1-Sentence-Summary: As A Man Thinketh is an essay and self-help classic, which argues that the key to mastering your life is harnessing the power of your thoughts and helps you cultivate the philosophy and attitude of a positive, successful person.
Read in: 3 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
I recently came across this book on several lists with inspirational books, so when I found it on Blinkist, I had to give it a go. James Allen, the author, was a pioneer of the self-help movement, and published this great philosophical piece in 1903. It’s less than 50 pages long and was meant to fit in anyone’s pocket.
Allen kept the book simple, both in length and language, so that everyone could understand the points he was trying to make about how power over one’s thoughts gives power over one’s life.
Here are 3 great lessons about how your thoughts shape your life:
- Your actions are outgrowths of your thoughts.
- You shape the world just as much as it shapes you.
- Thoughts can keep you young or make you age faster.
Want to become the master of your own mind? Time to think!
Lesson 1: What you do is the result of what you think.
The very first argument Allen lays out is that man is the sum of his thoughts. Just like tiny seeds turn into big plants, a single thought often turns into a major decision, which makes your thoughts the roots of your actions.
Over time, these actions shape into patterns, which will eventually make up our character. This is why most pessimistic people tend to give up more easily on the things they care about, because your attitude and your actions are directly linked to one another. If you don’t start out with confidence and expect very little of yourself, that’s exactly what you’ll deliver.
But if your thoughts shape your actions, then by changing your thoughts, you can change your actions and subsequently, your character too!
The time to start weeding out bad thoughts is right now. Today is the day to stop accepting negative thoughts as normal and fight back. Take control of your mind, and you’ll take control of your life.
Lesson 2: You shape the world just as much as it shapes you.
The reason your thoughts and actions are so deeply connected is because they live in a constant cause-and-effect relationship with the outside world.
What does that mean? You might see your life as mostly determined by external factors. The weather, the economy, politics, your co-workers, your boss, whether you have good luck or bad luck, your life depends on so many things you can’t influence. But it’s not as black and white as that. Playing the victim is easy. You can just push off responsibility and blame the world for everything.
In reality, your thoughts, your actions, your character, they all take at least as much influence on the world, as the world does on you. The thoughts and attitudes you have are what lead you into the situations of your life, some of which you then end up assigning to good or bad luck, when it’s really yourself that got you there.
Therefore, you can’t describe a person’s character just by looking at the environment she lives in, or predict the circumstances she’ll end up in, because of the way she is. There are many admirable and probably genuinely good people in jail, while some greedy bastards live happily off other peoples’ misery.
Lesson 3: Be careful what you think, it might make you age faster.
A crucial aspect almost no one looks at when examining thoughts is your health. When we talk about the power of positive thinking, we usually speak of affirmations, goals, priorities, etc. But not about health.
Yet, what you think massively impacts your heart rate, sleep, chronic pains like migraines and your skin. Yes, you can think yourself to wrinkly skin.
Do you know that saying “be careful what you wish for?” This book extends it to “be careful what you think about.” On the other hand, thinking very positively and dwelling on energizing thoughts can keep you young. So take every chance you get to weed out negative thoughts.
Pretend your mind is a garden, and everything that doesn’t help it grow has to go. You’ll thank yourself for years to come.
My personal take-aways
This is a very short book, with a very short summary. At first I thought it’s best to just get the book and read it in one go, but come to think of it, I’d use this summary as a guideline and look into it to get a better grip on things, as the language in the book can be quite complicated, simply because it’s so old.
Definitely a book you should read at least once in your life (boy or girl). The summary extends it well.
What else can you learn from the blinks?
- How far working on your thoughts can really get you
- Why you must let go of all thoughts that are not part of your goal
- How to not let taking responsibility become a depressing burden
- What a man who’s mastered his thoughts will find
Who would I recommend the As A Man Thinketh summary to?
The 29 year old, who still doesn’t feel like his actions have consequences, the 74 year old, who, despite her relaxed retirement, can’t seem to shake a certain grumpiness, and anyone who’s recently noticed a few new wrinkles on their forehead.