The Magic of Believing Book Review: Claude Bristol’s Guide to Powerful Thinking

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I’ve known about “The Magic of Believing” by Claude Bristol for many years, and I finally read it. I knew I would enjoy the book and get value from it, and I did.The-Magic-of-Believing-book-cover

“The Magic of Believing” was originally published in 1948, and its message has spread through countless personal development materials by those who were influenced by the book. I read the Condensed Classics Library edition, which was abridged (condensed) and introduced by Mitch Horowitz.

I will quote from the book, so you get an idea of what it’s like, starting with this quote here:

“You are the product of your own thought. What you believe yourself to be, you are. Thought is the … source of all wealth, all success, all material gain, all great discoveries and inventions, and of all achievement.” – Claude Bristol

“The Magic of Believing” is Claude Bristol’s guide to powerful thinking, and you’ll discover a specific daily strategy you can apply immediately to increase your belief in yourself.

Clear Thinking Leads to Clear Results

“It may be riches, … fame, … position, or knowledge that you want. … You can have it, provided you are willing to make the objective the burning desire of your life. … By using the dynamic power of believing, you can set all your inner forces in motion … to reach your goal.” – Claude Bristol

You can only have what you desire if you believe you can. This reminds me of The Little Engine That Could. The empowering belief from that story is “I think I can,” and the main character keeps repeating that statement. The lesson from that story is “I think I can, therefore I really can.”

In “The Magic of Believing,” Claude Bristol states that you can have what you want when you know what you want.

“You must know where you are headed … before you’ll obtain what you are after. … It is (a) desire for something new, something different, something that (will) change your life, that causes you to make an extra effort.” – Claude Bristol

I’ve seen that in my own life. I didn’t know what I wanted, so I kept having more of the same. I made myself miserable with that for a very long time. I didn’t believe in myself or see that I could bring about what I desired, so I didn’t even think of what that would be. I didn’t get specific about what I wanted.

Perhaps it’s the same for you. Since you don’t have to stay stuck there, what do you do?

“The first thing to determine is precisely what you want. … Ask yourself: Where am I headed? What is my goal? Have I visualized … what I … want? If success is to be measured in terms of wealth, can you fix the amount in figures? If in terms of achievement, can you specify it? … I ask these questions, for in their answers are factors that will determine your whole life from now on.” – Claude Bristol

What are your answers to those questions? Take the time to answer where you’re headed and your goals. Be specific. For example, you could be specific enough to write out the vision for your life in 1 or 2 pages.

I’ve done that, and it’s time to review my vision to see if it needs an update.

Why is it important to think about what you want regularly?

“Whatever we fix thoughts upon or steadily focus our imaginations upon, that is what we attract.” – Claude Bristol

In my case, I spent many years focused on what I didn’t want, and that’s what kept showing up. I didn’t believe I could be, do, and have what I wanted. When I believe I can, I allow myself to focus on what I want. Belief is the missing ingredient. Belief shows itself in action whenever necessary action is taken.

“You must have a plan of action. You’ve got to know what you want and be specific about it. … If you have … determined what you want and have fixed a goal for yourself, then … you have taken the first step that will lead to success. As long as you hold on to the mental picture of your idea and … develop it with action, nothing can stop you from succeeding, for the subconscious mind never fails to obey any order given to it clearly and emphatically.” – Claude Bristol

Belief + Action = Results

When it’s positive results, the formula looks like this:

Belief + Action = Success

The Mirror Technique: A Method of Great Power

Claude Bristol gives a concrete method you can apply daily to believe in yourself in The Mirror Technique chapter. This is my favorite chapter in the book.

“The mirror technique … is a method of great power. Stand in front of a mirror. It … should be of sufficient size so … you may at least see your body from the waist up.” – Claude Bristol

The following is what I consider to be the most valuable quote from the entire book:

“Stand fully erect, bring your heels together, pull in your stomach, keep your chest out and your head up. Now, breathe deeply three or four times until you feel a sense of power, strength, and determination. Next, look into the … depths of your eyes. Tell yourself that you (will) get what you want. Name it aloud (to) see your lips move and … hear the words uttered. Make a regular ritual of it. Practice doing it at least twice (daily), mornings and evenings, and you will be surprised at the results. You can augment this by taping notes on the face of the mirror with any slogans or keywords you wish, so long as they are the key to what you have previously visualized and want to see in reality. Within a few days, you will have developed a sense of confidence that you never realized you could build within yourself.” – Claude Bristol

Even if the mirror technique sounds silly to you, I recommend that you do it for a few days or a week, and let me know how that goes for you in the comments section below. Experiment with it. Try it out, and see if it works for you. If you believe that it will be effective, then it will be.

