The Law of Attraction: How to Think About Motivational Philosophies
edited: Thursday, February 14, 2008
By Jeff Brown
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2008
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The Law of Attraction Fraction Faction: How to Think About Motivational Philosophies.
What is the law of attraction fraction faction? Or who? Well, maybe it's you, it's certainly me and some others. There are a number of people or a small fraction of those who know of the law of attraction who don't believe, or at least believe the philosophy or how it is presented in The Secret-incomplete, misspoken, and mis-qualified.
Now, don't get me wrong. I think the general philosophy behind the law of attraction is great. The fact that you attract that which you transmit. This is nothing new, as The Secret tells you. I'm not aware of it being evident in antiquity, but in recent history, Napoleon Hill in his famous book Think and Grow Rich, calls it specifically "the secret." We can even look at Carl Jung and his theory of synchronicity or two casually unrelated events that occur in a meaningful manor is law-of-attraction like. For example, you speak of someone you haven't seen for some time to friends while out to dinner and as you do so that friend walks through the door. Basically, this is the law of thought vibration or thoughts being sent out that have influence, once again, something Napoleon Hill speaks of. Let's have the man himself explain: "thoughts which are mixed with any of the feelings of emotions, constitute a magnetic' force which attracts, form the vibrations of the either, other similar, or related thoughts" (emphasis added). In the last phase we can see the law of attraction and theory of synchronicity. But I digress.
Now the law of attraction in its simplest form is nothing we haven't all observed. To a great degree, if you head is full of negative thoughts or emotion they become manifest and remain until our thoughts change. Meaning, that we have days that begin bad and stay bad until we turn it around or enough time passes and we get over it. And it's a great idea to train ourselves to think positively. To not think or speak lesser thoughts or destructive thoughts: gossip, lie, complain, belittle others, and so on.
All of this is not the problem. The problem lies in The Secret the viewer is told that the law of attraction works all the time, every time. I have often told my students that in order to be good critical thinkers you want to generally avoid such words as "always" and "never," for both seldom occur. I understand why my students put them in their papers: to sell their idea. Enough said.
Let's continue with a few examples that might enlighten.
Who are some of the most positive thinking, strong minded, kind, giving people who have ever lived. Jesus Christ's message was of pure love or charitable love, perfect love. And even though he did oppose dominant beliefs to some degree, his was a message of an unrelenting, positive nature, of course. Nevertheless, he was ultimately put to death for his thoughts and emotions. Did he attract death? And what of Martin Luther King? One of the most progressive, selfless, giving, intelligent, peaceful men for an all inclusive, positive change. Did he attract his death? Why were these attract negative action, thought, word and deed while thinking and speaking positively?
I know, these men may be seen as the exception, exceptional men in exceptional circumstances. Then let's look to the more common man or woman. According to W.A.S.H. (Women and Men Against Harassment and Other Abuses) 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18. * I concur. In my dating years, roughly 20% of the women I dated spoke of being sexually abused. There may have been others who never told me or I didn't get to know well enough for them to mention it or me to become aware of the possibility through their actions. Now, according to the law of attraction, did these boys and girls attract their fate? Were they of a mature enough mind to understand what was happening never mind be aware of or understand any supposed law of attraction? And maybe the theory doesn't include people under 19. But if this is true , then as any critical thinker knows, this must be qualified and mentioned so that those interested in applying or utilizing the law know of its limitations.
A point of note is that we must be careful when we use the words "always" and "never." Does the law of attraction work? Yes. Does it work all the time without qualification? No. Anyone who knows complex systems, such as that of human beings, knows that there is often if not always more than one answer. Why did the young men at Columbine High School commit murders? We may never know the whole answer, for there are experts still studying human influence and response. We can speculate and do so with some accuracy but we can not rule out other possibilities with such complex creatures as you and I.
Now many have said that The Secret is dangerous for its purporting the law of attraction as absolute. I say otherwise. The danger lies in the general public not being educated enough or given proper tools to think thoroughly, rationally, rigorously. Another reason why our educational system needs to be revamped. But that is a topic for another book: Education is a Waste of Time (coming out the end of 2008).
Once again, I am not a naysayer when it comes to positive thinking or principles that rely on faith-belief in things not seen-I have used faith based principles quite successfully in my life. For example, being able to find some place or something based on powers that reside outside of humankind. But we need to be intelligent in knowing that very few things in life always or never occur. Just like the woman who lifts the car to free her baby who is trapped, these exterior abilities are used on an as-need basis. If they are abused or seen as an end all and a cure all, or believing that the woman can lift the car whenever she wants, this is when we run into trouble. Failure, as the exceptional and average person alike knows, is an important factor in our ongoing education. It serves a purpose to not always have things go our way.
"Success is sweet and sweeter if long delayed and gotten through many struggles and defeats."-- Amos Bronson Alcott
"Obstacles are necessary for success because in selling, as in all careers of importance, victory comes only after many struggles and countless defeats. Yet, each struggle, each defeat, sharpens your skills and strengths, your courage and your endurance, your ability and your confidence and thus each obstacle is a comrade-in-arms forcing you to become better or quit. Each rebuff is an opportunity to move forward. Turn away from them, avoid them, and you throw away your future."-- Og Mandino
To always have something go your way defeats a very important universal principle of learning, learning through experience, failure, and return to effort. Look at athletes or successful teams who win a tournament, championship, a conference or division and can't muster the ability to win again, so they learn, make the adjustment and win, or if they adjust poorly they lose. Winning and losing have their important lessons, and we can't have one without the other. As we grow through this combination, we acquire knowledge, understanding, and then hopefully compassion enough to pass our understanding on to others so that they stumble less.
In summary, we must look to all forms of "truth" and examine them with a clear and open mind. We must study our surroundings to be aware of what is going on about us and at the same time not let our emotions, wants, needs or desperate desires sway us from the truth that resides in all of us. We were born with a truth-o-meter, or truth diving rod that tells us when we are being lied to. It doesn't just come on at will. We have to work at, first, having faith in its existence, and two, that it will work for us. We will never be perfect in our ability to discern, but with time and effort we will strengthen and improve our abilities to solve our own problems in regards to whether what we hear is truth or lies.
* 3,000,000 cases of child abuse are reported each year. T he average age of children in all child-abuse reports is 7.2, the average age of fatalities from child abuse is 2.6.