On my recent visit to Kuwait, a smiling woman named Alaa Alothman came up to me while I was autographing books and asked something that stopped me in my tracks.
“You say that many books have influenced you throughout your life,” she began, “so I am curious what children’s book had an impact on you?”
I looked up and just stared at her.
“What a truly great question,” I announced. “I’ve never been asked that before.”
I hadn’t, either.
I went on to tell her that I’d have to think about it, as it was something I never considered.
It truly made me think.
After all, what children’s book did I read almost 60 years ago?
We talked for a few moments while my mind searched my memory banks for an answer.
And then it dawned on me.
“You know, it may sound simple, but I think The Little Engine that Could was probably the first book that inspired me as a child. I vaguely remember my mother reading it to me in the 1950s.”
Alaa smiled big, nodding her recognition of the famous book.
“The book was about an engine and my father worked on the railroad,” I said. “And the message was about believing in yourself, which I soaked up. It was probably the first self-help book I ever discovered.”
After the event in Kuwait, I became curious about the famous children’s book.
Turns out the story of the positive self-talking little engine goes back to at least 1906.
The first known use of the story is attributed to Rev. Charles S. Wing, who probably didn’t originate the story but delivered it to his congregation in Brooklyn in 1906.
It went like this:
In a certain railroad yard there stood an ex tremely heavy train that had to be drawn up an unusually heavy grade before it could reach its destination. The superintendent of the yard was not sure what it was best for him to do, so he went up to a large, strong engine and asked :
“Can you pull that train over the hill?”
“It is a very heavy train,” responded the en gine.
He then went to another great engine and asked:
“Can you pull that train over the hill?”
“It is a very heavy grade,” it replied.
The superintendent was much puzzled, but he turned to still another engine that was spick and span new, and he asked it:
“Can you pull that train over the hill?”
“I think I can,” responded the engine.
So the order was circulated, and the engine was started back so that it might be coupled with the train, and as it went along the rails it kept repeating to itself: “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”
The coupling was made and the engine began its journey, and all along the level, as it rolled toward the ascent, it kept repeating to itself: “I —think —I can. I —think —I— can. I —think— I —can.”
Then it reached the grade, but its voice could still be heard: “I think I can. I—– think—–I—–can. I —–think—– I—– can.”
Higher and higher it climbed, and its voice grew fainter and its words came slower:
“I ——-think ——–I——-can.”
It was almost to the top.
It was at the top.
It passed over the top of the hill and began crawling down the opposite slope.
‘I ——think——- I—— can——I—– thought——I——-could I—– thought—– could. I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could.”
And singing its triumph, it rushed on down toward the valley.
But the best known version of the story is the book, The Little Engine that Could, published in 1930 and attributed to Watty Piper, the pen name of the publisher, Arnold Munk.
No one knows with any agreed certainty who actually originated the story.
That little story about “I think I can…I think I can…” influenced many, including me.
What children’s book influenced you?
Reading as much as I do, it’s hard to narrow the stacks of great books down to a handful of memorable classics. Here are the top ten books that really stood out and made a difference in my life in 2014:
Best Books 2014
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. This may be my favorite book of the year. Yes, there are plenty of self-help books that say virtually the same thing as Sincero’s book, but almost none do it with attitude. I love the humor, honesty, intimacy, personality, and daring of the author. I love the book so much I reached out and interviewed Sincero for my podcast. She’s sincere, funny, open, and a living badass of the polite I-won’t-hurt-you but I’m-going-for-my-dreams-so-stand-back sort. Fun, wise, empowering. Read it.
Spartan Up! by Joe De Sena. This one lit a fire under my butt and made me want to get out and run up steep hills with my shoes on fire. Since I’m already working out intensely, thanks to personally training with Body-for-Life fitness legend Bill Phillips, I didn’t feel compelled to enter a Spartan endurance race. But I found this book inspiring, motivating, and heart pounding. I love his concept of “obstacle immunity,” which means hard core exercise builds inner strength to easily handle the stresses of normal life. He’s right. After intense exercise, traffic is nothing. Great book.
The Science of Living by Emmet Fox. This book clearly explains the teachings of New Thought pioneer Emmet Fox, most famous for his little books, such as The Mental Equivalent and Make Your Life Worthwhile. Though Fox taught and published in the 1930s, The Science of Living is a recent publication based on his private classes with metaphysical students. I love its clarity, plus it made me feel like I was in the room with him. This fully explains what the philosophy of Mind Science is all about. A true gem.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I’ve read this 1937 classic before, of course, but after reading a recent biography of Carnegie (Self-Help Messiah), I decided to read it again. It is a masterpiece. I am in awe of Carnegie’s conversational writing style, powerful stories, and crisp message. I wish just one of my books was this good. The message, while simple, is as relevant today as it was over the last several decades. Priceless.
