Louise Lynn Hay (October 8, 1926 – August 30, 2017) was an American motivational author and the founder of Hay House. She authored several New Age self-help books, including the groundbreaking 1984 book, You Can Heal Your Life, which has more than 50 million copies in print worldwide.
Renowned for demonstrating the power of affirmations to bring about positive change, Louise was the author of more than 30 books for adults and children, including the bestsellers The Power Is Within You and Heal Your Body.
In addition to her books, Louise produced numerous audio and video programs, card decks, online courses, and other resources for leading a healthy, joyous, and fulfilling life.
Born Helen Vera Lunney in Los Angeles to parents Henry John Lunney (1901–1998) and Veronica Chwala (1894–1985), Hay recounted her life story in an interview with Mark Oppenheimer of The New York Times in May 2008. In it, Hay stated that she was born in Los Angeles to a poor mother who remarried Louise’s violent stepfather Ernest Carl Wanzenreid 1903-1992, who physically abused her and her mother. According to Hay, when she was about 5, she was raped by a neighbor. At 15, she dropped out of University high school in Los Angeles without a diploma, became pregnant and, on her 16th birthday, gave up her newborn baby girl for adoption. She then moved to Chicago, where she worked in low-paying jobs. In 1950, she moved on again, to New York. At this point she changed her first name, and began a career as a fashion model. She achieved success, working for Bill Blass, Oleg Cassini and Pauline Trigère. In 1954, she married the English businessman Andrew Hay 1928-2001; after 14 years of marriage, she felt devastated when he left her for another woman, Sharman Douglas (1928-1996).
Hay said that about this time she found the First Church of Religious Science on 48th Street, which taught her the transformative power of thought. Hay revealed that here she studied the New Thought works of authors like Florence Scovel Shinn, who claimed that positive thinking could change people’s material circumstances, and the Religious Science founder Ernest Holmes, who taught that positive thinking could heal the body.
By Hay’s account, in the early 1970s she became a Religious Science practitioner. In this role she led people in spoken affirmations, which she believes would cure their illnesses, and became popular as a workshop leader. She also recalled how she had studied Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa.
Hay described how in 1977 or 1978 she was diagnosed with “incurable” cervical cancer, and how she came to the conclusion that by holding on to her resentment for her childhood abuse and rape she had contributed to its onset. She reported how she had refused conventional medical treatment, and began a regime of forgiveness, coupled with therapy, nutrition, reflexology and occasional colonic enemas. She claimed in the interview that she rid herself of the cancer by this method, but, while swearing to its truth, admitted that she had outlived every doctor who could confirm this story.
In 1976, Hay wrote her first book, Heal Your Body, which began as a small pamphlet containing a list of different bodily ailments and their “probable” metaphysical causes. This pamphlet was later enlarged and extended into her book You Can Heal Your Life, published in 1984
In February 2008, it was second on the New York Times miscellaneous paperback best-sellers list.
Around the same time she began leading support groups for people living with HIV/AIDS, which she called “Hay Rides”. These grew from a few people in her living room to hundreds of men in a large hall in West Hollywood, California. Her work with AIDS patients drew fame and she was invited to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Phil Donahue Show in the same week, in March 1988. Following this, You Can Heal Your Life immediately landed on the New York Times best-seller list. More than 50 million copies sold around the world in over 30 languages and it also has been made into a movie. You Can Heal Your Life is also included in the book 50 Self-Help Classics for being significant in its field.
Louise Hay died in her sleep on the morning of August 30, 2017 at age 90.
Loving the self, to me, begins with never ever criticizing ourselves for anything. Criticism locks us into the very pattern we are trying to change. Understanding and being gentle with ourselves helps us to move out of it. Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.
When people come to me with a problem, I don’t care what it is — poor health, lack of money, unfulfilling relationships, or stifled creativity—there is only one thing I ever work on, and that is LOVING THE SELF. I find that when we really love and accept and APPROVE OF OURSELVES EXACTLY AS WE ARE, then everything in life works.
If we choose to believe we are helpless victims and that it’s all hopeless, then the Universe will support us in that belief, and we will just go down the drain. It is vital that we release these foolish, outmoded, negative ideas and beliefs that do not support us and nourish us. Even our concept of God needs to be one that is for us, not against us.