As a Man Thinketh
The influential book of James Allen
In Turkey, we generally believe that our destiny is shaped by outside factors. This is also a common belief in most eastern civilizations. All life adversities are either fate, the result of circumstances or the cruel plan of enemies.
This well known book challenges all these ideas. In short, what you think is what you become. I strongly encourage you to read it and compare your own ideas and beliefs with the ones in the book.
This book is published nearly a century ago. You'll notice some ancient thought patterns, such as, the author always refers the reader as a male character, also he refers the human as "he, him, his".
The book is composed of 7 chapters: Here's an executive summary:
1.THOUGHT AND CHARACTERMan is made or unmade by himself. In this introductory chapter, thought is described as the tool to shape one's character.
Human character is the complete sum of all his/her thoughts.
2.EFFECT OF THOUGHT ON CIRCUMSTANCESOne's thoughts can shape the circumstances that he/she lives in. The author says : "a man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life". This is the key point of the book. Most of us think that we are the outcome of our circumstances, the things happen to us. Maybe, it's the contrary, we shape our life history with our thoughts.
He also says : "Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound."
3.EFFECTS OF THOUGHTS ON HEALTH AND BODYSimply, "negative thoughts will result a sick body". This is obvious and we all observe this effect in our bodies. Also in this chapter, bad habits and its consequences are covered. Bad habits are also created by our thoughts and can only be overcome by our thoughts again.
4.THOUGHT AND PURPOSEOur goals, and more important, our purpose in life can only be achieved with healthy thoughts. He says : "Thoughts of doubt and fear can never accomplish anything. They always lead to failure."
After a human being finds his/her purpose in life, the thoughts will lead him/her to the destination. Doubt and fear is the most negative thoughts to be avoided.
5.THE THOUGHT-FACTOR IN ACHIEVEMENTContinuation of Chapter 4, the key statement is : "A man can only rise, conquer, and achieve by lifting up his thoughts. He can only remain weak, abject, and miserably by refusing to lift up his thoughts."
Success (in business, spiritual, intellectual) and thoughts are strongly related. Sacrifice is the critical factor of success.
6.VISIONS AND IDEALS"Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil."
7.SERENITYThe last chapter is quite original. He offers mind calmness. Thought is the ultimate weapon, it's true, but uncontrolled, floating thought does not serve the purpose. You should clear your mind and direct your thoughts for a specific target. This is also a common advice today for the creative thinkers.
But for those who tried it for a while, it's obvious that to control one's own thoughts is one of the hardest things in the world.