As A Man Thinketh Summary

  • Last updated on March 25, 2021
"infobox Book "
nameAs A Man Thinketh
image captionValue Classic Edition cover
authorJames Allen
publisherValue Classic Reprints
release date1902
media typePaperback


Not intended as an exhaustive treatise, but to motivate the reader to believe that, "they themselves are makers of themselves" by the thoughts they choose and encourage. A person's thoughts form an inner garment of character and an outer garment of circumstance.

Thought & Character

"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." The sum of a man's thoughts are his character. His character influences the conditions and circumstances of his life. Every action springs forth first from thought – even actions considered to be spontaneous and unpremeditated.

Act is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruit.

The law of cause and effect exists in the world of thought, not just the natural world. A God-like character is the result of God-like thoughts. A bestial character is the result of groveling thoughts. Man is made or unmade by his own thoughts, which can destroy him or build him up. Man becomes master of his "household" of thoughts, by application, self-analysis and experience.

Gold and diamonds are found only by much searching and mining. Similarly, a man must dig deep in the mine of his soul to find every truth connected with his being.

A man must watch, control and alter his thoughts – tracing their effect on himself, others, and his life and circumstances. In doing so he will prove to himself that he is maker of his own character, life and destiny.

Effect of Thought on Circumstances

A man's mind may be likened to a garden – cultivated or uncultivated. The cultivated produces flowers & fruit, while the uncultivated produces weeds. A man must continually weed-out all wrong, useless, and impure thoughts and deliberately cultivate right, useful, and pure thoughts.

Thought and character are one, and character has a profound influence on the circumstances of one's life. If a man learns the spiritual lesson of his current circumstances they will give way to other circumstances.

As long as a man believes he is a creature of external conditions he will be buffeted by those conditions. When he practices self-control and self-purification of thought, and remedies his defects of character, he finds that his circumstances will change.

The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors - its loves and fears. The soul reaches the height of its cherished aspirations and the depth of its unchaste desires. Every thought-seed allowed to take root in a man's mind will eventually produce the fruit of character and opportunity and circumstance.

Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit.

Effects of Thoughts on Health & Body

The body is the servant of the mind. With unlawful thoughts the body sinks into disease and decay. with glad and beautiful thoughts it becomes clothed with youthfulness & beauty. Thoughts of fear can kill the body. Anxiety quickly demoralizes the whole body, opening it to disease, while impure thoughts will shatter the nervous system. Strong pure and happy thoughts build up the body in vigor and grace.

The habits of thoughts will produce their effects - good or bad - upon the body. Thought is the fount of action, life, and manifestation. Make the fountain' pure and all will be pure.

If you would perfect your body, guard your mind. If you would renew your body, beautify your mind. Thoughts of malice, envy, and disappointment, rob the body of its health and grace. A bright, happy, and serene countenance follows from thoughts of joy, goodwill and serenity. To continually live in thoughts of ill-will, cynicism, suspicion and envy, is to be confined in a self-made prison.

To think well of all, to be cheerful with all, to find the good in all -- such unselfish thoughts are the very portals of heaven.

Thought & Purpose

Until thought is linked with purpose there is no intelligent accomplishment. Aimlessness is a vice. They who have no central purpose in their life fall prey to worries, fears, troubles and self-pity, which lead to failure and loss.

A man should conceived of a legitimate purpose in his heart and set out to accomplish it. He should make this purpose the centralizing point of his thoughts. He should make this purpose his supreme duty and should devote himself to its attainment, not allowing his thoughts to wander into fanciful imaginings. This is the royal road to self-control and true concentration of thought. He may repeatedly fail to accomplish this purpose, but will overcome weaknesses and grow in character - a measure of true success and the staring point for future power and triumph.

Those who are not prepared for the apprehension brought on by having a great purpose, should instead fix their thoughts on the faultless performance of their duty, no matter how insignificant it may appear. This discipline will focus their thoughts and develop their resolution. Strength can be developed by effort and practice, even in the weakest soul. The physically weak can be made strong by patient training and the man of weak thoughts can make them strong by exercising himself in right thinking.

