One of the founders of the self help movement, Louise Hay is an American author who writes motivational books promoting self help through the concept of New Thought. Among Hay’s best known works is her 1984 publication, You Can Heal Your Life. She is also the founder of a publishing company, Hay House.
Louise Hay was born to a poverty stricken mother in Los Angeles on October 8, 1926. With her second marriage, Hay’s mother entered into a violent relationship which left a lasting influence of negativity on Louise. A neighbor raped her when she was only five, adding to her traumatized childhood. By the age of 16, Louise was a high school dropout carrying a teenage pregnancy. She gave birth to a baby girl who was put up for adoption. Louise then moved to Chicago, working on low paying jobs to support herself. In 1950, she moved to New York and began a career in fashion modeling after changing her name. Four years later, Louise married Andrew Hay, an English businessman. Leaving Hay completely devastated and heartbroken, Andrew left her for another woman after fourteen years of marriage.
Desperate to gather herself, Louise started attending meetings at the Church of Religious Science and studied many books and materials on the New Thought philosophy. She underwent training in the ministerial program and became a popular speaker and workshop leader at the church moving on to counseling clients which eventually became her full-time profession. Side by side Hay also devoted her time to studying Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa.
Her research, study and practice led Hay to produce a reference guideline which explained the mental and psychological causes of physical illnesses. She explained how one can get rid of physical ailments by simply inducing a positive thought process and a love yourself motto in their mind, something she also stressed upon in her lectures and workshops she organized throughout the United States. The pamphlet developed into her book, You Can Heal Your Life which was published in 1984. The book appeared on The New York Times miscellaneous paperback best sellers list in February 2008.
Extending her social work activities, Louise Hay began assisting HIV infected people by leading support groups and creating AIDS awareness. She called these sessions and activities Hay Rides. Her work attracted attention and she was soon invited on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Donahue which led her book (You Can Heal Your Life) to make a place in The New York Times bestsellers list. Since then the books has been translated into 30 languages and printed in over 35 million copies.
Hay made advantage of her studies and beliefs when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the late 1970s. Not willing to undergo conventional treatment or medication for her sickness, Hay treated herself by following a regime of forgiveness, coupled with therapy, nutrition, reflexology and occasional enemas.
You Can Heal Your Life was made into a movie in 2008. The film revolves around Hay’s life and her teachings. Louise Hay’s latest book, You Can Create an Exceptional Life was released in September 2011.