The Law of Attraction
The Law of Attraction is the simple idea that you attract into your life whatever you focus on. The mind is so powerful, according to this law, that it can take whatever we are thinking about and manifest those ideas into reality. Thus, if you have positive thoughts, good things will come to you, but if you focus on doom and gloom, negative emotion and events will cloud your life.
The corollary to this law is that if your life is not all that you would like, if you are enmeshed in disease, unhappiness, or bad luck, it is your own fault. If you would just think more positive thoughts, the Universe would banish those things and give you all the wonderful things you imagine for yourself. (“The Universe” in this thinking is an intelligence that monitors our thoughts and metes out success and failure based on those thoughts and the accompanying emotions.)
Although many descriptions of this law suggest it has ancient precedents going back to the time of Buddha, Plato, or even earlier, this law is actually a part of a movement known at the New Thought tradition. This religious philosophy grew out of the teachings of Phineas Quimby (1802–1866) in the 19th century. Quimby developed a new theory of mind over the body that included the idea that illness or bad luck are the products of negative thoughts and ideas. By replacing those negative thoughts with positive ones, he believed an individual could change their life for the better, manifesting health, happiness, and general good luck.
This religious philosophy spawned such well-known books as Think and Grow Rich, The Power of Positive Thinking, and You Can Heal Your Life as well as the popular film The Secret (2006) along with a sequel, The Power (2010) and all many books and websites. (Someday I may do a series of posts delving more deeply into New Thought and its background and its relationship to such modern traditions as the Jehovah Witnesses, Unity Church, Nation of Islam, contemporary Paganism, and various New Age movements.)
Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative
Many people attribute successes in their life to this law. By eliminating negative thoughts and ideas and focusing on the marvellous things they really want, they believe they have been able to enhance the quality of their lives, found new or better jobs, eliminated crippling debt, healed chronic diseases.
The Law of Attraction has always required a certain amount of magical thinking. In addition, it also helps to begin with a certain level of privilege. We are all born with certain advantages and limitations, and no amount of positive or negative thinking will change that. No matter how much I love basketball, there is no amount of positive thinking that will catapult me into NBA. My age, my gender, and, perhaps most importantly, my height all present insurmountable obstacles. I might be able to focus my love of the sport into something beneficial for myself and others, but it is extremely unlikely that I could become one of its star athletes.
Ugly Side of This
The ugly underside of this belief is the idea that anyone who doesn’t have the privileges of a good life, people who live in poverty without proper food, shelter, safety, those who are subjected to chronic diseases or poor health care are responsible for their own situation. They are poor, or sick, or otherwise handicapped because they didn’t focus the minds properly. If they would release their negative mindset, they could reverse their misfortunes and gain all the advantages of the wealthier and healthier they see around them. If the Law of Attraction doesn’t work, it is because the individual wanted the wrong thing or didn’t really want the thing they are wishing for, or in some other way didn’t do it right. This is just wrong and encourages those of us who are privileged to accuse the less privileged as unworthy of our help because of their “negativity.”
For the most part, believing in this law may be harmless. However, in today’s virus-infected world, some people think focusing on the keeping up with the health news and engaging in the recommended precautions are forms of negative thinking. They think positive thinking will attract or maintain health without the inconvenience of social distancing and mask-wearing. In this, they put the rest of us at risk.
Changing Your Life
I am not suggesting people can’t change their life circumstances. The intense desire for a change can often be the engine powering that change. We all know people who have overcome overwhelming odds to improve their own lives or those of others. But usually work is required and sometimes the work is not enough. We seldom hear about those whose intense desire was thwarted, perhaps by circumstances beyond their control.
What do you think? Do you find the Law of Attraction interesting? Have you used its principles to enact change in your life? What would you say to someone for whom positive thinking and powerful desire has not been enough?
Join Dr Mary Ann’s Academy to receive free periodic emails about my newest projects and get a copy of Dr Mary Ann’s Commonplace Book: https://us15.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=18401eb0914061730c3e330e7&id=d924af200b