Making the American Body by Jonathan Black. I found this book hypnotic. It masterfully tells the story of the men and women who shaped fitness in the United States. That may sound boring to you but believe me, the feats, feuds, and fuss of the often egomaniac men and women who urge us to get fit is an entertaining, enlightening, and even appalling read. My only disappointment is the author somehow left out Bill Phillips, who is a living legend in fitness. Otherwise, riveting.
A Moment in Time: The Steve Reeves Story by George Helmer. I’m one of the biggest Reeves collectors in the world. I have the famous body builder/movie star’s gym, car, clothes, trophies, and more. My collection is impressive enough that Lou Ferrigno (The Hulk) came to see it. This long awaited biography, by Reeves’ personal friend and executor of his estate, is mesmerizing. The hundreds of photos are worth the price of admission alone. The stories are alive. It’s a loving tribute to a legend; the definitive biography of the original Hollywood Hercules.
The Devil’s Horn by Michael Segell. As you may know, I’m now a saxophone player. (Afflatus, my baritone sax album, came out last month.) This is the hands-down best book ever written on the dramatic roller-coaster history of the sax, an instrument once considered the “devil’s horn” by some while others swooned to its cool sound. It was once the most popular instrument in the world (until the guitar got plugged in). The man who invented the sax – named (no surprise) Adolphus Sax – went through business failure, ridicule, controversy, political manipulation, envy, and even a death threat. An astonishing book.
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Nicholas Herman, later known as Brother Lawrence, lived in France in the 1600’s as a kitchen working monk. He dedicated his life to constantly living, working, playing, and praying “as in His presence” at all times. “His” means God. If the God word pushes a button in you, exchange it for Divinity or something else. This little book of conversations with, and letters by, Brother Lawrence has been changing lives for centuries. It did mine, too, and deeply influenced the writing of my forthcoming book, The Secret Prayer. There are numerous editions of this holy work around, many published in English for the first time around 1895. Highly recommended.
Managing Thought: How Do Your Thoughts Rule Your World? by Mary J. Lore. I love the direct simplicity of this well crafted book. It helps you understand what your thoughts are doing, whether you are aware of them or not. Of course, once you are aware of your thoughts, you are now separate from them and more in control. A practical, inspiring guide.
Willpower: The Owner’s Manual by Frank Martela. This brief book surprised me with the 12 tools it describes for “doing the right thing.” I expected fluff, I got wisdom. People often resist will power, thinking it is pure ego or pure pain, when in reality will power is what you often need to align your desires, achieve your intentions, and attract what you want. Great book. Will yourself to read it.
And here’s a bonus title —
You Are the Placebo by Joe Dispenza. I’m not a fan of so-called scientifically based books describing how the world works, mostly because I can’t follow their terminology and the authors often disagree with each other, but this book is easy reading, easy to understand, and truly eye opening. Dispenza explains how it is possible to heal many “incurables” with thought alone, by detailing how the mind influences everything. In a way, this is a manual on how to create the placebo effect as needed. I read every word. Fascinating.
What about you?
What did you read this year that moved you?
Please post your comment below.
PS – My list of best books for 2013 is at http://blog.mrfire.com/best-books-of-2013/
Later this year I’ll be releasing a new book titled, The Secret Prayer.
It will reveal a three-step formula for attracting miracles through right prayer.
Prayer is a way to activate the Law of Attraction by requesting an intention and inviting inspiration.
In researching, I’m reading really old books, such as Prayer: The Forgotten Secret, from 1906, and really new books, such as Healing Words by Larry Dossey and Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson.
From what I can see, prayer has been around since the beginning of time.
But as we all know, they don’t always seem to work.
So what’s the secret to having a prayer deliver?
Let’s look at incorrect prayer first:
First, I don’t think most people actually believe their prayers. They pray without any real belief that anyone is listening or anything will happen. They simply “toss” one to the sky, like a stranded person on an island throwing a note in a bottle into the ocean. They hope someone picks it up. Then they hope someone acts on their plea.
Second, desperation is the other problem. Most prayers are just begging. People pray for help, solutions, miracles, healing, money and more. But when they pray, it’s often because they don’t see a way out and are pleading for intervention.
Third, most people don’t take action. This is a common thing in the world of metaphysics. People think their praying is action, when it’s really an action, but not the entire blueprint to results.
Again, prayer is a way to activate the Law of Attraction by requesting an intention and inviting inspiration.
So what’s the right way to pray?
