Emotional Contagion

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, happiness is my word for 2014. I’m generally an upbeat, optimistic person, so much so that I occasionally get on people’s nerves. Case in point. Recently my husband was moaning and groaning about taxes, and I remarked, “I remember once feeling the sting of property taxes right after Christmas, and when I told Mama about it, she wasn’t at all sympathetic.”

He had known and admired my mother so I had his attention.

I continued with my mother’s words, “Just be thankful you have the money to pay them, Darlin’.”

His grouchy, grumpy expression didn’t change one iota.

“Am I getting on your nerves with this type of thinking and talking?”

“Sort of,” he admitted. “It doesn’t make me feel any better if that’s what you mean.”

Still, I am what I am. According to Gretchen Rubin and the psychologists that she studied while writing The Happiness Project, a person’s innate temperament accounts for about 50 percent of her emotional set point. While I already knew that temperament, the raw material from which the personality is fashioned, is important, I liked being reminded of that little factoid.

#1. I like thinking of getting this characteristic from my mother. #2. It helps me to understand when some people are perpetually down in the dumps, gloom and doom prognosticators or dismal days ahead. They are what they are.

All that to say that like Rubin, although I am generally a happy person, I could be happier. I could work on that other 50 percent of my temperament that can change according to personal choices, effort, and environment.  We all can. Some people just choose not to. Like Rubin, I realized that nothing was going to change unless I made it happen. It’s yet another way of saying, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.”

There are dozens and dozens of suggestions in The Happiness Project, but today I’m zeroing in on a neat concept, emotional contagion. If you’re around people who are negative, pessimistic, or complaining, guess what happens? Right. You become more like them. Years ago, I came across a phrase that I’ve practiced ever since I saw it: sidestep negative energy. I don’t want to be infected by negativity, and have consequently tried to surround myself with positive people (note above photo). I want to be uplifted, not brought down.

Here’s the flip side to this emotional contagion concept. We all  have the power to affect other people’s moods. I think this is especially true for women, for it seems that they set the emotional tone of the home. “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” It’s true that the dad, brother, husband can send out negative vibes too, of course, but when he does, often people just stay out of his way.

I’ve made the choice to act upbeat and happy in the belief that my mood will affect the people around me. Rubin says she began singing in the morning and that her children liked that. She also began acting silly with them and found that her children and husband “caught” her mood. I haven’t started singing yet, but I have started listening to more music and humming along. And I’m working on the silly part.

Regardless of inner feelings, I’m making a concerted effort to act happier today. I’m going to put the emotional contagion concept to work and smile more. What’s something you can do to affect your environment, the one inside of your head and the one you live in?

A Pinecone, a Feather, and a Button

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I’ve been thinking about gifts a lot lately, mainly because of some of the books I’ve been reading. We’ve all been told that a gift doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to be meaningful and that it should reflect something important to the recipient, not the giver. Just thinking about this last phrase makes me feel a little uncomfortable. One Christmas, I gave my daughter Elizabeth a cool denim jacket with brown cording around the pockets. Taught to be gracious and grateful, she said, “Thanks Mama” before refolding it and placing it between the sheets of green tissue paper.

“You don’t like it?” I asked.”It’s so unique.”

“Yes, it is.” After a moment, “And it’s so you.”

“What does that mean?” knowing full well what it meant.

But I digress. Let’s just say that the following week, she took it back to TJ Maxx, one of our favorite shopping establishments, and exchanged it for something more Elizabeth and less Jayne.

In three of the books I’ve read lately, the characters gave meaningful gifts that showed care and thoughtfulness, and none of them cost a dime:

  • In The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Liesel regularly picks  up small gifts on her trips to and from school and brings them back to Max, a Jew hiding in the basement. A feather, a pinecone, and a button are a few of her offerings. Since he can’t see even a smidgen of daylight, Max is especially appreciative of Liesel’s thoughtful gifts.
  • In The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant, Cornelius leaves little presents for Judy Rhine, and later in his life, he leaves nature’s gifts for Oliver Small’s two young sons. Both Judy Rhine and the Smalls family reciprocate Cornelius’s generosity by nursing and caring for him.
  • While listening to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road on some recent travels, I realized that the father was constantly giving gifts to his young son. A cold can of Coca Cola, a can of peaches, some mushrooms, and “the fire” are but a few of these gifts, and in this situation the love that this man feels for the boy is so obvious that it’s just about heartbreaking. How can love be heartbreaking? Read the book and you’ll see what I mean.

