As a Man Thinketh

Misliš stvaraš Džejms Alen As a man thinketh


Do you know what common thread runs through names like Norman Vincent Peale, Tony Robbins, or the now-cult documentary/book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, as well as dozens of other successful individuals in the world of business, motivation, and whatnot? They all share one thing in common: a small, blue booklet that you’ve probably seen in bookstores. Maybe it caught your attention, or maybe not. A booklet that can be (carelessly) read in about 20 minutes, with a not-so-original title… what can it offer besides books that try to teach us how to achieve happiness, love, success, or whatever else you’re seeking on hundreds and hundreds (and even more) of pages?

“As a Man Thinketh”.

Yes, that’s the title. That iconic booklet which is constantly on lists like “Top 10/20/30 Books You Must Read in Your Lifetime” on many websites that deal with (and sell) books and everything else related to a better/more fulfilling life.

And you can buy it (at least when I bought it) for the price of a standard coffee (okay, a mocha) in your favorite café. And it literally fits in your pocket! The booklet, not the coffee, of course…


Misliš stvaraš Džejms Alen As a man thinketh


The introduction attempts, based on very scant information, to clarify who James Allen was. The fact is that he remains a mystery to the world. It is known that he left behind 19 books (although he died suddenly at 48), and that his greatest (or perhaps, rather, most famous) work, “As a man thinketh” is based on a line from the Bible, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”. Despite having the opportunity to live a relatively affluent life, he somewhat remained true to his modestly ascetic (rather humble) lifestyle and pursuit of greater happiness and fulfillment.

If I tried (which perhaps wouldn’t be quite fair in the case of this book) to explain the essence of this work in one sentence, perhaps the closest to it would be the famous words of Father Tadej, “As your thoughts are, so is your life”.

For this essay by James Allen, many might say that it actually shows the essence of what is now popularly called “the law of attraction”. And to be honest, I think that would be a cardinal mistake. This small (and somewhat poetic) essay focuses on the point that it is essential for a person to fundamentally change their thoughts and worldview. As he says:

“People do not attract what they want, but what they are. Their whims, fantasies, and ambitions are frustrated at every turn, but their most secret thoughts and desires feed on their own kind, be they dirty or pure.”


This is where many people go wrong, not realizing that even these desires must have a healthy “foundation”. James Allen points this out:

“…what then is the meaning of ‘fighting against circumstances.’ It means that one is continually rebelling against the effects, while all the time nourishing and preserving the cause in their heart. This cause may be in the form of conscious vice or unconscious weakness.”


Misliš stvaraš Džejms Alen As a man thinketh


James Allen takes (still so relevant today…maybe even more than before) examples, like the poor man who really wants to become rich, but deliberately slacks off at work, because he thinks the employer is to blame for his low salary (“Ahem, maybe he’s a little to blame?” – note from subconscious); there’s also the rich man who would give all his money to be cured of an illness, but not to give up the greed that caused it; and let’s not forget the employer who thinks it’s better, in the long run, to cut workers’ wages for his profit, which eventually leads to his downfall.

The root of change lies within ourselves (“Ya don’t say!?” – note from subconscious). And until we change our view of ourselves and the world around us, nothing will change in our lives:

“A man begins to be a man only when he ceases to whine and revile, and begins to search for the hidden justice that regulates his life. And as he adjusts his mind to this regulating factor, he ceases to accuse others for the state he is in, and begins to build himself on strong and noble thoughts; ceases to rebel against circumstances, and begins to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means of discovering hidden powers and possibilities within himself.”


James Allen clearly states that a persistent stream of thoughts (whether good or bad) cannot but have a decisive impact on a person and their circumstances. And when you think about it, it makes sense. How many people have gone from poverty to wealth (and vice versa), from illness to healthy living, transformed their body and mind… Some might say, “but not everyone’s circumstances are the same”. James Allen acknowledges this, but also says that one can get out of any circumstance if they properly focus their thoughts and effort.


Misliš stvaraš Džejms Alen As a man thinketh


“As a Man Thinketh” also touches on the impact of thoughts on the body. A healthy spirit is indeed in a healthy body, but healthy thoughts are needed for both.

The booklet reveals another beautiful fact. Our thoughts must have a purpose (a goal), but:

“Even if he fails to achieve his goal after several attempts (which is inevitable until he overcomes his weaknesses), the strength of character acquired will be the measure of his true success, and this will be a new starting point for future strength and triumph.”


He emphasizes:

“The will to work arises from the knowledge that we can do something. Fear and doubt are great enemies of knowledge, and he who encourages them, who does not eradicate them, will be hindered at every step.”


Here we also find a chapter on how important our thoughts are in achieving goals, and how we must protect and nurture our visions.

For a book/essay written over 100 years ago, dealing with a serious psychological (and philosophical) theme, it reads incredibly quickly and easily. It’s quite understandable and quite poetic, so you can easily imagine a speaker on stage narrating this work to you.

It’s difficult to analyze such a short work and the topic it touches upon. Hundreds of books and speakers/psychologists/coaches borrow their knowledge and ideas from this booklet, simply because its message is universal. And true, regardless of what some may think, who are under the (negative) impression of today’s motivational works.

This is a booklet that doesn’t hurt to have with you. Written before this massive expansion (or shall I say, exploitation) of optimism, it gives you pure, organic, and almost biblical symbolism behind the concept of positive thoughts, as well as faith (in oneself).

That’s it! 🙂


And you, dear reader, do you believe in the “think and you shall create” principle? 🙂


(Originally reviewed: 07/03/2020)



Price of the book in Serbia: Makart | Delfi | Dereta | Laguna

Ratings (and purchasing) on international sites: Goodreads | Amazon (US) / Amazon (UK) | Waterstones | Barnes & Noble | Audible (US) / Audible (UK)


Author: admin

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