Fifteen Positive-Thinking Books That Could Change Your Life
By Mitch Horowitz
Positive thinking is the most widely embraced philosophy in America. As I explore in my current book, One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life, the gospel of positivity grew out of mystical subcultures in America starting in the mid-nineteenth century and went on to become closest thing we have to a national creed.
At the heart of positive thinking is the principle that thoughts are causative – or as Edgar Cayce put it: "Mind is the builder."
For any who are curious about what the "power of positive thinking" really prescribes, here are some of the key works of New Thought, or positive-thinking, spirituality.
- The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale (1952) – The Protestant minister’s book made “positive thinking” into a household term. Peale’s innovation was to recast positive-thinking philosophy into language that proved acceptable to the church-going public.
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (1937) – The journalist Hill created an enduring – and surprisingly deep – spiritual program to success. In particular, Hill explored the existence of a “master mind” – an analogue to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Over-soul” – that could be used for persuasion, power, and insight. The most influential and enduring book of its kind.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (1936) – Carnegie produced one of the shrewdest works ever written on human relations. His book provided a blueprint for how to accomplish things inside of workplaces and large organizations. Carnegie’s basic counsel is: agreeable people win. He deftly saw through the human foibles that create friction and keep things from getting done.
- The Science of Mind by Ernest Holmes (1937 revision) – The first forty pages of this voluminous work laid out the mind-power philosophy of this thoughtful, learned mystic. Holmes was a broad thinker whose work reflected a wide variety of influences, from Emerson to Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy.
- The Mental Cure by Warren Felt Evans (1869) – This pioneering work by the Swedenborgian minister and colleague of mental-healer Phineas Quimby laid the early groundwork for affirmative-thought philosophy. While it is little read today, the book displays a surprisingly modern tone. Evans gave early expression to the essentials of positive thought, including the use of affirmations, visualizations, and healing prayer.
- The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles (1910) – This concise manifesto combined the New Thought movement’s prosperity gospel with its early social ideals. Wattles, a Quaker minister and socialist activist, was not interested in “getting rich” as an end to itself, but in fostering a socially just economy characterized by mass abundance.
Dale Carnegie, Mary Baker Eddy and Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Psycho-cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz (1960) – The cosmetic surgeon Maltz devised a ground-breaking secular re-sounding of mind-power principles. His bestseller reframed positive thinking as a process of psychological reconditioning rather than a summoning of metaphysical agencies. Maltz set the stage for success gurus such as Tony Robbins.
- Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, first series (1841) –These are America’s great self-affirming spiritual manifestos, such as “Spiritual Laws,” “Compensation,” “Self-Reliance,” and “The Over-soul.” Also see Emerson’s essays “Nature” (1936) and “Success” (1870). The Yankee mystic set the tone for the self-directed spiritual search in the Western world and his influence has never been surpassed.
- Philosophical Conceptions and Practical Results by William James (1898) – The philosopher James is often credited with legitimizing mind-power metaphysics in his classic Varieties of Religious Experience (1902); but in this much shorter work he powerfully argued for a practical spirituality, which could be measured in the conduct and happiness of daily life.
- As a Man Thinketh by James Allen (1903) – This brief, brilliant meditation framed mind-power principles in a sober, ethical manner. Allen avoided sensationalism and spread the idea of mental manifestation to people of many different religious backgrounds and beliefs.
- Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy (1875, multiple updates and editions) – This is not a positive-thinking book in any conventional sense, but much of the literature mentioned here would have gone unwritten without its influence. The spiritual healer’s highly original metaphysics and language touched nearly every figure in the mind-power world for fifty years.
- Alcoholics Anonymous (1939) – Written chiefly by A.A. cofounder Bill Wilson, this book distilled the ideas of figures ranging from Carl Jung and William James, to Mary Baker Eddy and James Allen, into the famous twelve steps to recovery. This is arguably the most practical book ever written for people in crisis.
- The Power of Awareness by Neville Goddard (1952) – Any book by Neville (he preferred the singular name) is an extraordinary journey into his core philosophy that the human imagination is God. Neville was one of the most radical New Thought voices – and may yet prove to be the most enduring.
