As A Man Thinketh (AMT), which stems from the biblical proverb (As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he), is among the best-selling motivational and self-help books ever written. Credited as a primary source by Norman Vincente Peale, Dale Carneigie, Earl Nightengale, Tony Robbins, to name a few. It can be read in an evening and is well worth the time and is a fine book to share with children of all ages.
Published circa 1903, it was written by James Allen (1864-1912), an obscure Brit, born in a working class family with little formal education, a secretary for an executive in a large corporation, who penned some 20 booklets (“chapbooks”) and an inspirattional magazine from his small cottage in the English countryside; sadly, his fame came posthumusly. His wife said, “he only wrote the facts, which he had proven true by his own conduct”.
It’s not his prose that arrest us and make an indelible imprint upon our minds, it is the poignance, simplicity and profundity of his message and the clarity and brevity with which he conveyed his timeless profundities. Books that have been loved for over a century are marvels, not to be critiqued, but venerated. This reader has read AMT multiple times over the decades and his conduct has been restored, redirected and reinvigerated with each reading. A tiny sample of Allen’s immortal themes follows.
“Men do not attract that which they want but that which they are.”
“There is no physician like a cheerful, loving countenance.”
“Learn to patiently find the good in all, and you will find the portals to peace and bliss.”
“To conquer doubt and fear is to conquer failure.”
“To accomplish much, we must sacrifice much.”
“Dreamers are the saviors of the world. To them, all things are possible. As the visible world is sustained by the invisible, so our ideals and our dreams sustain us and become our realities.”
“Self-control is strength. Calmness is power. Gain dominion through peace.”
Allen’s inspirational prose are elevated to Elysian heights by his verse:
You will be what you will to be;
Let failure find its false content
In that poor word, “environment,”
But spirit scorns it, and is free.
It masters time, it conquers space;
It cows that boastful trickster, Chance,
And bids the tyrant Circumstance
Uncrown, and fill a servant’s place.
The human Will, that force unseen,
The offspring of a deathless Soul,
Can hew a way to any goal,
Though walls of granite intervene.
Be not impatient in delay,
But wait as one who understands;
When spirit rises and commands,
The gods are ready to obey.
Everyone on the planet can benefit from this immortal map of the road to happiness. If you’ve missed it, consume it now and share it with those dear to you.