You are the master gardener of your life

James Allen is a favorite nephew-in-law of mine. He came from Colorado and married my niece Lynette. James is a computer specialist and a thoughtful person.
So when I was browsing at the bookstore and discovered a book by James Allen, titled “As a Man Thinketh,”—it caught my eye.
My nephew could easily have written a book by that title, but he didn’t. This book was authored by another James Allen. A man born in 1864.
Not much is known about Allen’s life, but we do know that he had to leave school at age 15 because of his family’s financial reverses.
He eventually became a private secretary and worked for several British firms until age 38. At that point, he decided to devote all his time to writing.
His days began with an hour of meditation while looking out at the sea, followed by a morning of writing. His afternoons were filled with gardening and his evenings were spent in conversation with people who were interested in his ideas.
Allen patterned his life after famed Russian writer Leo Tolstoy – a life of voluntary poverty, manual labor and ascetic self-discipline.
He, like Albert Schweitzer who came after him, was a very sensitive man who believed in killing nothing, not even a mouse in the garden.
His writing life continued only nine years, until he died at age 48. During that time, he wrote 19 books. The most famous of which was “As a Man Thinketh.”
“As a Man Thinketh” is a short, powerful treatise on positive thinking. And, although he wrote it almost 75 years before the 20th century self-help movement began, Allen is often considered the father of that movement.
“A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts,” wrote Allen.
Allen, who was an avid gardener, likened a man’s mind to a garden. It must be cultivated with good seeds and be kept weed-free in order to bear fruit.
“Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit . . . 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 cooperate with it.”
So if you want your circumstances to change, focus on good thoughts. Think about what you can do to reach your goals.
The most important thing according to Allen is to be sure of your “central purpose” in life.
“A man should conceive of a legitimate purpose in his heart, and set out to accomplish it. He should make this purpose the centralizing point of his thoughts.”
So what is your central purpose—volunteering to help people in need, writing your autobiography, making lots of money, becoming a poet or a painter, creating a welcoming home for guests.
Whatever your purpose, make it the centralizing point of your thoughts.
Remember that, as James Allen wrote, thought “rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies into circumstance.”
So tend the garden of your mind with care.
Marie Snider is an award-winning healthcare writer and syndicated columnist. Write Marie Snider at or visit her website at

Posted in Uncategorized