A is for James Allen: His Approach To Having A Positive Attitude

James Allen 1

The positive approach encourages people to employ their gifts and use these to help other people. It also suggests focusing on what they can control, rather than worrying about what they can’t.

Many people will be familiar with these principles in the work of modern writers. They may be less familiar, however, with one of the founders of this approach, James Allen.

Born in Leicester, England, in 1864, he spent much of his life in the manufacturing industries. In 1902 he moved to Ilfracombe, Devon, and devoted the rest of his life to writing.

James believed we could control our thoughts. We could then spread goodness by translating these thoughts into action. Here are some of the things he said.

A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life.

All that you accomplish or fail to accomplish with your life is the direct result of your thoughts. Our life is what our thoughts make it.

Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bear bad fruit. No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.

The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit.

Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.

The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.

Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts inevitably bring about right results.

James Allen 2

James also highlighted the importance of focusing on one’s purpose. Below is an extract from As A Man Thinketh. The complete book is available as a free download at:


Thought and Purpose

A man should conceive of a legitimate purpose in his heart, and set out to accomplish it.

He should make this purpose the centralising point of his thoughts. It may take the form of a spiritual ideal, or it may be a worldly object, according to his nature at the time being; but whichever it is, he should steadily focus his thought-forces upon the object, which he has set before him.

He should make this purpose his supreme duty, and should devote himself to its attainment, not allowing his thoughts to wander away into ephemeral fancies, longings, and imaginings.

This is the royal road to self-control and true concentration of thought. Even if he fails again and again to accomplish his purpose (as he necessarily must until weakness is overcome), the strength of character gained will be the measure of his true success, and this will form a new starting-point for future power and triumph.

Those who are not prepared for the apprehension of a great purpose should fix the thoughts upon the faultless performance of their duty, no matter how insignificant their task may appear.

Only in this way can the thoughts be gathered and focused, and resolution and energy be developed, which being done, there is nothing which may not be accomplished.

James’ writing shows the overlap between the fields of self help, self improvement and some elements of the positive approach. You can discover more about  his life and work at the following link.



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