There Is Power in Accentuating the Positive, President Hinckley Taught

Contributed By Danielle Christensen, Church News contributor

  • 8 August 2018

President Gordon B. Hinckley speaks during the 171st Annual General Conference in 2001. In 1974, he gave an address at Brigham Young University about the power of positive thinking.  Photo by Chuck Wing, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • Positive thinking can make the difference between success and failure.
  • “Bear one another’s burdens” is to strengthen and encourage one another.

“I am suggesting that we ‘accentuate the positive.’ I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.” —President Gordon B. Hinckley

President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke to students of Brigham Young University during a devotional in October 1974 on the topic “Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled.” In his address, the prophet asked the audience to focus on the positive, rather than the negative, things of life.

“I come this morning with a plea that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight,” he said. “I am suggesting that we ‘accentuate the positive.’ I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort. I am not asking that all criticism be silenced. Growth comes of correction. Strength comes of repentance. Wise is the man who can acknowledge mistakes pointed out by others and change his course. I am not suggesting that our conversation be all honey and blossoms. Clever expression that is sincere and honest is a skill to be sought and cultivated.”

President Hinckley went on to talk about the power of optimism and its power to overcome an attitude of fear. Commenting on political tensions of the time, he then stated there was “too much fruitless, carping criticism of America,” and that while times might be dark, “there have been dark days in every nation.”

The prophet then quoted Winston Churchill, who had spoken at Harrow School on October 29, 1941, exactly 33 years prior to the day President Hinckley gave his address:

“Do not let us speak of darker days; let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days—the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.”

President Hinckley affirmed that if there were more positive speaking about America’s future, it would ultimately thrive as a nation.

“I doubt not that we shall have days of trial,” he said. “I am confident that so long as we have more politicians than statesmen, we shall have problems. But I am certain that if we will emphasize the greater good and turn our time and talents from vituperative criticism, from constantly looking for evil, and lift our sights to what may be done to build strength and goodness in our nation, America shall continue to go forward with the blessing of the Almighty and stand as an ensign of strength and peace and generosity to all the world.”

Positive thinking can also make the difference between success and failure, President Hinckley stated.

“We are the creatures of our thinking. We can talk ourselves into defeat or we can talk ourselves into victory,” he said. “Let me urge you to desist from making cutting remarks one to another. Rather, cultivate the art of complimenting, of strengthening, of encouraging. What wonders we can accomplish when others have faith in us. No leader can long succeed in any society without the confidence of the people.”

Adding that it is a responsibility to “bear one another’s burdens” and to strengthen and encourage one another, President Hinckley reminded listeners to seek out the positive.

“My dear young friends, don’t partake of the spirit of our times. Look for the good and build on it,” he said. “There is so much of the sweet and the decent and the good to build on.”