Reading about these instances of gift giving in literature inspired me to be more mindful of the gifts all around me and to be giving, especially with things without a price tag. At our writing group the other night, one of the members brought me some delicate pale pink flowers from her yard. As I sat in the back seat of my daughter’s van the other afternoon, instead of getting impatient at the slowness of the traffic, I looked out of the window and enjoyed the scene to my right, the marsh (see above picture). Then I looked at Colton, the 4-year-old who wanted me to read a book about numbers and farm animals to him. I glanced at the front of the van and could see the tops of my daughters’ heads and catch snippets of their conversation, another gift.

Now that I’m more conscious of the power of gifts, I’m making more of an effort to give them. Sometimes it might be something I purchase that looks like the person and not like me. Sometimes it might be something from nature, and other times it could be a service, something I can do to help another person. My husband is really good at this and is always (yes, always) doing something for someone else. Back to me and what I can and will do, I can give more of my time and energy.

Today, not next week or some vague future date, I’m going to improve my gift giving. Yesterday I picked up some unique shells from the beach and have already given one away. Later in the day, I bought a birthday gift for a friend. Tomorrow, I’m going to make a call that will set the ball in motion for some volunteer work.

What about you? What gifts have you received that are particularly meaningful? And perhaps more importantly, what have you given?

Do It Anyway

Today I got an email from Dr. Susan Jeffers. Actually, it was a newsletter that I receive every month, but this one was quite different from the others. It was an obituary. Dr. Jeffers died of cancer in October, and someone who loved her sent the monthly newsletter. Among other works, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway influenced millions of people, including yours truly, and this evening, I’m copying and pasting something from this book that I wrote in a psychcentral blog about a year ago. Here goes:

From reading past posts, I’ve realized that self-help and personal development are among the most popular topics. For that reason, I’m re-reading 50 Self-Help Classics by Tom Butler-Bowden and choosing a few that I think you might find both interesting and helpful.

One of the classics reviewed by Butler-Bowdon is entitled Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. The author, Dr. Susan Jeffers, says that people see fear in the wrong way, and that it’s actually a green light to keep going. Trepidation is undeniably real, but we just need to push forward, to feel the fear and do it anyway. Sure, security and routine are safe, but can’t they be a little risky if they prevent you from living a full life?

Dr. Jeffers says we need energizing every day, and that just like breakfast energizes and fuels our body, reading inspirational quotes and books fuels our psyches. Take control of your mental inputs, Jeffers advises. Say things like, “I am a confident person in every situation.” Never be fearful of mistakes. Lighten up and be happy that you had the experience…that you tried. Wouldn’t be awful to come to the end of your life and still be thinking coulda, shoulda, woulda?  From teaching Human Growth and Development, I’ve learned that the #1 regret of elderly people is that they DIDN’T give things a try, that they let their fears hold them back. By that time, it’s too late to make that call, start that business, write that article, or fly around the world

Jeffers offers a perfect example of how she worked through humans’ #1 fear, rejection.  These are her words lifted right from her website:  “It took many, many rejections before my first book, FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY, was finally accepted by a publisher. The worst rejection letter I ever got was that “Lady Di could be bicycling nude down the street giving this book away and nobody would read it.” Can you imagine being told that? I bet that publisher has regretted that snide comment hundreds of times. What if Jeffers had listened? What if she had given up? What if she had felt the fear and stopped?

Are you going to be one of those people who allow fear to stop you from taking chances, or are you going to be courageous? Why not start small?  Think of one thing, just one thing, you can be brave about today and DO IT! Oh, and share it on this blog. Who knows? Your courage might inspire someone else.

Ten Commandments of Voting

Don’t get your dander up. Although this is a post about the upcoming election, it’s not one that bashes either candidate. In fact, while eating lunch with a friend yesterday, we concurred that while our presidential choice differs, we still feel that both candidates are men of integrity. That said, I’m tiptoeing away from further discussion and want to write just a little about the importance of voting.

Don’t get your dander up. Although this is a post about the upcoming election, it’s not one that bashes either candidate. In fact, while eating lunch with a friend yesterday, we concurred that while our presidential choice differs, we still feel that both candidates are men of integrity. That said, I’m tiptoeing away from further discussion  and want to write just a little about the importance of voting.

We live, hands down, in the best country on the face of the earth. Naturally, I haven’t visited them all, except in books and other written material, but I feel fervently that this is a land choice above all other lands. I just finished reading The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly, and in it she describes the solitary confinement and brutal treatment of Teza who is serving a 20-year prison term for singing about politics and power in a country (Myanmar) where political dissent was (is?)  forbidden.

