The greatest mind-body healer?

The greatest mind-body healer of recent times was a diminutive and rather brusque character
who lived in New England in the first half of the nineteenth century. His name was Phineas
Parkhurst Quimby. He deserves to be much better known.

QuimbyHaving cured himself of tuberculosis, considered impossible in those days, he developed a healing method that focused on changing the destructive beliefs of his patient. These dysfunctional beliefs, he asserted, were the root cause of all health problems.

He wrote, ‘If you have been deceived by some invisible enemy into a belief, you have put it into the form of a disease, with or without your knowledge. By my theory or truth, I come into contact with your enemy and restore you to health and happiness.’

Quimby’s methods were highly unconventional. Usually he imagined a courtroom
scene in which he (an attorney) pleaded with a judge (the patient’s subconscious) to release
the thought patterns that created the illness. Sometimes he challenged the patient’s beliefs aloud, but as his skills developed, would challenge them without a word being voiced, as he silently ‘intuited’ the cause of the problem and ‘projected’ healing thoughts into the mind of the patient. This he could do in their presence or at a distance. He brought about many cures without even meeting the patient!

Quimby fervently believed – in opposition to the medical and clerical ‘wisdom’ of his day that health is the birthright and natural state of every human being. The life force or ‘Intelligence’ which sustains us was like a TV station broadcasting health and well-being for all, but could be blocked by erroneous beliefs which prevent us from enjoying long and happy lives.

I’m guessing you’ve never heard of him. Few have, even though his achievements were well documented. He helped over ten thousand people  and left behind a voluminous body of writings. He influenced almost every mind-body healer who came after, whether they were aware of him or not. The best accounts, though, came from those whom he had cured. Several testified to his prowess and wrote detailed accounts of his methods and results, including one, Mary Baker Eddy, who founded her own healing movement and claimed his discoveries as her own.


Quimby practised an early form of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).  His methods were also a forerunner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (hypnotherapist Milton Erickson, on whom much of NLP is based, knew all about him). Many best-selling authors have made a fortune writing about the mind-body connection – they would be nowhere without him.

Awareness, intention, attention, thought, imagination and belief – correctly applied – are the keys to mind-body healing. I sum this up as the I-T-I-A Formula; Intention, Thinking, Imagination and Action. When all four are applied, as Quimby knew, the results can be astounding.


©David Lawrence Preston, 29.3.2017

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For further information on the I-T-I-A Formula, see also

For further information on the place of mind-body techniques in healing, see:


365 Spirituality book

How to Books, 2007


We all want to be happy, but what is happiness? And what makes us happy?

How happy are you? Give yourself a mark out of ten, where ten means blissfully happy in every way, and zero means totally miserable all the time.

Most people exist somewhere between 5-8, not totally happy but not miserable enough to do anything about it. Why? The problem is, many of us have adopted beliefs that make it hard to be happy.

What chance have you got if you believe you have to earn happiness or that it’s selfish or irresponsible to seek it?

Can happiness be learned or taught?

Some believe that some people are just born ‘the happy type’, but recent studies suggest that this is not entirely true. It seems that happiness can be taught.

We know, for example, that happy people tend to be hopeful about the future. They assume things will work out alright and don’t indulge in blame and self-pity if things go wrong. They don’t rely on money and ‘stuff’ to make them happy, but they know how to get the most out of it. They have a wide circle of friends and don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re able to laugh at life – and themselves.

All of the above traits can be learned, although there are opposing views on how we should go about it. Some believe that you can set happiness as a goal, just as you would work on your next career move, and work towards it. The argument goes something like this:

‘If you were totally in control of your life, healthy, free from worry, prosperous, had good family relationships and lots of friends, an enjoyable and fulfilling career, rewarding hobbies, social activities and fun, and were loved and respected by others, would you be happy? The obvious answer is yes. And since all these can be set as goals, planned and worked for systematically, it follows that happiness, too, can be tackled in this way.’

Try it. You’ll find it works – to some extent, depending on where you’re starting from, but you’ll find that you eventually hit an invisible barrier. Why?

