As a man thinketh…
..so is he. These are the words of James Allen.
I inherited this little book of wisdom from my father. As you can see he felt comfortable enough to scrawl his name across the front of it… Edmund F. Shaheen. I suppose that was his stamp of approval or perhaps his round of applause after reading and digesting its life changing content. With that endorsement, I decided to read it myself.
Having grown up with these concepts spoon fed to me, I was somewhat cocky in my approach. Oh… I felt I knew it all, had heard it all, and there was nothing new under the sun. However, I was in for quite a personal challenge. With pen in hand I enthusiastically underlined my own favorite phrases and scratched my own personal notes in the margins.
The first show stopper was this: “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. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind. Just as a gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it free from weeds and growing the flowers and fruits which he requires, so may a man tend the garden of his mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless, and impure thoughts, and cultivating toward perfection the flowers and fruits of right, useful, and pure thoughts.”
As a woman with a passion for working outside in her garden, this passage spoke volumes to me. In summary good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit. It appears so simple but do I really grasp the ramifications of it?
In The Seven Day Mental Diet by Emmet Fox, readers are challenged to “make up your mind to devote one week solely to the task of building a new habit of thought, and during that week let everything in life be unimportant as compared with that. For seven days you must not allow yourself to dwell for a single moment on any kind of negative thought.”
Fox defines a negative thought as “any thought of failure, disappointment, or trouble; any thought of criticism, or spite, or jealousy, or condemnation of others, or self-condemnation; any thought of sickness or accident; or, in short, any kind of limitation or pessimistic thinking. Any thought that is not positive and constructive in character, whether it concerns you yourself or anyone else, is a negative thought.”
This is a tall order…
I am humbled at the percentage of my daily thoughts that can be considered negative. As I become more aware of my negative thinking, I realize the huge challenge of staying the course of positive thinking.
Try it for 24 hours. When a negative thought crosses your mind say silently but firmly to yourself “cancel”. Or you might want to put a thin rubber band around your wrist and give it a light snap when pessimism prevails.
And what is the potential outcome of this little exercise? Here is some food for thought so to speak:
A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the sum of all his thought.
Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.
Suffering is always the effect of wrong thought in some direction.
Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals; cherish your music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all heavenly environment; of these, if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.
Into your hands will be placed the exact results of our own thoughts; you will receive that which you earn; no more, no less.
As A Man Thinketh was published in 1902. Since then there have been many modern writers reciting the same principles- Louise L. Hay, Wayne Dyer, Jack Canfield, Tony Robbins, and Jose Silva to name a few. It is a challenging practice that reaps enormous benefits. In a world where violence, retribution, litigation and harsh punishments prevail, this quiet practice can provide a haven of peace in one’s life and a calmness of mind that is profitable and potentially contagious.