Here in America, people sing against, laugh at, and show disrespect for leaders and candidates, and nothing happens. I’m not saying that something should. I’m just saying that we take our freedom to speak and voice our opinion for granted. Last night I watched a SNL video of the debate between vice presidential candidates, and while I thought it was amusing, I was again struck by the incredible freedoms we have. In many countries, the actors would probably be dead by now. Or no, I doubt that some spoof like the one I saw would have even gotten off the ground.

Back to The Lizard Cage. I might never have known about this book had I not been introduced to it in The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. In this book, the author also relates three of “The Ten Commandments of Voting,” a pamphlet that his mother had been given while visiting an African country in which people were allowed to vote freely for the first time. I’m listing these three commandments right from Schwalbe’s books in the hope that they’ll move you as much as they did me.

  1. You have nothing to fear. Remember that your vote is secret. Only you and your God know how you vote.
  2. People who promise things that they never give are like clouds and wind that bring no rain: do not be misled by promises.
  3. Your vote is your power: use it to make a difference to your life and your country.

What can I add to these statements written in a pamphlet encouraging people who were able to vote freely for the first time, people who were well aware of the privilege and power of casting their vote? Nothing, unless it’s to remind everyone of our insanely wonderful (and sometimes wacky) American culture and all of the freedoms we have.

Hope, Direction, and Gratitude

On Friday afternoon, I had the opportunity to get together with June, an old and dear friend. Among the many topics of conversation that afternoon was the awesome power of books to change one’s thinking, give hope, and offer direction. Yes, we talked about paint chips and husbands and careers too, but somehow the topic always returned to some of the books we’ve read and how they affected our lives.

While there are dozens that I could mention, I’m only going to highlight a few:

The first three words in Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled were sobering for both of us the first time we read it. Basing his premise on the noble truths of Buddha, Dr.Peck states, “Life is difficult,” and then goes on to say that as soon as people accept that fact and stop whining, then they can go about their lives in a more effective way.

June and I went through a season in which we devoured the words of Sarah ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance. We even gave each other gratitude journals and followed Sarah’s (we felt we were on a first name basis with her)  advice to write five things each day for which we were grateful. What this taught us was to be more mindful and to pay attention  to the good things in our lives.

And how can I forget Melody Beattie’s The Language of Letting Go? I can’t. In fact, I’ve  given several copies of this book away and currently have a copy here at home, at the beach bungalow, and on my Kindle. Sometimes I forget that I deserve all that life and love have to offer, and I need a reminder from Melody. I’ve also learned about detaching with love, the power of waiting, and knowing  when to say no from her.

Then there’s Dr. Stephen Covey and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I first read this book 14 or 15 years ago, and I continue to dip into it whenever I need a reminder to be proactive, make some deposits in an emotional bank account, or sharpen the saw. Everyone who knows me knows I’m a big Covey fan.

Though small, Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved my Cheese? also gave me much food for thought. A student introduced me to this book, and his favorite line soon became one of mine: “It is safer to search in the maze than remain in a cheeseless situation.”

Before I get too carried away with more favorites, I just want to reiterate that reading can change a person’s perspective, lift her out of the doldrums, and show her a better way. I’m hoping that my new book, Eve’s Sisters, a compilation of essays applying psychological principles to the women of the Bible AND the women of today, will help people as much as other books have helped me!

Prolonging Your Life

Most people’s blogs have a theme. Cooking, preparing for a marathon, losing weight, becoming successful at work, becoming more spiritual, and decorating one’s home are popular themes. But this blog? Well, this blog is a hodgepodge of whatever I happen to be thinking about. It might be social commentary on single parenting, a travelogue of a recent trip, or some opinions on the presidential candidates (stay tuned for this one).

I have other blogs. One is about women in the Bible, one centers on teaching, and one focuses on psychology. The latter is reserved for my students and is a great way for us to get involved in a little psycho babble. And lest I forget, I recently got involved in a writing blog with my writing group, and as soon as we get a little more participative, I’ll share the link. This is my favorite blog, however, because this is the one where I can write whatever I want to. Just because Mom’s Musings doesn’t have a theme like religion or culinary arts, that doesn’t mean that it lacks focus. It’s focused on my musings.

