Norman Vincent Peale, stand down: The new man at the head of the optimists’ club is an ex-cop who goes by the name Neo Positivity.

NEGATIVE THOUGHTS and occasionally crippling stress abound. They’re an unavoidable part of being human, whatever your profession. That’s as true for dentists as it is for those in even more-stressful occupations, such as law enforcement officers—a point made effusively by a former cop who now goes by the nom d’optimisme “Neo Positivity.” Speaking as a participant in panel discussions organized by Benco Dental (the publisher of Incisal Edge), Neo Positivity encouraged attendees of last fall’s Greater New York Dental Meeting (see page 6) to adopt a daily philosophy of positive thought.

As a patrolman in Camden, New Jersey—long one of the country’s most crime-plagued jurisdictions—Neo Positivity found himself in desperate need of a way to drown out the understandably pervasive, disquieting voices of anxiety and fear. The system he devised, he told the assembled doctors at the GNYDM, he calls “Thoughts Become Things.” It’s a sensibility of mind over matter, in essence—a framework for harnessing the power of intention to shape your reality. The practices the system encompasses, he found, had application far beyond their utility to his daily work in law enforcement. Grounded in the principles of psychology and philosophy, “Thoughts Become Things” consists of three specific actions.

1. Plant your seeds.
It’s critical to start with action, and no action is more important than mental exercise. Envision the difference you want to see in your life and in the world more broadly. Do so clearly. “Write down your goals, big or small, with vivid details,” Neo Positivity says, “and key in on the emotions those thoughts provide.”

2. Visualize success.
This step entails two key actions: First, imagine your desired outcome, then protect yourself against the inherent negativity that colors your other thoughts and actions. “Close your eyes throughout the day and picture yourself achieving your desires,” he advises. “Immerse yourself in the feeling of joy, gratitude and accomplishment.” If unproductive thoughts creep in, counteract them with positive affirmations. “Repetition will change your brain’s muscle memory, your average thoughts, and how you respond to those thoughts.”

3. Take inspired action.
Positive affirmations help train the mind, helping inocu­late against self-doubt. “Periodically, whether I need it or not, I take a small break,” Neo Positivity says. He goes outside, looks up into the trees and practices deep breathing, opening his mind to widen tunnel vision, remaining
vigilant to train his brain to tackle doubt.

Think of the athlete’s credo: You’ll never be perfect, but striving for perfection is itself a mark of success.

Above all, he says, stay consistent. Think of the athlete’s credo: You’ll never be perfect, but striving for perfection is itself a mark of success. Neo Positivity’s ideas are tools; it’s up to you to use them. “I [can give] you the steps,” he says, “but if you don’t do them, it’s like a magnifying glass sitting on a table. It does nothing for you until you pick it up and use it.”

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