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A few years ago I happened upon a book by James Allen called “As a Man Thinketh”. It’s a very short book (only 18 pages), written around 1902, but apart from Eckhart Tolle’s ‘Power of Now’ it would have to be one of the most important books that I have ever read in relation to learning that each of us has absolute control over our own life and that you can change your life with your thoughts.

In this article I will give you some information from Chapter 2 of the book which deals with the 'Effect of Thought On Circumstance' and explains how you can change your life with your thoughts - a frightening yet empowering reality.

James Allen believed that thoughts are like a garden which could be cultivated or allowed to run wild and he pointed out that whether it is cultivated or neglected a garden will produce something - something will grow. He explained that if no good seeds are put into the garden then useless weeds will grow and these will produce more weeds. Just like it is important for a gardener to tend to his soil garden it is important for us to tend to the garden of our minds by weeding out all the 'wrong, useless, and impure thoughts' and cultivating ‘right, useful, and pure thoughts’. ‘As a Man Thinketh’ shows that if you observe your thoughts carefully you will eventually discover that you are the creator of your own life. This occurs by way of the universal law of attraction which dictates that you are what you think you are, which means that you can change your life with your thoughts.

James Allen believed that ‘every man is where he is by the law of his being’. He taught that each man’s thoughts have given him their current circumstances and that life is always as it is supposed to be. He stated that 'there is no element of chance in life and everything is the result of a law which cannot err’ – whether you (or I, Tonette Kelly) like our current circumstances or dislike them. He believes that bad circumstances occur for our ultimate good so that we can learn and grow from them and that as we learn the spiritual lesson which the particular bad circumstance contains for us the bad circumstance passes away and is replaced by other circumstances.

James Allen taught that man is only a victim of his circumstances as long as he believes himself to be the product of outside conditions that he does not control. Once we realise that we are in control through our thoughts we become the masters (co-creators) of our own lives as we can change our life by changing our thoughts . The change in our circumstances is directly linked to our changed thoughts and mindset. For example when we recognise our deficiencies and apply ourselves to fixing them our circumstances change quickly as we have learned the lesson that we were meant to learn from suffering through our adverse circumstances and the suffering is no-longer required.

In ‘As a Man Thinketh’ we read that ‘the soul attracts that which it secretly harbours; that which it loves, and also that which it fears’. This means that we must be very careful to watch and acknowledge our thoughts and mange them if we want to avoid manifesting what we do not want. In life we get what we focus on and think about even if it is bad and we do not want it as the universe cannot tell the difference between what you want and do not want. The universe simply delivers you what you think about most. Good thoughts bear good fruit and bad thoughts bad fruit and you are completely responsible for what you harvest.

James Allen was so right when he said that ‘men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are’. Our innermost desires are fed by us through the thoughts that we let into our minds. What we get from life is inside ourselves and we get what we earn through our thoughts and actions not by what we wish and pray for. Wishes and prayers are only answered when they are supported by our innermost (sub-conscious) thoughts and our actions.

What this really means is that it is not enough to say (or even consciously think) that we want something or dislike a particular circumstance if, deep within, we are not prepared to take the action necessary to change the circumstance, or we fear the outcome (eg. reaction of others) of the change. For example I, Tonette Kelly, might say that I want to be successful in my career so that I can provide well for my family. Subconsciously though I may sabotage this because I know that such success will involve long work hours and travel outside London, or throughout Europe, which will take me away from my family and cause childcare problems. I also know that the new house I want to buy will cause criticism from my extended family as the family has always lived in modest homes that they could afford by the mother staying at home, or having an easy part-time job so that she is available for the children. As a result the sub-conscious doubt may cause me to take days off work and not do as much as I could at work as secretly I fear the results associated with promotion. The solution here would be for me to look carefully at all the negatives and positives associated with a successful career and really decide whether the positives outweighed the negatives for me. If I made a conscious decision that they did I could then control my sub-conscious by acknowledging the uneasy thoughts I have and clearly telling them that are not welcome.

What generally happens is that we want better circumstances but are unwilling to put in the effort and take the action necessary improve ourselves. This means that we stay stuck where we are as we have not learned the lesson that the suffering is trying to teach. It takes great personal sacrifice and effort to achieve the life that you want. For example a rich man may suffer diabetes due to this obesity and although he is happy to pay for treatment he is not willing to deprive himself the pleasure of eating junk food. This man will not lose weight because his actions are not in line with his thoughts. He says one thing but takes action which is inconsistent and has not learned that he should honour and care for his body.

According to James Allen the ‘Great Law’ is absolutely just and means that good cannot result in evil and evil cannot result in good. Flowing on from this is the reality that good thoughts and actions cannot produce bad results and bad thoughts and actions cannot produce good results. Put simply nothing can come from corn but corn and nothing can come from nettles but nettles. This reinforces that we will achieve the outcome that we earn.

It is very hard for us to accept that our suffering is always the result of wrong thought in some direction and that we are out of harmony with ourselves. Suffering is used to make people better and stops when the person has rectified his deficiencies as there is nothing more to learn and the suffering is no-longer necessary.

We have not achieved the life we were meant to have until we are 'happy, healthy and prosperous' which means having control of our mind and tending properly to our thoughts. Remember some rich men are extremely unhappy as they are still dissatisfied with their lot and some poor men are extremely happy as they are satisfied with their lot. The way forward is to accept your current circumstances and understand that what is occurring is occurring for a reason and you should take the opportunity to learn from it and become a better person. You should use the circumstances not fight against them. It is important to accept responsibility for your current situation and you will then find that you have a different outlook towards both your circumstances and people which will, in turn, cause these to change towards you.

I know that it is difficult to accept that you have such control over your own life because it means that you have to accept responsibility for your current situation and lose the right to complain about it. Try the strategies James Allen put forward to change your life and see whether your life changes. I am certain it will.

Street Talk

The way forward for each of us is indeed to accept our current circumstances, accept responsibility, learn from where we are, and take the opportunity to become a better person. We can springboard forward from wherever we are! Thanks for a useful article. Good reminders:-)

  about 6 years ago

Good article. One of my favorite books ever. There are so many great quotes and a-ha moments that reside within its small frame. Good job!

  about 8 years ago
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