These are my personal book notes on As A Man Thinketh by the author James Allen.

James Allen and his book (and the way it was marketed) layed undoubtedly the foundation for an entirely new industry at that time and the book genre “self-help”.

Let’s dive in.


  • Title: As A Man Thinketh
  • Subtitle: -
  • Author: James Allen
  • Author’s website: Wikipedia
  • The book on Project Gutenberg: here you can find free plaintext, kindle, epub and html versions of the book
  • Best audio version: here on YouTube
  • First published: 1903
  • Type: non fiction
  • Genre: self-help
  • Rating: 5/5
  • Recommended: Yes (Hell, Yeah!)

A man only begins to be a man when he ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his life. And as he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he ceases to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means of discovering the hidden powers and possibilities within himself.
- James Allen

Table Of Contents Of The Book

  • Foreword
  • Thought And Character
  • Effect Of Thought On Circumstances
  • Effect Of Thought On Health And The Body
  • Thought And Purpose
  • The Thought-Factor In Achievement
  • Visions And Ideals
  • Serenity

How The Book Was Marketed

  • “I have tried to make the book simple, so that all can easily grasp and follow its teaching, and put into practice the methods which it advises.”
  • “It shows how, in his own thought-world, each man holds the key to every condition, good or bad, that enters into his life, and that, by working patiently and intelligently upon his thoughts, he may remake his life, and transform his circumstances.”
  • “The price of the book is only one shilling, and it can be carried in the pocket.”
  • “A pocket companion for thoughtful people”
  • “A book that will help you to help yourself”​
  • “A book on the power and right application of thought.”

Key Concepts & Ideas

This little volume (the result of meditation and experience) is not intended as an exhaustive treatise on the much-written-upon subject of the power of thought.

It is suggestive rather than explanatory, its object being to stimulate men and women to the discovery and perception of the truth that:

“They themselves are makers of themselves.”

By virtue of the thoughts, which they choose and encourage;

that mind is the master-weaver, both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of circumstance, and that, as they may have hitherto woven in ignorance and pain they may now weave in enlightenment and happiness.

“The aphorism, ‘As a man thinketh in his heart so is he,’ not only embraces the whole of a man’s being, but is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of his life. A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”

Man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth.

If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed-seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.

Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions, but when he realizes that he is a creative power, and that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of his being out of which circumstances grow, he then becomes the rightful master of himself.

The outer world of circumstance shapes itself to the inner world of thought, and both pleasant and unpleasant external conditions are factors, which make for the ultimate good of the individual.

As the reaper of his own harvest, man learns both by suffering and bliss.

Men do not attract what they want, but what they are.
- James Allen

Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results.

This is but saying that nothing can come from corn but corn, nothing from nettles but nettles.

Men understand this law in the natural world, and work with it;

but few understand it in the mental and moral world (though its operation there is just as simple and undeviating), and they, therefore, do not co-operate with it.

Suffering is always the effect of wrong thought in some direction.

It is an indication that the individual is out of harmony with himself, with the Law of his being.

The sole and supreme use of suffering is to purify, to burn out all that is useless and impure.

Suffering ceases for him who is pure.

There could be no object in burning gold after the dross had been removed, and a perfectly pure and enlightened being could not suffer.

“Law, not confusion, is the dominating principle in the universe; justice, not injustice, is the soul and substance of life; and righteousness, not corruption, is the moulding and moving force in the spiritual government of the world. This being so, man has but to right himself to find that the universe is right; and during the process of putting himself right he will find that as he alters his thoughts towards things and other people, things and other people will alter towards him.”

Let a man radically alter his thoughts, and he will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of his life.

Men imagine that thought can be kept secret, but it cannot; it rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies into circumstance.

[ thought ] -> [ habit ] -> [ circumstance ]

A particular train of thought persisted in, be it good or bad, cannot fail to produce its results on the character and circumstances.

A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances.

The body is the servant of the mind.

It obeys the operations of the mind, whether they be deliberately chosen or automatically expressed.

At the bidding of unlawful thoughts the body sinks rapidly into disease and decay; at the command of glad and beautiful thoughts it becomes clothed with youthfulness and beauty.

​Disease and health, like circumstances, are rooted in thought.

Change of diet will not help a man who will not change his thoughts.

When a man makes his thoughts pure, he no longer desires impure food.

Clean thoughts make clean habits.

The so-called saint who does not wash his body is not a saint.

He who has strengthened and purified his thoughts does not need to consider the malevolent microbe.

Having conceived of his purpose, a man should mentally mark out a straight pathway to its achievement, looking neither to the right nor the left.

Doubts and fears should be rigorously excluded; they are disintegrating elements, which break up the straight line of effort, rendering it crooked, ineffectual, useless.

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.

He who has conquered doubt and fear has conquered failure.

His every thought is allied with power, and all difficulties are bravely met and wisely overcome.

His purposes are seasonably planted, and they bloom and bring forth fruit, which does not fall prematurely to the ground.

There can be no progress, no achievement without sacrifice, and a man’s worldly success will be in the measure that he sacrifices his confused animal thoughts, and fixes his mind on the development of his plans, and the strengthening of his resolution and self-reliance.

And the higher he lifts his thoughts, the more manly, upright, and righteous he becomes, the greater will be his success, the more blessed and enduring will be his achievements.

Closing Thoughts

My book notes only cover small parts of the book.

So if you like what you read, please consider buying the book from the author.

Thank you for reading and stay awesome,

Tim for Online Business Dude

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