As a Man Thinketh: Unlocking the Power of Your Thoughts

As a Man Thinketh

“As a Man Thinketh” is a self-help book published in 1903 by James Allen, which explores the power of thought and its impact on an individual’s life and well-being. The title is derived from a biblical proverb found in Proverbs 23:7, which states, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” This quote serves as the foundation for Allen’s teachings, emphasizing the importance of managing thoughts and harnessing them to achieve happiness and success.

In this classic work, Allen stresses that a person’s character, circumstances, and experiences are shaped by their thoughts. He presents that one’s thoughts not only have consequences on their emotions and actions, but also on the external situations and conditions that they encounter. By fostering a positive and focused mindset, it is possible to overcome challenges, achieve goals, and maintain a sense of well-being.

Origins and Context

Biblical Source

The concept of “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” has its origins in the Bible, specifically in the Book of Proverbs. Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings and teachings that provide guidance on various aspects of life, including behavior, relationships, and attitudes.

Proverbs 23:7

The phrase appears in Proverbs 23:7 and is attributed to King Solomon, who is traditionally believed to be the author of most of the Proverbs. The KJV (King James Version) translation of the scripture reads:

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.”

Modern translations such as the NIV (New International Version), ESV (English Standard Version), and NKJV (New King James Version) render the verse in slightly different ways, but the core message remains the same – a person’s thoughts and beliefs determine their identity and actions.

Key Figures: Solomon and James Allen

King Solomon, the son of King David, is known for his wisdom and is often depicted as the primary author of Proverbs. Solomon’s teachings emphasize the importance of wisdom, understanding, and righteousness in daily life.

In the early 20th century, British author James Allen took inspiration from Proverbs 23:7 and wrote a self-help book titled “As a Man Thinketh.” The book explores the idea that a person’s thoughts and emotions shape their character and ultimately their destiny. Allen’s work gained widespread recognition and has influenced generations of readers and thinkers, making the phrase “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” even more well-known and significant in modern times.

Major Themes and Concepts

The Power of Thought

As a Man Thinketh, written by James Allen, is a self-help book that emphasizes the significance of one’s thoughts in shaping everyday life. The fundamental idea is that the mind acts as a guide, and the thoughts we entertain determine our attitudes and behaviors. The book encourages readers to maintain purity of thought, which subsequently results in a more fulfilling life, enabling them to cultivate love and understanding towards others.

This concept strongly connects with the famous quote, “He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass: Environment is but his looking-glass.” Our thought patterns set the tone for the life we create.

Inward Calculation

Inward Calculation refers to the understanding that our characters give rise to our circumstances. As a Man Thinketh emphasizes that all our experiences are shaped by the state of our hearts. Consequently, if we wish to improve our lives, we need to earnestly evaluate and enhance our inner selves. It is vital to recognize that our thoughts have a direct impact on our well-being and success, and consistent self-reflection allows for transformation and progress.

Generosity and Stinginess

The book brings to light the concept of generosity and its impact on our lives. Being generous means not only giving out of material possessions but also of kindness, love, and understanding. On the other hand, stinginess and envy breed negativity and hinder personal growth. In the public domain, exhibiting generosity leads to a more positive and meaningful life.

Conversely, being miserly confines us to envy and discontentment. As the author discusses, keeping a generous and open heart allows us to rise above petty thinking and jealousy, subsequently encouraging growth and a more fulfilling existence.

Interpretations and Implications

Wisdom in Adversity

The phrase “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” from Proverbs 23:7 highlights the importance of thoughts and mindset in shaping one’s character and actions. In the context of wisdom in adversity, this verse encourages individuals to maintain a positive and resilient mindset during challenging times. By focusing on wisdom and inner strength, people can navigate through life’s obstacles more effectively.

For example, cultivating an attitude of gratitude, even in difficult situations, can help one develop a greater sense of wisdom and resilience. As the saying goes, “it’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”

Christian Perspective

From a Christian perspective, the verse emphasizes the significance of having a mind that is renewed and controlled by God’s truth. In this context, the heart represents the inner core of a person, including their intellect, emotions, and will. The process of spiritual transformation involves aligning one’s thoughts with the teachings of the Bible and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Christians are encouraged to focus on meditating and internalizing God’s truth, which ultimately shapes their actions and beliefs. As a result, their thoughts, emotions, and actions become centered around their faith in God, leading to a deeper, more meaningful spiritual journey.

