Zero Limits Header Image

Thoughts Are Pictures; Pictures Are Patterns

If you should hear the word house, what do you see in your mind’s eye? Do you see the letters h-o-u-s-e? No, you see a picture of a house. It may be your own house; a house you admire, or the dream house you expect to own some day.

The mind does not think in words, but in pictures. When you are reading you are continually translating the words your eyes see into pictures. In other words you see what you read.

Not all words can be changed into pictures: the word love, for instance. But, when we think of a word which does not lend itself to pictures, we do the next best thing. We associate it with a picture word. When you hear the word love, you are likely to see in your mind’s eye the picture of one you do love: your wife or husband, or sweetheart.

When one has difficulty in remembering what he has read, it is usually because of a bad reading habit. His eyes have been following the words, but he has not been changing the words into pictures. In my books I often urge the reader to think while he reads. In reality, this means see while you read.

You can go to a movie and watch a play which may run for two hours or more. Later you can describe the whole film in most exact detail. This is because you have been watching the story in pictures.

Such magazines as Life and Look have thousands of pictures submitted to them which they never use. The picture editor on such magazines studies these pictures from the standpoint of reader interest. If he does not think that a picture will appeal to a large segment of the readers, it will not be used. The picture editor, therefore, is one of the most valuable employees on the staff. The growth of the magazine’s circulation depends upon him.

Since thoughts are pictures, mental pictures will be either negative or positive, depending upon the trend of thought.

Establish this thought in your mind right now: Negative thoughts cause negative reactions; positive thoughts cause positive reactions.

Now then—since thoughts are pictures, does it not behoove you to appoint yourself as a picture editor to evaluate the mental pictures entering your mind? You agree, I am certain.


In earlier chapters you learned that the Creative Mind accepts thoughts of the conscious mind as instructions and reproduces in our beings or affairs whatever you hold in thought. We can now enlarge upon the original statement by saying that the pictures held in the conscious mind will be accepted as patterns by the Creative Mind.

Have you ever played one of those old-time player pianos? A wide roll of paper filled with small holes and slots would pass over a tracker board having a series of openings, each opening representing a key on the piano. No matter how many times you played a certain music roll, you always got the same tune. It would be foolish to think that one time the roll would produce “Annie Laurie” and the next time you would get “Yankee Doodle.”

Mental pictures are just as infallible. You cannot hold a picture of failure and expect it to guide you to success.

As an illustration: Suppose you are over your head in bills, and have a negative type of mind. What are the mental pictures you see? You see your creditors getting judgments against you; you visualize your salary being attached and, as a result of it, losing your job, Such pictures become realities because of a mental block. You see no way of getting the money to pay the bills, with the result that creditors will take action. Your problems cause you to become inefficient at your job, which you eventually lose.

All right! What kind of pictures would a positive mind hold under the same circumstances? Your pictures would probably see you going to your creditors, asking them to be a bit lenient so that you could gather your forces and work out ways and means of getting the extra money needed. You would work harder at your job so that your services would be recognized and a larger income given to you. You would solve your problem in keeping with the positive mental pictures.

You will now see the wisdom of becoming your own mental picture editor. If a negative picture attempts to enter your mind raus damit! Replace it with a positive one.


A phenomenon is a fact; our description of it is a theory. This truism may well apply to what I am about to say. If I hit my fist against the top of my desk, a sound will register in your ear. That is a phenomenon. Should I attempt to explain what happened from the moment my fist made contact with the desk until the sound reached your ear, that would be theory—which might or might not be correct.

In talking about mental television, I will explain certain established phenomena, but my explanation will be theory.

“How can one bring about success through positive mental pictures, when others are involved?” I am often asked; and it is a good question.

It is true that one’s success is always dependent upon others. If he could fully control his success, failure would be out of the question because one would do only those things which would prompt success.

An individual’s success, if he is an employee, will depend upon his employer; if he is a businessman, it will depend upon his prospective customers. So, you will see that a person’s mental pictures, to be effective, must influence others in addition to himself.

