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As a Man Thinketh by James Allen: Summary & Quotes

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Need a little self-help? ''As a Man Thinketh,'' published in 1903, might fit the bill. In this lesson, you'll learn more about this 22-page blueprint for shaping your thoughts to achieve your best self and get a glimpse at a few popular quotes.

So Is He

It stands to reason that author James Allen was struck by this often-quoted Bible verse as he built the premise for his brief, but powerful 22-page book, As a Man Thinketh:

'For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...' (Proverbs 23:7)

Allen was a businessman turned philosopher, whose third and most popular book - and the subject of this lesson - cemented his place among the leading authors of the inspirational and self-help genres. Self-help books fall into the nonfiction genre and offer readers the opportunity to work toward personal goals on their own.

Since Allen broke down his writings on how your thoughts shape your life into seven distinctive chapters, let's do the same here. We'll summarize each chapter's main thoughts and provide a quote that is representative of its concept.

As a Man Thinketh Summary and Quotes

Chapter One: Thought and Character

Every spring, we see flowers spring from planted seeds, right? Allen uses this illustration to explain how the character of a man flows out of what he thinks. A man is, Allen says, the 'sum of all his thoughts.' By determining that a man is built by his own thoughts, Allen is telling us that we're responsible for what we become. Essentially, we have the power to make our own way and we can change our fate by changing our thoughts.

Cool quote: 'Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself.'

Chapter Two: Effect of Thought on Circumstance

Change your thoughts, change your circumstances - that's what Allen has to say. The author is telling readers that your circumstances are based on either your good - or bad - thoughts. Allen, again, likens this development to soil and seeds that can be modified and manipulated by the gardener (you), in an attempt to become the master of your own being.

Cool quote: 'Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit.'

Chapter Three: Effect of Thought on Health and the Body

Looking for a better way to tackle your diet? Allen has some thoughts about that. The body, he says, is the servant of the mind. Whatever the mind thinks, good or bad, will have its results in how the body behaves. If you want to change your diet or your body, change your mind and you'll no longer crave the things that are bad for you.

Cool quote: 'If you would perfect your body, guard your mind. If you would renew your body, beautify your mind.'

Chapter Four: Thought and Purpose

By aligning your thoughts with your purpose in life, you can create and attain achievement. Allen argues that those without a solid purpose fall prey to worries, fears and troubles, but those who have goals and think purposefully, can talk themselves into being stronger and more capable individuals.

Cool quote: 'The will to do springs from the knowledge that we can do.'

Chapter Five: The Thought-Factor in Achievement

Achievement is tied to your thoughts. If you want to achieve, you must think and act as successful people do. If you fail to achieve, it's because you have not focused on achieving and developing your goals. Allen also advocates for sacrifice as a necessary component of achievement, and achievement as the result of positive thinking.

Cool quote: '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.'

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