“When you put yourself into the state of the wish fulfilled and think from it, you are praying, and in a way your reasoning mind does not know, your wish will become a fact in your world. You can be the man or woman you want to be, when you know how to pray.” – Neville, The Right Way to Pray, 1967 lecture, http://realneville.com/txt/the_secret_of_prayer.htm
First, begin with a spirit of gratitude.
To me, this is the core issue. If we all felt more gratitude for what we have, even the things we complain about, we’d shift our focus, our mind, our thoughts, our energies, our spirit, our direction, our action, and more. Gratitude for the now is the number one way to begin any prayer. When you sincerely do it and feel it, you can stop with this step, too. It’s that powerful.
Second, requesting rather than begging is wiser.
After all, we don’t know the big picture or the whole story. Begging for a certain outcome is an ego trip; it’s pretending we know it all. We don’t. We barely know a tiny percentage of what is happening in our personal world at any one time. A wiser approach is to make a request but acknowledge that something better may be more appropriate. End requests with the phrase, “This or something better.” This step requires faith.
Third, acting on the insights, inspiration, intuition.
We co-create results. The Higher Power (God, Divine, Universe, etc) works through you, not for you. When you see an opportunity, seize it. When you receive an inspiration, act on it. You are the missing ingredient in most results from prayer. The famous joke about the man who prayed to win the lottery but was reminded to buy a ticket, is good to remember.
“Prayer is the effort to bring the human soul into tune with the Infinite.” – W. J. Dawson, Prayer: The Forgotten Secret
My book will explore all this and more when it comes out later in the year. For now, I wanted to give you a crash course in prayer.
If you really want your prayers answered, then follow a proven formula:
1. Be grateful.
2. Detached request.
3. Inspired Action.
Try it today and note the difference.
PS – If you have other pointers or stories about prayers that work, please let me know with a comment below. Thank you.
PPS – If you want to explore prayers and music, be sure to check out my latest album http://www.InvokingDivinity.com
At my recent presentation at Sundance in Utah, I invited everyone to think of a problem that they wish would go away — a nagging one that seemed to stick no matter what — one that they never even tell anyone about because it hurts so much…
I wanted them to feel the block — whether a block preventing them from attracting money, health, love, or anything else — so I could help them release it once and for all.
I then played just four of the eight tracks from the new healing album, “Invoking Divinity.”
I knew the inspired music, calming 432 Hz frequency, and clearing ho’oponopono prayers would help them melt anything in the way of their experiencing bliss right now and being free to have, do, or be virtually anything they could imagine.
Did it work?
Here’s what one person said..
“As I listened to Invoking Divinity for
the first time, in my mind I thought about
something recent that had happened to me
that was very painful emotionally.
“Each time I thought or talked about the painful
experience, I couldn’t help but cry. Even though
I tried to let go of the emotions, it seemed like
I couldn’t. When Joe Vitale asked me to think
about something that needed clearing, I immediately
thought of that event.
“As I listened to the first track, sure enough,
the tears streamed down my face. I felt the emotion
of the event very deeply. Somehow, by the third track,
the pain was gone. After all this time, just sitting
and listening to your healing music soothed my pain,
and then completely healed me. As the fourth track
started, I began to have clear inspiration about what
I should do with my class (I’m an elementary school
teacher) and particularly with some of the students
that struggle for one reason or another.
“Not only did the music heal me, it opened up a portal
to inspiration for me. I believe this shift from within
me will create miraculous positive influence on my
students and many others. Thank you, from the bottom
of my heart, for the blessing of your healing music.
Now I have a deep desire to get the music translated
in Chinese so my Chinese-speaking family can benefit
like I did!”
Huai Nan, China
“Listening to your newest album Invoking Divinity was
profound for me, thank you for healing me, thank you
for inspiring me– again.
“That was probably the best 20 minutes I could ever
spend. Moving from track to track on the CD and just
feeling my energy shift was absolutely profound. Your
music is a blessing to humanity.”
Thank you, Steve and Yang Yue.
The eight tracks (40 minutes total) on the album are a combination of subliminal and audible clearing prayers and Divine music.
All I played at the event were 20 minutes of audible sounds and prayers (just four tracks).
Imagine what all 40 minutes could do for you!
Please do yourself a favor and go discover the power of “Invoking Divinity.”
Story, photos, audio samples and more are at http://www.InvokingDivinity.com
PS — If you want to raise your vibration, relax, clean, clear, and experience heaven, just go see http://www.InvokingDivinity.com
Last week I filmed my 89-year old father sharing the two minute prayer he says every morning. I was stunned to see it is similar to the prayer I say every night. The theme is gratitude. May it inspire you to give thanks daily, too.