As a Man Thinketh

James Allen

Published 1903

Non-fiction/Self improvement

What is it about?

It is an essay on how important it is to bring your thoughts under control.  

How long is it?

60 pages.

Is it easy to read?

Yes, it is broken up into seven chapters, which are split into small choppy paragraphs.

Is it any good? 

Yes, it is both succinct and profound.

How will it inspire me?

The book is about how powerful your thoughts are and how important it is to gain mastery over them if you want to manifest a good life.

Perspective is going to play a huge part in your life. What happens to you may not always be of your own making, but how you choose to react to things such as failure and criticism will be a big decider in how far you progress in what it is you want to achieve.

Here’s an example, imagine you have two young football players, player 1 and player 2. Both are the same age, both of them play in similar positions and both are similar in ability. One day their coach takes each of them aside, gets in their faces, looks them in the eye and tells them “you’re not good enough to play for this team.”

Player 1 hears what the coach says and is crushed. He gets upset, he begins to think ‘yes, he’s right, I shouldn’t be here, I’m not good enough’ he allows that criticism to become a seed of doubt in his mind. The player then slowly implodes, he becomes panicky when playing, his focus is off and any further criticism he receives pours water on that seed and makes things worse. He allows that initial criticism to sprout weeds, which then strangle all of his confidence until he quits or is dropped.

Player 2 however hears what the coach says, also is upset, but instead thinks ‘no, he’s wrong, I belong here, I am good enough and I’m going to show him.’ That criticism instead of becoming a seed of doubt, lights a fire underneath him. The player then gets better, he starts pushing himself harder, he’s more focused and any criticism he now receives just adds fuel to that fire. He takes that initial criticism and uses it as motivation.

Two fairly identical young men being told the exact same thing, the difference? How they both chose to internalize and react to it. Notice how I say ‘chose’, because how you react to anything is a choice. Somebody telling you something about yourself does not make it so. How you see yourself and what you think about yourself are going to be such an important guiding factor in your life. If you don’t exert control over yourself, you’re then at the mercy of circumstance and external stresses, which you can’t control.  

This is the lesson that the book tries to teach. I chose this as the first non-fiction book as I think this is the basis for so much of what I try and promote here. Mastery over your thoughts and a belief in yourself will be the main decider in how far you progress in life.

Choice lines:

-A noble and Godlike character is not a thing of favour or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with Godlike thoughts. An ignoble and bestial character, by the same process, is the result of the continued harbouring of grovelling thoughts.

-Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armoury of thought he forges 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. 

-Just as a gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it free from weeds, and growing the flowers and fruits which he requires, so may a man tend the garden of his mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless, and impure thoughts, and cultivating toward perfection the flowers and fruits of right, useful, and pure thoughts.

-A man only begins to be a man when he ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his life.

And as he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he ceases to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means of discovering the hidden powers and possibilities within himself.’

-Thoughts of doubt and fear never accomplished anything, and never can. They always lead to failure. Purpose, energy, power to do, and all strong thoughts cease when doubt and fear creep in.

The will to do springs from the knowledge that we can do. Doubt and fear are the great enemies of knowledge, and he who encourages them, who does not slay them, thwarts himself at every step.’

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