“Whatever a person's mind dwells on intensely and with firm resolve, that is exactly what he becomes.” - Shankaracharya
The Law of Attraction in new age thought states that like attracts like and your thoughts and feelings, positive or negative, attract corresponding experiences. This concept dates back to our earliest organized religions as in, “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,” Galatians 6:7, and as Buddha said, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.”
In our day, The Secret, catapulted this idea into the limelight. Author, Rhonda Byrne, claims quantum physics substantiates the idea that our thoughts create our reality and positive ideas bring forth positive experience while negative ones do the opposite.
This makes an incredible amount of sense and there’s plenty of science that does support the power of positive thought, gratitude and optimism generally on health and well being. In fact, your mind is so powerful, you can imagine a workout and build muscle. Recent Stanford University research shows we process negative and positive thoughts in different areas of our brains and furthermore complaining rewires your brain and shrinks the hippocampus.
But, in the opinion of many, The Law of Attraction as defined in books like The Secret, goes too far -- portraying the idea as a kind of positive imagery catalog ordering. Which makes a lot less sense.
Comedian, Dave Chappelle, put it perfectly in his imaginary conversation with Ms. Byrne: “Bitch, fly to Africa and tell starving children that shit. She would say, ‘You need to visualize some roast beef and gravy. Problem is you’ve got a bad attitude about starving to death.’”
Nobel physicist, Murray Gell-Mann, agrees and refers to her ideas -- in Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Bright Sided -- as "quantum flapdoodle." He goes on to explain that, in physics, theories that fuel Law of Attraction ideas apply to the operations of vastly small particles and their interactions with one another on a molecular level and also how measurement of said particles (think Schrodingers Cat) changes them.
So, while we can extrapolate many mysterious and wonderful things from these studies and conclude that we do not know the power of our mind as it interplays with the universe… what we should not extrapolate is that if only we can properly align our thoughts towards marrying George Clooney or living to 115, then it will happen.
But why not believe it? What’s the harm in buying in 100% to the idea that your positive thoughts will bring forth your positive reality? Because, bad things happen to good people, and bad things have happened to you, by no fault of your own. No one who died in 911 or the Holocaust is guilty of being too negative and conjuring the wrong energy in life. We can’t blame victims for the suffering of the world just because we don’t want to admit it could happen to us.
All that said, our minds hold great power and our thoughts do deeply and potently influence our immediate reality. This is because so much of our reality is our perception and this lies solely in the mind. Perception can turn negative circumstance into positive result. That’s the real secret. Not that you can avoid all these harsh chaotic realities, but that you create your personal reality in and against these things. You create the perception, value and purpose of your life with your daily thoughts and intentions.
As positive psychology coach and TedX speaker, Dr. Colleen Georges, believes, we can all re-script our inner voice and thoughts to influence own futures and daily behaviors. Ultimately, it’s about the intention you bring to your daily life. This is why, this is how, we create our reality.
As Annie Dillard says, “How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives.”