Outwit the Devil, Nourish the Seeds of Your Life


The book "Outwitting the Devil" was written by Napoleon Hill in 1938. It remained unpublished until 2011. In the intervening time, the material, a 'discussion' with the devil, was considered too controversial to publish.

Stepping away from cultural and religious views on 'the devil', the book itself is a powerful portrayal of how we can do battle with the negative parts of our being and strengthen how we interact with ourself and the world.

Our thoughts and views on ourself and the world around us can be shaped by outside sources, or, we can learn to take in information and how to think for ourself. The latter is much harder to do. It takes deliberate work.

Taking the Path of Least Resistance

Letting outside influences shape our viewpoint is the path of least resistance. The book, through the author's dialogue with the devil, explores the outcome of taking the path of least resistance. The devil lays claim to controlling 98% of the population. The remaining 2% are those who learn to think for themselves and his methods of control don't work as well on them.

If our thoughts and viewpoints have been shaped by others, our minds become idle and unused. It's into unused space our reactions become emotional instead of knowledgeable and reasoned. It takes deliberate awareness and willingness to question those emotional reactions and then work to change them.

Even though the book was written over 80 years ago, the principles it explores stand the test of time. The details of past history will be different but what really doesn't change is the dynamics of how people respond. Think opposition to a vaccine is new history? Take a look at what happened when the smallpox vaccine was introduced. There were people who fought against it being made mandatory for people to take.

How the Devil Claims to Operate

The devil in the book claims control over 98% of the population through fear. He uses six major fears, many, if not most you'll have experienced. Fear of:

  • poverty
  • criticism
  • ill-health
  • loss of love
  • old age
  • death

Claiming the Minds of Drifters

He claimed great success at claiming the minds of 'drifters'. What's a drifter? A person who lets life roll past them without a sense of purpose or direction. Drifters get tossed around in life, sort of like a person adrift in a boat without a set of oars.

How does the devil encourage the development of drifting?

Many of the methods children are taught don't encourage them to think for themselves. They are graded on their ability to take in 'facts' as delivered, memorize them and then recall them on tests.

It's in learning an ability to think and problem-solve using what they have taken in. Teaching methods don't encourage the individual child to identify their own uniqueness and individuality.

Substances And Their Role

He goes on to claim the use of substances serving his purposes:

  • Alcohol -- diminishes our independent thought
  • Cigarettes -- breaks down our persistence, endurance and concentration.
  • Unhealthy foods -- overworks our digestion and promotes dis-ease in our bodies and minds.

The claim about cigarettes, in the modern age, could certainly also be applied to drugs, particularly illicit drugs. The lack of independent thinking and the use of the substances contribute to the development of unhealthy habits and strengthen the drifting he makes such use of.

The Law of Hypnotic Rythm

The unhealthy habits and drifting works on the mind to become embedded so firmly they become the "Law of Hypnotic Rythm". This law can actually work for good and bad. If you've embraced the unhealthy, it will strengthen the unhealthy. If you consciously work to break away from the unhealthy, you can use the law to slingshot into a better future.

Seven Way to Avoid Drifting

  1. Definiteness of Purpose -- set intentions, a goal, a mission and use that as your guiding destination. Move toward it relentlessly. Treat it like a guiding star and keep it in sight.

  2. Mastery Over Self -- say yes to what serves your purpose and no to what doesn't. This discipline is not easy to attain. Give yourself grace to waver. Then try again with your eye on the goal. Learn from what caused the waver to help build the stronger path

  3. Learning From Adversity -- Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater opportunity. Own mistakes, let regret be the fertilizer to nourish the seeds to move on with greater purpose.

  4. Control Environmental Influences -- Who you hang out with, the environment you live in work in, all influence your success. The average of the five people you spend most of your time with influences who you are. Choose wisely.

  5. Time -- Not everything in life can be fun. If you want the long lasting outcome, you will need to abstain from the short-lived so you have the time to work toward your goal. Does that mean, no fun? No, it means be aware of how much time you spend between fun and the journey.

  6. Harmony - To attain balance between the mental, spiritual and physical aspects of your life, you have to be the main actor. Trying to please others before yourself you'll start to lose sight of your direction, purpose and values. Be kind toward others while being willing to put yourself first.

  7. Caution -- Avoid impulsive actions. Work on becoming more self-aware of what drives you and what you can work to change. Work your plan, no matter how often you waver from the course, keep the course in view.

Choosing Our Path

It’s never too soon or too late to do the work. Would you rather put the effort into doing the work or would you prefer a list of regrets at the end of life?

Yeah, I’m a work in progress, no matter how old I am.

How about you?


Shadowspub is a writer from Ontario, Canada. She writes on a variety of subjects as she pursues her passion for learning. She also writes on other platforms and enjoys creating books you use like journals, notebooks, coloring books etc.

NOTE: unless otherwise stated, all images are the author’s


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