Once You Replace Negative Thoughts with Positive Ones, You’ll Start Having Positive Results

Willie Nelson? Dale Carnegie? Norman Vincent Peale? James K. Van Fleet? John C. Maxwell?

Dear Quote Investigator: Did country music star Willie Nelson say something about replacing negative thoughts with positive ones to achieve positive results?

Quote Investigator: In 2006 Willie Nelson with Turk Pipkin published “The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart”. Two epigraphs appeared at the beginning of the book: 1

When something positive occurs, it contains within it the seeds of negative and positive.
—The Tao Te Ching

Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.
—Willie Nelson

This general notion has a long history in self-help literature. For example, in 1948 the popular volume “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie mentioned replacing negative thoughts: 2

Even if we don’t succeed, the mere attempt to turn our minus into a plus will cause us to look forward instead of backward; it will replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts; it will release creative energy and spur us to get so busy that we won’t have either the time or the inclination to mourn over what is past and forever gone

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading Once You Replace Negative Thoughts with Positive Ones, You’ll Start Having Positive Results


  1. 2006, The Tao of Willie: A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart by Willie Nelson with Turk Pipkin, (Epigraph of book), Quote Page vii, Gotham Books, New York: A Division of Penguin Group. (Verified on paper)
  2. 1948, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie, Quote Page 134, Simon and Schuster, New York. (Verified on paper)

Creativity Is Intelligence Having Fun

Albert Einstein? George Scialabba? Joey Reiman? John C. Maxwell? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: An invigorating comment about creativity is often credited to the universally recognized scientific genius Albert Einstein:

Creativity is intelligence having fun.

Are these really the words of Einstein?

Quote Investigator: There is no substantive evidence that Einstein who died in 1955 made this remark. The most comprehensive reference about the physicist’s pronouncements is the 2010 book “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” from Princeton University Press, and the expression is absent. 1

QI hypothesizes that the saying evolved from the concluding sentence of a March 1984 article titled “Mindplay” in “Harvard Magazine”, an alumni publication. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2

Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun.

The article author was George Scialabba who graduated from the prestigious university with the class of 1969. Later he joined the staff and began writing essays and book reviews for a wide variety of periodicals.

After publication the expression was disseminated and streamlined; in addition, the word “imagination” was replaced by “creativity” as shown in the chronologically ordered selected citations below. Continue reading Creativity Is Intelligence Having Fun


  1. 2010, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, Edited by Alice Calaprice, (No page number because statement is absent), Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. (Verified with hardcopy)
  2. 1984 March-April, Harvard Magazine, Volume 86, Number 4, The Browser: Mindplay by George Scialabba, (Book Review of Howard Gardner’s “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences”), Start Page 16, Quote Page 19, Published by Harvard Magazine Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Verified with scans; thanks to the library system of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)