As a Man Thinketh – James Allen

Book Notes and Takeaways

(Written in 1903 so all masculine – applies equally to women)

Thought and Character

  • As a man thinks in his heart so he is
    • “They themselves are the makers of themselves”
  • A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts
  • A noble or godlike character is not a thing of chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in the right thinking

Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory 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

  • Man is the master of thought, the molder of character, and the maker and shaper of condition, environment and destiny
  • Man is always the master, even in his weaker and most abandoned state
    • In weakness and degradation he is the foolish master who misgoverns his “household”
  • Only by patience, practice, and ceaseless importunity can a man enter the Door of the Temple of Knowledge

Effect of Thought on Character

A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild

    • If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed-seeds will rise up
  • Thought and character are one – character can only manifest and discover itself through environment, circumstance and experience
    • The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state
  • Man is buffeted by circumstance – despite this when he realizes that he is a creative power and commands his mind, he then becomes the rightful master of himself and his little universe
  • Circumstances become self-fulfilling events often in  the exact ratio of one’s mental condition and spiritual progress
    • When a man earnestly applies himself to remedy the defects in his character, and makes swift and marked progress he passes rapidly and upwardly through a succession of change and fortune
  • The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors; that which it loves and which it fears
    • Seek what you love and the soul will flourish

Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bear bad fruits

As the reaper of his own harvest, man can impact both suffering and bliss in his life

Man does not attract that which he wants, but that which he is entitled to based on his personal improvement

Whims, fancies, and ambitions can be thwarted at every step, but innermost thoughts and desires are lasting

Simply because a man prays does not mean that he gets what he wants, man tends to only achieve what is justly earned 

Wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with thoughts and actions

Men are always anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves

The man who shrinks from self-sacrifice can never accomplish the object of his heart

Grow and learn every day

The man whose sole objective is to acquire wealth must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before he can accomplish his vision

It is impossible to judge another fully with respect to only the external aspects of his life 

Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; on the other hand, bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results

Suffering is always the effect of wrong thought in some direction

It is an indication that the individual is out of harmony with himself and with the universe, the law of his being

A man is not rightly conditioned until he is a happy, healthy, and prosperous being; happiness, health, and prosperity are the result of a harmonious alignment of the inner with the outer self,  of the internal man with his external surroundings

Let a man radically alter his thoughts, and he will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of his life

Thought rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies in circumstance

Beautiful thoughts of all kinds crystalize into habits of grace and kindliness, which solidifies into genial and sunny circumstances

Pure thoughts crystalize into habits of temperance and self-control

Thoughts of courage, self-resilience, and decision crystallize into many habits which often solidify into circumstances of success, plenty, and freedom

Effect of Thought on Health and Body

The body is the servant of the mind

It obeys the operation of the mind, whether they be deliberately chosen or automatically expressed

Disease and health, like circumstances, are rooted in thought

Thoughts of fear have been known to kill a man as speedily as a bullet

They are continually killing thousands of people just as surely although less rapidly

Out of a clean heart comes a clean life and a clean body

Change of diet will not help a man who will not change his thoughts

Clean thoughts make clean habits

Thought and Purpose

A man should conceive of a legitimate purpose in his heart and set out to accomplish it

He should steadily focus his thought-force on the object at hand, which he has set before him

Having conceived his ultimate purpose, a man should mentally mark out a straight pathway to its achievement, looking neither to the right nor the left

Doubts and fears should be rigorously excluded; they are disintegrating elements which break up the straight line of effort, rendering it crooked, ineffectual, useless

Strength can only be developed by effort and practice

He who has conquered doubt and fear has conquered failure

    • Every thought is allied with power, and all difficulties are bravely met and wisely overcome

The Thought Factor in Achievement

All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts

Individual responsibility must be absolute

A strong man cannot help a weaker man unless the weaker man is willing to accept the help

A man whose first thought is bestial indulgence could neither think clearly nor plan methodically

By the aid of self-control, resolution, righteousness, and well-directed thought a man ascends

He who must accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much

Vision and Ideals

The dreamers are the saviors of the world (Atlas Shrugged)

Dreamers know their dreams as realities which they shall one day see and know (Napoleon Hill)

Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become

Dreams are the seedlings of reality

He who cherishes a beautiful vision, a lofty ideal in his heart will one day realize it

Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals; cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind

Embrace what makes yourself, you


Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom

  • It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control

The strong and calm man is always loved and revered

Humanity surges with uncontrolled passion, is tumultuous with ungoverned grief, is blown about by anxiety and doubt – only the wise man whose thoughts are controlled and purified, makes the winds and the storms of life obey him and his soul is at peace