Summary of Key Points
The basic premise is that thoughts are the prerequisite for actions. If your thoughts are impure, so will your actions be.
I chose to view some of the ideas in the book through the lens of Stoicism. Mainly that you cannot choose your external circumstances, but you can control your thoughts. Therefore, you remain in power of your situation.
Highlights & Notes
UNTIL thought is linked with purpose there is no intelligent accomplishment. With the majority the bark of thought is allowed to "drift" upon the ocean of life. Aimlessness is a vice, and such drifting must not continue for him who would steer clear of catastrophe and destruction. They who have no central purpose in their life fall an easy prey to petty worries, fears, troubles, and self-pityings, all of which are indications of weakness, which lead, just as surely as deliberately planned sins (though by a different route), to failure, unhappiness, and loss, for weakness cannot persist in a power evolving universe.
Have a purpose. An aim.
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. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed-seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.
The mind is a garden. If you allow weeds to grow, you will get nothing useful out.
Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound. The man who does not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to accomplish the object upon which his heart is set.
People want to improve their circumstances but not themselves.
Here is a rich man who is the victim of a painful and persistent disease as the result of gluttony. He is willing to give large sums of money to get rid of it, but he will not sacrifice his gluttonous desires. He wants to gratify his taste for rich and unnatural viands and have his health as well. Such a man is totally unfit to have health, because he has not yet learned the first principles of a healthy life.
We are willing to pay enormous amounts of money to solve our problems. To get quick fixes. Yet, this doesn't solve the problem. There is no quick fix. You must put in the work. We want the result but don't want to give up our habits. We want to be healthy but will keep overeating. We want wealth but keep spending.
A man only begins to be a man when he ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his life. And as he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he ceases to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means of discovering the hidden powers and possibilities within himself.
Take ownership. Stop blaming external circumstances for your situation. Make use of what has been given to you.
A particular train of thought persisted in, be it good or bad, cannot fail to produce its results on the character and circumstances. A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances.
You cannot choose your circumstances, but you can choose your thoughts. So you can, indirectly, shape your circumstances.
The weakest soul, knowing its own weakness, and believing this truth that strength can only be developed by effort and practice, will, thus believing, at once begin to exert itself, and, adding effort to effort, patience to patience, and strength to strength, will never cease to develop, and will at last grow divinely strong.
Strength can only be developed by effort and practice.
As the physically weak man can make himself strong by careful and patient training, so the man of weak thoughts can make them strong by exercising himself in right thinking.
You can train your mind just as you can train your body