As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

A Books2Wealth Classic and Book of the Month for January 2014

Title and Author: As A Man Thinketh by James Allen

Synopsis of Content:

The essence of this little book is that what a man thinks is what the man becomes. Or in today’s parlance, what a person thinks determines what the person becomes. This little book, 31 pages in the pocket edition, is a powerful explanation of the New Thought concepts popular at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. This was the new thinking a century ago about how we become what we become. Fortunately for us most if not all this theory is equally useful today as it was a hundred years ago even if it is not as unique as it may have seemed then.

Our Thoughts Control Our Circumstances 

Allen begins with a discussion of how out thoughts affect our circumstances. He describes this in two different aspects. First he explains what we now know as the law of attraction – what we think about enough will be attracted to us. Second he dwells on the need to transform thought into action – the need to transform ourselves in order to obtain what we seek in life.

Avoiding Fear and Negative Thinking 

In the second part of the little book Allen discusses the power of thought and conviction on our health and wellbeing. He tells us that those who live in fear of illness become ill. Again, he is applying the law of attraction.

Dominant Purpose 

The third section is devoted to the importance of a single dominant purpose in our lives. Here we find the same thinking that Orison Swett Marden was writing about in the United States during the same period and later the same general thinking was carried forward by Napoleon Hill. While I cannot now say for sure it seems likely that both Andrew Carnegie and Napoleon Hill were influenced to some extent by Allen’s little book. We see the same basic teachings in The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles, an American contemporary of Allen.

Allen completes the book with a section on how thought factors into achievement and finally the importance of serenity.

Allen’s little book was a hit a century ago when he published it and has remained in print and of interest ever since. Og Mandino said that this little book was among the top ten success books of all time and I don’t disagree. It is not possible in this short article to delve into the depth and wisdom of this little book. While the writing style is a bit dated and the density of the prose requires one’s full attention and thoughtful reflection there is no better example of a small manual on how to pursue self-development in how we think and how we use thought.

Most people could read this little gem in an evening, but few could fully mine its depth in a hundred evenings. This is one to reread again and again. Like an onion, the more one studies it the more one uncovers between its covers.

This little book is a must read for anyone serious about a study of success and of maintaining even a minimal success library. And on that subject, it is important to review a number of these success books over time to obtain the depth they have to offer. Only by reading several authors will the real color of this thinking completely develop in your mind.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

This little book was originally published in 1902 and has remained in print for over 110 years. It is surprisingly readable for a book written a century ago. I like the Executive Books version because it has good headings.

Notes on Author:

Allen was a British subject who wrote a number of books including this one for which he is best known. He died in 1912. This book is the best known but he wrote 20 books. Ironically he thought this book was one of his least significant works.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. “Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit”. We create, to a great extent, our own circumstances and outcomes by the way we think.
  1. “You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration.”
  1. Calmness of mind is a jewel of wisdom. The calm man learns to govern himself.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author:  As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

Copyright holder: the original copyright has expired; various publishers have added headings and other material to copyright it. The copy I have is copyrighted by Executive Books 2001.

Publisher: there are various publishers; my copy is from Executive Books


Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.