To think with purpose puts one in the ranks of those who know that failure is one of the pathways to success. A man should mentally mark out a straight path to achieving his purpose and rigorously exclude doubts and fears. The will to do springs from the knowledge that we can do. Doubt and fear are the great enemies of knowledge and must be slain.

He who has conquered doubt and fear has conquered failure. Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes a creative force.

"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. A man's weakness and strength, purity and impurity, are his own and not another man's. They can only be altered by himself. His sufferings and his happiness are evolved from within.

As he thinks, so is he; as he continues to think, so he remains.

A strong man cannot help a weaker unless the weaker is willing to be helped. Even then the weak man must become strong of himself -- only he can alter himself. Oppressor and slaves are cooperators in ignorance and afflict themselves rather than each other. A perfect love condemns neither and a perfect compassion embraces both. He who has conquered weakness and has pushed away all selfish thoughts belongs neither to oppressor nor oppressed. He is free.

A man can only rise, conquer and achieve by lifting up his thoughts.

Before a man can achieve anything - even worldly - he must lift his thoughts above slavish animal indulgence. A man whose first thought is bestial indulgence could neither think clearly nor plan methodically. He could not find and develop resources and would fail in any undertaking. Not having begun to manfully control his thoughts, he is not in a position to control affairs and to adopt serious responsibilities. He is limited by the thoughts he chooses.

A man's worldly success will be by the measure that he sacrifices his confused animal thoughts and fixes his mind on the development of his plans and the strengthening of his resolution and self-reliance. The higher he lifts his thoughts, the greater will be his success. The universe only appears to favor the greedy, dishonest and vicious. Intellectual achievements are the result of thought consecrated to the search for knowledge or for the beautiful and true in nature. Intellectual achievement is sometimes connected to vanity and ambition, but are not the outcomes of these. Spiritual achievements are the consummation of holy aspirations. Achievement of any kind is the crown of effort, the diadem of thought.

By the aid of self-control, resolution, purity, righteousness, and well-directed thought a man ascends. By the aid of animality, indolence, impurity, corruption and confusion of thought man descends. A man who has risen to high success may descend into great wretchedness by allowing arrogant, selfish and corrupt thoughts to take possession of him. Victories attained by right thought are maintained by watchfulness. Many give way when success is assured, and rapidly fall back into failure.

All achievements - business, intellectual, spiritual - are the result of definitely directed thought. To achieve greatly one must sacrifice greatly.

Visions & Ideals

The dreamers are the saviors of the world. All the visible world is sustained by the invisible. He who cherishes a beautiful vision, a lofty ideal in his heart, will one day realize it. To desire is to obtain, to aspire is to achieve. Shall a man's basest desires receive the fullest measure of gratification, and his purest aspirations starve for lack of sustenance? Dream lofty dreams and as you dream, so shall you become.

Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be. The greatest achievements were at first and for a time a dream. The Oak sleeps in an acorn. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.

Uncongenial circumstances can be overcome by perceiving and striving toward and ideal. You cannot travel on the inside and remain still on the outside.

You will always gravitate toward that which you secretly love most. You will become as small as your controlling desire, or as great as your dominant aspiration. The thoughtless, ignorant and indolent speak of luck, fortune and chance. They do not see the trials, failures and struggles of men who achieve wealth, intellect or holiness. They have no knowledge of the sacrifices, efforts and exercised faith of the latter in overcoming the obstacles to their dreams. They do not know the darkness or the heartaches.

Gifts, powers, material, intellectual and spiritual possessions are the fruits of effort. They are thoughts completed, objectives accomplished, and visions realized. The vision that you glorify in your mind, the ideal that you enthrone in your heart, this you will build your life by; this you will become.


Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control. A calm man, having learned how to govern himself, knows how to adapt himself to others. The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. The strong, calm, man is always loved and revered. Only the wise man, only he whose thoughts are controlled and purified, makes the winds and storms of the soul obey him. To tempest-tossed souls: Self control is strength. Right thought is mastery. Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, "Peace. Be still."

: Summaries

: Non-fiction

: Self Help

Categories: Self Help