The Yogi’s Bookshelf: Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

I know what you’re thinking, “I came here to read book suggestions on yoga, not how to make money!”

Deceptive in both its title and initial impression to those who haven’t read the book, Think & Grow Rich speaks less about how to change your mindset to gain lots of money and more about how to reframe the way you think to become rich in the intangibles of life. Think & Grow Rich has been highly coveted as one of the most important books on personal development and success in the 20th century, and after reading it, I’m sure you’ll agree. This book is pivotal in helping you create a more meaningful and fulfilled life. 

Essentially, what this book encapsulates is a myriad of short stories and insights from highly successful and influential figures throughout history. You might be thinking, “this is so anti-yoga, it sounds so materialistic…”  Though that may be most readers’ initial perception, what Think & Grow Rich affords is a series of maxims to help you retrain your perception of reality and take hold of your mind, not unlike the guiding principles presented in the Upanishads or Patanjali’s Sutras.

Success comes to those who become success conscious. Failure comes to those who indifferently allow themselves to become failure conscious.

This is the epitome of attention-manifestation and conscious control. In yoga, we teach that wherever our attention goes, that is what will inevitably grow. This can be likened to disciplining the mind, as seen through the Yamas and Niyamas. By paying attention to the right things, we can start to act according to what we believe to be right and just. Essentially, the mind is like a mirror reflecting back to us all of the things that we peer into it. We can sometimes get into a rut and start overly-focusing on all of the things that bring us down (often without even realizing we are doing it) and only by taking a pause to acknowledge these negative influences—egotism, attachment, fear of death—we can begin doing the work of untying these mental knots.

A great way to help reset this negative feedback loop is through appreciation and intention setting. Start by naming five things that you are highly appreciative of right now. It can be as simple as “I really like this new yoga mat that I just bought” or as fine-tuned as “I love the way the water hits the window when it rains and the effect that soothing and gentle sound has on my soul.” Then, ask yourself: What do I truly want in life? Beyond the selfish and superficial, what will truly make me happy? Start to hone in on those things and begin to make a plan for getting yourself there.

There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge.

This one is pretty straight forward. The second we place a limit on ourselves is the second we become limited. Humans are capable of some truly amazing, unique, and unbelievable things once we put our mind to it. The trick is putting our mind to it! 

There are countless stories of people like David Goggins, a once 300lb exterminator living paycheck to paycheck, who eventually took hold of his mind to become a Navy SEAL, ultra-marathon runner, and now a motivational speaker; or Kevin Hart, an aspiring comedian who grew up poor and in a dysfunctional family, now a successful black entrepreneur and global entertainment icon; or Jane Goodall, a legendary primatologist and anthropologist who studied at a time when universities were primaryly dominated by men, yet through her persistence and dedication was able to pursue her passion for education.

Jane Goodall, a legendary primatologist and anthropologist who studied at a time when universities were primarily dominated by men, yet through her persistence and dedication was able to pursue her passion for education. | photo: Jane Goodall Institute

Each of these individuals was able to overcome their environment, its obstacles and persevered no matter what life had placed in their way. The only thing that helped escalate each of these unique individuals from where they were to where they are today is their steeled mindset and unshakable belief that there are no limits except the ones that we acknowledge!

Your subconscious mind works continuously, while you are awake, and while you are asleep.

This is a very important point and one which relates highly to the idea of Yantras in yoga. Not to Yantras in the traditional sense of geometric shapes and patterns that elicit an innate feeling, but Yantras in a more generalized sense. When you look at the principle behind what a Yantra is, you realize that all things—which all come in the form of shapes and patterns—elicit an innate feeling. Through this higher-level understanding of how Yantras work, as artistic patterns that cultivate meaning, we can start to see that all things possess meaning, and as such, should be considered when aiming to manage your mind.

Pay close attention to what symbols and imagery you surround yourself with daily. What meaning or feelings do they conjure up inside of you? This concept can even extend to the philosophy of Feng Shui in Taoism, placing emphasis on the way we decide to organize the spaces in our home; or the psychology behind semiotics, emphasizing the meaning we derive through the clothes we choose to wear; or even the type of city we choose to live in, making us move more fast-paced or slow. Everything—everything—has an effect on the subconscious mind, so be sure to constantly fuel it with all of the right things.

Pay close attention to what symbols and imagery you surround yourself with daily. What meaning or feelings do they conjure up inside of you? | photo by Fabio Santaniello Bruun/Unsplash

What is right? Well, that’s entirely up to you and how you wish to express yourself in your life. Just be sure to hold some intentionality over what it is that you are subjecting yourself to. As an exercise, why not take account of all the things you consciously (or unconsciously) surround yourself with daily. Are these things helping or harming the way you think and feel? Only by accounting for what is in our lives can we start to shed the things that bring us down and place more emphasis on the things that lift us up!

Now, for my personal favourite…

Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action and directed to a definite end.

You hear it all the time, “Knowledge is Power.” I used to believe this myself until I came across this very simple yet eloquent passage. Knowledge is only potential power. It requires action for the intention to become fully realized. Taken more philosophically, this can be likened to the third stage in the Eight Limbs of Yoga process; the Asana. Once we have taken account of right action and right speech through the Yamas and Niyamas, it is now up to us to enact that knowledge and express ourselves by moving consciously throughout the world. Our Asana practice will have suddenly been converted from being expressed solely within the confines of the four corners of our yoga studio to the world at large. In essence, our entire life will have become a yoga practice once we consciously act through our knowledge!

This concept also touches upon other books like “The Secret,” which urges readers to solely envision what they want. Positive-thinking books often fail to remind the reader that they must put action behind their intention for things to work out the way that they want them to. Granted, that isn’t to say that things will always work out the way you want them to, but even if we don’t make it to exactly where we would have liked to in life, at least there was something to be learned from trying. When we don’t try, our knowledge becomes useless, and our lives become wasted potential.

Every adversity, every failure, every heartbreak, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.

I think you can agree with me now that this little book touting riches and fame is still a contemporary spiritual text masquerading as a lesson on how to become a successful tycoon. There is much to be learned from the science of changing your mind; and, in doing so, you will have ultimately changed the trajectory of your own life. Though Think & Grow Rich does present the potential for riches, the true value to be gained is a richly lived life—and that can only be had by starting to take control of your mind!

Edited by Anastasia Buterina


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