- The Edinburgh Lectures on Mental Science by Thomas Troward (1909 revised edition) – Troward, a British judge, attempted to work out a persuasive and sturdy philosophical proof for the powers of the mind. In my view, he does not fully succeed (he leaves too many dangling questions) but his effort represents one of the few ambitious attempts to create a foundational reasoning behind positive thinking.
- The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale (1956) – This spoken-word lecture distills the positive-thinking philosophy into an engaging 30-minute summation. A dignified and well-read man, Nightingale helped launch today’s field of business motivation.
Mitch Horowitz is a PEN Award-winning historian and the author, most recently, of One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life, which is currently available in a special $1.99 eBook promotion on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, and other digital outlets. He has also written the new introduction to the reprint of There Is a River, the classic biography of the famous psychic Edgar Cayce.
The Story Behind
the Fort Dearborn Massacre
By John Fuhler
Taken out of context, the Fort Dearborn massacre was a notorious attack perpetrated by several groups of Indians against white settlers, including women and children. But this fifteen minute skirmish represents only one of a myriad battles in the War of 1812. The roots of the Fort Dearborn massacre, however, run much deeper.
More than four dozen readings provide details for the events around and about Fort Dearborn at the time of the August 15, 1812 massacre. Often the information provided by the readings concurs with historical data; and sometimes it does not.
With the passage of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787, the United States designated the land south of the Great Lakes, East of the Mississippi River, and north of the Ohio River as Indian territory. The ordinance specifically prohibited white settlement in the Northwest Territory. Although the United States recognized a limited sovereignty of the resident tribes, many settlers, land speculators and even state governments treated the Indians as obstacles to be removed.i In effect, the Northwest Ordinance became a tool to promote aggressive settlement in the territory, guaranteeing the displacement of entire tribes and the demise of any hope of a permanent confederacy of Indian nations. The recognition of that potentiality had motivated the great Shawnee leader, Tecumseh, to strive to unify as many tribes as possible to realize that dream. It also led him to align his warriors with the British in the War of 1812. It is almost certainly Tecumseh's "Rebellion" to which reading 3003-1 refers:
…the entity was in the land…in what is now…Dearborn, when there was the fleeing of many from the Fort because of the uprising through that portion of the land.
(Edgar Cayce Reading 3003-1)
At the time of the massacre, the Potawatomi controlled a territory extending across northern Indiana, northern Illinois, and in central and eastern Wisconsin. The only parcel within that territory not under their sovereign authority was the six square miles at the mouth of the Chicago River ceded to the United States in 1795.ii Against this backdrop, then, unfolded the events of that horrid summer morning.
…the entity was in that land…during those periods when there were the settlings in the land, and particularly in those adjacent lands to what is now Fort Dearborn…
(Edgar Cayce Reading 823-1)
Fort Dearborn's captain, Nathan Heald, wrote that his decision to destroy the ammunitions, arms, and alcohol triggered the attack that day.iii On August 13, 1812, he had met with representatives of the Potawatomi in order to discuss the distribution of the stores that the troops would leave behind. Entity  was apparently privy to these discussions:
The entity was among the peoples of the north country…seeing how there might be brought about the taking of all that was then in possession of the post…without the formality of returning an exchange for same…
(Edgar Cayce Reading 342-2)
But the readings cite another and probably more important reason for the attacks:
…in that land…during those periods when those frontiers were being defended by those peoples who entered into the land to possess same… (Edgar Cayce Reading 2123-2)
…the entity was in that land…during those periods when there were the settlings in the land, and particularly in those adjacent lands to what is now Fort Dearborn…
(Edgar Cayce Reading 823-1)
It was the encroachment of white settlers in the land that triggered the assault that day. History records at least 50 dead, 42 captured, ransomed or released, 12 rescued and five escaped.iv Seventeen readings specifically refer to escapees, captives, or massacre victims.v
Both the readings and history record the remarkable fact that the Indians permitted traders to remain in the land. Apparently the Indians placed great value on these relationships.
…the entity was in the land…when there were…people being driven from Fort Dearborn...among those in the trading business…While others fled, the entity made peace – and later became a part of an activity for the building up farther to the west.
