“As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen


This is a short book that tries to encapsulate a lot in a very little amount of writing. I appreciate it for its succinctness as well as for its message. Man is, in one way or another, in control of everything around him, including his circumstances. Many of those circumstances are a result a Man’s willingness to accept responsibility, protect one’s mind, and live a life of daily, unmitigated discipline. Don’t like your job, then fix it. Don’t like your body, then fix it. Don’t like your friends, then fix it. One especially pertinent point James Allen makes, is that many people do not treat their mind as such a critical piece of the body. “If you would protect your body, guard your mind. If you would renew your body, beautify your mind.” It seems obvious that we must protect our bodies from harm. However, many of us are flippant to protect our minds in the same way. The thoughts we have, the ideas that we let in, can all be attacks on our mind. These attacks weaken our resolve and make us question our very being. At the same time, some of those perceived attacks could be the mechanism we use to beautify our minds.

  1. Character is not a thing of favour or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking.
  2. Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armoury of thought he forgoes the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace.
  3. As a being of Power, Intelligence, and Love, and the lord of his own thoughts, man holds the key to every situation, and contains within himself that transforming and regenerative agency by which he may make himself what he wills.
  4. When he begins to reflect upon his condition, and to search diligently for the Law upon which his being is established, eh then becomes the wise master, directing his energies with intelligence, and fashioning his thoughts to fruitful issues. Such is the conscious master, and man can only thus become by discovering within himself the laws of thought; which discovery is totally a matter of application, self analysis, and experience.
  5. Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions, but when he realizes that he is a creative power, and that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of his being out of which circumstances grow, he then becomes the rightful master of himself.
  6. Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals him to himself.
  7. Here is a man who is wretchedly poor. He is extremely anxious that his surroundings and home comforts should be improved, yet all the time he shirks his work, and considers he is justified in trying to deceive his employer on the ground of the insufficiency of his wages. Such a man does not understand the simplest rudiments of those principles which are the basis of true prosperity, and is not only totally unfitted to rise out of his wretchedness, but is actually attracting to himself a still deeper wretchedness by dwelling in it, and acting out, indolent, deceptive, and unmanly thoughts.
  8. Here is a rich man who is the victim of a painful and persistent disease as the result of gluttony. He is willing to give large sums of money to get rid of it, but he will not sacrifice his gluttonous desires. He wants to gratify his taste for rich and unnatural viands and have his health as well. Such a man is totally unfit to have health, because he has not yet learned the first principles of a healthy life.
  9. Here is an employer of labour who adopts crooked measures to avoid paying the regulation wage, and, in the hopes of making larger profits, reduces the wages of his workpeople. Such a man is altogether unfitted for prosperity, and when he finds himself bankrupt, both as regards reputation and riches, he blames circumstances, not knowing that he is the sole author of his condition.
  10. Law, not confusion, is the dominating principle in the universe; justice, not injustice, is the soul and substance of life; and righteousness, not corruption, is the moulding and moving force in the spiritual government of the world. This being so, man has but to right himself to find that the universe is right; and during the process of putting himself right he will find that as he alters his thoughts towards things and other people, things and other people will alter towards him.
  11. The body is the servant of the mind.
  12. If you would protect your body, guard your mind. If you would renew your body, beautify your mind.
  13. Even if he fails again and again to accomplish his purpose (as he necessarily must  until weakness is overcome), the strength of character gained will be the measure of his true success, and this will form a new starting point for future power and triumph.
  14. Strength can only be developed by effort and practice.
  15. There can be no progress, no achievement without sacrifice.
  16. Victories attained by right thought can only be maintained by watchfulness. Many give way when success is assured, and rapidly fall back into failure.
  17. They do not see the long and arduous journey, but only behold the pleasant goal, and call it “good fortune,” do not understand the process, but only perceive the result, and call it chance.
  18. The calm man, having learned how to govern himself, knows how to adapt himself to others.

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