I chose you, “As A Man Thinketh” by James Allen! And yes, just about everything philosophical in ages past addressed to “man,” applies to women (or anything else you want to call yourself).

"As A Man Thinketh" book cover on a wet, upturned wheelbarrow.

I had a hard time picking a new book to start today. I have two full shelves of TBR’s but, as every reader knows, what to read next is an elusive thing. What I wanted last year when I added this book, isn’t what I’m curious about right now. It’s a lot like menu planning and grocery shopping. I know this. It is why I have always kept my TBR pile small, under one shelf, in the past, but I’m still catching up on last years windfall, so I’m considering what to do about it.

Should I desert these books, drop them off at the used bookstore to find new homes? Most of them were free adoptions in the first place. Should I start only buying the book I’ll read next at the time I want to read it? Maybe. Then again…they don’t go bad like fresh produce taking up space in the beer crispers.

In the end I decided to read, “As A Man Thinketh” by James Allen and then I finished it an hour later! Don’t get excited. These sixty pages, originally written in 1903, are a pocket-size book, one created to keep with you and mull over during those quiet moments of the day, before you could scroll Instagram for inspiring quotes. I skimmed through it with ease, mostly because it felt highly repetitive. Yes, we get it. Get your mind straight and many other good things will follow.

I wasn’t all that impressed, unfortunately, but I’ll highlight some of my favorite quotes and expound upon them this Christmas Eve morning before I run off to get my baking done. Hopefully, I won’t eat half the cookies before tomorrow’s festivities.

 “A man’s 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.”

There will be results from the choices you made throughout your life, intentional or not. You might as well try and keep a nice garden you can work with, right?

“Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals him to himself.”

I didn’t choose where I was born, what culture I was raised in, and who my parents were. I did not choose my government (contrary to popular belief). I did not choose the weather, the traffic on the road, or the price of tomatoes. Those are your circumstances and how you deal with them, what you produce from them, tells you who you are.

“Men are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.”

Man…my job sucks, this house sucks, this relationship sucks. Stop complaining and do something about it.

“Anxiety quickly demoralizes the whole body, and lays it open to the creature of disease; while impure thoughts, even if not physically indulged, will soon shatter the nervous system.”

At the words “impure thoughts” my inner 14-year-old boy giggles. Worrying about things only puts your body in fight or flight mode and we aren’t meant to stay that way indefinitely. Find ways to relax.

“To live continually in thoughts of ill-will, cynicism, suspicion, and envy, is to be confined in a self-made prison hole. But to think well of all, to be cheerful with all, to patiently learn to find the good in all – such unselfish thoughts are the very portals of heaven; and to dwell day by day in thoughts of peace toward every creature will bring abounding peace to their possessor.”

I’ve been guilty of this a lot the past several years. And you know who pays the price for it? Me. Those I think less of, those that I judge, those that I’m angry at, they don’t even know it and their lives are not worse for my thoughts, mine is.

“The dreamers are the saviors of the world. … The world is beautiful because they have lived; without them, laboring humanity would perish.”

“Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your Vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your Ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.”

What do I dream of becoming? A nicer person, more open to changes, more accepting of others, freer with my thoughts and feelings. A person that loves instead of condemns, one that doesn’t worry about what people think and lives instead. A person that accepts themselves as an imperfect practicing human, one that has a long way to go but is happy on the journey even if I never arrive at my destination.

“They do not see the trials and failures and struggles which these men have voluntarily encountered in order to gain their experience; have no knowledge of the sacrifices they have made, of the undaunted efforts they have put forth, of the faith they have exercised, that they might overcome the apparently in surmountable, and realize the Vision of their heart.”

There is no luck. We are all, every single one of us, struggling through this world. Some of us are definitely putting more effort into living our own good life than others. But what do you think will encourage these others to search out a better way and put in the effort? Criticizing them? Maybe telling them how much better life could be if they’d only stop being a severe downer? Or loving them and living our own best life openly beside them?

Yeah, I wasn’t going to post today. I was going to just write and save this for Monday, but I’m impatient. When I have something to share, I’m must! I’m a compulsive sharer! At least, I don’t share the ugly stuff (and trust me, it’s there).

We’re getting one of those rare wet days here in the California Desert, so I’ll be baking and singing Christmas songs all day to the sound of rain on the roof and the wind in the eaves of the house, with a big fire going in the fireplace. Hopefully, please in the name of everything good in this world, the power won’t go out.