  1. People who set impossible goals become frustrated by the gap between their aspirations and their attainments. Keep your sense of direction (aimlessness is a serious threat to contentment), but don’t be obsessed by it. Research has repeatedly shown that happiness is unrelated to wealth (once you have enough to feed, clothe and house yourself, each extra £, $ or € makes little difference), intelligence, educational attainment or age.
  2. Happiness can only exist in the here and now. It’s a fallacy to think that happiness will arrive when some future event takes place. ‘When…. then I’ll be happy,’ simply doesn’t work. Fill in the gap any way you like – ‘when I achieve all my goals,’ ‘when I make a million,’ ‘when I meet the man or woman of my dreams,’ and so on. Unless you already have the foundations of happiness in place, they are unlikely to make much difference.
  3. Goals anticipate and look to the future, but happiness can only exist in the here and now. Entertainer David Baddiel put it like this: ‘My idea of perfect happiness is not having to believe that happiness resides elsewhere.’

You will never be happy if your happiness depends on your achievements. Have a sense of purpose and goals to aim for, and enjoy the process. If you succeed – great! If you don’t, at least you’ve had fun trying.

To return to the question, ‘Can happiness be taught as a skill?’ – Yes it can. Happiness is a combination of attitude and emotion, and the key to changing attitudes and emotions is the I-T-I-A Formula (see below).

Happiness is an inner state.

You can’t buy happiness, nor sell, drink, drive or wear it. You can’t see, hear, smell, taste or touch it. You can’t go on holiday to it, or give it or receive it as a gift. In other words, it cannot be determined by factors external to yourself. Some live in poverty, yet are happy. Others (including many famous and successful people) are worth millions, but are not.

Applying the I-T-I-A Formula to happiness

I-T-I-A stands for Intention, Thinking, Imagination and Action.


Are you willing to be happy?  This may seem a trite question, but it’s not. Some would have to give up certain things if they became happy, such as sympathy from others and attention.

You are responsible for your happiness. How can it be any other way? If your happiness depended on the feelings, actions and words of others, how could you ever be truly happy, since you cannot control any of these things?


  • What absolutely must happen in order for me to feel happy?
  • What would I prefer to happen for me to feel happy?
  • What would be nice, but not absolutely essential?

Your answers define your rules for happiness. Over zealous rules can destroy your chances of being happy.

  • Realise that happiness is not an absence of problems. Life is a school. Every event, every obstacle has something to teach you so look for the lesson. See problems as challenges that can be turned into opportunities and learning experiences.
  • Let go of the need to be right. Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy? It’s hard to be both.
  • Look on the bright side. Focus on  pleasant, happy things and count your blessings.
  • Happiness demands complete self-acceptance. If you’re not happy, this is the place to start. No amount of accomplishments and possessions can make up for a lack of self-acceptance.
  • Understand that happiness does not equal fun. Happy people certainly have fun, but happiness and fun are not the same. Fun activities help us temporarily forget our problems – but they do not bring permanent happiness, because the effect fades once the fun ends. Fun is what you feel during the activity; happiness is an on-going state of being experienced before and after. If you rely on fun to bring happiness, you’ll have an empty feeling once the party is over because you’re not addressing the real issues that bring the genuine thing.
  • Embrace change. Change is a natural and inevitable part of life. There’s a saying attributed to Helen Keller:

‘When the door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we don’t see the one which has been opened for us.’


Imagine yourself surrounded with happiness, feeling happy, enjoying life, cheerful and contented no matter what is going on around you. Your unconscious will take this as an instruction to create happy feelings for you. Try it – it works!


  • Mix with happy people. Happiness rubs off. So does unhappiness. It’s hard to be happy when surrounded by unhappy people, so mix with people who know how to enjoy themselves. Life is meant to be fun! Comedian Victor Borge described laughter as, ‘The shortest distance between two people.
  • Laugh loud and laugh often. The ability to laugh is a good indicator of mental health. It also alters your body chemistry – endorphins (the ‘happy hormones’) are released into the bloodstream bringing a feeling of well-being. When you’re happy, your body is relaxed, your facial expression changes and you laugh often. It also works in reverse. If you laugh often, it makes you feel better.
  • Smile often. Every time you pass a mirror or see yourself in a shop window, smile. Also, practise the ‘inner smile’ – the more you smile inwardly to yourself, the more you will experience a feeling of happiness. If nothing else, other people will wonder what you’re up to.
  • Do unto others… The happiest people enjoy helping others. Give – not just material things, but yourself. Make time to listen. Be cheerful (even if you’re having a bad day). Not only will you feel better, you’ll find others return your kindness.
  • Be here now.Living in the ‘here and now’ is one of the biggest steps you can take to happiness and peace of mind. How can you be happy if you continually wallow in the past, agonise over old mistakes, wishing you could relive parts of your life, and blaming yourself for wasted opportunities? Stop beating yourself up. Now is the only moment over which you have any control, so make the most of it. If your mind wanders to what might happen tomorrow, bring it back. And finally, remember the last line of ‘Gone With The Wind’ – ‘Tomorrow is another day.’

