Control Your Thoughts to Create the Life You Want

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "As A Man Thinketh" by James Allen. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Do you want your life circumstances to change? Would you like to learn how to control your thoughts in order to create the life you want?

In As a Man Thinketh, James Allen offers advice on how to take control of your thought patterns in order to shape your circumstances. This involves dreaming something new (and big)—and focusing your thoughts on that vision. Ultimately, that leads to serenity once you create the life you want.

Read on to learn how to control your thoughts in order to shape your reality.

Learning to Control Your Thoughts

People often struggle to change their circumstances, and all the while they never stop to address the root of the issue: their thoughts. When you understand the power of thought, you can train yourself to control your thoughts and become the master of yourself and your life. And, once you create momentum as you move your thoughts and your life in a particular direction—whether positive or negative—the world will help you along.

For example, if you harbor negativity and spew hate, you’ll get bitterness and hostility from those around you. But, if you release your negative thoughts and become more emotionally open to the world, people will become more receptive to you, creating a virtuous cycle.

How do you learn to control your thoughts? Where do you start? 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. In order to alter your thought pattern, commit to deep introspection as well as a constant, deliberate effort to be purposeful with your thoughts. Eventually, positive thinking will become habitual.

(Shortform note: To explore this idea further, read our summary of Think and Grow Rich, which promotes positive thinking to achieve wealth and offers practices such as defining a goal, planning, visualization, and affirmation.)

Dream Big to Achieve Big

Dream big. Even the biggest accomplishments started as mere dreams. Many inspiring and beautiful things in the world exist because people envisioned them, and then they came to fruition. Architects had to first dream of towering monuments and breathtaking cathedrals before they could build them. In your life, the only way to surpass your current reality is to dream up something new.

As with any purpose, when you have a dream, you must concentrate all of your thought on pursuing that goal. You won’t get there through dreams 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’ve learned that, when you control your thoughts, you control your destiny, and you’ve developed the mental strength to practice this.

In this serene state, others will gravitate toward you. Many people don’t know that they possess the power to take control of their life, and so, in this confusing world, they are drawn to people who possess an inner calm. As the depth and consistency of your serenity increases, so does your capacity to influence others and be a force of good for those around you, because they can look to you for calm and lean on you when they need strength. Serenity is the ultimate treasure in life.

Once you train yourself to control your thoughts, you will be further down the path to creating the life you want and achieving serenity.

Control Your Thoughts to Create the Life You Want

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of James Allen's "As A Man Thinketh" at Shortform.

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 has always appreciated nonfiction, especially about history, politics, and ideas. A switch to audio books has kindled her enjoyment of well-narrated fiction, particularly Victorian and early 20th-century works. As a former intelligence analyst and a teacher of critical thinking skills, Elizabeth enjoys analyzing arguments on all sides of an issue. Her nonfiction preferences include theology, science, and philosophy. She studies the intersection of these three in pursuit of the highest truths. Elizabeth has a blog and is writing a creative nonfiction book about the beginning and the end of suffering.

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