Every successful person has a crucial tipping point in their life, when they went from just “getting by” to “getting things done.” Motivational and inspirational stories work for some. Straight talking and a radical shift in perception work for others.
I know from my own life that anything can happen in an instant.
Your life can change literally overnight.
So can your thoughts. So can your future.
As a young man of 18, I read a book titled As A Man Thinketh. I found it semi-randomly, that is to say, I wasn’t consciously looking for it, but the invisible hand of destiny put it right in front of me. I skimmed through it and bought it, along with a pocket size Tao Te Ching. I tossed them in my backpack and promptly forgot that they were there.
I was working in the HVAC trade at the time, and some of our work was far from home. At the motel one evening, I was burned out on watching TV and decided to clean out my pack. Down at the bottom, wrinkled and slightly tattered, was this copy of James Allen’s book that I purchased months ago.
I opened it and started reading, and read it straight through that night. It resonated so strongly with me that I read it again the next night, and pulled it out at meal times instead of reading the paper.
It was a tipping point in my life.
Here are 7 lessons that I learned from As a Man Thinketh:
“The aphorism, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he,” not only embraces the whole of a man’s being, but is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of his life. A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”
1. “his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.” Our thoughts create our lives. They create us!
“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, and could not have appeared without them. This applies equally to those acts called “spontaneous” and “unpremeditated” as to those, which are deliberately executed.”
2. “every act of man springs from the hidden seeds of thought” Even our so-called spontaneous acts are created by our thoughts.
“As a being of Power, Intelligence, and Love, and the lord of his own thoughts, man holds the key to every situation, and contains within himself that transforming and regenerative agency by which he may make himself what he wills.”
3. “man holds the key to every situation” We each have within us the transformative power and wisdom to make ourselves what we will.
“Every man is where he is by the law of his being; the thoughts which he has built into his character have brought him there, and in the arrangement of his life there is no element of chance, but all is the result of a law which cannot err. This is just as true of those who feel “out of harmony” with their surroundings as of those who are contented with them.”
4. “there is no element of chance, but all is the result of a law which cannot err.” Luck is not involved and randomness does not determine our life. Our thoughts brought us here, and can take us elsewhere if we choose.
“Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound. The man who does not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to accomplish the object upon which his heart is set. This is as true of earthly as of heavenly things. Even the man whose sole object is to acquire wealth must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before he can accomplish his object; and how much more so he who would realize a strong and well-poised life?”
5. “The man who does not shrink…” We’ve got to move out of our comfort zone, into the change zone. It’s not easy. But it works.
“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. Men understand this law in the natural world, and work with it; but few understand it in the mental and moral world (though its operation there is just as simple and undeviating), and they, therefore, do not co-operate with it.”
6. “nothing can come from corn but corn…” We reap what we sow, and if we but understood this, our lives would change instantly.
“A man only begins to be a man when he ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his life. And as he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he ceases to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means of discovering the hidden powers and possibilities within himself.”
7. “when he ceases to whine…” You can blame or you can take action within yourself to accept personal responsibility for your life.
This little book changed my life from the minute I began reading it, and I re-read it once a year or so just as a refresher.
Our minds slip back into our old habits pretty easily, and we’ll learn something different each time we re-visit a great book, so I like to have a “classics” section in my bookshelf. Books that led to breakthroughs for me and books that just don’t get old go on this shelf. I go back to these books anytime I’m feeling stuck, and every time I do, I come away with an insight or a lesson.