The Law of Attraction – The Real Thing or A Lot of Hooey?

Have you read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne? It is a best-selling self-help book written in 2006, based on the law of attraction. It’s premise is its claim that positive thinking can create life-changing results such as increased wealth, health, and happiness.

I haven’t read it, but there was quite a lot of controversy swirling around this book. Some thought the ideas were bunk. Others called it pseudoscience. Still others claimed it to be a manipulative marketing tool.

If you’ve read it, I’d love to know your opinion.

You’ve guessed by now that this isn’t a book review, right?

The reason I’ve brought up the topic of this book is that I’ve believed in the law of attraction most of my adult life. Why?

It works for me.

law of attraction

I find more often than not, people are positive thinkers. I think I inherited my optimism and positivity from my mother. She never sees the glass half empty.

The Law of Attraction is more than positive thinking, though.

The idea that “like attracts like” was conceived long before the book, The Secret, was written.

It’s earliest manifestation was likely religious beliefs. ‘Pray to God to receive his grace and everything you need’, for example. Prayer is a form of mediation–focused concentration on a particular thought. Thousands of stories of miracles ‘prove’ the power of prayer and positive thought.

In the early 19th century, The New Thought movement began. According to Wikipedia, “adherents of New Thought believe that “God” or “Infinite Intelligence” is “supreme, universal, and everlasting”, that divinity dwells within each person,…and that “our mental states are carried forward into manifestation and become our experience in daily living”.

One influencer in the New Thought Movement, claimed that thought precedes physical form and that “the action of Mind plants that nucleus which, if allowed to grow undisturbed, will eventually attract to itself all the conditions necessary for its manifestation in outward visible form.”

What do you think about this concept?

I have two life-changing examples to share with you.

About 15 years ago, my then husband lost his business and, consequently, we lost everything, except our family and our belief that things would work out, somehow. In order to raise money to move cross-country for my husband’s new job, I had the biggest garage sale of my life. I had been holding very successful garage sales for many years and hoped this time would be no different.

The first weekend I chose was perfect weather, but in two days I had 5 customers who spent a total of $20. I planned to hold the sale again the following weekend. All week I focused on what we needed — to sell everything we could part with to raise enough money to move and to buy groceries that week, too. I made a list (no surprise there!) of all of our expenses and of every item I needed to sell. I read the list every night before sleep and fell asleep imagining my garage and my house empty of all that was for sale. No sales at all on the 2nd weekend, not even a friend or family member came by.

3rd weekend. It poured rain.  Buckets. I sat there anyway, garage door up and snuggled into a warm jacket–focusing all the while on what we needed. Hours went by and not even a car drove down the street. At 3 pm, I was chilled from the dampness and ready to close the door til the following weekend. The rain let up a little and, from across the street, a neighbor I’d never met ran toward me carrying her umbrella. I stood to greet her and thanked her for coming over.

Over coffee, she asked why I was selling so much. I gave her the short version of our plight as she looked around at my offerings. It turned out that her son was in the process of moving out of her house and into his own, but had nothing but his clothes to take with him. I brought her into the house to see what furniture I had for sale. Two hours later she was hugging me and offering to do whatever she could to help, then she ran home through the rain. I stood there in awe and holding $2000 in cash. This angel of a friend helped me a few more times before and after we moved away.

You can call this coincidence, but I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe the power of visualization and positive focus, letting no negativity into my thoughts, were responsible.

law of attraction

Several years later, I was a single mother trying to support my two kids alone. I managed financially, but emotionally I was having a difficult time. I was so damn lonely. I joined a club, started going to church again, smiled and tried to appear outgoing whenever I was out on my own.

Finally, I screwed up the courage to try online dating. That was an experience for another blog post. Suffice it to say, it was fruitless.

I joined a group for folks over 50 online and had a great time making friends. This wasn’t a dating site, but a place to meet people all over the world for online conversations and to travel together.

To shorten what could easily be a very long story, I’ll jump to the good part. I met a man from California (I live in New York). We’d talked on the phone for several weeks, then he decided to fly out to meet me. He was with me for 24 hours. When he landed in California he called to say he wanted to be just friends because, if this went any further, one of us would have to move across the country. He didn’t want to come east and didn’t feel it was fair to ask me to go west. I was very hurt and gave up any hope of ever having a relationship.