Today I’m musing over the contents of a book I’ve been reading entitled The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood. It’s a virtual fount of interesting and useful information that we can all apply to our lives beginning today. Always intrigued by who survives disasters and who doesn’t, what makes a person resilient, and what factors determine our longevity, I’ve been captivated by the stories and research provided by Sherwood. In fact, I’m reading it on my Kindle Fire and have highlighted so many passages that it’s ridiculous.

I’ve learned that surviving, whatever that might mean to you, doesn’t depend on a single factor. Several are involved in beating the odds. For example, the Central Park jogger’s friends describe her as indomitable. While that’s true, it’s also true that her massive brain injuries might have aided in her recovery. Unable to remember the attack, she wasn’t tormented by flashbacks or nightmares. Then there was the story of a  man who awoke to find himself in the ocean in the dark wearing his undies and a sweatshirt. He had no recollection of how he got there, but apparently he had fallen off of the cruise ship. He managed to stay awake and afloat all night, and he feels that the secret to his survival was sheer will power and his ability to stay calm and focused. That counted for something, of course, but his prior military training  and physical fitness gave him an edge that the average Joe wouldn’t have had.

But what about the ultimate survival? What about living a long, happy life? What determines how long we live? Is it heredity? Is it a 50/50 split between heredity and environment? While both are important, lifestyle, personal choice, and plain old luck figure into the equation too. According to the book, genetic factors influence about 25 percent of our longevity. This fact is especially intriguing when you consider that 80 to 90 percent of our height is determined by our parents’ heights. I can’t wait to share this information with my sister. Our mother died of cancer when she was only 71, and my sweet sis thinks we’re going to succumb to the big C too. Maybe so. Who can predict the future? All I can say for certain is that Ann and I are medium tall because of our DNA, but other factors are going to determine whether we live past 71.

Longevity depends largely on the decisions you make and the things that happen to you on a daily basis. According to Sherwood, it’s never too late to make changes to prolong your life.  Before mentioning some of those changes, I need to mention that life expectancy is more complex than eating right and exercising. While those activities are important, so is your geography. People who live in Andorra and Japan live decades longer than those living in Swaziland and Angola.

If you want to prolong your life, here are some tips. Exercise, limit saturated fat, wear a seat belt, and install smoke detectors. And here’s one I like: listen to what your mother told you, including wearing a coat when it’s cold and a hat when it’s raining. Be sure to get enough sleep, eat your fruits and vegetables, and get a moderate amount of exercise. A final suggestion is one given by Madame Calment, a French woman who lived to be 122 years old:  SMILE. 

So here’s my plan. I’m going to put on my happy face, go into the kitchen and grab a banana, and then go out for a three-mile walk. I’m also going to check the batteries in our smoke detectors. What about you? What’s your plan?

Anxious and Antsy

Isn’t that a great picture? It’s included in Eve’s Sisters, a collection of essays applying psychological and spiritual principles to the lives of women in the Bible while comparing them to the women of today. Since the photograph will be black and white in the book, you’ll miss seeing the pretty red umbrella. Still, I love the picture as it seems to beckon the onlooker towards the sand and surf and a great day at the beach.

With only a few weeks until I actually get to see and hold Eve’s Sisters, I’m getting a little anxious, antsy too.  After all, I’m self-publishing this book and have no marketing department behind me. I’ve had no editor giving me direction or advice. Nope, just little ole me and some kind members of my writing group who helped me out in a few areas, especially Mindy. And my sister Ann read the first draft and declared it to be the best thing I’ve ever written. But then, she’s my sister; she might have been trying to make me feel good. Or then again, maybe she was hinting that all my other work had been inferior.

What if no one buys a copy? What if the people who buy one do it solely out of loyalty and support and then they go home and shelve the book, never to be glanced at again? Just as scary, what if they read it and find it lacking in some way? Perhaps it’s too shallow or perhaps not biblically correct? Then again, maybe there’ll be some nitpickers who will delight in any tiny spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors I might have missed, thus missing the essence of the book and the women it describes.

As an aside, yesterday I sensed that my intro psych class was extraordinarily nervous about their first test so to help allay their tension somewhat, I wrote a short sentence or two in an introductory statement that preceded the online test. I don’t recall the precise wording today, but it went something like, “I know you’ll do well. Just make sure to read ech question and its options carefully before making your selection.” Did it help? I’m not sure. One of the young men was so amused by the misspelled word that my effort at encouragement took a back seat.

Back to the book, even if people smirk and make snarky remarks, it doesn’t matter. If some say that it’s poorly written, elementary, or poorly researched, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even matter if people disagree with me. In fact, I’d like to get a good discussion going and check out other points of view. The point is that people’s approval or disapproval doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter. It was something I felt impressed to do, and I couldn’t let fear of censure, criticism, or condemnation stop me. (You shouldn’t either.)