(Edgar Cayce Reading 3581-1)
One trader, John Kinzie, whose trade depot occupied the north bank of the Chicago River opposite the fort, faced imminent death. The Potawatomi had occupied his house and were threatening to slaughter him and his family, when Sauganash, (aka, Billy Caldwell), son of a British officer, interceded to save their lives.vi
On August 16, 1812 the Indians burned the Fort.vii
…the entity was in the land now known as…Dearborn…during those periods of turmoils and strifes as brought about the destroying, or destruction, or warring upon the old fort.
(Edgar Cayce Reading 2385-1)
There were no victors in the War of 1812, from a material perspective, but the Indians were certainly the biggest losers. From a spiritual perspective, some of the entities there gained through their heroic attempts to save and protect those around them. Some gained in their attempts to promote peace and harmonious relationships. Others created their own personal hells through self-recrimination. And still others lost due to their selfishness. Materially speaking, many of those involved lost, if not their lives, then their resources. Some of those who received readings continued to bear the emotional scars. Only a few came away relatively unscathed.
John Fuhler has been involved in the field of alternative medicine for more than 25 years. He received his BA in anthropology from the University of Illinois and studied in Glasgow, Scotland, and Portland, Ore. As an amateur archaeologist, he participated in projects in Ariz., Calif., Hawaii, N.M., and Wis.; reporting discoveries in Ore. and Scotland. His tribal affiliations include: Saxon, Friesian, Bohemian, Irish (O'Meagher clan), and Wyandot. He volunteers his skills with organizations supporting the homeless, forest services, and families. He enjoys reading the bible in Greek and Latin.
Photos courtesy of the John Fuhler
i Waldman, C. 1985. Atlas of the North American Indian. Facts on File, Inc.: New York, p. 190; Hickey, D.R. 2012. The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict. University of Illinois Press: Urbana, IL, p. 66.
ii Waldman, op. cit., map 7.
iii'[Letter from] Nathan Health to Thomas A. Cushing, October 23rd, 1812' in The War of 1812: Writings from America's Second War of Independence. D.R. Hickey (Ed.). Library Classics of the United States, Inc. New York, p. 102.
iv 'Muster Roll of Fort Dearborn'. In Genealogy Trails. 2006-7. Torp, K. (transcriber). http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/1001.html.
v See, for example, 340-15, 587-3, 2537-1, 2123-2, 1995-1, 2530-1, 2641-1, 3135-1, and 3360-1. The twelve readings referring to John Bainbridge have not been included based on the information provided by 1523-4, in which it is stated "…the entity was…with […and became one to whom EVERYONE came for counsel…that gave strength of many of the hearts of those who later became a part of the defense of the land in 1812."
vi 'Shaubena's Adventure at Chicago'. In Genealogy Trails, op. cit.
viiGrossman, Ron. '15 minutes that shaped a city'. Chicago Tribune. August 12, 2012.
The Majestic Southwest: A Place for Dreams
Donald B. Carroll
Many know of the fascinating readings of Edgar Cayce that speak of the American Southwest’s cliff dwellers. The readings called this area the land of “Og” and located it on the Colorado plateau, exactly where you will find such places as Bandelier, Chaco Canyon, and Mesa Verde. The readings also describe the injection and influence on this ancient ancestral Puebloan civilization (formerly called the Anasazi) from several different areas. Such influences came from immigrants escaping the sinking of Lemuria and Poseidia (Atlantis), the Lost Tribes and even “Og” sending representatives to an ancient world council to discuss the threat of huge animals still roaming the earth. The readings even speak of connections with cultures in the Yucatan, which archeologists have recently confirmed with evidence found at Chaco Canyon. I personally enjoy the reading below (1144-2) that tells of connections of the cliff dwellers, through Poseidia, to immigrants into the area of the Pyrenees. Interestingly, some 25,000 years ago, in that portion of Europe, there existed a people called the Solutrean Culture, identified by their unique arrowheads. The arrowheads, which have been found up and down the East Coast of the United States, are similar to the Solutrean arrowheads, causing some to speculate that those European immigrants are the same peoples.
Besides the historical information given in the readings, there is another aspect to these readings that is just as important and something that was personally experienced in New Mexico by Edgar Cayce himself! This is an area of the world that one may experience or re-experience in dreams and visions. Some examples from the readings:
In the one before this we find in that land known as the land of Og, now known as that of the American plateaus, or in north portion of now New Mexico, and such…
Q. Will the entity be able to use the knowledge she obtained in New Mexico, and how will she be able to recall this knowledge?
