The Law of Attraction.
You’ve heard about it. Probably read about it. Maybe you’ve seen an infomercial or movie about it.
What is it?
Is it the secret to life, the universe, and everything? Is it the source of unlimited health, wealth, and happiness? Is it something that you should practice? Does it work as it’s been advertised?
In the past, I’ve been critical of the slew of movies and books that proclaim that the Law of Attraction is the secret to “life, the universe, and everything,” to borrow a line from Douglas Adams. I still am critical. I don’t buy – nor have I experienced or seen any positive evidence – that the Law of Attraction is the secret nor that the universe as we know it works in the way that many modern “gurus” and “teachers” describe.
That being said, though, the Law of Attraction is an important part of achieving what you want, especially if used properly and not in some pray-to-the-great-spaghetti-spirit-in-the-sky kind of fashion. When you understand what is truly going on with this idea that people have been calling the Law of Attraction, then you can really begin to utilize it without frustration or doubt.
This is how the Law of Attraction is presented and taught today by the various gurus, mystics, and movies. The movie and book The Secret set the formula as “Ask – Believe – Receive.” In other words, you pray, believe that what you want to happen will happen, then you get what you want. If what you are asking for is agreeable and your intentions are in “alignment,” then the Universe will bestow a “gift” upon you. “Like attracts like,” they say, “and as you think about what you want you will emit subatomic messengers that will attract to you what you desire.”
Any action on your part other than thinking is either optional or not necessary at all. While the old mantra used to be “Build it and they will come,” the new mantra is “Think it and it shall manifest.”
The gurus explain this process as scientifically sound because quantum physics proves it. What follows in their explanation is a somewhat brief and very incomplete – and more often than not inaccurate – presentation of quantum theory. Aspects of quantum theory are cherry-picked and misrepresented in order to back up what is taught. In short, they don’t present science; they present pseudoscience.
Luckily, most scientists who see movies such as The Secret and What the Bleep? agree and simply laugh at many of the preposterous notions. Even the quantum physicist who was highlighted in both films, Fred Alan Wolfe, disagrees in how his ideas were butchered and presented. From his blog –
There is a big difference between just thinking 1) “I want a big car” 2) “I am not good enough” or 3) “I am good” or 4) “I am ugly” or 5) “I am happy” and taking an appropriate action to do something about them. The LOA (Law of Attraction) seems to imply that merely thinking such thoughts will attract the object of those thoughts to you. I don’t think the universe works this way. When you think those thoughts you tend to act according to them and those actions will attract you to those objects and modify your behavior accordingly. There is no magic field “out there” or magic genii “out there” that will answer those thoughts by granting your wishes as the film seems to imply. That magic field or genii is yourself.
Now, does all this mean that the Law of Attraction doesn’t exist? That it doesn’t work? That it is a myth?
In my view, the Law of Attraction exists, but not in any way, shape, or form that it is currently being presented. I believe that it is being presented in a very poor and misleading way, either purposely or by folks who are innocently mistaken. On the one hand I see people who wish to sell to others a bill of goods rather than any goods themselves and they prey on peoples’ greed and gullibility. On the other hand, you have the people who take what they were taught about this “Law” on faith and simply repeat it because it has become part of their belief system.
To quote Fred Alan Wolfe again –
I give a lot of seminars, and I personally don’t teach people techniques for realizing their potentials and other such ideas as I have found that they simply don’t work and are in their own way spiritual “diet books” which may work for a while but in the end fail. Spiritual techniques advocated by people who have never made a serious study of spiritual teaching or base their books on quantum physics principles without studying the subject at length and who really don’t know enough to teach others techniques based upon these deeper “secrets” make me really wonder why such people write such books other than the obvious one to make some money.
With all that being said, on a psychological level – that level where your thoughts guide and influence your actions that then yield consequences – the Law of Attraction works perfectly and is of immense help to anyone with a goal to achieve or a dream to attain.
On a psychological level, rather than you attracting things into your life or altering reality to conform to your wishes, what happens is that as you imbue your subconscious mind with your goal and what you want, your subconscious guides your thoughts and actions in such a way that you move toward what you desire. Thus, you call people with whom you haven’t spoken in a while and end up making a good contact; you find yourself in different situations that benefit you; or you begin seeing opportunities where before you saw nothing.
That is why I refer to the Law of Attraction as the Law of Moving Toward.
Instead of you attracting things into your life, you are moving toward them. Instead of some cosmic genii or the Universe bestowing “gifts” upon you or you altering the cosmic fabric of reality in order to “manifest” what you desire, you are moving and working toward what you want and when you get it, you’ve earned it.
When you begin using the Law of Attraction this way rather than relying on the methods being espoused today, you will see yourself achieving your wants and goals. It will take persistence, determination, and knowing exactly what you want, but it does work and it will help you.
