The first time I “read” James Allan’s “As a Man Thinketh”, it was as a free audiobook download from www.librivox.org (where volunteers record their readings of public domain works). Since the first time I listened to this book, I’ve listened to it and read it several times over.
Of course, being originally published in 1903, some of the expressions are a little dated (prime example being the gender-specific title – which I tried to update in the title of this post). However, if you can look past the dated context, the thoughts, advice and philosophy behind it are not only thought-provoking and insightful, but also beautifully – even poetically – expressed.
If you’re interested, but don’t feel up to reading / listening to the volume yourself, please allow me to share some of my favourite quotes with you.
As many others before him had also supposed, James Allen suggests that our thoughts are what drives our actions, and therefore are the origin of most, if not all, outcomes.
Whether we choose to make decisions about where our thoughts wander and what may influence our lives – not making that choice is, in fact, also a choice! And not consciously guiding our thoughts, and by extension our behaviours, leads to unwanted outcomes, i.e. the weeds.
It is easy to underestimate the influence and power our thoughts have. James Allen reminds us that thought is a power best carefully wielded. This notion is elaborated on in the quote below:
The above quote so beautifully aligns with Angela Dweck’s concept of growth mindset – the importance of living and learning, knowing that improvement is possible, we are able to develop skills through effort, and that failure only means you haven’t achieved the result you desire yet.
Finally, below, James Allen speaks to our ability as humans to create, not just art, music or dance, but the stories that are our lives.