For the next few months, I did a lot of soul-searching and realized I was satisfied with my life for the most part. Yes, I was lonely for the company of a good man, but I had some great friends, a good job and wonderful kids.  I started going to a gym where my son acted as my trainer, I read more, I painted, I started a website. My life was filling up with things that made me happy.

I came to realize that I would be okay if I never met a man and fell in love again. I could manage to make a good life without a man in it.

I felt refreshed and more enthusiastic about what may lie ahead for me.  I had regained my optimism. I still wanted a relationship so I made a list (!) with 100 requirements for my perfect man. My list covered everything from being honest to not wearing socks with sandals. I read that list every night. I began to have dreams about this man. Whenever I wasn’t happily busy with all my activities, I visualized my life with this man.

Two months later, I met him. He found me online, we spoke on the phone for three consecutive nights. He lived 2 1/2 hours away, but he wanted to take me to dinner. I finally knew what the term “soulmate” meant. He surely is that. We married two years exactly after our first phone conversation. He met every single on of the 100 requirements on my list.

My visualization, my positive focus, worked. Be aware that a negative focus is just as powerful.

Click here for more description of the law of attraction from life coach, Martha Beck.

I invite you to dish it up in the comments. Do you believe in the power of thought? Do you think it’s all just coincidence? Is it all just a little to Woo-Woo for you?

(Disclaimer: This is my opinion based on my experiences and those of people close to me. In no way am I attempting to sway the beliefs of any reader, but hope to instigate a healthy discussion.)

Don’t forget to stop over at the Life List Club today. The lovely Sonia Medeiros is posting today –go see what she has to say about wasting time.

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40 thoughts on “The Law of Attraction – The Real Thing or A Lot of Hooey?

  1. Pingback: One Life Alteration – Positive or Negative Effect? | Marcia Richards

  2. “The Secret” exposed lots of people to the basic of the Law of Attraction but it downplayed the hard work that is needed to make things happen. If you don’t put your desires out into the world (that is, ask), then it is much more difficult (although not impossible) to receive, but thinking things into existence is not really how it works. Change is indeed possible if we put our mind to it. It is amazing what can happen we really set our mind to something and put in the hard work. I continue to be impressed by the power of the universal message of the “New Thought” teachers of the last 100 years, and the relevance of their ideas today. I always go back to William Walker Atkinson’s book “Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World” when I need a reminder of the power of “mind” and an explanation of how the Law of Attraction REALLY works. Check out the new updated gender neutral edition at http://www.hudsonmohawkpress.com

  3. What a wonderful testament to your faith and strong-mindedness, Marcia! I am so glad you had those revelations, and that it turned out for the best. You are an impressively determined lady.

    One thing I’ve noticed that helps when I feel low or am losing hope is to step outside myself. When I focus on being the best friend/helpful acquaintance/kindest stranger I can be to others, and they respond, that makes me happy, and I know I’m making a difference and spreading the love. Then I start to feel that positivity flowing again.

    Just my take on it – I’m not as methodical about this process as you are!

    • Thanks, Kathy! I think we all find what works for us and no one method is better than another. You’re right, walking away from your own issues to help someone else does give you a chance to clear your head of the negative and get positive again!

  4. My oldest sister is an NLP coach, Marcia, and while she doesn’t talk about the law of attraction, she does talk about visualization. I’ve worked with her a few times but she lives several hours away from me. And I believe in it, totally, absolutely. But wow, I love your stories about how it worked for you. Awesome! And I’m with you on the positivity. I inherited it from both my parents. 🙂

  5. Yes, yes, yes. I have many stories how LOA has served me well, but it has taken a long time for me to really, really “get it.” I’ve had many blocks that I’ve been able to work through, so manifestation is quicker these days. Great post, Marcia!

    • Thanks, Diana! It took me awhile to ‘get it’ too. Other experiences earlier than the ones I’ve mentioned here, came out well due to positivity and focus, but I didn’t realize at the time that that was the reason. So glad you came by.

  6. I read The Secret and I do believe that like attracts like but the Believing part is the hardest. You must believe you are going have money, believe your are going to meet your soulmate etc etc in order for it to happen. I think people feel bad then when they can’t 100% believe.

    • I didn’t think to myself that ‘I know I’ll meet the right man.’ I put my wishes on paper and hoped he would come to me one day, but if he didn’t, I’d be okay with that. When you’re in a good place in your head, with or without your wish, that’s when things happen. At least that my experience. I feel badly for those who lose heart in the process. I firmly believe it won’t work if you have any negative thoughts about your wish.