When you begin to look at the psychological aspects of this mind stuff and remove from it the dogmatic, pseudo-religious aspect, you will find yourself achieving, succeeding, and attaining more than you ever thought that you could. You will remove from your life the specter of cosmic chance and instead replace it with the certainty of cause and effect. You will take action and move forward. You will be more able to do what needs to be done because you will truly realize that nothing comes without cost. In other words, you will be more connected with the workings of life, your place in it, and how to achieve and attain.
When a person sees the basic psychology behind the Law of Attraction and has a realistic interpretation of how it works, then he is practically guaranteed to become a better, more positive, and action-oriented person. Gone will be faith in shibboleths and shadows and in their place will be reason and reality – a reality constantly being manipulated and molded by you because you are moving toward your goals rather than expecting them to materialize (or “manifest”) for you.
In other words, when you achieve something, you will know that your thoughts and actions yielded your results and that you earned what you attained. Likewise, if something bad should befall you, you won’t necessarily pummel yourself with useless questions about what thoughts of yours lead to such horrible results; you will realize that sometimes in the workings of life shit happens.
11. These experiences come to us through the law of attraction. Through the action of this law we meet in the “world without” the experiences which correspond to our “world within.”
12. The predominant thought or the mental attitude is the magnet, and the law is that like attracts like. Consequently the mental attitude will invariably attract such conditions as correspond to its nature.
13. This mental attitude is our personality and is composed of the thoughts which we have been creating in our own mind. Therefore, if we wish a change in conditions, all that is necessary is to change our thought; this will in turn change our mental attitude, which will in turn change our personality, which will in turn change the persons, the things, and the conditions or the experiences with which we meet in life.
This, as everything else, is governed by natural law, and this law is the “Law of Attraction,” which is that Mind is creative, and will automatically correlate with its object and bring it into manifestation. (From Week Two)
Keep in mind that Haanel also wrote this in Week Seven –
27. We must plant the seed and leave it undisturbed. This does not mean that we are to sit down and do nothing, by no means; we will do more and better work than we have ever done before. New channels will constantly be provided, new doors will open—all that is necessary is to have an open mind. Be ready to act when the time comes.
While Haanel does espouse that there is a Universal Mind and that this Infinite Intelligence works for us and guides us, he also nonetheless implores us to work and to earn our just rewards, not wait for them to manifest.
In my view, I don’t know if there is a Universal Mind. I don’t know if there is an Intelligence greater than mine at work. These are mysteries and their answers will vary from person to person. Some find God in their quest to answering these questions. Others find a cosmological harmony. And others will find different and varied ideas that will comfort them and assuage some fears that they have about existence.
What makes sense to me and what I’ve found to work 100% of the time it is tried is to view the Law of Attraction not as some mystical power nor as some pseudoscientific force, but as a psychological tool that guides and influences our actions.
Instead of “attracting” what we think about, which is dubious and generally unprovable, we move toward what we think about, which can be seen to happen every time we put it to a test.
If we see the world as full of opportunities and riches awaiting our taking, then we will find ourselves in those circumstances and we will be ready when those times come. If we view the world as dark with the chips stacked against us, then we will assuredly act accordingly.
On a smaller scale, if we hear “through the grapevine” that a person is mean and tough, when we meet that person with those preconceptions in mind we act accordingly. Our subconscious mind does its best to ensure that we act in such a way that we bring the “mean” out of the person. Thus, how do you think the situation would be different if we were told that the person was a nice person? Chances are likely that our actions would evince niceness from said person.
As Henry Ford stated so succinctly –
Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!
Or to quote Dr. Wolfe one more time –
In brief, people are attracted or repulsed by your behavior not your thoughts. Things are not. Stuff happens – good and bad – to all of us.
Life is confusing, sometimes scary, and at times difficult. To describe the workings of the Universe like it is often done today in movies and books – to aver that you can simply think and receive because the Universe is nothing more than a cosmic catalog awaiting your order – is not only silly, but debilitating and sometimes dangerous. It costs you not only the release of whatever reason you may have, but it also saps you of your time, money, and effort – all wasted on vain attempts to harness something that is not there.
Now, imagine what you would like to accomplish. Think big! Think grand! Visualize it in all its glory.
With that image in mind, set yourself to work. It will take hard work, effort, time, and persistence to attain what you desire, but rest assured that you can do it. You can do it because the power that you may be seeking is not “out there,” it’s not a cosmic consciousness capriciously granting gifts.
The power is within you awaiting you to use it.
Yes, it all does begin with a thought. Without taking that thought further, though, you will be left with nothing. The real secret is to take that thought and act upon it. When you do, even if you do not ultimately get what you were after, you will be far richer than you could have ever imagined.