The Myth of “Thoughts Become Things”
Unless you’ve been living in a “success bubble” for the last 20 years, you’ve likely heard about the principle of The Law of Attraction. It got a lot of press a few years back with the release of a film titled The Secret.
The Secret was produced and narrated by Rhonda Byrne. What most people don’t know is it’s actually a rip-off of a 1957 audio recording by Earl Nightingale called The Strangest Secret. If you google “The Strangest Secret” you’ll find the original audio recording and if you listen to it, you’ll quickly recognize the similarities.
Needless to say, this idea that “thoughts become things” has been around for quite a long time. You can go back to 1937 when Napoleon Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich to find further evidence of how this law has manifested itself in recent times. The original principle dates back to the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D. when Hermes wrote The Kybalion. In it, Hermes lists The Seven Hermetic Principles.
- The Principle of Mentalism
- The Principle of Correspondence
- The Principle of Vibration
- The Principle of Polarity
- The Principle of Rhythm
- The Principle of Cause and Effect
- The Principle of Gender
In the first principle, Hermes states, “The All is Mind”. When he speaks of “The All”, he’s talking about the force that manifests the physical universe, or what we might call God today. He is literally saying, the mind created the universe.
I can remember watching The Secret when I was in my 20s. In the film, a guy named David Shermer talks about how he would visualize checks coming in the mail and, magically, checks started coming in the mail.
I thought, “That’s incredible. What a power to have. All I need to do is lay on the couch and visualize money coming to me, and wealth and opportunity will just present itself. It’ll just show up at my door. I’m going to be rich.”
Here’s the million-dollar question: does it work? Can you simply lay around dreaming about checks arriving in your mailbox and have it happen? A lot of people have tried. I know I’ve tried. And although I’ve had a great deal of success in my life, and met a whole lot of successful people–many of whom are far more successful than me–I have never met anyone (who wasn’t trying to sell me something) who actually laid poolside every single day collecting a check. It just doesn’t happen.
There are a lot of people who think that’s how it works, and when it doesn’t happen for them they think that this whole law of attraction thing is garbage. Or worse, they think something’s wrong with them! So I thought I’d take some time and and separate the truth from the myth.
Let’s get one thing out of the way right now:
YOU CANNOT BECOME WEALTHY BY SIMPLY VISUALIZING
YOURSELF BEING SUCCESSFUL.
It doesn’t work that way. It would be great if it did, but it doesn’t. And I think a big reason people fail to meet their own goals in life is because deep down inside, they feel somewhat unworthy.
This sense of unworthiness manifests itself in a lot of different ways. In many cases and in many societies, we glorify suffering. We see it in religions that demand piety through poverty. You’re asked to sell all you have and do everything you can to help the poor, punishing yourself in this life for the sake of immortality later.
It happens in every culture and every religion, regardless of where you come from. You hear parents talking about scarcity and sacrifice. They say things like, “Money doesn’t grow on trees” and “Your father and I have made all these sacrifices for you.” We are literally inundated with this kind of nonsense from the day we are born.
It’s the notion that there is some kind of nobility in suffering, and then, when success doesn’t come we blame ourselves. We find ourselves unworthy. We think if we just work harder or suffer longer, things will get better. We believe that we just haven’t taken enough pain or haven’t cared deeply enough about our friends and customers.
For many years Christians believed if trial and tribulation were befalling you it was because you had done something wrong. You had sinned and were being punished for it. As a good Christian, your job was to figure out what you had done, who you had wronged, and how you had sinned so you could ask for forgiveness. Then–and only then–your life would turn around.
If we talk about this in the metaphysical sense, it manifests itself in feeling as though we haven’t done the visualization correctly. We need to visualize harder, and we need to do more to THINK our way to success.
And god forbid things are going great. If that happens we start to feel guilty for the success we’re having. We try to hide our new wealth for fear our friends and family will start to see us differently. We begin to question our “right” to have all this money and happiness. Many times we self-sabotage because we think we are not deserving of the success.
There is a great deal of truth behind the law of attraction, but there’s a huge difference between the “law of attraction” and “thoughts become things.”
We tend to attract those things that we focus on.
If you are naturally a caring and kind person you’ll find you naturally tend to attract caring and kind people. If you are a jerk, a criminal, or worse, you tend to attract people who share those same traits.
This is just the way life works. It’s not my opinion. It’s a fact. It’s something that is scientifically provable, and I learned this from my good friend Travis Taylor.
Travis and I worked together on a TV show for the History channel last year. And one night during our downtime, the subject of the law of attraction came up.
Travis is a pretty incredible man. He has two PhDs and two master’s degrees in electrical engineering, physics, mechanical aerospace engineering, and astronomy. The guy is a real-life rocket scientist, and he actually wrote a book called The Secret Behind the Secret.
In the book he explains scientifically how we attract what we think about most. For the sake of time I won’t go into the details, but it’s an incredible book that you should read.
But there is a difference, as I said, between thoughts become things and we attract what we think about most.
You see, you might attract opportunity into your life, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to seize that opportunity when it arrives. We all get chances, usually multiple chances, to become the men and women that we’re destined to be. But most people never reach their true potential for one reason…they don’t act.
It’s the reason the law of attraction, as explained by the likes of Rhonda, is total BS. Action is required. You have to do the work. Attraction will bring people and opportunity into your life, but you have to apply effort in a direction that has a reasonable chance of succeeding. And this is the most important part…
At some point, you have to ask for the money!
The money just doesn’t appear on its own. People don’t just show up with dollar bills in their hands saying, “Please, take my money.” At some point you have ask for the sale.
People often ask me why I choose to focus so heavily on the principles of influence, sales, and marketing. The reason is simple. I know those are the skills that will bring you the greatest return in life. If you learn how to sell, you will never be hungry. That I promise you. If you learn how to market, you will become wealthy… but only if you take action.
So, is the law of attraction a myth? No, it’s not. But the way it’s being taught is. There are no easy roads to wealth, fame, power, or happiness. It all requires constant diligent effort.
Here’s what I’ll leave you with. Spend some time in reflection. Do some visualization. Start thinking about what your life is going to look like when you do the things that are necessary in order to get what you want. You don’t need to know what those things are. You just have to visualize what it’s going to look like when it’s done.
Then, do the most important thing: get out there and get to work, because that is the only way that you are going to get what you desire.
Thanks for reading.
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