As A Man Thinketh So Is He is a great classic that I strongly recommend it. This is in my opinion is the bible of New Thought Movement. As the title suggest, the premise of this book is that our own thoughts shape our lives. It is our thoughts that make us. They make us in success and in failure. It is an empowering book, because it makes us realise that the power really lies with us. We do not need anything else outside of ourselves to change our lives. By changing our thoughts, we can change our lives.
The book was written by James Allen in 1903. Allen was an English author born in 1864 and died in 1912. He wrote a few other books, but As A Man Thinketh So Is He is the most recognised.
The book has 7 Chapters and just to give you a glimpse of the book, let’s take a look at each one of them one by one below.
As A Man Thinketh So Is He Chapter 1: Thought and Character
James Allen opens the chapter by saying, “THE aphorism, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he,” not only embraces the whole of a man’s being, but is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of his life. A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”
So the author’s emphasis on the power of thought cannot be mistaken. His message is clear. The difference between the successful and those that are not so successful is the thoughts they think. Successful people do not see failure, they see an opportunity to learn and carry on. Successful people seek to solve problems.
Allen continues to write that, “As the plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them. This applies equally to those acts called “spontaneous” and “unpremeditated” as to those, which are deliberately executed. Act is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits; ”
So the difference lies in the thinking and the attitude. It is the thinking that will lead to action or inaction, worry or happiness.
As A Man Thinketh So Is He Chapter 2: Effect of Thought on Circumstances
In the second chapter, James Allen educates us on the effect of thoughts on circumstances. He writes,
“MAN‘S mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed torun wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed-seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind. 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. By pursuing this process, a man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life. He also reveals, within himself, the laws of thought, and understands, with ever-increasing accuracy, how the thought-forces and mind elements operate in the shaping of his character, circumstances, and destiny.”
Therefore according to Allen, whatever situation we may find ourselves in, our own thinking can get us out. We can make things better or worse. If you are out of work for example, through your own approach in life you can put yourself in a position to be employable or unemployable. Whilst it is almost a default reaction to blame outside circumstances for the things we do not like in our lives, it is important to really take a closer look at ourselves. When we look closely at ourselves, it is not for the purpose of finding blame but rather for the purpose of finding how we can be the answer to our problems.
The book As A Man Thinketh So Is He is empowering us in the knowledge that we are the captain of our own ship and when we embrace this idea we can begin to take control and steer things in the direction we want.
James Allen continues to write, “Thought and character are one, and as character can only manifest and discover itself through environment and circumstance, the outer conditions of a person‘s life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state. This does not mean that a man‘s circumstances at any given time are an indication of his entire character, but that those circumstances are so intimately connected with some vital thought-element within himself..”
“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.”
This is one of my favorite paragraphs from the book, As A Man Thinketh so is he. I find it very empowering that in any given circumstance that we may find ourselves in, we have the ability to choose our own thoughts . We can choose our response, what we do about it and how we can progress. How we think will determine whether we rise above the circumstance or whether we sink with it.
As A Man Thinketh So Is He Chapter 3: Effect of Thought on Health and the Body
In this chapter, James is wanting to illustrate how our thoughts impact our health. It is widely accepted that how we think can impact our own health. Anxieties, stress related problems are all clear examples of how our thoughts can run away with us and create physical symptoms.
“The body is the servant of the mind. It obeys the operations of the mind, whether they be deliberately chosen or automatically expressed. At the bidding of unlawful thoughts the body sinks rapidly into disease and decay; at the command of glad and beautiful thoughts it becomes clothed with youthfulness and beauty. ”
When our mind is not in the right place it is difficult to eat well. It is difficult to exercise. So quite often when our thoughts are not in the right place we tend to self sabotage our own bodies. Allen writes,
“Change of diet will not help a man who will not change his thoughts. When a man makes his thoughts pure, he no longer desires impure food.”
