It is only in a calm and peaceful mind that powerful thoughts and positive ideas can take root. The attainment of inner peace is possible through the practices of emptying the mind, and replacing the feelings of fears, hate, insecurities, regrets, guilt with creative and healthy thoughts. You should focus not just upon mind but also also on speech. Norman Vincent Peale, author of the bestseller, The Power of Positive Thinking says, "Watch your manner of speech if you wish to develop a peaceful state of mind... It is important to eliminate from conversations all negative ideas, for they tend to produce tension and annoyance inwardly" (p. 27). One must also find some time alone in quiet contemplation thinking about nothing. Picture your mind as a smooth pond and let there be no ripples. Peale quotes Abraham Lincoln, "People were just about as happy as they made their minds up to be" (p. 70) to prove that happiness is a choice. You get what you choose. Happiness is a matter of habit. It is the state you decide to be in. One should speak to one's unconscious mind. It is a powerful entity that can transform mental habits and attitudes toward positive direction, provided we are firm and persist in our endeavor. Peale goes on to show how we can rid of our negative personal traits and inculcate positive virtues through positive thinking. The methods and strategies taught by Peale to culture positive thoughts are practical steps that can be adopted by any one to solve problems, get rid of anger and other negative emotions, and drain away all your malice, and attain the ultimate self-improvement.
The techniques and examples offered by Norman Vincent Peale is nothing new. We find them as inherent doctrines in some of the Eastern religions. The other self-help books, too, offer more or less the same prescription. We might briefly formulate Peale's thesis in the following words: Mind is a powerful entity. It determines your characters and habits that ultimately decide success or failure for you. But mind is not independent of you. It absorbs what you might feed it with. Feed it with the negative thoughts of doubts, fear and failure, and you might find these mind-directed traits in you. Feed it with the positive thoughts and you will discover these traits in you. When you are armed with this understanding, you can effectively empower yourself by directing, guiding and suggesting the thoughts of confidence, success, achievements to your mind.
It is quite true that positive thinking is universally acknowledged going a long way in personal improvement and success, but we cannot claim that it can be a universal panacea to all human evils. Human beings inherit certain traits - positive and negative - as a matter of genetic determinism. Some of us are short tempered and the others are relatively quiet. You might ask how his methods and examples even when applied practically change those gene-led traits. Lombroso held that criminal traits are genetically determined and a criminal cannot help committing crimes in the same manner as a lame person cannot help limping. Yet, in a population aberrant genes are insignificantly small in number so that most of us can hope to transform the way we think, speak and behave to learn better and more positive ideas. Much of what we understand by subconscious and unconscious influences are still in the realm of scientific investigation so that the manner and extent of their influences are not quite clear but we have begun to understand that what ever we think eventually sinks down to the level of subconscious and continue to impact the conscious thought and behavior. Positive thoughts and affirmations will therefore feed our subconscious mind with positive ideas which in turn propel us toward a growth trajectory.
While there is broad understanding on the powers of positive thinking and there are many theories derived from them, differences remain on the manner of their application. For instance no one can guide you on for how many hours should your mind is fed with positive thoughts or positive affirmations to bring about a certain result. Yet isn't it enough to know that we must continually strive to think positive and learn to be an optimist.
It is true that we can bring about a more harmonious society when for instance, employers and employees or husbands and wives begin doing positive affirmations. This is of course not to deny that we can't stop retrenchments or we can't stop divorces among husbands and wives from taking place with positive affirmations. It seems unlikely. While positive affirmations by husbands and wives will make them positive in their outlook, it will not melt away the structural and social issues that may be the underlying cause of a problem. Isn't it enough that we can make the differences sweet and appealing.
Nonetheless, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that techniques like visualizations and suggestions add to your level of confidence. Successful players have reported that they mentally picture themselves winning. Successful orators have reported making use of auto-suggestions to get over the fear of facing audience. It is plain and logical. Every conscious and unconscious act that we do follows the mental command. Success to a large extent depends on the power of this command. If someone is hesitant and lacks confidence before doing a certain action, he/she will probably not do it. The same individual after discovering the power of positive thinking will eventually overcome the hurdle that had been keeping success at a bay.