As a Man Thinketh by James Allen (published 1902)

You can find this little book on the internet if you Google it.  I have also included  a good recording of the book, above, from YouTube.

The book is very short and easy to read in a limited amount of time and packed full of powerful ideas.  James Allen (28 November 1864 – 24 January 1912), the author,  was a British philosophical writer known for his inspirational books and poetry and as a pioneer of the self-help movement.   His best known work, As a Man Thinketh, has been mass-produced since its publication in 1902.

According to Lily Allen referring to her husband after his death:

“He (James) never wrote theories, or for the sake of writing; but he wrote when he had a message, and it became a message only when he had lived it out in his own life, and knew that it was good. Thus he wrote facts, which he had proven by practice.”

This is the central concept of Life is a Laboratory.  Take an idea and try it in your own life and then observe the results.  This is the concept of action reflection:  Plan, Act, Observe, Reflect and the cycle starts over again.  This leads to cycles of continuous improvement.

In As a Man Thinketh, Allen talks of “utilizing….every experience, even the most trivial everyday occurrence, as a means of obtaining that knowledge of himself which is understanding, wisdom and power”.  What we are aiming for is a continuous cycle of learning and growth.

Allen maintains that a person’s outward life is a reflection of their inner world.  Their thoughts, good or bad, manifest themselves in how they behave and what they have achieved etc.  People busily complain about their circumstances but are unaware that they create their circumstances through their thoughts!  If we want to improve our circumstances we have to improve ourselves.   Thoughts create our habits and our habits create our results in life – good or bad.

Allen makes the point that the body is the servant of the mind – he says that sickly thoughts (both conscious and subconscious) result in a sickly body.  This has been proven with research into the placebo effect.   The placebo effect points to the importance of perception and the brain’s role in physical health.

Allen also discusses the need to align our thoughts with a higher purpose.  Thought allied fearlessly with purpose become creative force.  Thoughts of doubt and fear lead to failure and must be excluded.

Although 113 years old at the time of writing this article the ideas contained in this book are timeless and as relevant in today’s world as when they were written.

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