If there is any foundation to Dr. J. B. Rhine’s theories regarding extrasensory perception—ESP—and I definitely believe there is, then, since thoughts are pictures, there must be a transmittal of mental pictures from one mind to another, or, as one may say, mental television.

In a television studio, the cameras in front of the subject would be of no value unless there was a power to project the image on the various screens throughout the country.

In order to project a mental picture, power must also be applied—and that power is enthusiasm.

When you have a success picture—and that picture is backed up by enthusiasm—it will most likely be received and acted upon by the one involved in your success.

Let me tell you a true story of a man who had been held back by wrong mental pictures, and then zoomed to success through right ones.

This man, Joe Thomas I’ll call him, operated a small machine shop. His equipment consisted of a lathe, drill press and some hand tools. He did the work and his wife answered the telephone and kept books. Joe’s income was just about sufficient for their necessities.

One day Joe happened to listen to a broadcast I was giving in which I talked about the mental pictures we hold. This provocative subject caused Joe to do a bit of thinking—and looking within. He thought of the mental pictures he had been holding of himself and his business. He later admitted, with some embarrassment, that he had never been able to see himself as anything but a small operator. He had considered that if he kept busy, that was about all he could expect.

Fired by the logic he had heard, Joe Thomas began to build mental pictures of himself owning and operating a large machine shop. To relate the full story of his climb would take many pages, but suffice it to say that the day arrived—and fairly quickly—when Joe was sitting in a well furnished executive’s office, guiding the work of 75 employees. The last I saw of Joe he had sold his business for nearly a million dollars, had taken a trip around the world, and was looking for new trails to blaze.

Nothing had changed with this man except his mental pictures. Business conditions were no better than when he operated his one-man shop. But the moment Joe started to see himself as a big operator, his Creative Mind began guiding him in thought and action so that he became a big operator.

“What Things Soever Ye Desire”

There is a passage in the Good Book which fits in very well with the subject matter of this chapter. It will be found in Mark 11:24:

“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

This statement, to many, is hard to believe. “How can I believe I have something which I know I do not possess?” they will often ask. What this statement really means is that you should hold mental pictures of yourself enjoying the use of that which you may desire. Studying the statement further, you will find that it does not mean that by visualizing whatever it is you desire, it will come to you instantaneously, as if by magic. The Biblical quotation says “believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” The word “shall” signifies that the result of your desire will come at a later date. Now you have the picture, according to the promise in the Scriptures. Briefly: Form mental pictures of yourself using and enjoying that which you desire; believe the picture to be true, and you will be guided in thought and action to think the thoughts and do the things which will make a reality of your picture.

As you think back over what you have read so far, you will remember that what I just told you is no different from what I have been telling you throughout the book. I have merely used Biblical authority to back me up in the soundness of the principles being laid down to you.

Here is a truth I wish to emphasize: The principles relating to mental pictures apply equally to negative thoughts as to constructive, positive thoughts.

Let us assume that you are afraid of losing your job; what kind of pictures do you hold? Do you see yourself growing richer? Certainly not! You picture yourself as being in financial difficulties. You fear losing your home and furnishings. You wonder how you can have food on your table.

Such mental pictures will actually make you more inefficient in your work; you’ll make mistakes, your work will not be of the best quality due to your mental stress. The outcome? Your employer will most likely find reason to dispense with your services.


Many times you may attempt to hold positive pictures, even think you are doing so; yet the effect of them is destroyed through a doubt creeping in.

The first exercise I suggest is that you think of some objective you have yearned for, yet which you have never realized because of your doubt.

For sake of illustration, let us assume that you have long wished for a trip to Hawaii. You may not have taken it because of lack of money, lack of time—or both.

Visit a travel agency and ask for folders describing and illustrating tours to and through Hawaii. Select the one which would please you most.

After you have decided which tour you like best, begin seeing yourself taking that trip. Do not wish for it, but see it as a reality. As you look at pictures of the ship, visualize yourself enjoying the deck sports or merely relaxing in one of the comfortable deck chairs.

See yourself in Hawaii relishing the freshly picked tropical fruit, or lolling on the beach soaking up the warm rays of the sun. Do not overlook the Hawaiian Luau (a famous Hawaiian feast). Make the mental picture so vivid that, for the time being, you are actually a citizen of our 50th state.

