Someone asked me last week what I thought about the Law of Attraction. In case you’ve been hiding under a (large) rock, the Law of Attraction is the notion that the universe manifests in your life whatever you think. OK, that’s my definition. Positive thinking guru Louise Hay puts it this way. The law of attraction is that our thinking creates and brings to us whatever we think about. It’s as though every time we think a thought, every time we speak a word, the universe is listening and responding to us. An article titled How to Use the Law of Attraction on wikihow.com gives seven steps to manifest what you want in your life. The steps include meditation, knowing precisely what you want, asking the universe for what you want, visualizing and writing about what you want as if you already have it, showing gratitude for what you already have and trusting the universe. If you’ve been coming around here for a while, you know that I’ve written about each of these, although I usually speak of a Higher Power or God instead of the universe. Then there’s the kicker: Let the Universe do it for you. When you take the Universe’s job of worrying about the “how”, this says you’re lacking faith and that you’re telling the Universe what to do when the Universe has far greater knowledge and power than human mankind.
To that, I say, Bullshit. Quite honestly, it astonishes … and worries … me that upon Googling the Law of Attraction, it was so hard to find commentaries saying challenging the Law of Attraction. Of course, that is the glory of online marketing … those making money on such nonsense can manipulate higher rankings from search engines, so that you have to dig through pages to find meaningful discussion. However, if you Google The Law of Attraction is Bullshit, you’ll find plenty of articles. One of the best was on Psychology Today by Jenna Baddeley, The Law of Attraction: Science, Faith, and the Cult of Positive Thought. In it she talks about the psychological necessity of dealing with the dark side, emotions like pain, sadness and grieving, the sort of negative thinking that the Law of Attraction claims to bring more of the same into your life. Acting as if is one thing, denial is another. Baddeley also criticizes the pseudo-scientific causality of the Law, as well as its escape clause: If you don’t get what you envision, it’s because you haven’t been clear or doubtless in your visualizations. Bullshit.
At seventy years old, I have had, for the most part, a charmed life but there are certainly pockets where things are not as I’d have them. I have had a very successful … and enjoyable … career that made us financially secure if not rich. I have a forty-six year marriage to the best woman in the world for me. The truth is, I always believed I would be successful and have a good marriage, to which Law of Attraction apologists might say, See? You had a positive attitude about career and marriage so the universe gave them to you. But that would denigrate the years of schooling necessary to be an expert in my field or the work Muri and I put in to have the marriage we have. Then there are those pockets of dysfunction. I try to be optimistic and Law of Attraction apologists will probably say that’s my problem … I have doubts. In those areas of my life, I often say, Let Go and Let God, and I know some people who think that’s all there is to it. To me, Let Go and Let God is a statement of acceptance with the knowledge that God … unlike the Law of Attraction’s universe … isn’t under my control. God can say, Yes, no or maybe. And I need to do my part, turning the outcome over to God. I’ve always preferred the old Bedouin proverb: Trust God but tie your camel to a tree. Because visualizing Elmer (that’s a good camel name, don’t you think?) staying put … even with no doubts at all … won’t keep him from running off with the lady camel in the next encampment.
It’s easy for successful people to talk about the Law of Attraction, particularly if it’s making them lots of money. What do you have to lose if all you really need is more? Meditation, knowing what you want, and visualization techniques to help you believe in your dream are useful. Letting go to a Higher Power, whether you call it God or the universe can be a good thing. But promulgating the idea that you can stop and wait once you’ve done that footwork is nonsense , destructive to exactly those people who need to realize that action is essential for success. Anyway, that’s what I think. How about you?