Napoleon Hill’s Second Principle: Practical Suggestions for Increasing Faith
The more I work at improving my circumstances and my results, the more I am led to the significance and power of our thoughts and beliefs.
This is the essence of Napoleon Hill’s chapter on Faith, the second of his 13 point formula to “Think and Grow Rich.”
Despite understanding the concept of faith, putting it into practice is not an easy proposition for those of us with ingrained beliefs, most of which we are not even aware.
Within the pages of his book, Napoleon Hill includes practical suggestions for how to develop faith. In fact, some of these suggestions are included as others of the 13 principles outlined in his book, Autosuggestion, for example.
My goal with this article is to give you some practical suggestions to increase your ability to operate using faith.
I was raised in a religious environment. The topic of faith was and is not new to me. However, the comprehension of what it is as a concept and the ability to employ faith in practical ways, remains a challenge. I have discovered a few practices that help increase our faith.
Let’s start with the definition of faith. We’ll use Napoleon’s own definition:
Faith: Visualization of, and belief in attainment of desire.
Let me share an example from my own life that illustrates the development and application of faith.
When I was younger, I hated the anticipation of being alone on a Friday or Saturday evening. I did not always having a close friend, or even better, a girl friend with which to spend that discretionary time. It was easy to be disheartened at the reality of my situation.
So what does my young adult weekend loneliness have to do with Napoleon Hill’s principle of Faith?
Somewhere in my heart and mind, I had to come to the point of belief that I would not always be alone on a weekend evening. I had to believe it was possible for a different outcome, enough to move me to action to do something about it.
That belief, which most often starts as a hope is the seed that when fostered will lead to alternative behaviors. Those different behaviors will lead to different outcomes. I believe that is why Mr. Hill put this as the second step in his thirteen steps to think and grow rich, second only to desire.
Faith then, is the motivating force for individuals to take action. We call it faith, because it is action different than any direction we have gone in the past. If it had been something we had previously experienced on multiple occasions we are not operating from faith, but from habit or experience.
The principle of faith must then apply to an area of our life for which we don’t have previous experience or consistent results.
In my young adult loneliness example, I first hoped that I wouldn’t have to spend every weekend alone. This led to faith, meaning the seed of a belief that I wouldn’t have to spend every Friday or Saturday evening by myself. That belief led to action. The action was out of my comfort zone, but the belief that it was possible to have a different outcome bolstered me against the fears that had held me back in the past.
Gratefully, at some point I had taken enough action to meet, invite and successfully convince my then future wife to risk marrying me. (We just celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary last month).
Again, I use this as an example of the principle of faith.. Let me suggest a few exercises to help develop and increase your faith.
1. Get good at visualizing what you want.
If you want an outcome different from anything you have experienced in the past, you have to start by introducing it to your mind. Use your imagination to create mental images of the future result you are after, and infuse that mental image with emotion.
For example, as a young twenty-something man, I could visualize myself being out on the perfect date with a beautiful young woman who was just as happy to be with me, as I was with her. I could spend time thinking of the details of where we would go and what we would do. Just visualizing those thoughts introduces emotions that inherently drove me to take action to make those things come about.
That is the power of faith, and that is how the practice of visualizing the outcomes we desire fosters faith, which then leads to action.
2. Instill a practice of meditation into your daily routine.
This suggestion is simply to take item one, and turn it into a daily practice and habit.
As noted above, somehow I managed to convince a young lady to marry me over 28 years ago. I no longer need to exercise faith to avoid a lonely weekend evening. (So long as I don’t say something stupid to my wife).
Today I have different goals that continue to require faith. For example, I am working to build a business, producing videos to help troubled youth, and creating wonderful family events for us and our adult children.
To foster faith in these areas, I now consciously utilize a practice of visualizing various events in the future in each of these areas, and putting it into the practice of a daily meditation.
To facilitate the practice, I have recorded myself narrating a description of the events. I then listen to one of these narrated “meditations” to increase faith in the reality that they will all come about. I do this with my eyes closed, sitting comfortably in a chair or on the floor.
Often meditation is referred to as a mindfulness practice. Tim Ferris, in his book, Tools of Titans, states that a mindfulness practice is the most consistent pattern he has seen in all of the world-class people he has interviewed.
3. Couple your efforts at believing with consistent, significant action.
In a previous article I referred to a video with Tony Robbins addressing the relationship between belief and action. When our belief rises to the level of faith, it has the natural result for us to take action. That action is necessary to sustain our faith. If we don’t take action we will never see the result we are putting our faith in. In that case our faith or belief will diminish because we see no result.
If we do couple action with our faith, we will see an upward cycle of increased results, which will reinforce our belief, but we have to put the action with the faith.
By learning how to visualize our desired result, turning it into a habit through a regular practice of meditation, and then coupling it with consistent action we can see our faith begin to produce results that we have not previously come close to achieving. We might even be able to “Think and Grow Rich.”
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James Stephenson is the author of “Small Steps, Big Feat.”