New Thought Editorials > The Power of One Thought


Summer 2004

The Power of One Thought

I recently decoded a cryptogram (they’re as addictive as crossword puzzles) that turned out to be, "Cheery people are more healthy than morose people; evidently the surly bird gets the germ."

This is a New Thought sermon in a sentence. Although the name that our movement adopted in the 1890s originally meant a new outlook in contrast to that day’s conventional Christian theology, it can also refer to a single thought changed on a single occasion, thought after thought, occasion after occasion, until the habit of exchanging one’s present thought for a new and better one—more useful, more optimistic, more constructive, more valuable, more pleasant, more encouraging—is so firmly established that most of our thoughts are of what the father of American psychology William James called "that sky blue tint."

The power of these changed thoughts is awesome. In some way, our willingness to be open to the change releases God’s wise, loving power that was in us all the time, awaiting our willingness to accept it, for God never coerces us. Endless stories attest to healed bodies, minds, pocketbooks, and relationships; projects and causes advanced; lives touched in an infinite number of seemingly miraculous ways—I say "seemingly miraculous," but we might well define a miracle as the operation of an as-yet not understood law of nature, and in our humility speak of "a hundred million miracles happening every day," as in the musical, The Flower Drum Song.

Supported by enormous amounts of research in psychology, psychoneuroimmunology, and related fields, this simple principle of disciplining one’s thoughts, of developing what psychologist Martin Seligman calls learned optimism, is one of the most powerful, if difficult, things we’ll ever do. But it can’t just stay inside our heads; it must extend from us into both our words and our actions. All of us possess both thinking and feeling capacities, half of us prefer to lead with one and half with the other. Those who lead with their emotions may find it easy to say kind and pleasant things to others; those who lead with their intellects may forget to express aloud their thought that they love someone or that that person did well on a given task, and their loved ones may wither without an occasional sprinkling of refreshingly encouraging words. But those who lead with their emotions and speak lovely words may nonetheless be thinking negative, defeatist thoughts, even though they do not verbalize them; and those thoughts continue to gnaw at them below the surface. For all the "egghead" and "airhead" epithets, all of us need to use both our minds and our hearts, for ourselves and for others.

In the wonderful series of Oz books by L. Frank Baum, a frequently appearing character is Tik Tok, a remarkable mechanical man as loving and talented as the Tin Woodman. Mounted on Tik Tok’s back were three keys: the first wound up his thinking mechanism; the second, his speech; and the third, his movement. If someone failed to wind him daily, he ran down, and it was counterproductive to wind his movement or his speech without first winding his thinking mechanism. All of us are a little like Tik Tok: we may not be nineteenth-century mechanisms, but we need to rely on a Power beyond our own to keep us going. Unlike Tik Tok, however, that Power is already within us, awaiting our acknowledgement and acceptance.

Once wound, once inspired by God, we must put it to work in thought, word, and deed. God has no hands but ours, as the old saying goes. But God’s power is all-sufficient, more than adequate for our needs. And our power, made one with God’s power, can change the world.

The theme of this year’s INTA Congress is The Power of One. Come experience that combined power and help it grow.