The Power of Positive Thinking: Summary & Review

the power of positive thinking book cover

The Power of Positive Thinking says that to be happy and content in life you must take control of the thoughts in your mind, avoid negative thoughts, and replace them with more positive ones.

Change your thoughts and you change your world.

-Norman Vince Peale

Bullet Summary

  • Avoid negative thoughts
  • Replace negative thoughts with positives ones -and believe in them!-
  • When stressed, take a break. Prey, meditate, walk in the woods. Reconnect with nature

Full Summary

About The Author:
Norman Vincent Peale was an American minister who helped popularize the concept of, you guessed it, “the power of positive thinking”.
Together with Think and Grow Rich and How to Win Friends Friends and Influence People, The Power of Positive Thinking is one of the biggest selling books of the 20th century in the self-help genre.

Think Positive for Positive Outcomes

Thinking goes both ways, says Norman Vincent Peale.

As much as positive thinking will improve your life for the better, negative thinking works like a fulfilling prophecy that will make your own fears a reality.

On the other hand, when you think positive, you make your positive thoughts a reality.

For example the author’s magazine was going through a very difficult time. How did they solve the issue? They all had a meeting visualizing more subscribers and guess what happened… ?


Of course, that doesn’t prove anything because correlation is not causation, but I’m a nitpicker :).

To be liked, like others

“The Power of Positive Thinking” applies to social relationships as well.

If you naturally like people and show an interest in them, they will likely like you as well.

And conversely, if you are self-centered and too much in love with yourself, people will find it hard to like you.

Remember: You’re Not Alone. Many Are In Your Same Situation

Albeit at times we might feel like our issues are unique to us, the author says that millions of people either have the same issue, or have had the same issue.

And, here’s the great news: there are countless of people who have overcome exactly what you’re going through.

Pick Your Battles

Don’t make all the problems your own.
We have limited time on this earth, so don’t try to solve everything.

Break Free of Worries

Vincent Peale says that worrying is the source of both physical and psychological diseases.

And he was right.

But the good news is that you can get rid of worrying.

How to do it?

You simply have to believe that it’s possible to get rid of it.

Then you can use a simple, yet powerful technique: get rid of your negative thoughts. The next step is to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones.

Also read:

Real-Life Applications

An interesting good takeaway for anyone who lives in the right area for this:

  • Walk in The Woods

If you are feeling stressed out and tense, the author recommends walks in the woods to decompress.
And anything reconnecting you to nature and far away from the hustle and bustle can be effective.

Don’t forget to bring some self-defense tool, just in case.

the power of positive thinking book cover


I highly recommend you read this article on naive self-help since it addresses many of the pitfalls common to books like The Power of Positive Thinking:

  • Bit Repetitive

The concepts of The Power of Positive Thinking can be transformative. But they are also quite simple and the book could have been shorter.

However, if you read my book reviews, you’ll notice that’s a gripe I often have: I think indeed that most books could be shorter.

  • Mistakes Correlation for Causation

The author should have read Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb to understand how humans see trends, patterns and correlations when, often, there are none.

Norman Vincent Peale confuses correlation with causation. Such as, he believes that because A and B happened one after the other, then A must have caused B.

But of course, we can’t be sure of that in the slightest.

  • Religious… And Heretical at The Same Time?

Some criticized Peale, and the book, for being religious.

Well, I can see where that criticism comes from.

But on the other hand, Vincent Peale was a minister.

So, well what else do you expect? 🙂
You read Mein Kampf from Hitler, and would you be surprised the book is racist?

That being said, religiosity doesn’t necessarily have to be a con in my opinion.

As a matter of fact, religion can help provide faith, hope and a strong psychological foundation for many people.

But if you’re looking for a more secular resource, and a resource that is more science-backed, then “The Power of Positive Thinking” might not be the book for you.

Episcopal theologian John M. Krumm instead criticized Peale for not putting God first.


  • Uplifting

If you don’t mind too much the lack of scientific backing and if you can manage to fully embrace the message,  then “The Power of Positive Thinking” is a book with a strong uplifting spirit.

  • Positive Thinking IS Important

Don’t let all the critics and imperfection sway you: thinking positive IS important.


The Power of Positive Thinking is a good book.

Albeit part of that new age / law of attraction genre that we’re not too fond of, it is one was of the best of the pack.

It’s interesting that “The Power of Positive Thinking” has criticized far more than similar books such as Think and Grow Rich or The Secret, both of which have received less criticism while embracing similar and equally unscientific theories.

It’s probably because “The Power of Positive Thinking” finds its roots more in religion than woo-woo new age “science”.
And while I didn’t particularly enjoy all the Biblical references, I otherwise find it better than many similar new age books because the ability to think positively and find a positive frame for your life events is a fundamental life skill for a happy life.

At the same time though, we must remind our readers that it’s also a potential trap for an effective life, which requires a more realistic and dispassionate outlook on life and events that is neither positive nor negative, but as realistic as possible.

Interesting tidbit of information: The Power of Positive Thinking is one of Tony Robbins’s favorite book. In turn, Robbins is the author of one of our favorite self-help products: Personal Power II.

Does the power of positive thinking work?

Yes, in a sense, it does.
Thinking positively will make you generally happier and more optimistic.

To end this review: can we recommend it or not?
Since The Power of Positive Thinking doesn’t really teach how to think positive and neither when and when not to think positive, it’s not a favorite of this website.

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