As a Man Thinketh: James Allen’s Self-Help Classic

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Have you read James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh? Do you know how it can help you create the life you want?

In As a Man Thinketh, James Allen explores the power of thought, asserting that you are what you think. This self-help classic discusses the ways that thoughts manifest in reality and how to direct your thoughts in order to create the life you want.

Read more to learn about James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh.

An Introduction to As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

In As a Man Thinketh, James Allen explores the power of thought. Great thinkers throughout history have echoed this philosophy, which says that your thoughts influence your actions and shape your destiny. Throughout this 1902 self-help classic, Allen discusses the various ways that thoughts manifest in reality and how to direct your thoughts in order to create the life you want. 

Your Thoughts Shape Your Inner and Outer Worlds

In As a Man Thinketh, James Allen asserts that your thoughts shape your character, your character shapes your actions, and your actions shape your circumstances. Put simply, you are what you think. If generous and kindhearted thoughts dominate your internal monologue, that will define your character. That mindset then crystallizes into habits, and those habits produce your circumstances. In other words, you are not the product of your circumstances so much as your circumstances are the product of your thinking. 

In addition to your mind and your circumstances, your thought patterns also dictate your health and, over time, they determine how your body ages. If you maintain a pessimistic attitude, the wrinkles in your face will form into a permanent scowl and your internal health will reflect a lifetime of hardship and poor mental and spiritual sustenance. By contrast, positive thoughts and goodwill toward others will help you to maintain strong physical health and a smooth aging process. A happy outlook encourages you to maintain healthy habits, which reinforces your physical and mental strength, creating a positive feedback loop. 

Take Control of Your Thoughts

People often struggle to change their circumstances, and all the while they never stop to address the root of their issue: their thoughts. When you understand the power of thought, you can become the master of yourself and your life. In As a Man Thinketh, James Allen offers three steps to alter your thought pattern:

  1. Commit to deep introspection. Reflect on your past experiences, and trace them back to the thoughts that led to those realities. Seeing how your thoughts have impacted your life in the past will help motivate you to change your thoughts going forward.
  2. Determine a purpose for your life—even if it’s just for now. Whether your purpose is a material or spiritual goal, make it your driving force. A purpose gives you a positive, productive place to center your thoughts, so that they don’t wander to fears, doubts, and self-pity. 
  3. Make a constant, deliberate effort to focus on your purpose and direct all of your thoughts toward it. You will gradually train your mind to indulge only in thoughts that lead to positive habits and prosperous circumstances.

Since both your successes and failures are of your own making, individual responsibility is paramount:

  • You can’t blame others for your circumstances if your circumstances are created by your thoughts.
  • You can only stay down if you allow your thoughts to keep you down. 
  • Your potential is limited only by your capacity to dream big. Even the biggest accomplishments started as mere dreams. But you won’t reach your dreams through thought alone—those thoughts must bear action. Your relentless focus on this single vision will naturally inspire you to act in ways that will help you achieve that dream. 

Achieve Serenity

When you not only understand the power of thought, but also internalize and master it, you’ll reach a state of serenity. This serenity comes from knowing that the ups and downs of life are within your control. There’s no need to be anxious or angry about circumstances, or to feel as if you’re the victim of chaos and unpredictability—you have the key to control your destiny, and you’ve developed the mental strength to use it. Serenity is the ultimate treasure in life.

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen is a self-help classic that still resonates today.

As a Man Thinketh: James Allen’s Self-Help Classic

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Here's what you'll find in our full As A Man Thinketh summary :

  • A 1902 self-help classic about the power of thought
  • How your thoughts create your circumstances and your health
  • How to achieve serenity—the ultimate treasure in life

Elizabeth Whitworth

Elizabeth has a lifelong love of books. She devours nonfiction, especially in the areas of history, theology, science, and philosophy. A switch to audio books has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. She appreciates idea-driven books—and a classic murder mystery now and then. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a creative nonfiction book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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