As A Man Thinketh is a a book about managing your own psychology. As an entrepreneur, and even as a human being in general, controlling what you choose to focus on is of the utmost importance. That’s why it is one of my personal favorites. It’s also one of the books that Tony Robbins gifts the most.
I’ve read it several times throughout my life. Each time it affirms what I’ve always known, from experience, to be true: that you are what you think about. That thoughts are things. That to improve our lives, we must first improve our thinking. In essence, we become what we think about, so we must control our mind and our thoughts.
It’s a short volume that could easily be read in one sitting. I recommend reading it multiple times. After all, we need to be reminded more often than we need to be instructed. Especially when it comes to the fundamentals. If you have trouble finding a copy, or simply want to skim through some highlights, the quotes below are my favorites.
The book is broken down into the following chapters:
- Thought And Character
- Effects Of Thought On Circumstances
- Effect Of Thought On The Health And The Body
- Thought And Purpose
- The Thought-Factor In Achievement
- Visions And Ideals
“Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills:-
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking-glass.”
“They themselves are makers of themselves.”
Mind is the master weaver.
Thought And Character
“As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.”
As the plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought.
Act is the blossom of thought.
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.
Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armoury of though he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace.
By the right choice and true application of thought, man ascends to the Divine Perfection.
Man is always the master, even in his weakest and most abandoned state.
He is the maker of his character, the molder of his life, and the builder of his destiny.
“He that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
Effects Of Thought On Circumstances
A 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.
By pursuing this process, a man sooner or later discovers that he is the master gardener of his soul, the director of his life.
He also reveals, within himself, the laws of thought, and understands, with ever-increasing accuracy, how the thought forces and mind elements operate in the shaping of his character, circumstances, and destiny.
The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state.
Every man is where he is by the law of his being.
As a progressive and evolving being, man is where he is that he may learn that he may grow.
When he realizes that he is a creative power, and that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of his being…
The soul attracts that which it secretly harbours; that which it loves, and also that which it fears; it reaches the height of its cherished aspirations; it falls to the level of its unchastened desires.
Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit.
As the reaper of his own harvest, man learns both by suffering and bliss.
A man does not come to the almshouse or the jail by the tyranny of fate or circumstance, but by the pathway of groveling thoughts and base desires.
Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals him to himself.
No such conditions can exist as descending into vice and its attendant sufferings apart from vicious inclinations, or ascending into virtue and its pure happiness without the continued cultivation of virtuous aspirations; and man, therefore, as the lord and master of thought, is the maker of himself, the shaper and author of environment.
Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.
Not what he wishes and prays for does a man get, but what he justly earns. His wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with his thoughts and actions.
Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves.
Even the man whole sole object is to acquire wealth must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before he can accomplish his object.
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.
Suffering is always an 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.
Suffering ceases for him who is pure. A perfectly pure and enlightened being could not suffer.
Blessedness, not material possessions, is the measure of right thought.
Indigence and indulgence are the two extremes of wretchedness. They are both equally unnatural and the result of mental disorder.
Happiness, health, and prosperity are the result of a harmonious adjustment of the inner with the outer, of the man with his surroundings.
Man has but to right himself to find that the universe is right.
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.
Thoughts of fear, doubt, and indecision crystallize into weak, unmanly, and irresolute habits, which solidify into circumstances of failure, indigence, and slavish dependance.
A particular train of thought persisted in, be it good or bad, cannot fail to produce its results on the character and circumstances.
Nature helps every man to the gratification of the thoughts which he most encourages.
Effect Of Thought On The Health And The Body
The body is the servant of the mind.
The people who live in fear of disease are the people who get it. Anxiety quickly demoralizes the whole body, and lays it open to the entrance of disease.
When a man makes his thoughts pure, he no longer desires impure food.
A sour face does not come by chance; it is made by sour thoughts.
To live continually in thoughts of ill will, cynicism, suspicion, and envy, is to be confined in a self-made prison hole.
To dwell day by day in thoughts of peace toward every creature will bring abounding peace to their possessor.
Thought And Purpose
Until thought is linked with purpose there is no intelligent accomplishment.
They who have no central purpose in their life fall an easy prey to petty worries, fears, troubles, and self-pityings, all of which are indications of weakness.
Weakness cannot persist in a power-evolving universe.
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.
This is the royal road to self-control and true concentration of thought.
