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    The Legend of Positive Thinking.

    Original Article:

    By: In the Men’s Room with Murph

    One of the great blessings of my life was my friendship with Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, the author of The Power of Positive Thinking. He was undeniably a legend of positive thinking. We were both on the speakers’ staff of The Positive Thinking Rallies, a movement that began in 1975 and still lives on today. I started as the emcee and introduced Dr. Peale more than 50 times over a period of years. On several occasions, I had dinner with Dr. Peale and his lovely wife, Ruth. Dr. Peale was gracious, authentic and always inquired about me, my career, and my family. His genuine optimism was impacting on me, and I often said to myself, if this great man is a product of positive thinking, then I’m all for it. He made a lasting and optimistic impression on me, from which I am still benefiting! Below is a story from one of his wonderful books… From You Can if You Think You Can:  

     All the resources you need are in your mind. They are established in consciousness waiting to be summoned. I will never forget the time I discovered that fact. It was worth a tough crisis experience to emerge with that truth which has served me well ever since. I found myself one day in a predicament requiring some fast thinking. As the American Legion’s chaplain for Kings County New York, I was asked to give an invocation at a Memorial Day meeting on a May Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.  A big crowd was expected, but I figured I could handle the few sentences of an invocation even though I was very young and inexperienced. Approaching the designated area of Prospect Park, I asked a police officer how many people were there. “Oh,” he said, “about fifty thousand.”      

    I proceeded to the platform and introduced myself to the chief speaker of the day, former President Theodore Roosevelt’s son, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt Jr., who later served in World War II with the rank of general and died on the beaches of Normandy. I informed him casually that I was scheduled to give the invocation.  Then I sat down, picked up the program and examined it. To my consternation, I saw that I wasn’t listed for the invocation at all. Instead, believe it or not, I was down for a speech just preceding Colonel Roosevelt’s talk. The program read, “Address by Norman Vincent Peale, Chaplain of American Legion of Kings County.” I gulped. Indeed, I froze. I had no speech prepared. What was I to do?        I rushed over to the master of ceremonies and chattered, “There’s been a mistake. I was asked only to give an invocation, but look at this program; you have me down for a speech. “Well,” he said matter-of-factly, “if you are down for a speech I guess you will just have to give one.” 

    “But,” I protested, “I just can’t do that. To make a speech you have to be prepared, and I’m not. It’s just not possible. Besides, look at that big crowd. Somebody else will have to speak in my place.”  Colonel Roosevelt, who overheard this conversation, looked me over appraisingly. “What’s the matter, son?” he asked, “Are you afraid?” “Afraid? That’s not the half of it!” I frankly acknowledged. “A huge crowd like this is enough to scare the life out of me! And anyway, how can I think up a speech in the next few minutes? It just isn’t in the cards.”      

    “Oh, yes, it is,” he answered, “and I’ll tell you how. For one thing, stop telling yourself that you’re scared and start thinking courage. Practice affirming confidence. And another thing, I’d suggest that you stop thinking of yourself. Come over here with me a minute.” He led the way to the front of the platform and drew my attention to a big section of reserved seats all occupied by women. “Do you know who those women are?” he asked. “They are the Gold Star Mothers. That means that every one of them lost a son in the war. “They are sitting here on this Memorial Day afternoon thinking of beloved sons who aren’t with them anymore. Maybe they are remembering the days when those sons were little boys who had to be held by the hand, sometimes had to be coaxed to sleep at night. They miss their boys. They have their sorrow, They are lonely and sad. “Isn’t there anything you can say to these Gold Star Mothers? You certainly can love them. Forget yourself and start feeling compassion for those wonderful mothers. Then get up and give a talk just for them. Forget everyone else in this crowd if you want to. What you say to those mothers will reach everyone here. 

     “You can do it,” he asserted. Then came that powerful statement which has remained with me ever since, one of the greatest of all truths. Colonel Roosevelt said, “Look, Norman, all the resources you need are in your mind. Sure, you can do it by just drawing on them. That speech is right there in that mind of yours. Relax, start thinking, and it will come to you.”        And he threw me two final words: “Think courage.” He hit me sort of affectionately on the back. I drew a deep breath and said, “All right, Colonel, I’ll try. But it’s going to be a very short speech.” “The shorter it is,” he grinned, “the better it will be. But put your whole self into it Send out love to those people and you will shake off that fear of yours.”  So I made my little speech. When I finished and sat down Colonel Roosevelt leaned over and clapped me on the knee. “Boy, that was great! You rang the bell!” I am sure it wasn’t very great and the bell didn’t ring very loudly, but of course, I have remembered that man with affection ever since.  He was right about one thing. When you rely on your mind it will deliver, provided you’ve put something into it. And that is doubly true when you forget yourself and sincerely try to make life happier for other people. Forget yourself! Think courage. Believe that all the resources you need are in your mind. That is a formula really works.”

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