I’ve been more and more convinced lately that the most important thing we carry with us is our mindset. I’ve noticed that the more I allow myself to engage with negativity, the more I get bogged down by worries and doubts; this is true whether I’m creating the negativity myself (self-deprecation, unsavory thoughts about others) or it’s coming from the people around me (complaining, gossip). I’ve found that when my frame of thought is better, everything around me is better.
The book The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwarz is a road map to changing your frame of mind; it explores a variety of situations in which a simple change in perception can lead to rewards for the beholder– and also provides actionable tips to do so yourself.
This is a strange little book because it’s outdated in many ways, having been published in 1956, and yet timely and relevant with the core of its subject matter. In one breath, it’s talking about a salesman wanting to make $10,000 per year to buy a better house for his wife and kids in an oh-so-typical ’50s sitcom setting; for those who are curious, that would be a little over $94,000 in 2019. Then it hits you with timeless wisdom such as, “Look at things not as they are, but as they can be. Visualization adds value to everything. A big thinker always visualizes what can be done in the future. He isn’t stuck with the present.” It frequently focuses on the very trendy word, visualization, all the rage on the internet today and often flanked by such gems as Law of Attraction and Manifesting. Visualization is literally the basis of Pinterest in the form of vision boards, all over LinkedIn in reference to entrepreneurship and company direction and career arc, and appearing on Facebook and Instagram as an inspirational guiding principal to reach goals, so it’s no wonder The Magic of Thinking Big has resurfaced.
Mr. Schwarz has a very conversational tone, and honestly quite reminiscent of the salesmen he frequently uses as examples. Reading the book, I imagined a black and white training video with a man named Jimmy staged to exaggerate every action for the camera– you know the kind. Lots of thumbs-ups, perhaps a little flash animation at the corner of his cheesy smile. But honestly, where that might bore you to death while sitting through orientation for your first job, it doesn’t detract at all from the content and intent behind this book; in fact, it lends a bit of contagious enthusiasm to reading. There’s an optimism in this book that I haven’t come across in some time, and it is refreshing and motivating.
I’m going to warn you now. You’re going to recognize someone in the “small-thinking” individuals he uses as examples. Perhaps a friend, family member, coworker, or even yourself. I feel like we’ve all succumbed to small thinking at some point, perhaps even at this moment. I won’t lie, I had to do some reflection myself regarding such things as my “excuse-itis” tendencies and my mindset towards others. But my absolute favorite part of this book? Another buzzphrase: Actionable tips. The concepts are lofty, and many would likely say that it would take a lot more good thoughts to change their situation. And that’s true; just thinking good thoughts alone won’t change anything except a frown to a smile. But Dr. Schwarz provides steps to help you change your perspective and start taking action– which is usually where most people fail. Each chapter provides detailed guidelines for how to cultivate the right frame of mind for whatever it is you want to accomplish, and that is what sets this book apart from so many other similar writings. It doesn’t just say, “Think positive thoughts,” it helps you figure out how to cultivate positive thoughts when it might seem like an impossible thing to do.
The Magic of Thinking Big isn’t quite as ubiquitous as Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. But it’s much more accessible, I think, much more… everyman. The people he references aren’t typically millionaires or even CEOs in many cases, and those who are would not quite fit that same mold as we know it today. It’s easy to read, and it’s relatable. What could be better than that? If you’re looking to grow and improve, I highly recommend picking up a copy of David Schwarz’s The Magic of Thinking Big.