Guess I got a little carried away up there. Before posting this, I need to add that I’m publishing this book with Inspiring Voices, a house associated with Guideposts. After having an article published in the April 2011 issue of Guideposts magazine, I did a little research and perceived Inspiring Voices to be reputable publisher. So far, all of my experiences with them have been positive, and the galleys look GOOD because of their internal design team.

Has it been a lot of work? YES. Would I self-publish again? Probably not, but maybe. There are lots of advantages to traveling the self-publishing route. There are quite a few potholes and hurdles and curvy roads too. In the next couple of posts, I’ll examine some of the pros and cons, and in doing so, maybe I’ll give someone  out there the nudge she (or he) needs to “just do it.”

Writing Conference Tips


This morning I found some notes I took at the annual South Carolina Writers Workshop held in Myrtle Beach in October, and reading over my scribbled notes brought to mind the great time I had and the information I learned. From the time I arrived on Thursday evening until I parted company with my new friends on Sunday, it was a wonderful experience. Or rather, it was a series of one memorable experience after another. The three days were instructive, inspiring, motivational, and downright fun.

My primary job as a volunteer was to work at the registration desk, but I basically filled in where needed. For instance, I helped Kia stuff attendee bags on Friday, and I helped Kim and Kathryn with the silent auction winners on Sunday. While the best part of the conference was probably getting to know and rub shoulders with some amazing people, it was also great to learn so many tidbits about writing.

Time and space prohibit a rundown of everything so I’ll just hit some of the highlights of Friday. That morning, I attended a couple of informative sessions, and these are some things I learned. Most had to do with societal change and believability.

Often grandparents writing children’s books sound like grandparents. I knew exactly what the speaker meant by this. Lately I read some negative comments on Face Book about the Junie B. Jones books, and guess who they were written by? A grandparent. A grandparent who’s out of touch with the way children perceive the world and the way they talk today. This grandparent also criticized the language in the Junie books and went on to say that it’s no wonder children speak  the way they do when they read “crap” like this. I’m wondering if exposure to grandparents’ language is more likely the culprit in this case.

Technology is tricky because it dates a book. While I know this, I don’t know exactly how to change it…or whether it’s even a bad thing. Is a person using a land line phone, a cell phone, or a smart phone? Language dates a book too, and examples such as “wassup” were given. Too, words like netbook, apps, and Skype weren’t even in our lingo ten years ago.

Although societal changes and advances in technology alter the way people communicate with each other, character motivation stays the same. Basic psychology isn’t going to change, but the methods used to reveal character are different. One presenter told about a spooky guy who lived in her neighborhood when she was a child. One Halloween, he built a casket, placed it in his front yard, and lay naked in it. When a brave and curious child tentatively opened the lid for a peek inside, he grabbed her and pulled her into the coffin with him.Today this predator would be online. This grabbed my attention because according to psychologists, online solicitation of children is becoming more common.

Before breaking for lunch, the presenter shared some other tidbits. When you edit your own work, try to find out what your quirk is like colons, commas, no paragraphs, or using a word or expression too much. When I heard that, I couldn’t help but think of Pat Conroy, one of my favorite Southern writers. In My Reading Life, Conroy admits that he has a problem with wordiness. He can’t help his verbosity, however, and says he was stung by a wordsmith, his mother, at a very early age. Is there a Conroy fan anywhere who could deny that his voice is unique and that his long winded style works for him?

The last tip was my favorite. Why? Because it works! If you’re stuck, go do some laundry, and when you come back, your writing will be crisper. It doesn’t have to be laundry. It could be a walk around the neighborhood, lunch with friends, or an episode of NCIS. The point is to get away from the work for a bit.

Wow. The more I write, the more I realize that I learned that weekend. Stay tuned. I need to take a break and will share the rest of Friday’s information  in a day or two.

Denver and Mr. Ron

In my lesson on charity this morning, I included a reference to a recent novel chosen by my book club, Same Kind of Different as Me, and I decided to review the book here. This is actually a revised version of a review I posted at Amazon.com a couple of weeks ago. Truthfully, it took two years and two attempts before I was hooked by this book. When my son-in-law Charlie gave it to me and described it as “wonderful,” I began reading it right away. I stuck it out for two nights, but I couldn’t get into it for some reason.

