Book Summary: As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

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What is this book about?

As a man thinketh is a classic self-help book published in 1903. This is a pioneering book of the self-help movement. In this book, the author talks about why mastering our thoughts is the key to master our life. It talks about the philosophy of positivity and optimism and how it affects one’s life.

Three Key Lessons From The Book:

  • You are what you think. You are the product of all of your thoughts.
  • You are not shaped by the outer world. The outer world of circumstances shapes itself into the inner world of your thoughts.
  • You accomplish or fail because of your thoughts.

About the Author:

James Allen, the author of the book As a man thinketh was a British philosophical writer who is well known for his inspirational books and poems and is also considered as the pioneer of the self-help movement. From poverty to power and all things included are his other popular books.

Book Summary

Lesson 1: You are what you think you are

In this lesson, the author talks about how we are what we think. We are the complete sum of all of our thoughts. Just the same way, a plant springs from the seed, every act of man spring from the hidden seeds of thought.

You are the master of your fate and you can always take control of it. By the right choice and true application of thought, man can ascend divine perfection; while with wrong choice and application of thought, he can descend below the level of the beast.

Man is the master of thougth, the moulder of character, and the shaper of condition, environment and destiny.

Lesson 2: You are not shaped by your circumstances, rather it’s the opposite

In the second chapter of this book, the author argues that man’s mind is like a garden. It can be either cultivated well or allowed to run wild. If you don’t spend time sowing useful seeds, the useless weed seeds will fall there and grow automatically.

Just as a garden protects and cultivates its garden, a man must tend to garden his own mind. He should weed out all the wrong, useless, and impure thoughts.

In life, it’s easy to play a victim. You can blame the environment for your situation in life. But in reality, your thoughts and actions make at least as much influence on the world, as much as it does to you.

The outer world of circumstances shapes itself to the inner world of thought.

Circumstances don’t make the man; rather it reveals him to himself. The author goes on further to tell us that good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results. Just the same way, nothing comes from corn, except corn, you will only get good results from positive thoughts and actions.

If you think negatively and believe it can be kept secret, you are wrong. Whatever man imagines or thinks rapidly crystallizes into habits that solidify into circumstance.

Lesson 3: How you think may kill you or make you live more

In the third chapter of this book, James Allen tells us that the body is the servant of the mind. It obeys the operations of the mind, whether they be deliberately chosen or automatically expressed.

The author argues that thoughts of fear have been known to kill a man as speedily as a bullet. The people who live in constant fear of disease are the ones who actually get it. Your mind determines your health. Clean thoughts make clean habits. 

Change of diet will not help a man who is not willing to change his thought.

How you think and what you think also affects your aging. The author tells us to see in our own world and observe; There are people of ninety with a bright, innocent face, while there are people under middle age whose face is drawn into unharmonious contours. That’s because of their thought pattern.

Lesson 4: You strengthen your thoughts with a purpose

In the fourth chapter of the book, James Allen talks about how thoughts and purpose are interrelated. Having a purpose in your life strengthens your thoughts. They become powerful.

People who have no central purpose in their life often fall an easy prey to worries, fears, and troubles, which are an indication of weakness. A man should create a legitimate purpose in his heart and set out to accomplish it.

To put away aimlessness and weakness, and to begin to think with purpose, is to enter the ranks of those strong who only recognize failure as one of the pathways to attainment.

Lesson 5: You rise or fall by your thoughts

In the fifth chapter of this book, the author tells us that all that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts. A man can only rise, conquer, and achieve, by lifting up his thoughts. He can only remain weak, and abject, and miserable by refusing to lift up his thoughts.

Lesson 6: Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become

In the sixth chapter of this book, the writer tells us that the dreamers are the saviors of the world. Composer, sculptor, painteer, poet, prophet, sage, these are the makers of the after-world, the architects of the heaven. The world is beautiful because they have lived; without them, laboring humanity would perish.

He tells us that every one of us should have a dream and a desire to achieve. The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.

Lesson 7: Learn to self-control your mind

James Allen talks that calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom which is obtained through a long and patient effort in self-control.

A calm mind knows how to govern himself and knows how to adapt himself. The calmer a man becomes, the greater are his chances of success, his influence, and his power for good. The strong and calm mind is always loved and revered. 


“Man has to learn that he cannot command things, but he can command himself, that he cannot coerce the will of others, but that he can mold and master his own will, and things serve him who serves truth, people seek guidance of him who is master of himself.” 

 James Allen

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Prakash Joshi Pax
Avid Reader| Writer| Observer| On a journey to be a Better Self| If you follow, you will never feel hollow.
Articles: 22

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