Book Review by Vincent Norman Peale


The Works of Vincent Norman Peale His works were criticized by Mental health experts as a bad influence on mental well-being, and Vincent Norman Peale himself was described as a Confidence Man. Norman once stood in his years as an American Minister and author best known for his works popularizing the concept of positive thinking.

Through his works, he has crafted bestsellers specifically his book, “The Power of Positive Thinking”. In respect to the fledging career he had then as a motivational writer, 6 of his books through this piece will be brought into review.

The Power of Positive Thinking

As described by Vincent Norman Peale himself, this book was written to help readers achieve a happy and worthwhile life. Its contents are rightly on the nose as regards its title. Through the book’s contents, Norman establishes practical techniques that guide audiences towards energizing their lives. It draws focus on their strengths as a person, their goals, and their relationships on specific social scales that contribute to life itself.

The book, unlike a few philosophical or motivational books, does not set itself apart from the religious perspective, although it doesn’t draw from sentimental angles or specific faith or teachings to stress its points. It instead builds on an open mind to see whichever angle or faith one is of an opinion of. It can be accused of being a ploy but what the book gets is a given fact that it lets people see themselves through its contents, and if we are to be excused, Life is making meaning from the ambiguous, and meaning is made by relating unexplained or ambiguous concepts with things we relate with. This is what Norman Peale does in this book. He relates positivity and life, two very complex terms, with man’s own ease, to prove its point. In theory, it removes the stress associated with life, and brings into focus the ease and pleasure we find doing what we love, and placing those things in the view of like life.

Vincent Norman Peale uses this idea to call on the positive spirit, cause technically speaking ease and pleasure breeds positivity, and he argues against the opinion that life only has to be about stress and little pleasure. This book though leaves readers with a choice. With all being said, the book isn’t without its critics, or should we say its faults. There are certain instances where it felt like nothing short of propaganda; a sales pitch with all the sweet talks penned by a smooth talker trying to make us feel good with a sale. But this is where the concept of religion justifies the book’s contents—you have to believe in the concept of positivity above anything else for the book to bear any meaning.  

You Can If You Think You Can

“Any Occupation, any job has excitement in it if you have some excitement in you”—is a quote taken straight out of a second of Norman Vincent Peale’s books, ‘You Can If You Think You Can’. First published on January 1st, 1974, the book bears with it some themes present in The Power of Positive Thinking, which is the overarching concept of Positivity. It can be argued, ‘You Can If You Think You Can’ is some sort of spiritual sequel to Norman Vincent’s best seller.

This book unlike The Power of Positive Thinking deals more with the individual than it does positivity in general. It brings to view the concept of a person and what it means as well as what it takes to be a person. The book from its contents and pages offers confidence without fear, realistic answers to the everyday problems encountered in personal struggles. It takes readers deep into the transformative lives of men and women of all ages and walks of life to show a similarity with the current troubles facing people in their everyday lives. This way, Norman creates a sense of motivation using stories of these people for others.

It is an orthodox mix of age-old truth and modern psychiatric technique; a sort of therapy to show how to overcome problems and conflicts by showing us a parallel of how others dealt with theirs. The book unravels the story of Walt Disney to serve as inspiration, informing readers how Disney used his struggles to ironically be his inspiration (Disney lived in an old abandoned garage infested with rats, and this became the idea for Mickey Mouse). This comes after intervals of rejection that came time and again.

Norman Vincent, in this book, soundly dismisses the notion that one has to take life not with a grain of salt but with a grain of sugar. And about how, The Power of Positive Thinking deals squarely on positivity, You Can If You Think You Can, leans on towards possibility. The book places value in the belief that all things are possible and that belief channels a path towards achieving. The central takeaway the book presents us, is the idea one can do anything with the right mental attitudinal habits, and the fact that there are infinite resources to tap in at our own disposal.

The Power of Ethical Management

Ethics naturally has been a societal problem, in that they deal with the concept of morals; which as society evolved, became as ambiguous as they are relative to man’s desires and point of view. In this book, Norman Vincent Peale takes on this crisis to talk about the business side of ethics. 

The Power of Ethical Management, Peale proves you don’t have to cheat to win. It tries to show to corporate executives the benefits of integrity to the game of business, by bringing to view practical and ethical strategies in winning profits and achieving success in the long term. It sets out a straightforward 3 steps Ethics check that evaluates action and decision to a set of ‘5P’s’ of ethical behavior—Persistence, Patience, Purpose, Patience, Pride to make clear the purpose and your goals. In this book, Vincent Norman Peale, along with the co-writer draws on their enormous experience to reveal the pros and cons and strategies for ethical decisions that go to far lengths to show why integrity pays.

Compared to Peale’s other works; The Power of Positive Thinking, You Can If You Think You Can; which dealt more on positivity and possibility, this book tackles both subjects but dwells more on the issue of integrity in business. This book allows readers, or business owners to put together a set of ethics check questions that will allow anyone to face scrutiny from the media.