In summary, the message of “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” is a powerful reminder of the profound impact that our thoughts have on our lives and actions. Adopting a mindset focused on wisdom, resilience, and faith can significantly influence one’s experience and relationships, both in times of adversity and beyond.

Practical Applications

Transformative Thinking

As a man thinketh, he has the power to transform his life with his thoughts. Maintaining a positive mindset and focusing on personal growth can lead to significant changes in one’s life. Applying this concept in daily life can be simple:

  • Take responsibility for one’s thoughts and emotions
  • Recognize negative patterns and replace them with constructive thoughts
  • Acknowledge the power of positive thinking in shaping one’s experiences

Cultivating self-awareness and self-reflection is essential in achieving transformative thinking. By rooting out negative thoughts and adopting a growth mindset, individuals can better navigate their lives and achieve their goals.

Building Friendships

In “As a Man Thinketh,” the power of thoughts extends to our connections with others. By nurturing positive thoughts towards the people around us, we can foster deeper, more meaningful relationships. A few suggestions to achieve this are:

  • Focus on finding common ground and shared values
  • Cultivate empathy and understanding towards others’ experiences
  • Show kindness and appreciation for the presence of others in our lives
  • Avoid casting judgment or the “evil eye” on others

By applying the principles of transformative thinking in our interactions, we create an environment where friendships can bloom. Building a strong support system underpinned by trust and mutual growth ultimately improves mental wellbeing and enriches our lives.

Cultural Influence and Legacy

The concept of “as a man thinketh” emphasizes the importance of thoughts and beliefs in shaping an individual’s life and actions. Yet, it is essential to consider how cultural influences and legacies can impact the way we think and consequently, our behaviors. In this regard, one can observe that both cultural values and inherited practices from our ancestors play a significant role in shaping our thought processes.

Modern Asian cultures, for instance, tend to be collectivist or interdependent, valuing harmony and group dynamics. On the other hand, Western cultures prioritize independence and individualism, focusing on personal accomplishments and freedom. These cultural traits can significantly influence our worldview, affecting how we perceive our environment and interact with others.

Cultural legacies, rooted in ancient practices, can also have a long-lasting impact on our thoughts and actions. For example, the notion of dainty meats, which refers to the consumption of seafood, could be seen as a way of indulging the appetite and fulfilling one’s desires. This association of food with pleasure has left a lasting imprint on our thinking patterns and continues to shape our dietary habits today.

Moreover, cultural legacies can be evident in the way information is disseminated and preserved. Project Gutenberg, an online platform that digitizes and distributes cultural works, is an excellent example of how we can access the knowledge and beliefs of our ancestors. Reading these historical texts can directly influence our understanding of ourselves and the world, offering insights into the cultural foundations of our thoughts.

In summary, both cultural influences and legacies play a crucial role in shaping the way we think and, ultimately, our actions. By acknowledging these factors, we can strive to make more conscious choices and adopt thought patterns that align with our individual and collective goals.


In “As a Man Thinketh,” James Allen presents the idea that our thoughts are the seeds for our actions and that the mind is a garden we must cultivate with the right seeds. This self-help classic emphasizes the power of thought, and how harnessing this power can result in mastering one’s life.

The book has stood the test of time, maintaining its relevance and offering insights for personal growth and self-mastery. Readers can take away valuable lessons such as the importance of controlling and directing our thoughts to create a positive and successful mindset.

Throughout the book, Allen provides various examples and analogies to help readers understand the impact of thoughts on everyday life. By developing a heightened awareness of our thought patterns, we can begin to create new habits that align with our desired outcomes.

To fully grasp the concepts presented in “As a Man Thinketh,” it is essential to approach the book with an open mind. By doing so, readers can unlock the transformative power of focused thought, ultimately shaping their destiny and fulfilling their potential.