Today more than ever, the need for hope that there will be brighter days ahead burns inside us all. The timelessness of the power of positivity in the works of Norman Vincent Peale can be a guiding light. Yes Norman, there is power in positive thinking! Not only that, positivity begets positivity and negativity begets negativity. You can spiral your mood up to the sun or down to the depths of darkness. There is power in thinking, and you can develop a habit of thinking positively or negatively.
As it turns out, Norman Vincent Peale and his message that there is power in positive thinking has been validated by research. Researchers have found that positive thinking can help you manage stress and live longer. On the flip side, negative thinking is a feature of depression and can lead to despair and hopelessness.
A person has between 25,000 and 50,000 thoughts a day. You can change how you feel by changing how you think. The evidenced-based practice of cognitive therapy is an effective method for treating depression. A cognitive therapist helps people to change negative patterns of thinking. Also, because of some new information on brain stimulation, a current conception of depression is that it is a brain circuit dysfunction. Stimulating an area in the prefrontal cortex of the brain helps set in motion the circuits to a positive mood. Positive thinking stimulates the prefrontal cortex. Anyone can benefit from having a positive mood.
Here are some ways to pump-up your prefrontal cortex:
- Picture yourself as succeeding. Use your wild mind and reach for the stars!
- Get the right amount of shut-eye. If you have trouble getting quality sleep, listen to Erin Wiley’s Therapy Show podcast number 5 (https://erinwileytherapy.com/podcast/). She gives you a great sleep-inducing trick!
- Offer and receive physical contact. Yep, hugging is good for your brain. Cuddling your pet counts!
- Develop an attitude of gratitude. Weirdly, there is a law of diminishing returns when re-counting your gratefulness too often. Keep a gratitude journal, but only write in it about two days a week for the best result.
- Work with a counselor to retrain your brain. Cognitive therapists are the experts at this, so find one to guide you through the road to positivity.
- Move your body. Dance, clean, run, take a yoga class, or just plain walk.
- Learn something new or do something different from what you already know—like driving home via a different route or cleaning your house in a different order than usual.
- Laugh. Humor is one key to happiness. Make jokes, look for the funny side of a serious situation, watch comedy.
A lot has been written about this subject, and one book that stands out and has concrete suggestions about looking at thoughts is Awareness by Anthony de Mello. In it, he reveals how negativity operates and is an obstacle to achieving happiness. And, Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking has many practical and inspirational messages. The title makes it just plain great to have on the bookshelf!