Notes On // The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale

Jordan Schilleci
9 min readMay 14, 2024

We become what we think about.

Marcus Aurelius: “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

Benjamin Disraeli: “Nurture your minds with great thoughts. To believe in the heroic makes heroes.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson: “A man is what he thinks about all day long.”

William James: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.”

Earl Nightingale: “We become what we think about most of the time, and that’s the strangest secret.”

Mark 9:23, The Bible: “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale: “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”

Napoleon Hill: “What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

William Shakespeare: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

George Bernard Shaw: “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

Why do we become what we think about?

I wanted to read The Strangest Secret, but instead, I looked it up on YouTube. I found a recording of a broadcast of the same title by the author. This was great for me because then I could take notes. If I take notes, I remember my best. These are my notes.

My Notes on The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale

Things are given to us for nothing we place little value on.
Things we pay money for, we value.
The paradox is that exactly the reverse is true.
Everything that’s really worthwhile in life came to us free.

Our mind, our soul, our body, our hopes, our dreams, our ambitions, our intelligence, and our love of family, children, and friends.

All these priceless possessions are free, but the things that cost us money are actually very cheap and can be replaced at any time.

A good man can be completely wiped out and make another fortune—he can do that several times. Even if our home burns down, we can rebuild it, but we can never replace the things we got for nothing. The human mind isn’t used merely because we take it for granted.

Familiarity breeds contempt. It can do any kind of job we assign to it, but generally speaking we use it for little jobs instead of big important ones.

Universities have proved that most of us are operating on about 10% of our abilities. Decide now, what is it you want? Plant your goal in your mind. It’s the most important decision you’ll ever make in your entire life.

Work steadily, and it will become a reality.

This is a law.

Think about your goal in a relaxed, positive way. Picture yourself in your mind’s eye as having already achieved this goal. See yourself doing the things you will be doing when you have reached your goal.

Each and every one of us is the sum total of our own thoughts.

We are where we are because that is exactly where we really want to be.

Whether you admit it or not.

Each of us must live off the fruit of our thoughts in the future.

What we think today, tomorrow, next month, and next year will mold our lives and determine our futures. We are guided by our minds.

Are you going to sit back and let life happen to you, or will you keep both hands firm on the wheel, control, and direct your power to a specific worthwhile purpose?

It’s up to you. You’re in the driver’s seat.

The very law that gives us success is a two-edged sword. We must control our thinking. The same rule can lead a man to a life of success, wealth, happiness, and everything he has dreamed of for himself and his family. That very same law can lead him into the gutter. It is all in how he uses it—for good or for bad. This is the strangest secret in the world.

Grove Patterson once gave a speech that concluded something like this, “My years in the newspaper business have convinced me of several things. Among them, people are basically good and that we came from someplace and are going someplace. So we should make our time here an exciting adventure.”

The architect of the universe didn’t build a stairway leading nowhere. And the greatest teacher of all, the carpenter of the plains of Galilee, gave us the secret time and time again. “As ye believe, so shall it be done unto you.”

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Simply stated as it applies to us, it means we can achieve nothing without paying the price. The results will be in direct proportion to the effort put forward.

Understanding emotionally and intellectually, we control what we think about. We must control our thoughts if we want to control our lives. As ye sow, so shall ye reap. Cutting away all the fetters from the mind, permitting it to soar as it was divinely designed to do. It is the realization that our limitations are self-imposed. And that the opportunities today are enormous beyond belief. It is rising above narrow-minded pettiness and prejudice. Thirdly, to use all of your courage to force yourself to think positively on your own problem. To set a definite and clearly defined goal for yourself. Let your marvelous mind think about your goal from all possible angles. To let your imagination speculate freely among many possible solutions. To refuse to believe there are any circumstances sufficiently strong to defeat you in the accomplishment of your purpose. To act promptly and deciesely when your course is clear. And to keep constantly aware of the fact that you are, at this moment, standing in the middle of your own acre of diamonds. Fourth, save 10% of what you earn.

  1. You will become what you think about.
  2. Remember the word “imagination”. Let your mind soar.
  3. Courage. Concentrate on your goal every day.
  4. Save 10% of what you earn.
  5. Action. Ideas are worthless unless we act on them.