  7. I haven’t read The Secret, but the philosophy behind it sounds interesting. Especially your examples of positivity and focus. I am very like minded in that when you accept something and move forward, that’s when something wonderful comes along. What you didn’t highlight in your story is just how much work and focus you truly exemplified. In either situation, Marcia, you’re the inspiration! You didn’t give up, you kept positive, you made your list 😉 and you weren’t willing to deviate from the important things. I’m so pleased and honored to know you, Lady!

  8. I believe in the law of attraction, always have 🙂 When I concentrate my inner energy on something that I want to happen, it always does. But not right away – I need to spend a lot of time visualizing, praying and believing, but that time and effort always pays off.

    I’m so happy for you, dear Marcia. Finding a true soul mate in life is rare and very special.

  9. I’m convinced that this very power is what brought me to you today. I’ve been working with this, researching it, learning so much from so many teachers lately – and now I have your proof of its validity to add to my reasons why it’s worth believing in! Thank you for sharing your stories.

  10. Marcia,
    Love your story about the life of an online dater. Creating that list of wants and ideals about the man who you wanted in your life is so helpful. Of course, you know that… you’re living proof.
    I believe that when we put our focused energy towards a goal, create an understanding of what we need to do and then take positive steps that we are going to become successful.
    The problem for me with The Secret and The Laws of Attraction is that the hype and overpraising has turned the ideas into something very commercial. But clearly the ability to focus on the positive, as you say, can do wonders.

    • I’m with you on how simple ideas and truths are commercialized diluting their effect on people who could be helped. I so appreciate you stopping by and commenting today! Thanks!

  11. I watched “The Secret” after a friend raved about it, and all I could think was, “duh.” The idea that we attract what we radiate seems so practical to me—and, I’m sure, many others. If we’re mean and grouchy, we can’t expect kind, wonderfulness in return. So I guess I agree with you and Christopher. 🙂

    I have to say, many of the people I’ve known to follow the book/movie’s philosophies to a tee seemed to lose enthusiasm quickly and move onto the next self-help/how-to thing. Any book or philosophy that helps us view ourselves, goals and dreams in a positive light and make efforts toward them, I say yeah-hoo! But I also think it’s important to not give too much credit to the guides. The work and belief comes down to us. Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    • Like Diana said, it can take time to ‘get it’. Sometimes a simple concept just doesn’t occur for someone until they read about it. Others have always ‘gotten it’.
      I agree that it’s up to us to apply the philosophy to our own lives. Whatever philosophy we choose to follow, it isn’t an instant fix for whatever ails you. We have to work at it. Again, some just don’t get it. Thanks so much for your perspective, August!

  12. What lovely stories, Marcia! I sort of read The Secret, but it got a little repetitive so I only made it halfway then I skimmed the rest. BUT I totally believe in its message. I’m all about positive and fully think that what you put out there to the universe will come back to you.

    I’m so glad you found your soulmate. We all have one out there, it’s having the patience to find them or have them find us.

  13. Sorry I have been absent…busy, then sick and now catching up…I believe wholeheartedly in this power…no coincidences for me…you have to use positive affirmations that will clear the way for what you need when you are ready to receive it.

    • You are so right, Donna! I’m sorry you’ve been sick. Can’t wait til you can retire–you’ll feel so much better! Thanks for being here!

  14. I agree with Karensdifferentcorners. Belief + action is what brings us our desires. I felt that Rhonda Byrne’s book didn’t emphasize the action part of the equation nearly enough. If you hadn’t had the garage sale, you wouldn’t have made the money you needed.
    Positive thought is critical, but you have to be willing to create your opportunities or take advantage of the ones that come your way.

    • Deepok Chopra says there are no coincidences and I believe that, too. We make our own happiness and we have to be aware enough to recognize an opportunity when it arises, as you said.
      I’d bet the reason action wasn’t big in that book is because many who read self-help books are looking for an easy fix for their problem. They really don’t want to do the work. Hence, leave out the part about having to do the work and you have book buyers–albeit disappointed ones when they didn’t get everything they wanted.
      Thanks Diana, for sharing your take on this!

      • Marcia, do you read Mike Dooley or Esther Hicks/Abe? Esther’s books, I think spell this out in better detail than The Secret. In fact, that and Seth Speaks were the jump-off point for The Secret.

