human brain’. It is his theory, and a sound one, that a human being possesses extra powers that may be tapped and utilised under emergency situations. In the ordinary conduct of day-by-day living, these emergency powers lie dormant, but under extraordinary circumstances the personality is able, when called upon, to deliver extra power if needed.
A person who develops a working faith does not allow these powers to lie dormant, but in proportion to his faith brings many of them into play in connection with normal activity. This explains why some people demonstrate greater force than others in daily requirements and in crisis. They have made it a habit normally to draw upon powers that would otherwise be ignored except in some dramatic necessity.
When a difficult situation arises, do you know how to meet it? Have you any clearly defined plan for solving unusually difficult problems as they develop? Many people proceed on a hit-or-miss method and, sadly enough, most frequently they miss. I cannot urge too strongly the importance of planned use of your greater powers in meeting problems.
In addition to the method of two or three praying together in the ‘surrender of God’ technique and that of establishing a partnership with God and the importance of a plan to tap and utilise emergency inner powers, there is still another tremendous technique – that of practising faith attitudes. I read the Bible for years before it ever dawned on me that it was trying to tell me that if I would have faith – and really have it -that I could overcome all of my difficulties, meet every situation, rise above every defeat, and solve all of the perplexing problems of my life. The day that realisation dawned on me was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of my life. Undoubtedly many people will read this book who have never got the faith idea of living. But I hope you will get it now, for the faith technique is without question one of the most powerful truths in the world having to do with the successful conduct of human life.
Throughout the Bible the truth is emphasised again and again that “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed … nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Matthew xvii. 20) The Bible means this absolutely, factually, completely and literally. It isn’t an illusion, it isn’t a fantasy. It is not an illustration, nor a symbol, nor a metaphor, but the absolute fact – ‘Faith, even as a grain of mustard seed’, will solve your problems, any of your problems, all of your problems, if you believe it and practise it. “According to your faith, be it unto you.” (Matthew ix. 29) The requirement of faith, and directly in proportion to the faith that you have and use will you get results. But in the generosity of Almighty God, if you have only the faith symbolised by a grain of mustard seed, it will do amazing things in solving your problems.” *
This is hugely encouraging, isn’t it?
Finally, as I was preparing to begin the writing of this article yesterday, I happened (does anything ever happen by chance?) to see a newly published post on the blog of Dr Caroline Leaf, a talented brain specialist who is doing wonderful work with people around the world. The post is entitled “How To Train Your Mind To Avoid Emotional And Physical Burnout”. It seems to marry well with the thoughts shared here about finding the power to solve personal problems, which we all do well to seek ways to grow from. Click here to take you to the article on Dr Leaf’s site.
I trust that you will have gained some good insights here and light on your path.
With hope for success in your life and ventures,
*Material quoted from the book: The Power of Positive Thinking
by Norman Vincent Peale [b. 31 May 1898 – d. 24 December 1993].
Pgs 178-180. Chapter title: “Power To Solve Personal Problems”.
First published in 1953. Reissued 1990. (Vermilion, imprint of Ebury Press. UK 1998). ISBN 9780749307158
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