The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale – Book Review


Best for: 

The Power of Positive Thinking is best for those who believe in Christianity and want to learn some positive thinking techniques. It is also great for those who enjoy stories and don’t mind repetition.

Difficulty to digest:

The Power of Positive Thinking is pretty easy to digest. Peale presents straightforward concepts and examples and elaborates every point through a number of stories. It is a relatively old book, so some phrasing and examples might feel outdated, but it’s not hard to follow.

Key Insights of The Power of Positive Thinking:

The Power of Positive Thinking is one of Norman Peale’s many books on how to live a better, more fruitful life. While heavily Christian in nature, there are also concepts and exercises sprinkled throughout. Peale outlines each point with a number of related stories, meant to emphasize the point or clarify its value. 

One of the main themes is visualizing a positive future and good outcomes. Peale discusses this concept from a number of angles, such as expecting the best, building positive thinking habits, and doing visualization exercises. In essence, the message here is to expect and calibrate your mind for positive outcomes (through faith) and as you do, they are more likely to show up. This can be done through repetition of certain mantras (or in this text, scriptures) or intentionally walking through particular thinking patterns. 

Another major theme is being intentional. This comes through reducing stress and slowing down. By creating this space, it’s easier to find emotional balance. Peale also mentions the importance of recharging by relaxing. That being said, it’s also important to keep pushing forward. Again, Peale mentions mantras as a way to fill your mind with positive and calming thoughts. 

Power of Positive Thinking is a fairly long read, though it is punctuated by stories and short summaries of action steps which help keep it organized. All in all, it should be very easy to follow and understand the main themes. That being said, it can drag on a bit, so skipping around is unlikely to be a problem.  

The Power of Positive Thinking Final Opinion:

This book has not aged especially well and seems like it would only be useful for a specific niche of individuals. If you believe in Christianity and can parse through a relatively outdated book it might be fine. But overall better, more practical resources exist. I only recommend this book if you really want the specific style it offers. 

Other considerations:

This book was recommended to me as a general self-improvement resource. It is nothing of the sort. It is absolutely a book reinforcing Christian beliefs with a few small aspects of positivity psychology thrown in. There are almost constant references to God and faith. This book is only recommended for Christians or those who are willing to read a book with heavily Christian themes. 

There are also a number of themes and/or positions which have not aged well or are purely speculative. For example, there is a lengthy section with negative overtones around being introverted equating it with being lonely. There is also talk of vibrations and ‘science’ backing concepts which are implausible now, at best. 

Applicable Content:

  1. What are your expectations of your future outcomes?
  2. How often do you feel rushed? How can you slow down and feel more balanced?
  3. What content do you generally consume? Does it increase calmness or reduce it?

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