“Where did the author come up with such a character as Denver?” I wondered. Could anyone have such a poor and miserable life? I knew that poverty, homelessness, and prejudice were serious issues in our society, but I just didn’t want to be reminded of it right before falling asleep. Plus, the dialect annoyed me. Did the author really have to make people from the South sound so illiterate and backwards? Then Ron entered the picture, and while I thought the accounts of life in the 1960s were pretty interesting, I began to get irritated with this character too. Was the reader supposed to believe that someone would wear matching plaid shirts and shorts, black knee socks, and brogans to a college football game in the 1960’s?

When my book club chose it for our March selection, I picked it up again. “Surely there’s something redeeming about this book for so many people to love it,” I thought. I downloaded it on my Kindle and listened to it on the way to and from work. It wasn’t long before I got involved in the lives of these two men, Denver and Ron, wondering when their lives would intersect. Living parallel lives in different parts of the country, their experiences couldn’t have been more different. One was an illiterate black man who, tired of being poor in Louisiana, hopped on a train and ended up homeless in Fort Worth. The other was a white millionaire, a college grad who seemed to live a charmed existence. Married to Miss Debbie, he was a successful art dealer.

Somewhere along the line, I realized that the book was true…not based on truth, but absolutely true and told by the men who lived the stories. I’ll leave it up to you to read where and when and how their friendship began and grew. I’ll just say that the millionaire who set out to be a do-gooder philanthropist and the former sharecropper who later had a front row seat at a presidential inauguration were forever transformed by their shared experiences. Interestingly, the one who set out to give ended up being on the receiving end. He broadened my thinking too; because of Denver, I’m using Micah 6:8 as yet another guide for living my life.

As the book progresses, Denver and Ron take turns telling their life stories and their individual perceptions of the events described in the book. Each of them shares scenes so descriptive that the reader can see them and feel their essence. Whether Rocky Top, rural Louisiana, the “hood,” or the homeless shelter is being described, they all seem real. Denver’s visions of spirits, occasional scripture references, and pithy words of wisdom are as thought provoking and interesting as Ron’s big art deals and spiritual transformation.

The person who served as a catalyst for the book was Miss Debbie. Denver and Ron loved her, and so will you. Even as I type this, I’m wondering if I can persuade my husband to go to Fort Worth during Spring Break. There are some people I want to meet there…and an art gallery I want to visit.

Thank you, Mrs. Peale

Thank you, Mrs. Norman Vincent Peale. Because of your faith in your husband’s message, you took his manuscript to a publisher who saw its merit. Because you didn’t give up when your husband was ready to throw in the towel, millions have read and benefitted from The Power of Positive Thinking.


Thank you, Mrs. Norman Vincent Peale. Because of your faith in your husband’s message, you took his manuscript to a publisher who saw its merit. Because you didn’t give up when your husband was ready to throw in the towel, millions have read and benefitted from The Power of Positive Thinking.

Getting this manuscript to a publisher was no simple feat. After having it rejected several times, Dr. Peale tossed it in the trashcan and forbade his wife to remove it. She was in a dilemma. Not wanting to disrespect her husband’s wishes and yet knowing the power of his message, she decided to take the trashcan containing the discarded manuscript to another publisher. That one said YES, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Power of Positive Thinking was first published in 1952 and continues to be a best seller. I’m fortunate enough to have a 1st edition on my bookshelf, and I refer to it quite often. When discussing the merits of cognitive psychology in my introductory class, I often quote Peale’s famous quote to, “Change your thoughts and you change your world.” That’s a lot easier said than done sometimes, but I’d rather try it than wallow in miserable thoughts.

While I have been encouraged and uplifted by Dr. Peale’s words many ties, I’m just as impressed with his wife Ruth’s strength and personality. Without her determination, tenacity, and faith, this magnificent book might have never come to fruition. So often we hear, “You can’t,” or, “It’s already been done.” When we push through despite the naysayers and stumble a bit, there are always those who say, “The handwriting’s on the wall. It’s not happening for you!”

Don’t these people realize that people need encouragement? Everyone needs someone in his corner who will give hope and confidence, someone who will infuse him with courage. In Dr. Peale’s case, I think his wife had more faith in his work than he did. In an interview towards the end of her 101-year-old life, she said that she didn’t have as much doubt as he did. I loved reading that. It told me that even one of the positive thinkers of the 20th century sometimes faltered but with the support of someone who believed in him, Dr. Peale ultimately succeeded.

Perseverance and persistence are important. So are encouragement and support. Is there someone in your life whom you can infuse with courage (encourage) to JUST DO IT?