“The 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 seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.” (James Allan, As a Man Thinketh.)
For centuries, man has acknowledged the power of the mind. In 1637, the Latin philosopher Descartes said “I think therefore I am.” Thousands of years earlier, King Solomon of Israel wrote, “For as a man thinks within himself, so he is.”
Today, the modern world at large understands that the way we think about a situation can change the way that we experience it.
The introductory quote comes from James Allan, an English writer born in 1864. Out of his extensive works, it was a tiny volume called As a Man Thinketh that became wildly popular and gave rise to the self-improvement and positive thinking movement of the contemporary world.
The premise of his work is essentially that good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results, and bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results. He explains that while we understand this philosophy in the natural world (relating to seeds and the harvest of crops), we often fail to recognise it in the mental world.
Put in more simple terms: change your thinking, change your life. If you (yes, you!) can make a conscious effort to change your mental attitude and thoughts, you’ll find that your situation will radically improve, simply because of your outlook.
Don’t expect this to happen overnight, though! Optimism is a skill of emotional intelligence, and like any other skill, it takes practice and refinement.
So how can you put this into practice?
This week, instead of dwelling on mistakes or failures, think about the valuable lessons that you have learnt and where you can apply them in the future. Instead of feeling down about your current circumstances, look ahead to the future with a positive attitude.
Ultimately, what you achieve or fail to achieve is the direct result of your thinking. As you sit down to study this week, do your homework, or reflect upon your half-yearly exams, take some time to think about the cultivation of your thoughts and whether you’re planning to succeed by thinking positively.
By Samantha Shaw