Thoughts may bring you things, but not without action.
By now, we’re probably all familiar with the Law of Attraction: One of the so-called Universal Laws which more or less states that what we think about, we bring about. First discussed at length in Prentice Mulford’s essay, The Laws of Success, and then popularized by Napoleon Hill’s 1937 Think and Grow Rich (one of the top-selling books of all time), and further touted by Louise Hay, and finally, memorialized in the 2006 film, The Secret.
That long-winded sentence doesn’t even begin to touch on just how widespread the Law of Attraction is. Manifestation, another word for the Law of Attraction, is a hot topic all over social media: There are manifestation coaches on Instagram, manifestation how-to’s on most major blog-style sites (probably even this one), manifestation retreats, crystals, necklaces, oils, ebooks, and so on and so forth.
Many teachers and gurus of manifestation principles insist that the idea of attracting like energy isn’t woo woo or even spiritual; it’s science. They propose that manifestation is related to quantum physics — the study of nature at the atomic level (the smallest level of energy).
The connection between manifestation and quantum physics is the idea that the more people watching a beam of electrons, “the greater the influence on what takes place” with said electrons. Translated into manifestation concepts — the more energy directed towards something, the more control there is over the outcome.
This is all well and good. Exciting, even. The work taking place at CERN, an organization for particle research located in Switzerland, is extremely important. Quantum physics is important. There is so much scientists have yet to discover, and it’s exciting.
But here’s what’s no good to anyone: Hoping and dreaming that we may use manifestation to get rich, get well, or get a spouse.
That’s not based in quantum physics. To be clear, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with positive thinking; it’s been shown in numerous studies to accelerate a patients rate of recovery, and it was once considered pseudoscience. Obviously, we have much to learn.
But the way the Law of Attraction is being presented to many young, impressionable people, is that if you only think hard enough that you’ll receive something, the Universe will hand it to you, dropping it right into your lap.
This is dangerous, and very, very wrong. It promotes the idea that it only takes meditation time to change the course of our lives and turn us into billionaires with doting husbands or wives. That if we just wear wealth-producing crystal bracelets, all of our dreams will come true. That if we simply dump five-figures onto our credit cards for manifestation teachings, we will be the next Oprah. That if we have a negative thought, and this is where it gets really scary, we may bring disease or poverty into our life.
The path to failure is riddled with people who really, truly believed they would be successful, and weren’t. As many people as we see who are successful in the world touting the benefits of the Law of Attraction, there are even more who aren’t.
It’s also just as full of people who had doubts about their talent, and became successful.
The reality is, most of us believe we will do something great in life, and most of us have doubts. This is normal. Human.
But the problem here is that the way we define great is irrational. Even Marcus Aurelius, one of the most famous Roman emperors to ever live, knew there was power to our thoughts, but not in the way we are distorting it to be. As he stated in his Meditations:
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself in your way of thinking.
So, two things here:
- If you aspire to greatness, you must do more than just think you will be great. You must take action. Oprah and Deepak, two proponents of the Law of Attraction, didn’t sit on their ass while fame and fortune was handed to them on a silver platter. They took inspired action that moved far beyond shelling out thousands of dollars for a course on manifestation, or stating on their Instagram that they believe in the Law of Attraction.
- Greatness comes in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t take millions to be happy. Beyond a certain income level (around $75,000), an increase in income does not correlate to an increase in happiness. Gratitude can go a long way in our desire to achieve success.
None of this is is to say that the Law of Attraction is bogus. Instead, it’s a gentle reminder (a Universal sign, if you will) that to make your dreams come true (write a book, get a promotion, find a spouse, whatever), you must also put in the work. Positive thoughts and having a plan of action to get to where you want to go are both good things.
Simply having an idea in your mind of what your success will look like is not enough.
Instead, have an idea of how you’re going to get there. Don’t spend all of your time daydreaming. Instead, quietly put in the work. Don’t drive yourself into debt with manifestation courses or crystals or oils or sprays. Instead, put money into what you want to build. Don’t just read articles or books by famous celebrities that tout the Law of Attraction; read biographies that detail the work famous people put in to being famous and successful.