“As you stand before the mirror, keep telling yourself that you are … an outstanding success.” – Claude Bristol

If you keep telling yourself at least twice a day that you’re an outstanding success while looking into your eyes in the mirror, seeing your lips move, and hearing yourself say those words, you can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Give it enough time and enough action, and you’ll prove yourself to be an outstanding success.

The Mirror Technique: A Multi-Purpose Tool

“Once you start this mirror practice, your eyes will take on a power that you never realized you could develop. … Sooner or later, there will come an intensity … which people will … recognize. … Your … position in life is marked by what you carry in your eyes. So, develop eyes that speak confidence. The mirror will help you.” – Claude Bristol

The mirror technique is all about building confidence in yourself, and confidence is another word for belief.

“This mirror technique may be used in many different ways and with very gratifying results.” – Claude Bristol

One way you can use the mirror technique is to practice giving speeches.

“If you are called upon to make a speech, … practice before a mirror. … Use any … gestures that come naturally to you.” – Claude Bristol

Another way you can use the mirror technique is to improve your posture.

“If you have a poor posture, … you will find that practice before a full-length mirror will work wonders for you. Your mirror shows you the person others see when they look at you, and you can fashion yourself into any kind of person you would like them to see.” – Claude Bristol

You get to turn yourself into the best possible version of yourself that you can be.

“If you act the part, you will become the part, and … there is no better way than rehearsing your acting before the mirror.” – Claude Bristol

In time, the acting will become genuine. You will grow into the role you’re here to play.

I enjoy how Claude Bristol writes about using the mirror as a tool for self-improvement. He covers multiple areas you can focus on, including your mindset, eyes, speech, and posture. And he makes it all seem achievable.

“Build yourself into the person you wish to be. Surely, if some of the world’s most outstanding men and women use this mirror technique to build themselves and increase their influence, … you can use it for your own … requirements.” – Claude Bristol

I challenge you and myself to use the mirror technique. We get to apply it and see what happens. I’ve used the mirror technique before, but not to the full extent detailed in “The Magic of Believing.” I consider how much my life can improve by using the mirror technique at least twice daily; it’s an encouraging thought.

Please share in the comments section below how using the mirror technique in the various ways described above helps you.

The Source of Ideas

“Ideas which come to us intuitively … come as a result of our accumulated knowledge or because of something we may have seen or heard.” – Claude Bristol

I’ve marveled at the ideas that have come to me, and there are certain times when I’ve wondered how I thought of those things. I’ve picked up on far more than I had realized.

“By far, the greatest number of discoveries … and inspired works come from the subconscious mind, without previous knowledge having been planted in the mind. Every custom we follow, everything we utilize was first an idea in someone’s mind. … It is wise to heed your intuitions and … trust them.” – Claude Bristol

There are countless times when I’ve ignored my intuition. And my intuition was right. So, Claude Bristol is correct when he wrote that it’s wise to trust your intuitions and heed them.

Happiness: Sought by Many, Found by Few

“If you would remain a positive type, avoid associating too much with anyone who has a negative or pessimistic personality.” – Claude Bristol

Why is that? It’s simple. Misery loves company, and a negative personality tends to drag someone else down to where they’re at. I’ve had a negative personality for so much of my life, and people – wisely – avoided me. I understand. It’s simply not fun and exhausting to be around someone like that.

“Happiness, sought by many and found by few, … is a matter entirely within ourselves. … Happiness is wholly independent of position, wealth, or material possessions. It is a state of mind that we … have the power to control … with our thinking.” – Claude Bristol

Happiness is within. Unless you choose to be happy, no one else can do anything about your happiness. It doesn’t matter what your circumstances are. It doesn’t matter how your life has been, how it is now, or how it will be. You can still choose to be happy. That gives you the greatest amount of power you can have.

“… I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances.” – Philippians 4:11

Those are great words to live by.


In this review, I’ve shared what I’ve learned from “The Magic of Believing.” I found the book to be a pleasant read, and I consider the Mirror Technique chapter to be the most valuable part of the book. It’s well worth the cost of admission all on its own.The-Magic-of-Believing-book-cover

Would it be more impactful if I shared the great results I’ve already gotten from applying the mirror technique to the full extent as taught in the book?

Probably. But I’m not there yet. And I like the idea of being open about where I am now.

When you’ve believed you can be, do, and have what you want, you’ve proven your belief accurate. You’ve taken the necessary actions to bring about the desired results.

In “The Magic of Believing,” Claude Bristol supplies the technique we need to make our lives sing. We now have the option to apply what we’ve learned and create the life of our dreams. Each of us can be a shining example for ourselves and others of what belief helps make possible.

I recommend you buy “The Magic of Believing” and experience the power of that book, which is still as relevant now as when it was first published all those years ago.

Better yet, buy the book and apply the mirror technique now and always.

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Until next time,

James Barnett

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