While carrying on with this exercise, be careful not to allow any negative elements to enter your picture. If—only for a moment—a thought such as “Boy, I wish this were true” begins to creep in, chase it out. It will offset the good already built up through your exercise.

Because of your exercising, the Hawaiian tour is about to become a reality—no doubt about it. You are visualizing the experiences you are soon to enjoy.

What will happen? Your Creative Mind will begin guiding you in thought and in action so that ways and means will be opened up to make the mental pictures a reality. You will soon find yourself on the ship or plane headed for the glamorous islands.

Let’s think of another exercise. How about the house in which you live? Would you like to have a larger and better one? All right, this will make a splendid exercise.

Visualize the type of home you would like and the number of rooms. See yourself actually living in such a home.

Remember the Biblical passage quoted earlier: “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” While picturing your new home, see it as a reality. See it complete in all details. If you have wanted a den, add one to your mental house. Perhaps you are a hobbyist and would like to have a shop all your own. You can have it—so add it. A swimming pool? Yes, if that’s your desire.

Since it is true that your Creative Mind works best while your conscious mind is either pleasantly occupied, or in abeyance, the best time to exercise is when you are partaking of refreshing recreation—or, better still, while asleep.

Make it a point to practice your exercises every evening just before going to sleep. After making yourself comfortable in bed, relax—then turn on your mental pictures. Again let me warn you: do not see the pictures as wishes; see them as realities.

If some problem has come up during the day, instead of keeping yourself awake by worrying about it, hold mental pictures of the solution to the problem. This will eliminate your wakefulness, and help you to drop off quickly to peaceful sleep. And, while your conscious mind is thus in abeyance, your Creative Mind will work on your problem, ready to bring a solution into consciousness when you awaken in the morning.

I will give you one final exercise before concluding this chapter. This exercise will pertain to health and physical wellbeing. My earnest advice to you is to start out by having your doctor give you a thorough check-up. If he finds anything basically wrong with you, have it attended to.

Many people have an illness consciousness. They continually fear that some new ailment is developing. Knowing, as we do, that there is intelligence in every cell of the body, mental pictures of ailments of various sorts will actually transmit the message to your cells with the result that you will always be feeling on the aches and pains side. And holding mental pictures of illness will, during the process of cell renewal, bring weaker cells into being.

Develop mental pictures of radiant health. See yourself continually getting better and better in every respect. Instead of looking for ailments, notice how much better you are getting. Awaken in the morning with a glad-to-be-alive feeling. Think how good it will be to arise and start another challenging day of exciting activity.

Encourage your Creative Mind to guide you in thought and action so that good health will be a reality as well as your rightful heritage. Along with your evening exercises concerning your objective, hold pictures of your physical being as glowing with radiant health. Know that your Creative Mind will guide you in thought and action so that you will do the things necessary for good health, both as to diet and physical exercise; that you will have the buoyancy and vitality to carry through on the objectives you are visualizing.

If you have passed what has formerly been accepted as middle age, forget it. Most people, as they approach the threescore years and ten, develop an age consciousness. They feel they are too old to start this or that. I definitely believe that when we learn how to live and to think, the normal life span of man will not be 70 (threescore years and ten) but will exceed 100 years.

I am holding my own life span as being 125 years and I am living accordingly. Now that I am in my 70’s I feel better, physically and mentally, than I have at any time in my life.

Perhaps I will not live to be 125, but I will not shorten my life through fear of death. I intend to keep busy—and happy—until the grim reaper comes along with his scythe, beckoning me onward.

What you have learned in this chapter is not for temporary use. You have learned a new principle of life. You have gained some new tools which will make achievement assured and easy of accomplishment.

As I often say: Knowledge is of no value unless you make use of it. Make use of this new knowledge NOW! Start developing the ability to create mental pictures of what you want without fear that you’ll fail to achieve them.

Mastering this will be like falling heir to a tremendous storehouse of everything you’ve ever desired, with the knowledge that all of it is yours—merely for the taking.

Visit Grow Rich While You Sleep for more articles from this book by Ben Sweetland.