With its author in high demand among a broad spectrum of audiences, a newly released book on the power of positivity based on the teachings and personal example of the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—is in its second printing, way ahead of schedule, while reaping wide acclaim from likely, and even some unlikely, quarters.

Two weeks after publication of Positivity Bias, Practical Wisdom for Positive Living Inspired by the Life and Teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, supplies of the second printing are already dwindling, and requests are already coming in for translations into other languages. This all comes as the author, Chabad-Lubavitch emissary Rabbi Mendel Kalmenson, strives to keep up with mounting speaking invitations.

“This is touching a very deep chord in a lot of people who feel they want more positivity introduced into their lives in a way that really works,” Kalmenson told Chabad.org on Friday upon returning to his London base after a busy book-signing and lecture tour in Southern California. “They are looking for a ‘curriculum’ to help them design a life of positivity that is more about a comprehensive whole worldview and belief system than a one-time fix. This is what exemplified the life of the Rebbe.”

Produced by Chabad.org and published by Ezra Press, the book’s release was published just ahead of the 25th yahrtzeit (anniversary of the passing) of the Rebbe on the third of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, corresponding to July 6 this year.

It’s the third successful book from the author that focuses on aspects of the Rebbe’s teachings. A Time To Heal: The Rebbe’s Response to Loss and Tragedy and Seeds of Wisdom” (Vols. 1 & 2) came before.

In the past week, Kalmenson took time away from his Chabad center in the Belgravia section of London that he directs with his wife, Chana, to speak about his book before audiences in the hundreds from Beverly Hills to Agoura Hills in California. He also took part in media interviews, including with David Suissa, president of the widely read Tribe Media/Jewish Journal in Los Angeles, and interested parties among the social-media elite, including the Torah-educational online phenomenon, Accidental Talmudist, directed by Salvador Litvak.

He plans to go on the road again in August to the East Coast, where he will be speaking at engagements in East Hampton and Montauk, N.Y. A formal book-launch ceremony will take place at the annual JLI Retreat from Aug. 13-18 in Washington, D.C.

“A common denominator among all people—regardless of background or life circumstances—is that each of us has certain struggles and problems,” noted Kalmenson. It is a phenomenon, he said, that surfaces after his group presentations when participants line up one by one to purchase a signed book, and in some cases, ask questions and share personal stories.

Whether conveyed through the book itself or communicating the message to individuals directly such as in the book lines, Kalmenson said the Rebbe’s core teaching is the same:

“To be empowered to find the positive within the negative, the opportunity within the obstacle, the springboard within the setback, and the point of light and transformation within the dysfunction,” he explained.

In addition to the general sense of cynicism that prevails in the world, “it has been shown in polling that only 5 percent of the British and 6 percent of Americans believe the world is getting better, further underlining the appeal of the book’s message,” he said.

Like many of the Rebbe’s cornerstone teachings, the emphasis on positivity came from the ashes of war-torn Europe. Positivity Bias, in fact, takes its title and message from an opposing scientifically documented principle, the “negativity bias,” the human proclivity towards pessimism and fatalism in the face of dire circumstance or significant challenge.

The Rebbe’s teachings on positivity, Kalmenson writes, are all devoted to turning that around—not only from a psychological perspective but from a deeply rooted belief in the world’s inherent positivity and goodness.

In one of many telling passages of the work, Kalmenson relays the story of a teenage girl who resisted enrolling in a new, advanced Lubavitch high school in New York, writing to the Rebbe about her fear of being one of the first in an untested program, used as a “guinea pig.” In response to the letter by the 14-year-old, Shaindel Itkin, the Rebbe wrote about her concerns, turning her around with one small edit, changing the phrase “guinea pig” to “pioneer.” The young woman matriculated, and years later, became the principal of the school, Beis Rivkah High School, Chabad’s flagship girl’s school in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y.

“The Rebbe knew how to reach a teenager with one word,” Itkin is quoted as saying in the book. “One simple word that understood the essence of who I was. My need to be unique, to be special, to be different, and to forge new paths. ... So, of course, I went to [the new] high school. We were the ‘pioneer’ class.”

Praise From Leaders in the Sciences and the Arts

Among the book’s other early proponents are representatives of the highest strata of social science, others at the pinnacle of academia and even a movie producer, with reports of psychologists reaching out to Kalmenson to inquire about incorporating the Rebbe’s teachings on the subject into a new form of therapy.

“Growing up, my parents and teachers would tell me stories about the Lubavitcher Rebbe,” said Professor Tal Ben-Shahar, prolific author on the subject of positive psychology and creator of Harvard’s most popular course on the topic. “These stories impacted me in a profound way, and still affect the way I see—and experience—life. In Positivity Bias, Rabbi Mendel Kalmenson beautifully weaves some of the stories I grew up on, as well as many others, using rigorous research and uncommon wisdom to provide us with a life-changing and life-enhancing perspective.”

Martin Seligman, Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, who is widely known for his early career research and writings on depression as a function of “learned helplessness,” and who went on to found the field of positive psychology, sent a message of praise and endorsement to Kalmenson that included the words: “Fine work.”

Producer Nancy Spielberg, who has made a major impact in the film industry through productions preserving important pieces of Holocaust history, also took the book to heart.

“Through the anecdotal stories of interactions the Rebbe had, we not only relate to the issues discussed, but we also feel as if the Rebbe has spoken to each one of us personally,” she said. “His wisdom and ability to connect to all types of people is a true gift, and this book allows us to feel that gift over and over again.”

Positivity Bias can be purchased online here and at Jewish bookstores. It is also available for online reading with additional chapters being released each week.