Book Review- As a Man Thinketh

In an ongoing series, I will be reviewing and sharing some of the influential books that have helped me on my life’s journey.

Originally published in 1902, James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh is one of the classic works when it comes to the importance of managing our thoughts and perceptions concerning our current situations and how our thoughts shape our circumstances, health, character, and our hopes and aspirations.

Allen’s inspiration for the book title is Proverbs 23:7, which states “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (KJV). Allen’s premise is also congruent to the adage attributed to Marcus Aurelius and Shakespeare, “All thinking makes it so.” Allen’s premise also agrees with Jesus’ statement of “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34). I will share nuggets of wisdom found within Allen’s writing.

Thought and Character

“A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”[1]

 “A noble and Godlike character is not a thing of favor or chance, but is the natural result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of long-cherished association with Godlike thoughts. An ignoble and bestial character, by the same process, is the result of the continued harboring of groveling thoughts.”[2]

 “…Man is the master of thought, the molder of character, and the maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny.”[3]

Thought and Circumstance

“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.”[4]

“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.”[5]

“Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals him to himself.”[6]

Thought and Health

“Clean thoughts make clean habits.”[7]

“If you would perfect your body, guard your mind. If you would renew your body, beautify your mind.”[8]

Thought and Purpose

“A man should conceive of a legitimate purpose in his heart, and set out to accomplish it. He should make this purpose the centralizing point of his thoughts.”[9]

“He who has conquered doubt and fear has conquered failure.”[10]

Thought and Achievement

“All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts…His suffering and his happiness are evolved from within. As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains.”[11]

Thought and Vision

“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.”[12]

“The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good…Self-control is strength; Right Thought is mastery; Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, ‘Peace, be still!’”[13]

I have read As a Man Thinketh multiple times throughout the years and I can say that every time I read it, I gain deeper and deeper insights. No matter your stage of life, no matter your situation, take control by how you are thinking about the situation, and correct the course. Gaining control of our thoughts will be a daily battle, so do not give up; do not surrender. God bless you all.

[1] James Allen, As a Man Thinketh. New York: Barnes and Noble (2007 edition): 3.

[2] Ibid, 4.

[3] Ibid, 5.

[4] Ibid, 11.

[5] Ibid, 12.

[6] Ibid, 12.

[7] Ibid, 28.

[8] Ibid 28.

[9] Ibid, 33.

[10] Ibis, 36.

[11] Ibid, 39.

[12] Ibid, 48.

[13] Ibid, 56-57.

Biblical Meditation

What comes to mind when you hear the term “meditation?” Do you think of someone in a yoga pose trying to clear their thoughts? Do you think of someone repeating a chant or mantra? Due to the influence of the New Age movement, these images spring to mind when meditation is mentioned. But, did you know that meditation is a biblical term as well?

Broken down to its most basic terms, meditation could be defined as “musing, pondering, contemplating, or reflecting.” In short, meditation is dwelling upon something, whether good or bad. Our thoughts can have a direct influence on our lives. If we dwell constantly on the negative aspects of life, we will become negative and cynical. If we dwell upon the good or seek out the blessing in situation, we will have a more positive outlook. Jesus said in Matthew 12:34 that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Our meditation is a reflection of our hearts. The question then becomes what does “biblical meditation” look like?

Biblical Meditation is dwelling on God’s Word

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8, NKJV).

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2, NKJV).

“I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways…Princes also sit and speak against me, but Your servant meditates on Your statutes…My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on Your statutes…Let the proud be ashamed, for they treated me wrongfully with falsehood; But I will meditate on Your precepts…Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day…I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation…My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word.” Psalm 119:15, 23, 48, 78, 97, 99, 148, NKJV).

When we meditate on God’s Word and our thoughts, a good analogy to use would be that of a garden. When you raise a garden, you must tend and care for it, making sure the plants get the right amount of sunlight and water, along with treating for weeds and pests.

 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.  Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4:14-16, NKJV).

Biblical Meditation is dwelling on God’s goodness

It is easy to get upset about our current situation or opportunities that have been missed or handled improperly. It is easy to think about how unfair life is. However, if we cultivate our relationship with God, He will reveal His goodness to us. God is for you and not against you. God has given His Son, Jesus to die for your sins. If you are reading this, God has given you another day on this planet. Maybe God has saved you from a life threatening situation or brought you through sickness, poverty, addiction, etc. Whatever it is, when we feel overwhelmed, we must meditate on God’s goodness.

“When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63:6-8, NKJV).

“May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord.” (Psalm 104:34, NKJV).

Biblical Meditation is dwelling upon God’s work

On three occasions, I have traveled to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. When I am there, I cannot but help to gaze at the beauty of God’s creation. The majesty of the snow-capped mountains, the clear water, and the teeming wildlife all provide an awe-inspiring scene. It is in this environment that I begin to dwell on God’s creation. When we can stop and remember that our God created everything in nature, we can remember His current work in our lives.

“And I said, ‘This is my anguish; But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds.” (Psalm 77:10-12, NKJV).

“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands.” (Psalm 143:5, NKJV).

Biblical Meditation is prayerful and uplifting

“Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation.” (Psalm 5:1, NKJV).

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14, NKJV).

“My mouth shall speak wisdom, and the meditation of my heart shall give understanding.” (Psalm 49:3, NKJV).

As we go about our day, we must always be in a state of prayer. If we do not take the time to pray, we will become powerless Christians. Just as you take the time to talk to your spouse, children, and other people around you, so we must take the time to talk to God. If our thoughts are prayerful and uplifting, we will have the right perspective when problems arise. God bless you all.