Even if he fails again and again to accomplish his purpose, the strength of character gained will be the measure of his true success, and this will form a new starting point for future power and triumph.
To put away aimlessness and weakness, and to begin to think with purpose, is to enter the ranks of those strong ones who only recognize failure as one of the pathways to attainment; who make all conditions serve them, and who think strongly, attempt fearlessly, and accomplish masterfully.
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.
Thoughts of doubt and fear never accomplish anything, and never can. They always lead to failure.
He who has conquered doubt and fear has conquered failure.
Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes creative force: he who knows this is ready to become something higher and stronger.
He who does this has become the conscious and intelligent wielder of his mental powers.
The Thought-Factor In Achievement
All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts.
As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains.
He who has conquered weakness, and has put away all selfish thoughts, belongs neither to oppressor nor oppressed. He is free.
A man can only rise, conquer, and achieve by lifting up his thoughts.
Before a man can achieve anything, even in worldly things, he must lift his thoughts above slavish animal indulgence.
Not having commenced manfully to control his thoughts, he is not in a position to control affairs and to adopt serious responsibilities. He is not fit to act independently and stand alone.
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.
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.
Intellectual achievements are the result of thought consecrated to the search for knowledge, or for the beautiful and true in life and nature.
Spiritual achievements are the consummation of holy aspirations.
By the aid of self-control, resolution, purity, righteousness, and well-directed thought a man ascends.
He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.
Visions And Ideals
The dreamers are the saviors of the world.
Men 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 which it shall one day see and know.
Composer, sculpter, painter, poet, prophet, sage, these are the makers of the afterworld, the architects of heaven.
He who cherishes a beautiful vision, a lofty ideal in his heart, will one day realize it.
Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals; cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind.
If you remain true to them, your world will at least be built.
To desire is to obtain; to aspire is to achieve.
Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become.
The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.
You cannot travel within and stand still without.
He conceives of, mentally builds up, an ideal condition of life; the vision of a wider liberty and a larger scope takes possession of him; unrest urges him to action, and he utilizes all his spare time and means, small though they are, to the development of his latent powers and resources.
Years later we see this youth as a full-grown man. We find him a master of certain forces of the mind which he wields with world-wide influence and almost unequaled power. In his hands he holds the cords of gigantic responsibilities; he speaks, and lo! lives are changed; men and women hang upon his words and remold their characters, and sunlike, he becomes the fixed and luminous center around which innumerable destinies revolve. He has realized the Vision of his youth. He has become one with his Ideal.
You will always gravitate toward that which you, secretly, most love.
“You may be keeping accounts, and presently you shall walk out of the door that for so long has seemed to you the barrier of your ideals, and shall find yourself before an audience – the pen still behind your ear, the ink stains on your fingers – and then and there shall pour out the torrent of your inspiration. […] You shall wander under the intrepid guidance of the spirit into the studio of the master, and after a time he shall say, ‘I have nothing more to teach you.’ And now you have become the master.”
-Stanton Kirkham Davis
People do not see the trials and failures and struggles which these men have voluntarily encountered in order to gain their experience; have no knowledge of the sacrifices they have made. […] They do not know the darkness and the heartaches; they only see the light and joy.
“Gifts”, powers, material, intellectual, and spiritual possessions are the fruits of effort; they are thoughts completed, objects accomplished, visions realized.
The Vision that you glorify in your mind, the Ideal that you enthrone in your heart – this you will build your life by, this you will become.
Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.
A man becomes calm in the measure that he understands himself as a thought-evolved being.
The calm man, having learned how to govern himself, knows how to adapt himself to others.
The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good.
People will always prefer to deal with a man whose demeanour is strongly equable.
The strong, calm man is always loved and revered. He is like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land, or a sheltering rock in a storm.
That exquisite poise of character which we call serenity is the last lesson of culture; it is the flowering of life, the fruitage of the soul. It is precious as wisdom, more to be desired than gold – yea, than even fine gold. How insignificant mere money-seeking looks in comparison with a serene life – a life that dwells in the ocean of Truth, beneath the waves, beyond the reach of tempests, in the Eternal Calm!
Only the wise man, only he whose thoughts are controlled and purified, makes the winds and the storms of the soul obey him.
Keep your hand firmly on upon the helm of thought. In the bark of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep; wake Him.
Self-control is strength; Right Thought is mastery; Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, “Peace, be still!”