The first personal growth book I ever read was “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. My dad gave it to me and I’m sure had no idea what a profound impact it would have on my life. My dad also probably had no idea that I, his only daughter, would grow up to be such a big science fiction fan.
So how do these two loves come together? Well, as someone who loves science fiction and writes science fiction, I spend a good portion of every day imagining different worlds. In addition, it’s intriguing to imagine that with enough mental discipline, we could shape our world. “Enough” being the key word here. If there is ever enough—I certainly won’t have it in this lifetime. However, I did use positive thinking, intention, creative visualization—whatever you want to call it—to get my first book published. I visualized the publisher contacting me. I wrote myself emails as if they were from a publisher. I even made up business cards with the title of my book on them and placed one where I would see it every day while I was working. Low and behold, I received the email from an editor, they published my book and I didn’t have to throw out those business cards. It was scary how well it worked.
Then reality hit. The first review I read for my book, was awful—really awful! I remember feeling not just disappointed, but shocked. Until that moment, I’d been filled with nothing but positive thoughts about my book. I’d had constant positive reinforcement from friends and editors. What had happened to all that powerful positive thinking? This wasn’t supposed to happen.
I suppose at that point in my life I wasn’t much different from a gambler who is surprised when his lucky streak finally breaks. I had tricked myself into believing that controlling my world meant controlling The World.
The truth is, what Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Dr. Wayne Dyer are trying to tell you when they say things like, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” is that you do have control over your world. “Your” being the key word here. Dr. Wayne Dyer puts it something like this: When he’s speaking to a crowd of a thousand people, there are bound to be a thousand different opinions of him. Some people will love him, many will think he’s full of crap and others may be indifferent. The only opinion that matters is his own. It’s the only opinion he can control.
Now a days, I write for myself and hope there are a few others out there who enjoy what I have to say. I still heartily believe in the power of positive thinking. I still believe it helped me get my book published…but it wasn’t just the business card or the emails I sent myself. In fact, they had little to do with it. Most important, I wrote the book. Then I edited the book. Then I workshopped the book with other writers and listened to their suggestions. Then I researched publishing houses to find a good fit for the book and finally I submitted the book… and kept submitting and editing until my book found a home.
I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said: “God helps those who help themselves.” I like that. Positive action equals positive thought and while it may not always equal the positive outcome we want, there’s another quote I try to keep in mind: “All in God’s time.”