So this is why even dieticians and nutritionists would want to understand the psychological problems of their clients first before prescribing any form of action. By trying to tackle the psychological issues there is a better chance that the patient can commit to any weight loss program. Psychiatrists and nutritionists acknowledge the relationship between mental health and our food choices, the idea that as a man thinketh so is he is clearly illustrated here.
As A Man Thinketh So Is He Chapter 4: Thought and Purpose
Allen opens this chapter by saying that “UNTIL thought is linked with purpose there is no intelligent accomplishment. With the majoritythe bark of thought is allowed to “drift” upon the ocean of life. Aimlessness is a vice, and such drifting must not continue for him who would steer clear of catastrophe and destruction. ” The author wants us to question ourselve about our purpose. Instead of waking up and tuning into the TV and the news, we need to be guided by our purpose. Our actions, how we conduct our day, and how we interact with others needs to meaningful.
Embracing the idea that as a man thinketh so is he requires us to be deliberate about what we do each day. Instead of letting the day take us, we always wake up with a plan and a clear vision of what we intend to achieve.
As A Man Thinketh So Is He Chapter 5: The Thought-Factor in Achievement
How we think shows up in our achievements and James Allen puts it nicely by saying,
“ALL that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts. In a justly ordered universe, where loss of equipoise would mean total destruction, individual responsibility must be absolute. A man‘s weakness and strength, purity and impurity, are his own, and not another man‘s; they are brought about by himself, and not by another; and they can only be altered by himself, never by another. His condition is also his own, and not another man‘s. His suffering and his happiness are evolved from within. As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains. A strong man cannot help a weaker unless that weaker is willing to be helped…”
James Allen is emphasising that we are responsible for our own achievements. We cannot achieve something that is so far apart from our thinking. If we want to achieve something then our thinking has to match the achievement that we are aiming for. If you are wanting to be a successful actor/actress then you have to act and think like one. It does not matter if those around do not believe you, it is your belief, your thinking that will get you there. If we do not believe in ourselves, no matter how much others do it wont help.
What we take away from this chapter of As A Man Thinketh So Is He is that if we want to achieve something then we have to change our thoughts to match that achievement. This may be difficult to do but we can always look to those that have already attained the successes we aspire for.
As A Man Thinketh So Is He Chapter 6: Visions and Ideals
“THE dreamers are the saviours of the world. As the visible world is sustained by the invisible, so
men, through all their trials and sins and sordid vocations, are nourished by the beautiful visions
of their solitary dreamers. Humanity cannot forget its dreamers; it cannot let their ideals fade and
die; it lives in them; it knows them as they realities which it shall one day see and know.”
There is a lot that has been said about dreaming and having aspirations. Think of it, without dreamers, aeroplanes would not exist. Without dreamers, the internet would not be here. It is those who were seen as dreamers or ridiculous that have made the world we live in as it is today. We are reaping the benefits because someone questioned the status quo and thought outside of the box so to speak. The dreamers are able to see beyond what is and the dreamers believe in their dream and will hold onto their vision until it becomes a reality.
As A Man Thinketh So Is He Chapter 7: Serenity
“CALMNESS of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control. Its presence is an indication of ripened experience, and of a more than ordinary knowledge of the laws and operations of thought. A man becomes calm in the measure that he understands himself as a thought evolved being, for such knowledge necessitates the understanding of others as the result of thought, and as he develops a right understanding, and sees more and more clearly the internal relations of things by the action of cause and effect he ceases to fuss and fume and worry and grieve, and remains poised, steadfast, serene.”
When we remember that our thoughts can create, we also remember the importance of maintaining calm. In fact we know that we can only get through situations by remaining calm and having clarity of thought. Worry and fear can only reinforce worrisome situations. There are several benefits of staying calm.
So there you have it, a little summary of the book As A Man Thinketh So Is He by James Allen. The book essentially puts the power in our hands and it is a worthy addition to any personal development library. Whatever situation we may find ourselves in, when we remember that as a man thinketh so is he, we can begin actions to improve things.
You may be interested in exploring other New Thought writers like Emmet Fox and Christian D Larson all echo the same message.
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