When Can We Date The Origin Of Positive Thinking?

Find out about the origin of positive thinking and its history

Great authors of all times have spoken about how our thoughts, and how we decide to look at things, condition the reality that we experience.

Already Epictetus in the first century said that "The thing that upsets people is not so much what happens, but what they think about what happens".

This can be one of the very first signals of the origin of positive thinking.

The US Declaration of Independence, written in 1776, mentions happiness as a right: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

Religion as the origin of positive thinking

The positive thinking movement and positive psychology derive from the New Thought Movement, at the origin of positive thinking.

This movement took place during the last part of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century mainly in North America.

Religious men (thinkers, philosophers, businessmen) started to write about the power of thoughts and positive thinking from a secular point of view.

The writing of several authors surrounds the origin of positive thinking. Their essays, poems and non-fiction writing were focused on the importance of thoughts and the mind:

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson contributed early to the positive thinking movement with his essays, where he emphasized the importance of self-reliance and thought for the progress of the individual. He stated that our perception of reality altered it.

  • Ernest Holmes can be regarded as one of the fathers of the origin of positive thinking. He wrote several books about the power of the mind and stated that "thoughts are things". He also founded 'Science of Mind', a positive thinking magazine, still published today.

  • Orison Swett Marden played also an important role in the origin of positive thinking, as he wrote books on the subject and founded 'Success' magazine. This was one of the most influential magazines in America nowadays published under the name 'Success Unlimited'.

  • William James was a philosopher who wrote several books on psychology. He said: "The greatest discovery of my generation is that man can alter his life simply by altering his attitude of mind".

  • Emile Coue is considered a leader on self-help writing. He was a pharmacist who studied hypnotism and autosuggestion. He told his patients to repeat this sentence a number of times every day : "Every day in every way I am getting better and better". This is considered one of the first positive thinking affirmations.

Hope after the depression

The origin of positive thinking in our modern society is normally placed upon the publication of two books after the Great Depression in 1929: 'How to win friends and influence people', by Dale Carnegie, and 'Think and grow rich', by Napoleon Hill.

Napoleon Hill interviewed five hundred successful millionaires of his time, men and women, and wrote about their secrets for success in his 'Law of success'. He also contributed with his articles to Marden's 'Success' magazine.

The consolidation of positive thinking

In 1952 Norman Vincent Peale published 'The power of positive thinking', which was a Christian version of positive thinking. Peale founded the 'Guideposts' magazine.

A great influence in the field of positive thinking is also Earl Nightingale, who published 'The strangest secret' in 1957, the first positive thinking audio recording.

It was initially created by Nightingale for his sales staff while he was away from the business. The strangest secret is "We become what we think about".

Maxwell Maltz published 'Psycho-cybernetics' in 1960, in which he explains how the mind works and how to use positive thinking, and also proposes exercises to train the mind.

All these books were very popular and helped a number of people to achieve success overtime. There are institutions nowadays that teach the principles of these books through seminars and conferences.

Positive thinking today

Positive thinking is applied to many different fields in the twenty-first century: in business and sales, in health, sports, children education, psychology, motivation and inspiration, self-image, or marketing.

Many authors follow the positive thinking movement and apply it to different areas. The following are just a few of them, maybe the most famous ones:

  • Joe Vitale is probably one of the most inspiring authors of the moment. He wrote the empowering book 'Life's missing instruction manual' and contributed to the positive thinking movie 'The secret'.

  • Anthony Robbins is a motivational speaker and an advisor to leaders over the world, with good knowledge on psychology and positive thinking. His seminars and speeches have helped many people.

  • Brian Tracy. His books and speeches are used in personal development, self-help and business successfully. He wrote 'Create your own future' among other books.

  • Steven Covey. He published 'The 7 habits of highly effective people', which is used in business as well as for personal development. The seven habits can be applied to anything you do in your life to maximize effectiveness.

  • Robert Anthony. He is a well known author in the field of positive thinking and self-help. 'Beyond positive thinking' is one of his most famous books.

  • Louise Hay. She is the author of 'You can heal your life' and many other books which promote self-healing using the power of our thoughts. Her books are highly inspirational.

  • Wayne W. Dyer. Dyer's interpretation of the Tao Te Ching in 'Change your thoughts, change your life' can truly help us live a more balanced and wiser life. He is also the author of 'The power of intention', among many other books.

Find out more about positive thinking authors and texts through these positive thinking information links.

"The only disability in life is a bad attitude."

Scott Hamilton

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