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The Most Misunderstood Exercise of The Master Key System (And How to Understand It Perfectly)

Sometimes, Charles F. Haanel can be very frustrating.

He writes long sentences comprised of lofty ideas.

He pushes us to achieve new levels of understanding.

Then he asks us — his humble readers — to do seemingly impossible exercises such as the one in Week Two of The Master Key System.

It is the exercise for which I receive the most emails. It is the one that frustrates the most people. And, unfortunately, it is often the one that causes many people to give up.

I am happy to tell you that this exercise is much easier than you think it is.

Also, the goal of the exercise is quite different than what you probably think it is.

Let’s look at what we’re dealing with.

Here is the exercise, which is point #30.

Last week I gave you an exercise for the purpose of securing control of the physical body. If you have accomplished this you are ready to advance. This time you will begin to control your thought. Always take the same room, the same chair, and the same position, if possible. In some cases it is not convenient to take the same room. In this case simply make the best use of such conditions as may be available. Now be perfectly still as before, but inhibit all thought. This will give you control over all thoughts of care, worry, and fear, and will enable you to entertain only the kind of thoughts you desire. Continue this exercise until you gain complete mastery.

Most people focus on those three little words:




They think that they have to become some sort of super-yogi-Zen-master and have no thoughts for minutes, hours, days, weeks.

That’s not the point.

That’s not even the exercise.

Here’s your reason to rejoice if this exercise has been bedeviling you: Inhibiting your thoughts is not the goal of the exercise for Week Two.

The goal for this exercise is stated by Mr. Haanel in point number 31:

You will not be able to do this for more than a few moments at a time, but the exercise is valuable because it will be a very practical demonstration of the great number of thoughts which are constantly trying to gain access to your mental world.

Most people go into this exercise trying to do their best to inhibit their thoughts for minutes. When they can barely do a couple of seconds, they get very frustrated.

In that same point, though, Haanel explicitly states that you “will not be able to do this [inhibit thoughts] for more than a few moments at a time.”


Not seconds.

Not minutes.


One of the definitions of “moment” is “A brief, indefinite interval of time.”

It’s a short amount of time.

Very short. It is, as the phrase goes, fleeting.

Moments are here and then gone.

In that same point (#31), Haanel explains what the real goal of this exercise is:

[I]t will be a very practical demonstration of the great number of thoughts which are constantly trying to gain access to your mental world.

This exercise is made to showcase just how much mental chatter is constantly bombarding us.

That’s it. That’s all there is to it.

As you recognize thoughts, you’re to stop them. All of them. It might look something like this.

… … I think I got it … Drat! … Start over … Hmmm … Doh! … … … What time is –. Gah! … …

Concurrent with that, it will also allow you to develop ways to stop those thoughts as they occur.

To review: When you do this exercise, you will inhibit your thoughts.

You will only be able to do that for a moment or two before a thought creeps into your consciousness. (“Hey! I think I got it … Doh!”)

Then you stop that thought and return to inhibiting your thoughts again.

That will once again last for a couple of moments.

And then … It goes on and on.

So, your aim with this exercise is not to be Mr. or Ms. Zen Master. You don’t have to worry about inhibiting your thoughts for minutes. Heck, you don’t even have to quell your thoughts for seconds!

The chief aim of the exercise for Week Two is to just notice how many thoughts are constantly happening in your head, to recognize the thoughts as they are happening, and then to stop them at will.

Doesn’t that make more sense?

Go and do this exercise properly.

You should feel no frustration at all and you should be able to master it with ease.

You’ll like clicking here because there is nothing frustrating about it.

Categories:   Self Improvement


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