Recently I got an email from a reader of this blog who was struggling with his studies and wanted to know if the law of attraction would help and if successful people I know followed it.
Part of the email;
If you don’t know about it, it means that when you want something, you should ask the universe for it, act as if you already have it, visualize acheiving it , believing that you have “manifested” your desires and then the universe will allow it to happen. All this crap tbh really confuses me. All this subconscious mind and all. Did any of this help you ? Or was it hard work ?
I answered the question a reply to this email, but I’d like to elaborate and explain it further in this blog post!
Do Successful People Follow the Law Of Attraction
The Law of Attraction, the secret, the power of positive thinking all of these ideas have gotten really popular over the past few years especially with the rise of “Positivity Culture”
I’ve spent a lot of times around people who completely believe in this ideas, the same way I have spent a lot of time with people who believe that they can heal someone else with “energy”.
For the past 3 years, I’ve spent a lot of time in hippie communities but at the same time also read a lot of books by what most people could call “rationalists”, why?
Because I saw that many of the hippie people I know used to get lost in their ideas or get stuck in them and never put them into practice.
I instead focused on how I could get the upside of the myth, belief, etc without having to face the downside.
Take Vipassana and Buddist thinking for example, one of the ideas put forward during my meditation teachings was that people have something called “Saṅkhāra”, in (extremely simplified) one sense of the word a Saṅkhāra is the baggage in your life, all your negative vices, feelings and thoughts which keep you in the cycle of being reborn instead of achieving nirvana.
Now, you don’t have to believe in reincarnation or enlightenment to understand that we all are stuck in cycles in life, whether it’s the rat race or addictions, etc, due to greed, lust, etc. And the person that comes out on the other side of any experience, isn’t the same person that went in.
You die every single year, month, day, hour and second, and are reborn as a new person due to the past experiences you have. And unless you deal with the baggage of the “older you” you will be stuck doing those things you’ve always done.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.
You don’t stop drinking, You kill the person that is addicted to alcohol and become someone who doesn’t drink.
Read: I Have Died Many Times — CGP Grey
Now how does this tie into the law of attraction and positive thinking?
Well, how does an over-rationalist hippie look at positive thinking?
Here are some facts about humans and human evolution
1. Humans are by default pessimistic
Not neutral as we’d hope. Why? Because in the past the people who were optimistic and said, “I don’t think there’s a lion” died, and the pessimistic who ran away survived.
Women who said that having a single child is enough ended up with none as the single child died. Redundancy was important.
It’s a good idea to be pessimistic and hope for the worst when the worst-case scenario was death.
However, now almost everyone reading this, rarely has “death” as the worst-case scenario in anything they do. It could be stuff like public humiliation, loss of status, money etc, almost never death. But our bodies and mind haven’t changed to adjust to that.
2. Being a little optimistic always helps you
Given the fact that you are by default negative, forcing yourself to be a little optimistic will help you, else you would never try anything new or succeed at anything.
Note: I said a little, irrational optimism isn’t a good thing.
- trying to deadlift 200kg when your previous max was 190kg is being optimistic.
- trying to deadlift 200kg when your previous max was 10kg is being irrational.
Given those 2 facts, I don’t believe in the law of attraction per se, however, following the law of attraction does help you be more positive and in turn, does help you try new things which makes the odds of you being successful higher.
So yes, I do focus on being rationally optimistic.
I assume I can do everything, deadlift 4x my body weight, get an 8 pack, become a millionaire, build the #1 travel blog in the world, etc, *optimism* however for each of those goals I know I have to sacrifice and put in the work (and sacrifice other goals)
Everything is possible but you must be willing to sacrifice for it and work.
Be positive, believe in the law of attraction or the secret, but then go do the thing required to make it a reality.
When Delusions are good
Believing a myth isn’t a bad thing as long as the downside isn’t that big.
Believing that chicken soup will cure your cold is a good idea instead of going to a doctor who’ll just pump you full of pill you don’t need.
Believing that buying a crystal from a hippie friend will cure your cancer may not be the best idea.
When I dropped out to travel the world 3 years ago, I positive that I could make money traveling and build a big business, what was my worst-case scenario? That I would have to go back to college and everyone would laugh at me.
The upside was definately worth it :)
If you go to the website of The law of attraction or the secret, you’ll see that they share all these “success stories”
You don’t get to see all the failures and all the people who bought both the books and followed them to the teeth and got nowhere because guess what those are not the stories that got shared.
As Naval would say,
There are no get rich quick schemes. That’s just someone else getting rich off you.
Lessons Learnt From Living Out Of A Backpack For 2 Years
Julian D'Costa says
I think one way thinking in terms of a law of attraction (fake it till you make it, etc) helps is that it reframes changes you want to make in terms of your identity, as opposed to brute-force application of willpower. For example, “No thanks, I’m not a smoker [anymore],” versus “No thanks, I’m trying to quit.” And identity-based changes require a lot less cognitive effort to make permanent than willpower based changes.
Nathan Warrington says
Would you agree that identity-based changes are an application of the 20/80 rule? Less effort for better results.