As A Man Thinketh by James Allen: Summary and Notes

As A Man Thinketh “Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.”

Rating: 8/10

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As A Man Thinketh by James Allen: Short Summary

In As a Man Thinketh, James Allen points out the power of thoughts in shaping our realities. Often, we think that we are the victims of circumstance while in truth our thoughts, actions, and habits create the circumstances we dislike. The solution is to cultivate better thoughts just like we would treat a garden. Everyone should read it.

Thought and Character

Thinking is the soul of a man. A man is what he thinks.

This applies to acts that can be construed as being spontaneous and to those which are deliberately executed.

“As the plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them.”

Circumstance does not make man, it reveals him to himself.

For example:

A greedy man who lives an unhealthy life has himself to blame for his poor health as does a man who is poor because he lives a dishonest life.

With your thoughts, you can either build mansions of joy and peace or weapons that will soon destroy you.

It is our thoughts that mold our characters and characters, in turn, build our destiny.

“Thought and character are one, and as character can only manifest and discover itself through environment and circumstance, the outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state.”

Effect of Thought on Circumstance

The mind is like a garden that can either be intelligently cultivated or allowed to be overrun by weeds.

If you don’t plant useful seeds (thoughts), then useless weeds will take over the garden and ruin the quality of your thinking.

Unless you realize you have creative power within you, you will always be a victim of circumstance. Circumstances grow out of every thought that we have. Those who have practiced self-control and restraint know how circumstances quickly change in their favor.

“The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors” 

The universe is governed by law. If you follow the law of the universe, things and people will alter their reactions towards you and your circumstance will soon change.

Thoughts cannot be kept secret because they eventually become habits and habits turn into circumstances.

“Bestial thoughts crystallize into habits of drunkenness and sensuality, which solidify into circumstances of destitution and disease: impure thoughts of every kind crystallize into enervating and confusing habits, which solidify into distracting and adverse circumstances: thoughts of fear, doubt, and indecision crystallize into weak, unmanly, and irresolute habits, which solidify into circumstances of failure, indigence, and slavish dependence: lazy thoughts crystallize into habits of uncleanliness and dishonesty, which solidify into circumstances of foulness and beggary: hateful and condemnatory thoughts crystallize into habits of accusation and violence, which solidify into circumstances of injury and persecution: selfish thoughts of all kinds crystallize into habits of self-seeking, which solidify into circumstances more or less distressing.”

Good thoughts and actions tend to produce better results.

Thought and Purpose

As a man thinketh Thought and Purpose

“Until thoughts are linked with purpose, there is no intelligent accomplishment.” 

People without purpose are just drifting in the ocean of life. They fall victim to petty worries, fears, and troubles.

Every man should conceive of a legitimate purpose in their life and make it the central point of his thoughts. A purpose will give you focus and self-control.

A man of weak thoughts can make himself strong by practicing the right thinking. The first step towards putting away aimlessness and weakness is to begin thinking with purpose and to recognize failure as the only route towards accomplishment.

“Thoughts of doubt and fear never accomplished anything, and never can. They always lead to failure. Purpose, energy, power to do, and all strong thoughts cease when doubt and fear creep in.”

When you conquer doubts and fear, you will have conquered failure. Difficulties will be bravely met and wisely overcome.

The Thought-Factor in Achievement

All you achieve or fail to achieve is a direct result of your own thoughts.

“A man’s weakness and strength, purity, and impurity, are his own, and not another man’s; they are brought about by himself, and not by another; they can only be altered by himself, never by another.”

Even a strong man cannot help a weaker man unless the former is willing to be helped. None but you can alter your condition.

“Before a man can achieve anything, even in worldly things, he must lift his thoughts above slavish animal indulgence. He may not, in order to succeed, give up all animality and selfishness, by any means; but a portion of it must, at least, be sacrificed.”


A calm mind is one of the jewels of wisdom.

“The calm man, having learned how to govern himself, knows how to adapt himself to others; and they, in turn, reverence his spiritual strength, and feel that they can learn of him and rely upon him.”

The more you cultivate tranquility in your life, the more successful you become. Strong and calm people are always loved and revered.

“Self-control is strength; Right Thought is mastery; Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, “Peace, be still!”