One inherent message this book passes on is not demonizing or even justifying the competition to win an audience. The book also outlines the meaning of ethical behavior to self-esteem and points out the given fact people who feel good about themselves have what it takes to stand amounting pressure, do what is right without veering off course to do what is popular or lucrative.

Finally, the book brings out a point to address Organizations at large on employees needing to have pride in the organization, as this is a reflection of how people feel, and these feelings translate to an Organization’s progress among its publics. Negative vibes relating to an Organization breeds unethical behaviors at all levels.

Enthusiasm Makes the Difference

Another of Vincent Norman’s self-help books. Although this one was a little repetitive of Peale’s other books that it can be argued to be the same with ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ only it has a change of name. “It has been established by a repeated demonstration that a person can make of himself just about what he wants to, provided he wants to badly enough, and correctly goes about doing it”—Norman Vincent sets out the defense for this book on page 427.

The book goes at varying lengths to infuse readers with a sense of enthusiasm. It provides readers practical examples of people who were motivated by enthusiasm. It then separates the natural pessimists from the enthusiasts and presents a standing point that the world is very much negative and it only takes enthusiasm to create that brightening spark. Like his many other books, Vincent Norman uses stories as some form of case studies to exert his point. Some of these stories were a bit redundant or repetitive for those who have read Peale’s other books, notably his bestseller.

Unlike the Power of Ethical Management, the message of this book isn’t complex or difficult to process, it is simple; lead an enthusiastic life even when it is tasking to do, and give to God what is too burdensome, and life will be pleasant. In the last part though, nonreligious people may have problems with but in general, the message is straightforward.

A standing theory Norman Vincent points out is in the problem of adversity. He clarifies that it is what makes us set goals and accomplish tasks, and it goes far much to promote growth. Norman enlists anecdotes as he does in his numerous books, to make the text relatable, and applicable. This he does in hopes of cater to a niche audience, specifically those looking to improve their lives using his methodology.

In summary, Enthusiasm Makes the Difference, highlights the importance of enthusiasm in our daily lives.

A Guide to Confident Living

“Change your thoughts and you change your life” is Norman Peale’s central message in this book. In A Guide to Confident Living, the author identifies an inner power and shows how to release this inner power to achieve confidence and contentment.

The book speaks to readers on communicating to the outside the troubles that plague them, ways to lose inferiority complex; because the opposite of confidence, is inferiority. In its far-reaching guide, Norman also talks more about attracting marital, professional, and personal happiness as they are the key to having a confidence boost.

As always, Norman finds a way to piece together valuable suggestions that counter situations that may arise to undermine one’s value in life. Although, it may come under criticism as it relies on the audience putting much effort into what the book lays out for them to practice, and given that people react to things differently, challenges whatever the author holds as relevant in attaining confidence in certain situations.

This criticism may come from how Peale reframes basic Christian beliefs to craft something of power and relevance to result-oriented Americans. He begins with a lesson on listening to God in what the book terms ‘Creative Silence’, and that in solitude, a person can tap into God’s thoughts and overcome challenges in life.

The book’s teachings ask for the development of expectations in expecting the best and not the worst. This explains breaks the worry habit and imbues confidence. But what this book fails to address is what happens should our expectations not come with the outcomes we expect, wouldn’t that lead to depression or lesser self-esteem? Norman elaborates further by taking readers through his many writings to bring out a recurring theme found in them. He speaks on supplanting destructive thoughts with good ones, diseased thoughts with healthy ones.

Norman then gives credit to the ability of the mind to create. Though an enticing read, impatient readers may develop problems with this book as it comes off as slow to build its points, then again, Peale’s books take patience to be fully appreciated.

Six Attributes For Winners

Everyone wants to win, and is in search of a win; in this book, Norman Peale takes the privilege to offer inspirational advice to those looking to win, specifically those dealing with doubt and fear. He presents his facts by first prioritizing the opinion that attitudes were first more important than facts before going deeper into illustrations like he always does with short stories, Questions and Answers, Famous personality quotes, and biblical allusions. This he does to create relatability for readers, hence he captures proven winners to serve as inspiration.

People quoted in this book are Stanley Arnold’s saying, “Every problem contains the seeds of its solutions” and Stonewall Jackson who said, “Never take counsel of your fears”. These quotes go a long way to affirm Norman’s themes and the teachings raised in this book.

Peale, not only calls on the audience to embrace their problems but stresses the point that problems are teachings in themselves, and these teachings contain solutions to one’s development. In essence, the book advocates a change in attitude towards problems for the better.

The attitudes Norman Vincent illustrates in this book are

  1. The positive attitude to win. Norman states an eye into seeing the bright side of the shittiest situations, must be formed. It is this ability that ensures a never-die spirit.
  2. Courage: fear hinders a winning mindset, and to win, one must be without fear.
  3. Enthusiastic Peace: action can only be taken when the mind is calm.
  4. Confidence: Faith in oneself is Paramount before any action can be taken. It overshadows doubt. Expectant of positive outcomes in whatever input has been laid.  

Although Vincent Norman Hill’s works are strategic and concise, a general criticism amongst all of them is the repetitive illustrations of points dealt on in one book, stretched on to others.  



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