MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK
by Joel Fotinos
The book you are reading now is one that has changed the lives of literally millions of people, including myself. It may be small in size, but it is great in both meaning and legacy. And now, it has the opportunity to influence the life of the most important person in the world: you.
Amazingly, As a Man Thinketh was initially published in 1903, and yet the message it contains is timeless. It is credited with being one of the first popular “self-help” books, and went on to influence many others, including three authors who went on to influence millions on their own: Napoleon Hill (author of Think and Grow Rich), Norman Vincent Peale (author of The Power of Positive Thinking), and Dale Carnegie (author of How to Win Friends and Influence People). Read their books, and you will see Allen’s influence in their ideas and writings. Additionally, the cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bob Smith, cited this book as a main influence on his thought and actions. The book is still recommended by many people within the recovery movement.
In addition to these four people, As a Man Thinketh also influenced people in all walks of life, from business (especially entrepreneurs, managers, leaders, and CEOs), spirituality (especially the New Thought movement), students, politicians, and more. In fact, if you do a simple Google search about the book, you will find it has touched the lives of people all around the world, and from all backgrounds.
All of this shows the powerful effect that As a Man Thinketh has had on the world since its publication. The book is more popular than ever, and in all editions still sells tens of thousands of copies each year. While the rights for the book are in the public domain, many of the editions that are on sale are incomplete, augmented, altered, or riddled with errors or poor formatting. This edition that you are holding is 100 percent complete and original.
James Allen took a line from Proverbs in the Bible (Proverbs 23:7, to be exact) as his touchstone, and he used it to describe his philosophy, which teaches that thought is the key to altering our lives. He wanted readers to realize that “they themselves are makers of themselves,” and that our thoughts are the method for this process.
James Allen himself was a fascinating man. Born in 1864 in Leicester, England, he endured hardships and poverty. But Allen was always curious, and he began to read the writings from the world’s wisdom traditions, and eventually the books from the teachers of the New Thought movement that was creating a stir in the States. He began applying these empowering teachings in his own life, and eventually was able to quit his job as a framework knitter, which had him working long hours and was strenuous labor. First he was able to become a private secretary and stationer, and eventually, after the publication of As a Man Thinketh, to quit that and earn his living as a writer and editor.
Allen wrote for Herald of the Golden Age magazine, and eventually founded a magazine called Light of Reason. His first two books, From Poverty to Power and All These Things Added, did well, but it was his third book, As a Man Thinketh, that broke through and became a popular title, even more so in the United States than in his home country. He went on to write nearly two dozen books, some published after his death in 1912. While his writing was popular, it was the short-volume As a Man Thinketh that ended up being his masterpiece.
One other note. This edition also includes a bonus book, titled The Mastery of Destiny. This book, originally published in 1909, reveals the power of our thoughts and actions in creating an ever-growing reality. He teaches the differences between concentration and meditation, and their benefits as we make choices in our lives.
How best to read this book? You can read it in whatever way feels best to you—but if you want to truly study it, my suggestion is to first read the entire text of As a Man Thinketh in one sitting. It’s short and won’t take long. Then read one section at a time, perhaps one a day for a week, spending the day ruminating on that section’s main messages. Each of the seven sections is short, to the point, and they build upon one another. One other suggestion? Underline or write in a journal those ideas that have the greatest meaning to you. Perhaps even write those ideas on recipe cards—one idea each—and carry those cards with you, so that you can memorize them, and begin thinking of how to apply these ideas in your life.
When you feel you have fully integrated the ideas of As a Man Thinketh in your life, do the same process with the bonus book in this edition, The Mastery of Destiny.
Ultimately, Allen’s wish was that readers wouldn’t just read his words, but rather they would apply the ideas, and embody them, as he did. As his wife, Lily, wrote about Allen, the ideas in his books came “only when he had lived it out in his own life.” Let his example, then, be ours. Read the ideas, and then live them out in your own life. “Each of us is literally what we think,” Allen writes, “our character being the complete sum of all our thoughts.” Reading this book will elevate your thoughts, and in turn help you live a great life. Let Allen’s ideas take root in your mind, and bear great fruit.
Introduction copyright © 2019 by St. Martin’s Press