A. In dream! (993-2)
Hence the entity was among the daughters of the Law of One, being a priestess of the temple in the Poseidian land; among those that went to the Egyptian land with those peoples for the establishing of the associations; also visiting those that established themselves in now the Pyrenees—or the eastern portion of the continental Europe, and those that established themselves in what is now known as a portion of America—in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and those portions of the land.
Hence all of these lands have their influence in the experience of the entity, and there may be—through those periods of the deeper meditation, the periods of thought—the periods when the entity may through the mystic forces, in which there is the innate interest in the present, become more and more aware of the motivative forces of the Law of One, or of the Creative Force and its relationships to the souls of men and women in their experience through the earthly sojourn. (1144-2)
…in that portion of the land now known as Utah and New Mexico. Would the entity vision much of that portion of those lands lying in the southern portions of that land, and those of the Arizona and New Mexico lands, much as a dream would come to the entity. (358-3)
Now let me share Edgar’s experience of a dream/vision and manifestation when he spent about a month in these same areas.
Q. Please elucidate upon the experience I had last month in New Mexico when seeing and talking with my mother, in which she materialized a silver dollar.
A. As has been given, either by vision, by prayer, by Urim, by Thummin, by dream, or in the material things, may the vision of those that are in the heart and mind of individuals given through the powers of those in the spirit plane to enter into association, communication, or activity with those that they seek to guide.
Here we find for the first, that has long been sought between mother and son, that of communication concerning those things that deal with the mysteries of life and of those things that may bring to bear in the experiences of all, and how that there may be used those things of materiality for the representing of the spiritual. (294-174)
What an incredible experience—an experience whose generation seemed to be assisted by this majestic, magical, and mystical area of the American Southwest.
The A.R.E. Travel Program tours this area every few years—including a trip to New Mexico and Mesa Verde in the fall of 2015 (see EdgarCayce.org/tours for details). I hope you can join me so that we may share and dream together.
Don Carroll spent his career working in Fire & Rescue, as a district chief, academy instructor, and paramedic. During those 30 years, he raised a family and pursued the meaning of life through extended study into the Cayce readings and other spiritual, scientific, and philosophical materials. Today, Carroll is a regular speaker and writer of metaphysical topics from the Cayce perspective. He spent 10 years researching and writing his latest work, Sacred Geometry and Spiritual Symbolism: The Blueprint for Creation. Carroll is also an international tour leader for A.R.E., visiting sites of a spiritual nature across the globe. His website is DonaldBCarroll.com.
The third in a series of discussions from the Cayce health readings.
Coronary Heart Disease
Josephine Adamson, MD, editor
Coronary heart disease (CHD) causes 25% of all U.S. adult deaths and is the number one killer of both men and women. The small coronary arteries that supply the beating heart with oxygen become partially or completely blocked with calcified and fibrotic fatty deposits (atherosclerosis). When the heart muscle doesnt receive enough oxygen, the person may experience chest pain and a heart attack.
High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for coronary heart disease. About half of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors. Other factors that lead to coronary heart disease include diabetes, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.
Location of human heart
Edgar Cayce gave 54 readings encompassing the full range of this disease process: from those he warned of the early stages of atherosclerotic plaque formation, to one man who had already had two heart attacks. The Edgar Cayce readings propose that these "growths ...of an insidious nature" result from a combination of poor eliminations, an unbalanced circulation, and a diet productive of an "excess of avoirdupois" or fat in the bloodstream.
The readings describe two factors that play a role in developing atherosclerotic plaque: diet and improper balance in fat digestion. First was diet, which is now known to play a direct role in determining our blood cholesterol levels. The Cayce readings consistently recommended a diet that recent discoveries have shown to lower blood cholesterol.
The second factor, balance, is a bit more complicated. A combination of factors in the body could produce "a lack of balance in the chemical forces of the assimilating system" and affect the lacteal ducts in the small intestine. The majority of fats—unlike proteins and carbohydrates, which go through the bloodstream to the liver—are absorbed through the lacteal ducts into the lymph circulation before eventually joining the blood. Cayce implied that fats at times were absorbed incorrectly and that this could also contribute to the formation of these "lymph pockets" (a fascinating reference to the atherosclerotic plaques since the lymph carries the digested fat). The liver and colon are unable to process the fatty toxins that form the atherosclerotic lesions and, in the later stages of the disease, place a direct burden on the heart.
