I’ve decided to review one of my very favorite works, As a man thinketh by James Allen. First off, it’s free! You can download it from Amazon Kindle. It is a gem of philosophical ponderings on the ineluctable nexus between our thoughts and actions. (You may find the language a little dated/dense at times, as it was published at the dawn of the twentieth century.)
In a nutshell, Allen contends that every single thought we have shapes our circumstances in life to one degree or another. All thoughts, from base to pure “crystallize” into some future action, habit or impact on our character and connections with others. Thus, persistently taking command of our better thoughts and winnowing out unkind, detrimental habits of thinking allows us to transform our destiny, or our way of interacting with the world and viewing it in a positive light:
As Allen asserts, “The world is your kaleidoscope, and the varying combinations of colours, which at every succeeding moment it presents to you are the exquisitely adjusted pictures of your ever-moving thoughts.”
With newsfeeds overflowing with gloom n’ doom clickbait about society’s failings, I think Allen’s admonition to cultivate the purest, kindest part of our mind is especially relevant. Because I believe that only by nurturing that part of our self can we learn to more easily see and celebrate it in others.
Allen argues, “Whatever your present environment may be, you will fall, remain, or rise with your thoughts; your Vision, your Ideal. You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration…”
I would recommend this book to everyone, but especially writers! Thoughts are the foundation of our craft—and also our own undoing. Too easily, we fall prey to debilitating fears of failure that scatter our creative will. Yet Allen explores failure not as a shameful weakness, but as an essential opportunity to forge a new, stronger character. He also reminds us of the worth of dreamers, asserting:
“The dreamers are the saviors of the world. As the visible world is sustained by the invisible, so men, through all their trails . . . are nourished by the beautiful visions of their solitary dreamers. Humanity cannot forget its dreamers; it cannot let their ideals fade and die; it lives in them; it knows them as the realities it shall one day see and know.”
But the following passage is perhaps my favorite excerpt from Allen’s work, because it reminds me of the eager ink beauty just waiting for me to quill it into being: