Testing The Law Of Attraction

In recent years, several aspects of new age philosophy have permeated the mainstream, with such popular films as The Secret (2006) and What The Bleep Do We Know? (2004).  I feel that the most influential idea of these films is the Law of Attraction, a notion that we draw to ourselves that which we are thinking about.  If we focus on negativity, we will draw more of it into our lives, the hypothesis goes.  For instance, if we fixate on our fears of being late to work, or of a particular co- worker’s harassment, we’re likely to manifest more of the same.  In What The Bleep, quantum physics is used to explain, over a flashy techno soundtrack, how individual and group consciousness can affect reality.  Could this be possible?  Simply by focusing on our desires, could we draw them to ourselves?  Do we truly create  our own reality, every day, from the power of our thoughts?

Ideas like this are appealing for one very obvious reason.  People commonly feel a loss of control over their lives, as if things just happen to them.  They keep winding up in the same sorts of relationships, ending up in the same dead end jobs, suffering from the same problems.  It’s empowering to consider the idea that we can change all of this with the power of our thoughts, and little else. 

To an extent, it is logical to assume we have some control over our lives and can exert that power through a sort of thought- shaping.  As expressed in The Dhammapada, the Sayings of the Buddha:

“We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unbreakable.”

I feel this is a sensible assertion, because one who is focusing on grievances against the world is likely to attract more negativity and more unpleasantness.  It’s obvious why this would work on a smaller scale.  Surely acting cheerful, businesslike, or angry will cause others to respond to you accordingly.  That’s not magic, but simply the ability of human beings to respond to social cues.  And yet, how far are we to take this notion?  Could this whole idea work on a much larger scale, granting us our heart’s desires, as claimed in The Secret, purely by focusing our attention?

On the one hand, believing that this is true would seem at least slightly delusional.  It is essentially magical thinking, which, in anthropology, psychology, and cognitive science is “nonscientific causal reasoning that often includes such ideas as the ability of the mind to affect the physical world, and correlation mistaken for causation.”  It’s been my experience that cultivating such misguided thinking is a very detrimental habit.

Testing this hypothesis is also incredibly difficult.  It’s absolutely true that most people go about their lives in a relatively unfocused state.  In attempting to test the Law of Attraction, I found it very difficult to focus intensively on a mental picture of what I wanted to attract.  In trying to do so, I rediscovered the importance of ritual.  Through ritual’s symbolic acts, a person can work their desire into their consciousness and really focus on it intently for a period of time.  If you want a new house, for instance, make a cardboard model of it and view it nightly in some sort of ceremony.  Whether you want to lose weight, conceive a child, find friends in your new neighborhood, or achieve a promotion at work, a symbolic act would allow you to better focus your attentions, your “energy”, if you will, on that goal.  Such is the premise behind spellwork and magic as it continues into the modern age.  The Secret recommends that you create a “vision board” for your goals.  This is a collage comprised of pictures representing what you would like to draw into your life, which would then serve as a focal point for your efforts.

It’s clear that ritual and ceremony can help us to clarify a mental picture of what we wish to attract to ourselves.  And yet, after doing so, could we safely believe that our action had manifested our desire?  As you can imagine, it’s very difficult to tell. 

And so, I ask my readers, how would you test this hypothesis?

Soahki is a contributing writer for projectgroupthink.wordpress.com. Get instant updates for this blog via Twitter: PGTblog.



Filed under philosophy, science

6 responses to “Testing The Law Of Attraction

  1. Angela

    Hi there, I am new to word press and became immediately drawn in by this.

    I do want to say that this is very well written, easy to understand, and I enjoyed it, very much. ;)

    I have been wondering a lot of the same for a few years now, and I am just as interested in how this can be “tested”. Because the thought of thoughts and energies contributing to what you draw into your life all *feels* right to some extent- yet, there feels like there is so much more to it to uncover.

    Thank you ;)

  2. KevinKMJr

    Excuse my vulgarness, but I have spent many a night with my thoughts focused on a very well shaped blond and her friends, and this reality has never drawn itself to me.

    There is much truth, however, that a strong focus can deliver results. This focus must be more than mental, however. We must both think and act towards our goals. Focusing on winning the Powerball with every iota of my willpower will earn me a 0% chance of winning the Powerball. Why? Because I never physically went out and played the Powerball.

    Some time ago, I got tired of being the worker bee. I spent the first couple of these years being irritated that I was considered to be little more than a drone and wasn’t picked to be a leader. One day it dawned on me that all of these people that were passing me by weren’t coasting by me on auto-pilot, they were actively navigating their course. I then turned my desire to advance into action. I began working more and complaining less. I moved on to not desire to randomly be handed leadership roles, but to actively lead in the capacity that was available to me and earn better leadership roles. I forget who said it to me, but the work ethics are simple.

    “Perform and dress for the position that you want, not the position that you currently hold.”

    This holds true not just in the work place, but in almost all aspects of our lives. Had I chosen to get in shape, become more more confident, become more extroverted, and more of a ladies man, then I just may have gotten my chance with a very well shaped blond and her friends

  3. soahki

    “Perform and dress for the position that you want, not the position that you currently hold.”

    I never heard this saying before, but I see how it’s definitely applicable to all of these types of situations. It combines the effects of “thinking like a winner” with taking subtle, ambitious action to enhance your image and to gradually shift the way people see you.

    I agree that one must think AND act towards one’s goals. Clearly, you’re not going to win the Powerball if you never actually play. Thanks for contributing that point!

  4. merkaba33

    How to test the law of attraction:

    1) Decide what you want to attract. Make a list. Divide the list into three sections goals your going to use LOA on, goals your going to go after with just action and LOA, and goals you will do nothing with. Do your best to weight each section with equal difficulty and payoff. (Goals you equally would like to have and equally present some challenges).

    2) Focus on your LOA goals daily. Visualize them; use vision boards. Say affirmations. Journal about them. AND as KevinKMJr pointed out, ACT on them. This is the unspoken part of LOA that some people miss. I think it was Neale Donald Walsch who wrote that creating your world is done at three levels: Thoughts, Words, and Actions.

    3) Do not focus on your action only goals at all, but attempt to fulfill them through \”conventional\” means. Take action steps towards them, or whatever you would normally do to try and get something you want.

    4) Do nothing with the goals in the remaining section.

    5) After 5 months, (or however long you feel like conducting the experiement), observe the results.

  5. soahki

    Sorry it took me so long to reply to your post, Merkaba. Thanks for your suggestions on how to methodically test the law of attraction. It’s interesting that you thought to include a “control” group of action- only goals. I agree, this should be helpful.

  6. In my personal experience with vision boards, I had so many positive results that I know for a fact that my visualisation had a great impact in the life I’m living right now! I try and test every new technique I learn to know if it changes something for me. Read my blog to learn more.

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