IN 1903, BRITISH philosopher James Allen wrote As a Man Thinketh. Some of its wisdom has been meaningful for well more than a century.
“Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself,” Allen wrote. “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. Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul, none is more divine than the promise and confidence that man is the master of his own thought, the molder of his own character, and the shaper of his condition, environment and destiny.”
This passage came to me after speaking with a client about their business and their physical and mental health. What really struck me here is that Allen observes first and foremost in this excerpt how “in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself.” Not a positive thought but a negative thought, which leads me to think that Allen considers that most individuals are stuck in a negative frame of mind or at least go there first.
Is it because we recall the negative moments of our past more readily that we do the positive? Is it because we forget all the accomplishments we have achieved over our lifetime, but for some reason remember our failures? Maybe we don’t celebrate our victories to the level that we should, so they can be embedded in our emotions as a constant reminder of how great we are.
In the past, I have had moments in my life when a past regret slips into my brain, and I start to think about it. I try to analyze it, justify it, but all I do is intensify it; it starts to negatively occupy my emotions. The next thing I realize is, I have been dwelling on it for more minutes than I care to. I then shake it off with a shiver and immediately start to fashion the positive thoughts that enhance me.
These negative thoughts still try to creep into my system, but I catch them right away and correct them. I turn them into positive thoughts. How did I accomplish this? I write down my victories for the day in my victory log.
For years I would keep an account of the victories I had for the day and how they made me feel. Even when I had a negative event, I would turn it into a victory because I would write on how I was going to correct so it wouldn’t happen again.
For more than 16 years I have held on to the last sentence of Allen’s statement. “Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul, none is more divine than the promise and confidence that man is the master of his own thought, the molder of his own character, and the shaper of his condition, environment and destiny.”
It is our unalienable and divine right to own ourselves.
Peter Remington is an executive at Houston CityBook and also a business consultant and life coach. For more information on him and his Prepare 4 More, visit here, or email him directly at Peter@PeterRemington.com.