“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”-Thomas Edison
In 2006 a popular book was turned into a movie called “The Secret.” It was based on a belief called the Law of Attraction that claimed positive thinking can create life-changing results in health, wealth, relationships, and areas of success. The book sold 19 million copies and was translated into 46 languages. The premise was that there is a natural law, the law of attraction, in which a person merely places their desire into the universe, and the universe satisfies the desire. The “science” behind the belief was the theory that people’s thoughts are sent into the universe by a “frequency” and the universe responds by “matching that frequency.” The book was called The Secret because this was the secret to life changing results and happiness. The claim was that this is a natural law because “like attracts like.”
There is some element of truth to the idea that like attracts like. For example, people who live their life with preset beliefs frequently find people and events that affirm their beliefs. This is because our brains are wired towards pattern recognition. We seek that which is familiar in order to make sense of our world. If a woman believes, for example, that all men are untrustworthy, and is attracted to and gets involved with men who are untrustworthy, then for her it becomes true. If someone believes that there are no worthwhile employment opportunities out there, and does not pursue education or self-improvement, then for them it becomes true. If someone watches hours and hours of television news, it would not be surprising that they found the world inconsistent and unsafe. We tend to have our focus drawn to things that validate our already held beliefs.
The Secret promised more for less and this was part of its attraction. The word “manifesting” was used for this practice of putting your vibration into the universe and having the universe return your desires. The book espoused some positive skills that are in fact very useful. Positive thinking is incredibly powerful, as is visualization, two skills that The Secret promoted. Where the book went off the rails was with the outrageous examples of how it occurred in real life for those who knew the secret. For example, desire for new car would result in the car being “manifested” if one began to be thankful for the car and have positive feelings about the car as if they already had it. Actions like finding a parking space for it, and getting insurance quotes for it, would result in the car being placed into your life for real. Great stuff, but unfortunately this law does not exist, at least not to this extent.
Self-help author, Dan Millman, has a different perspective that combines ideas of The Secret with real-world practicality. Millman is the author of a perennial best-selling book called “The Way of the Peaceful Warrior,” a great read once you get past the comic book sounding title. The book is written as a novel, a hyperbolic semi-biographical work loosely based on Millman’s life. Millman was a world-class gymnast whose leg was shattered in a motorcycle accident while he was in college. The accident forced him to reassess his sense of self and entire world view. From these events he developed a philosophy of life which combines aspects of mysticism, positive thinking, and athletic conditioning. While he acknowledges the benefits of pure positive thinking, and even manifesting, he preaches taking committed uncritical action in the pursuit of goals. His advice is simple and has and athletic tone: “Just do it!”
Millman teaches that positive thoughts do not override negative behaviors or lack of action. All the positive thinking in the world will not physically condition an athlete who does not train, make money for one who spends wildly, or create good relationships for a nasty person. A person who has perpetual negative thoughts is probably not going to attain many of their goals. Millman says that “Positive thoughts don’t override negative. We don’t have a spam filter for our negative thoughts. We must push negative thinking aside and act anyway.” Action despite doubt is the critical element that separates Millman’s ideas from The Secret.
Combining positive thinking with committed action is, according to Millman, what it takes to attain lofty goals. “A little of something is better than a lot of nothing” he states. We should focus on what we do, as action changes our thoughts and a cycle of positive behavior creating positive thought begins to create momentum. Less focus on thinking, feeling, and analyzing, more concentration on what we are doing and our actions, create positive outcomes. Starting small, attending to one task at a time, and seeking constant, incremental improvement yields success. Negative thoughts will be pushed aside by committed action. Just do something! Negative thoughts do not go away easy, but certainly action can drown them out.
So the secret is…. Hard work, Just do it, Plan and Take Action! Adjust as you go and don’t listen to the committee in your mind telling you that it can’t be done! If someone else in the universe has accomplished what you are seeking, then it is quite possible that you can attain the same thing. You won’t know until you try!!
“Men do not beat drums before they hunt for tigers.” – Kwai Chang Caine
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