Although written back in 1911, this book proves that sometimes (and more often than not) old wisdom transcends change and time when it is focused on the character of the individual. James Allen starts this classic book with these words “Prosperity rests upon a moral foundation.” When I started to read this book, he basically had me at Hello!
Not everyone will enjoy the ‘style’ of Allen’s writing, it is, as I’ve said, written at the start of the 20th century. However, I do, and I personally love his metaphor for this work being based on building a “Temple of Prosperity” and it’s the eight pillars that hold up the temple.
The eight temples are (1) Energy (2) Economy (3) Integrity (4) System (5) Sympathy (6) Sincerity (7) Impartiality and (8) Self-Reliance.
Allen writes that “Moral force is the life of all success, and the sustaining element in prosperity.” And as most of the wisdom literature reminds us, he also highlights that there are various kinds of success and that we need to define what that really means for us, and not in comparison with others… which of course is perfectly aligned with the Intentionmics Blueprint of 9 inescapable truths for a prosperous life which outlines the first inescapable truth as to define what a prosperous life means for you.
Let me briefly summarise each of Allen’s eight pillars of prosperity that are basically a guide post to the skills for life:
Energy is a “moral virtue, its opposing vice being laziness.” The key from Allen’s perspective is to conserve energy so that it can be directed to accomplishing goals and purpose in life.
Economy is about finding the “middle way” and a balance in all things. In particular, Allen suggests to find balance in money, food, clothing, recreation, rest, time and energy.
Integrity, as Allen defines it is “…proof against all attack and injury, enabling its possessor to meet all opposition and persecution with dauntless courage and sublime equanimity”.
System is simply about being organised and focused and allows you to avoid confusion, hesitation or insecurity.
Sympathy is “… a deep, silent, inexpressible tenderness which is shown in a consistently self forgetful gentle character.”
Sincerity is best described by Allen by this “Life is made sane, wholesome, happy, by our deep rooted belief in one another.”
Impartiality is to get rid of prejudices and to “remove that innate egotism which prevents (us) from seeing anything from any point of view other than (our) own.”
Self Reliance – Allen basically follows the writings of Emerson in his definition here and echoes the mantra “Trust thyself!”
While as I’ve said this is written very much with a male gender perspective, as was the norm for that time of the world, if you can see past that, and look for how you can apply these principles, rather than on the examples given that might not be as applicable today, there is wonderful food for the soul in this book.