This is one of the very first self-proclaimed self-help books ever to be written by a non-philosopher, published in 1903 by James Allen who was a working-class Englishman. It’s quirky, eloquent, and full of expressions that we don’t use too often anymore. But, at the core, the messages are clear and there’s some pretty powerful stuff in here.
Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.
Allen describes his own book as one “that will help you to help yourself” and “a pocket companion for thoughtful people.” Apparently, rapper Gucci Mane cited this book as his inspiration for losing weight and going sober. It was also listed as one of the top 10 self help books of all time.
Pretty short and you can knock it out in an hour!
My favorite quotes:
The power of thought
Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armoury of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace. By the right choice and true application of thought, man ascends to the Divine Perfection; by the abuse and wrong application of thought, he descends below the level of the beast. Between these two extremes are all the grades of character, and man is their maker and master.
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.
He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.
You reap what you sew
Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions, but when he realizes that he is a creative power, and that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of his being out of which circumstances grow, he then becomes the rightful master of himself. That circumstances grow out of thought every man knows who has for any length of time practised self-control and self-purification, for he will have noticed that the alteration in his circumstances has been in exact ratio with his altered mental condition. So true is this that when a man earnestly applies himself to remedy the defects in his character, and makes swift and marked progress, he passes rapidly through a succession of vicissitudes.