©David Lawrence Preston, 28.4.2016

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What You Must Do To Succeed

The tools for transforming your life are:

I – Intention

T – Thought.

I – Imagination.

A – Action.

Intention sets your course; thinking and imagination bring your mind into line with your ambitions; and action makes your goals reality.

The points below are in no particular order of priority – they’re all important.

  1. Keep your goals very clearly etched in your mind. Write them on a small card and keep it with you. Read it daily. Affirm silently and aloud that you can achieve them and are well on the way to doing so. Every morning and night, ‘visualise’ yourself (in clear detail) accomplishing your goal, and use autosuggestion.
  2. Be proactive. Take the initiative. Make things happen. ‘Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.’ (Goethe)
  3. Identify your key result areas. In many fields, there are only a few – perhaps three or four – activities at which you must excel. It’s important to know what these are, and master them
  4. Plan carefully. Planning starts the process of translating your goals from ideas into something tangible. Included in your plan should be your long, medium and short-term goals. Long-term goals spell out your ultimate destination; medium goals are the major landmarks along the way; and short-term goals are your immediate priorities. Specify how you will set about achieving your goals and write it down. Read through the plan regularly to assess whether you’re on course. If not – make adjustments. But remember, no plan should ever be cast in stone. If it turns out to be impractical, change course. A good plan is not restrictive, but allows for every likely contingency.
  5. Assess risk. You may need to take a few risks, but risk taking doesn’t mean being foolhardy: weigh up the odds and if there’s a good chance of success have a go. Do your homework.
  6. Teamwork: Most achievements involve working with others to accomplish a goal. You’re unlikely to have all the information, skills, resources and contacts that you need. Find people who can help. Working with a team enables you to plug the gaps in areas where you’re relatively weak, generate more and better ideas than you could alone, gain access to resources you do not have and benefit from synergy – (the ‘2+2=5’ effect).  And most importantly, make sure that everyone in your team benefits.
  7. Go the extra mile. Give a little extra. Look for ways of doing more than is expected of you. Your ‘customers’ will come back for more and will recommend you to others.
  8. Learn from your ‘failures’ – everyone has them. Every successful person knows that each so-called ‘failure’ contains within it the seeds of success – providing you can spot them and turn them to your advantage. Thomas Edison tried for years to perfect the electric light bulb despite being told by the best scientific minds of the day that it was impossible to get light from electricity. After approximately five thousand attempts, a journalist asked him why he was risking his reputation on such a futile exercise. ‘You don’t understand the way the world works,’ he replied. ‘I haven’t failed at all. I’ve just found five thousand ways it won’t work. Each one takes me closer to discovering the way it will’. View setbacks merely as inconvenient and keep going.
  9. Don’t be a DOPE – ‘Driven by Other People’s Expectations’. Many people deny their own potential because listen to the wrong people. Dr Albert Einstein offered the following advice: ‘Be independent of the opinion of others.’ Share your dreams only with people who have high aspirations of their own. They’ll understand.
  10. Time management: success depends a great deal on how you use your time. You’ve heard it said that ‘time is money’, and this is partly true, but with two important differences: You can’t save time to spend another day; and no matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you’ve still got now… and tomorrow… and the day after that…
  11. Monitor your results. If you’re making headway – fine. Keep going. Carry out some fine-tuning if necessary. But if you’re not, be honest with yourself. Find out where you’re going wrong and make adjustments.
  12. Never, never give up. Determination and perseverance are probably the main distinguishing qualities of successful people.

©David Lawrence Preston, 21.3.2016

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Life Coach book cover

How To Books, 2007


Your Inner Teacher

Just suppose you had an ‘inner teacher’ who knew exactly what you needed to learn in any moment. Well you have.

It’s one of the functions of your intuition, housed in your unconscious mind.

If certain situations or thinking patterns bring about ‘negative’ emotions in you, your inner teacher makes sure you have more of these experiences until you get the message. In other words, if you handle a situation unskillfully you’ll get another opportunity to learn.

If there are patterns which you would like to change, reflect on the best way of handling them, clarify your intentions, examine your thinking and beliefs, mentally rehearse future situations  and adjust your words and actions.

Remember, your inner teacher doesn’t just rely on uncomfortable experiences to get its message across – it works for ‘positives’ too. If you’re experiencing good feelings, it’s your intuition saying, ‘You handled that perfectly. Congratulations!

©David Lawrence Preston, 9.3.2016

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365 Spirituality book