As a Man Thinketh - Summary

James Allen

As a Man Thinketh Book Cover


James Allen’s “As a Man Thinketh” is a classic self-help book that has been inspiring readers for over a century. The book’s central premise is that our thoughts shape our lives, and that by changing our thinking, we can change our circumstances. In this essay, I will provide a summary of the book, highlighting its key themes and ideas. I will also include examples and anecdotes from the book to illustrate its points.

The Power of Thought

The book begins by emphasizing the power of thought in shaping our lives. Allen argues that our thoughts are the seeds that determine the quality of our lives. He writes, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” In other words, our thoughts create our reality. If we think positively, we will attract positive experiences, and if we think negatively, we will attract negative experiences.

To illustrate this point, Allen uses the metaphor of a gardener. Just as a gardener cultivates his garden by planting seeds, we cultivate our lives by planting thoughts. If we plant positive thoughts, we will reap positive results, and if we plant negative thoughts, we will reap negative results. Allen writes, “The body is the servant of the mind. It obeys the operations of the mind, whether they be deliberately chosen or automatically expressed.”

The Importance of Self-Control

Another key theme of the book is the importance of self-control. Allen argues that we must control our thoughts if we want to control our lives. He writes, “He who would be the master of his own life must be the master of his own thoughts.” In other words, we must learn to discipline our minds and focus on positive thoughts if we want to achieve our goals.

To illustrate this point, Allen uses the example of a ship. Just as a ship is steered by a captain who controls the rudder, our lives are steered by our thoughts. If we allow our thoughts to wander aimlessly, we will drift off course and never reach our destination. But if we focus our thoughts on our goals and steer our lives in the right direction, we will reach our destination.

The Importance of Action

While Allen emphasizes the power of thought, he also stresses the importance of action. He writes, “As a man thinketh, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains.” In other words, our thoughts determine our character, but our actions determine our destiny. If we want to achieve our goals, we must take action.

To illustrate this point, Allen uses the example of a builder. Just as a builder must take action to turn his plans into reality, we must take action to turn our thoughts into reality. We cannot simply think our way to success; we must also take action. Allen writes, “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.”

The Importance of Persistence

Finally, Allen emphasizes the importance of persistence. He argues that we must persevere in the face of obstacles if we want to achieve our goals. He writes, “All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts.” In other words, our thoughts determine our success or failure, but our persistence determines whether we will ultimately succeed or fail.

To illustrate this point, Allen uses the example of a blacksmith. Just as a blacksmith must keep hammering a piece of iron until it becomes a useful tool, we must keep working towards our goals until we achieve them. We must not give up in the face of obstacles or setbacks. Allen writes, “Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals; cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts. For out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all heavenly environment, of these, if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.”


In conclusion, “As a Man Thinketh” is a powerful and inspiring book that teaches us the importance of our thoughts in shaping our lives. By emphasizing the power of thought, the importance of self-control, the importance of action, and the importance of persistence, James Allen provides a roadmap for achieving success and happiness. As Allen writes, “The dreamers are the saviors of the world. As the visible world is sustained by the invisible, so men, through all their trials and sins and sordid vocations, are nourished by the beautiful visions of their solitary dreamers.”

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