I'm a big fan of the positive psychology movement, which has gifted us with profound research on producing happiness, optimism, and creativity in the workplace.

While current iconic figures from science and academia are moving positive psychology into the mainstream (think Shawn Achor, Martin Seligman, and Richard Davidson, to name a few), another leading proponent of "positive thinking" -- Dr. Norman Vincent Peale -- rose to fame in the 1950s when he wrote the classic The Power of Positive Thinking.

Peale's timeless philosophy and teachings on positive thinking have been praised by presidents spanning seven decades, including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and yes, even Donald Trump.

Some of his ideas and techniques were controversial at the time, and he received frequent criticism both from church figures and from the psychiatric profession.

I dug into my own archives to find what Peale had to say about how we can best deal with our own problem-solving challenges. What happens when we're stuck and can't find a way forward? Or, what's the starting point to having a game plan to tackle our biggest obstacles?

Here's what I found from Peale's book Six Attitudes for Winners, which is still very much applicable today.

How to Solve a Problem (Abbreviated Version)

1.Seeds. The way to start out in solving a problem is to entertain a solid belief that every problem has the seeds of its own solution. You can find the answer to your problem if you look deeply into the problem itself.

2. Calm. Remain calm. Uptightness can block the flow of thought power. Reduce stress and tension so your mind can operate efficiently and under control.

3. Assembling. In dealing with a problem, objectively assemble all of the facts and gather all the data.

4. Paper. Lay out all of the component parts of the problem on paper, so that you can see them in orderly coherence. This helps clarify your thinking by bringing the various factors of a problem into systematic order. When you can see clearly, you'll be better able to think clearly.

5. Force. Never try to force an answer to a problem. Keep your mind relaxed and allow the solution to open up naturally and become clear. The danger in trying to force an answer is that you may be forcing what you want rather than what is right (emphasis mine).

6. Prayer. Subject your problem to intensive prayer. Believe and affirm that through divine guidance you will receive insights and mental illumination.

7. Counsel. Often we need help with a problem. It is valuable, therefore, to get wise counsel.

8. Intuition. There is a subtle quality of mental processes that may be described as intuition, or the feel and impression of the right thing to do.

9. Meditation. Let the problem free-float in your mind. Refrain from pressure, tension, or even timing. Simply allow it to subsist in unhurried mental activity. Your mind will therefore produce the answer when needed.

10. Creativity. Put your trust in the creative power of your mind to arrive at a proper answer through the process of thinking, praying, and affirming.

Published on: Apr 27, 2017
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