There are two things that might be said of everyone.

Each of us wants something, and each of us is afraid of something.

  1. What do you want more than anything else? Be specific. It needs to be a single goal and clearly defined. When you get up each morning, think about it in a cheerful, relaxed, positive way. Look at it each chance you get during the day, and look at it before you go to bed at night. You must become what you think about. Since you are thinking about your goal, you realize, soon it will be yours. It is yours really the moment you write it down, and begin to think about it.
  2. Stop thinking about what you fear. Each time a fearful or negative thought comes into your consciousness, replace it with a positive and worthwhile goal.

In addition to maintaining a cheerful, positive outlook, give yourself more than you’ve ever done before. Do this knowing that your returns in life must be a direct portion of what you offer. When you decide on a goal, you are immediately successful.

Don’t concern yourself with how you are going to achieve your goal. Leave that to a power greater than yourself. All you have to do is know where you are going. The answers will come to you of their own accord. Remember these words from The Sermon on the Mount, and remember them well. Keep them constantly before.

  • Matthew 7:7–8 (King James Version) “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
  • Luke 11:9–10 (King James Version) “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

All you need is purpose and faith.

Act as though it is impossible to fail.

Persistence is another word for faith.

If you didn’t have faith, you would never persist.

Above all, don’t worry.

Worry brings fear, and fear is crippling.

You are not doing this alone. Hold this goal before you, everything else will take care of itself.

Keep calm. Keep cheerful.

Calm and cheerful. Don’t let petty things annoy you, or get you off course.

If you sow positive thoughts, your life will be cheerful, successful, and positive.

Here are a few Bible verses that relate to the idea that our thoughts and beliefs shape our lives:

  1. Proverbs 23:7 — “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” (KJV)
  2. Philippians 4:8 — “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (KJV)
  3. Romans 12:2 — “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (KJV)
  4. Mark 11:23 — “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.” (KJV)
  5. James 1:8 — “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (KJV)

These verses emphasize the importance of our thoughts, beliefs, and mindset in shaping our lives and destinies. Nightingale’s core principles are consistent with biblical teachings.

Me to you // Listen to this audio, and commit to a 30-day-challenge.

More Notes…

The only people who make money work in the mint; the rest of us must earn money. This is what causes those who keep looking for something for nothing or a free ride to fail in life. The only way to earn money is by providing people with services or products that are needed and useful. We exchange our product or service for the other man’s money. Therefore, the law is, that our financial return will be in direct proportion to our service. Success is not the result of making money. Making money is the result of success, and success is in direct proportion to our service.

Most people have this law backward. They believe that you are successful if you earn a lot of money. The truth is that you can only earn money after you’re successful. Just like the story who sat in front of the stove and said to it, give me heat, and I’ll add the wood.

Don’t concern yourself with the money. Be of service — build, work, dream, and create. Do this, and you will find there’s no limit to the prosperity and abundance that will come to you. Prosperity is founded on the law of mutual exchange.

Any person who contributes to prosperity must prosper in turn himself. Sometimes, the return will not come from those you serve. But it must come to you from someplace, for that is the law.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Your success will always be measured by the quality and quantity of service you render, and money is a yardstick for measuring this service. No man can get rich himself unless he enriches others. There are no exceptions to a law.

Once this law is understood, any person can tell his own fortune. If he wants more, then he must be of more service to those from whom he receives his return.

This is the price you must pay for what you want.

An outstanding medical doctor recently pointed out six steps that will help you realize success.

  1. Set yourself a definite goal.
  2. Quit running yourself down.
  3. Stop thinking of all the reasons why you cannot be successful; instead, think of all the reasons why you can.
  4. Trace your attitudes back to your childhood, and try to discover where you first got the idea you couldn’t be a success if that is the way you’ve been thinking.
  5. Change your image of yourself by writing a description of the person you would like to be.
  6. Act the part of the successful person you have decided to become.

Live this new way, and the floodgates of abundance will open and pour over you more riches than you may have dreamed existed. Money, yes, lots of it, but what is more important is you’ll have peace.

Start today. You have nothing to lose. But you have a lot to win.

With love, Jo



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