  15. I am a huge believer in the law of attraction and always have been. What you focus on grows and like attracts like. Sometime I struggle to keep focused and optimistic but then I remind myself of the power of our minds and thoughts and I check the negativity or self doubts at the door!
    I think writing it down and doing lists only makes the thoughts that much more powerful. I came to be in the same place you were in respect to a relationship and wrote out my list and then forgot about it and got on to living my best life. That’s when hubby landed on my doorstep and I discovered the true meaning of soul mate!
    I hear you!
    LOVE your stories – it’s so incredible when the law of attraction so clearly presents itself to you as a form of affirmation!
    Luv it!

    • Oh, Natalie, I love that you had that experience, too! We are a powerful lot—we women with positive thoughts and optimism and strength!

  16. The power of thought? Hmm…Yes, I believe in the power of thought, but…It only starts there. You can visualize what you want, but unless you act upon your visualization nothing will come of it. Example being; If you hadn’t have been sitting in the garage that day, would the woman have come knocking on your door out of the blue? If you hadn’t of gone online, would you still have met the man of your dreams? There’s the story of the man that keeps asking God to let him win the lottery and God calls down to him and tells him, buy a ticket. They say for every action there’s a reaction. I believe that everything happens for a reason and God will provide and visualization is only the first step to what we want to achieve.Great post!

    • Thanks for your input, Karen! Yes, a positive and focused thought combined with moving forward and doing what’s necessary to get you where you need to be is the force that makes things happen. I also believe that everything happens for a reason–it’s an opportunity to learn something necessary to our lives. Sometimes the reason is that we need to change course or what we thought we wanted wasn’t right for us after all. Thanks, Karen.

  17. I’m not sure whether or not I’d call it ‘the law of attraction’, but I have found that during my times of most profound personal growth, usually one thing that I’ve been wanting to do but finally got started on, it always leads to other good things and growth experiences. When I finally took a creative writing course, it lead me back to writing. That was so exciting and exhilarating, that I gained the confidence to lose the weight that I’d been trying unsuccessfully to lose for ages, which lead me to start a writing critique group where I met several fabulous people who will remain friends forever. So I do think that one positive thing can lead you to many others and your ‘law of attraction’ is just that for you. :o)

    • I believe you’re right, Bonnie. Like attracts like….one positive thing led to another. You were on a roll. I think we have the power to make that happen all the time, but humans get complacent or downright lazy sometimes and forget to continue sending out the good vibes and keep working toward something…anything. Thanks for coming over, Bonnie!

  18. I absolutely believe in the law of attraction!! And I love your story of romance, Marcia.. how awesome is that. 🙂 You absolutely deserve true love and happiness.
    I am trying to attract certain things in my life right now.. but doubt is creeping in and doubt works as a blocker.. have to focus the positive energy!
    So glad I stopped by here today — I love the pink and black by the way… sexy!

    • Definitely get rid of doubt! I think if you can settle yourself with the way things are right now-know that your life would be okay if things didn’t change, then your wishes have a way of coming true. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that everything you need comes your way, Darlene.
      glad you like the new look. Sexy and strong is what I was going for–thanks!

  19. I believe in the power of positive thought but not in a mystical way. I believe that if you think positively you are more likely to try things and therefore you are more likely to create opportunities for yourself to succeed. A negative person might say, “What’s the point of buying a lottery ticket, applying for that job or signing up for online dating because I will fail…”
    I love your idea of lists. You could write a good novel based on that idea (I’m sure similar has been done before) A single mum down on her luck could go to a positive thinking seminar and come out obsessed with lists and completing them no matter what the consequences. This could lead to lots of comic possibilities as she loses lists without completing number 7 and tries to guess what it is, or friends find one of her lists and they are on it, or completing number 4 on a list means she couldn’t possibly do number 5 but she has to because it’s on the list. Sounds good in my head anyway. Just a thought. Feel free to use it.
    It is good to be positive because it makes one happier than being negative.

    • Very cool ideas for a ‘list’ novel, Chris. Thanks! Yeah, mystical isn’t really how I feel about it either. I do believe that when you are focused on the positive and believe it can happen, and you’re not desperate for it, you send the right vibes. People see you differently. Like in the instance of meeting my future husband. I was no longer desperate for love and attention, but had realized I was okay on my own, but did want a partner-the right partner. Positivity is just plain good!

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