The Magic of Believing

I recently read The Magic of Believing by Claude M. Bristol. The book suggests a positive attitude and visualizing what you want in your life will make it happen. I was interested in The Magic of Believing because it was published in 1948, ostensibly making it the first of the mind-over-matter books that today are hitting best-seller lists. I dog-eared several pages and underlined passages as I read, and there are a couple paragraphs I’d like to share because despite the publication date, Bristol’s words are timely (though his phrasing may be a bit antiquated):

“In the depression years—and there may be years like them in the future—we saw suggestive forces working overtime. Day after day we heard the expressions. ‘Times are hard.’ ‘Business is poor.’ ‘The banks are failing.’ ‘Prosperity hasn’t a chance.’ Wild stories about business failures on every hand … became the national chant, and millions believed that prosperous days would never return. Hundreds, yes thousands, of strong-willed men go down under the constant hammering, the continuous tap, tapping of the same fear vibratory thoughts. Money, always sensitive, runs to cover when fear suggestions begin to circulate, and business failures and unemployment follow quickly. We hear thousands of stories … and people believe them readily and act accordingly.

“Human beings are human beings the world over, all subject to the same emotions, the same influences, and the same vibrations. … As individuals think and believe, so they are. As a whole city of them thinks, so it is; and as a nation of them think, so it is. This is an inescapable conclusion. Every person is the creation of himself, the image of his own thinking and believing.”

I’ve thought about these words a lot because, like many of you, I have lost some of my optimism during the many world-changing events that have occurred in the past few years. I read Bristol’s book because I want to be a catalyst to the change I want to see in my life and in the bigger picture. After spending a day job shadowing Michael Nagel, CGR, CAPS, partner with MAW Chicago LLC, Palatine, Ill., this year’s NAHB Remodeler of the Year, I quickly learned he subscribes to the same belief system. “I am a firm believer that one person can make a difference,” he says in the article about him, page 14. “You’ll never tell me anything else because I can think of two or three specific times when my voice was heard and it made a difference in the outcome of something.”

Nagel’s passion for the remodeling industry is supported through his work with NAHB—work that has provided opportunities for his voice to be heard and educated him in ways he wouldn’t otherwise have experienced. In addition to the article in this issue, you can learn more about Nagel from several online exclusives, including what occurred the day I job shadowed him (visit While I accompanied Nagel around Chicago, he told me about a 1969 Roy Clark song titled “Right or Left at Oak Street.” In the song, Clark says every day we have a choice to turn right or left at Oak Street—to stay or run away. According to Nagel, if you’re going to stay, you should have the courage to speak up and help create the best possible situation. Because if you won’t, who will?