The Cayce readings approach to coronary heart disease included the following major areas:
- DIET—The three most common dietary changes suggested in the Cayce materials were the elimination of red meat, fried foods, and fats. Numerous contemporary studies have shown that eliminating these foods will lower one’s total blood cholesterol and improve the ratio of "good" to "bad" lipids in the blood. In one reading, he told the individual that the fats in chicken and seafood (as opposed to those in red meat), along with olive oil, would be beneficial. Current research has demonstrated that fish oil and monounsaturated fats (like olive oil) can decrease one’s risk of coronary heart disease.
- OSTEOPATHIC MANIPULATIONS AND MASSAGE—The Edgar Cayce readings proposed that bodywork would help balance the circulation and the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system and play a role in lowering blood pressure, all decreasing strain on the heart. Health researchers have found sustained decreases in blood pressure following a series of massage sessions.
- AVOIDING CONSTIPATION/USE OF COLONICS—Colonic irrigation of the colon was recommended for 27 individuals in all stages of CHD. The role of this cleansing was to improve the eliminations and help remove "poisons" from the bloodstream. Modern dietary recommendations all include increasing the amount of fiber in the diet.
- PHYSICAL ACTIVITY—The Cayce readings recommended rest to individuals who were experiencing chest pain and other clinical symptoms of CHD. Activity or excitement places a stress on the heart and causes the heart muscle to require more oxygen. As the condition improved, activity could be gradually increased. The readings also suggested that those people with heart disease who were resting spend more time outdoors. In contrast, for one individual with only early pre-symptomatic disease, exercise was recommended as being useful.
- RADIO-ACTIVE [RADIAL] APPLIANCE—The readings recommended the use of a radial appliance to 10 individuals. This device, which consists of a capacitor and a resistor in parallel, was said to use the body’s own electrical force to help equalize the circulation. It was also seen as being helpful "to quiet and ease the body without disturbing the other portions of the system." Some basic research done on this device found no currents or voltages in the wires connected to an individual. Research on how this device might help balance an individual’s circulation would be interesting.
- ABDOMINAL PACKS—Different types of abdominal packs, like castor oil packs, were recommended to help the liver to function properly and to encourage movement in the digestive system.
- MEDICATION—The Cayce readings presented a fairly balanced perspective on the use of medication with CHD. The readings recommended one individual gradually taper his medication, but encouraged another five people to continue their medicine.
The Cayce readings were ahead of their time (1905-1944) in describing the important lifestyle changes that doctors recommend today. Recommended dietary changes—eliminating red meat and fried foods, adding healthy monounsaturated fats, eating more fish—certainly are in line with current studies that emphasize a plant-based "Mediterranean" diet with no processed or fried foods. The readings also encouraged daily exercise and outdoor activities to prevent heart disease. The Cayce materials and modern medicine also agree that stress reduction and a positive attitude are important in decreasing the chances of dying from this common disease.
Josephine B. Adamson, MD, MPH, CMT, is the Medical Director for Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. She received her MD from Duke University’s School of Medicine and Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of North Carolina and is a graduate of the Cayce/Reilly® School of Massage. A director and co-owner of a medical device company, she has a wealth of experience creating and maintaining health-related non- profit and for-profit businesses. She joined A.R.E. as part of the organization’s renewed focus on the health information, one of the most important, enduring legacies from the Edgar Cayce readings. She is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the health outreach and administration and interfacing with the stellar staff of the Cayce/Reilly School of Massage—which provides a comprehensive education in the art and science of therapeutic massage—and the holistic A.R.E. Health Center & Spa—which provides holistic therapies to clients from around the world in its oceanfront Virginia Beach, Va., setting complete with a Café.
A.R.E. Members can download several circulating files—a collection of verbatim Edgar Cayce readings and reading extracts carefully selected and arranged by topic—on Hypertension, and Heart: Coronary Thrombosis(Coronary Heart Disease]) from our online member section.
Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. blog offers opinion pieces from contributors with a wide variety of backgrounds. These opinions are valued and create points of discussion. Opinions expressed in our blog may not necessarily represent the opinion of A.R.E.