I’m not a fan of the Law of Attraction, the idea that people bring into their lives the things they think about. In fact, I think it’s bullshit. In The Secret, Rhonda Byrne explains how this “law” is purported to work:
Thoughts are magnetic, and thoughts have a frequency. As you think, those thoughts are sent out into the Universe, and they magnetically attract all like things that are on the same frequency. Everything sent out returns to its source. And that source is You.
It takes no time for the Universe to manifest what you want. It is as easy to manifest one dollar as it is to manifest one million dollars.
This kind of stuff makes me SO TENSE. To quote Han Solo, “No mystical energy field controls my destiny.” Authors like Byrne do a disservice to folks who ought to be changing their lives by becoming more active participants in their futures instead of passively “manifesting” what they want.
That said, I do believe our thoughts create our reality. As positive psychology has demonstrated, the things we choose to think about and how we choose to think about them can have a profound impact on the quality of our daily experience. If you focus on the negative, life is more likely to suck for you than if you were to spend more time paying attention to what’s right with your world.
Plus, I cannot deny that the more open I am about my intentions — about what I want do and how I want to do it — the more help I get from unexpected sources. But the key here is that I have to intentionally put myself out there for anything to happen. I have to take action. Hoping and wishing and thinking aren’t enough.
For instance, Kim and I are in the middle of planning some future adventures. We want to spend some of our vacation time traveling the U.S. in an RV or trailer, seeing the sights and filming the people we meet along the way. There are a couple of complications, though.
- First, neither one of us has experience with RVs or trailers. We need to figure out what the heck we’re doing before we hit the road. Will we rent? Buy? New or used? How much space will we need? If we tow a trailer, what kind of truck should we buy?
- Second, how do we document our journey? I can write, obviously, and I’ve had some modest success with my amateur photography (one photo published, some prizes at the county fair). But my video skills are rudimentary. How do we produce quality shorts that people want to watch while keeping the gear and hassle to a minimum?
The old J.D. would have dealt with these dilemmas by thinking and reading and hoping. But the new me has learned something useful: If I talk about my plans with the people I meet, help often appears. I think of this as playing the lottery of life. Each time I meet with somebody, it’s like I’m receiving a lottery ticket. Most of these tickets don’t pay off, but sometimes I gain new knowledge, new experience, new friends.
Over the past few months, I’ve been talking about our proposed trip with the people I meet. Last month at Fincon, for example, A.J. and Walter interviewed me for the SmartAsset blog. As they were setting up their gear, I realized they might be able to give me some tips.
“Tell me about your camera setup,” I said. “What gear do you use and why?” Walter and A.J. described their equipment and the rationale behind each piece. Later, Walter sent me an email with a more detailed explanation. Based on his recommendations — and the recommendations of a few other folks I talked to — I’ve expanded my kit of camera equipment. I’m ready to dabble with video. (The sound and lighting stuff still worry me, but I feel prepared for the actual filming part of the project.)
Here’s another example: A couple of weeks ago, Scott and Chelsea were in town. Because I’ve wanted to get to know them better, I took them out to lunch. Over Thai food, I told them how I wanted to learn more about video production.
“I know somebody you should talk to,” Scott told me. “You need to meet Chase Reeves.” A few days later, Scott made an email introduction. Chase and I met earlier this week we spent an hour getting to know each other. He shared some of what he’s learned about creating podcasts and video for the web.
Or last week, my ex-wife and I spent a couple of hours together in the car. As we drove, Kris and I talked about how our lives are going and what we plan to do in the future. I mentioned that Kim and I might buy an RV but have no place to park it.
“You could park it at my place,” Kris offered. “But you’d have to let me use it when you’re not on the road.”
“That sounds fair,” I said. Another problem solved.
One last example: In just a few minutes, I’ll head to north Portland to meet with Cherie and Chris from Technomadia. This couple has been on the road since April 2006 (the same month I started Get Rich Slowly!), moving from a sixteen-foot trailer to a full-sized Greyhound bus. I emailed them yesterday to see if we could chat online. They upped the ante. “We’re in Portland,” they wrote. “Come see our bus.” Once I look at how they live, I plan to take them to lunch and ask them what they’ve learned during their years on the road.
Here’s my point: Although I despise The Secret and the Law of Attraction, there really is something similar at work in the universe. But that something only works when you go beyond wishing.
When we’re open about what we want, when we begin to take action, things almost seem to magically come together. Wishing and hoping aren’t enough, though. They key to making this magic is to take action. Action is the catalyst that attracts people and knowledge — and all of that other good stuff — into our lives.
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: ‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!’ — William Hutchinson Murray (1913-1996), The Scottish Himalaya Expedition