Thoughts on Thinking

"When somebody persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?" John Maynard Keynes

"If you're unhappy with your life, change your thinking." Charles Fillmore

"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it." Eckhart Tolle

"People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them." Epictetus

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

"Consciousness is a terrible thing to waste." PunditGeorge

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Secret redux

When Oprah and Larry King helped launch Rhonda Byrne’s DVD and book The Secret into the pop culture it was only a matter of time before the elegant “law of attraction” was misunderstood, twisted, convoluted, and otherwise mangled by folks who don’t get it. Now it’s even political.

The universal law of attraction has been around since, well, creation. It doesn’t matter how it is perceived or understood – it’s there, in operation – whether one is aware or not. Not understanding it can lead to a worldview of a capricious universe with the perceiver (that’s you) being at the mercy of the whims of nature, other people, and the gods. That’s a scary existence on a good day.

Our magnificent universe operates elegantly – that which is like attracts, comes together, collects, increases. In our human experience the most active agent is our thinking – something we’re doing 24/7. We become more aware of what we think about and feel about. For instance, a number of decades ago when daughter Genia was preparing her entrance into this realm, I was amazed at the number of pregnant women in Louisiana. They were everywhere. It was as if thousands of women conceived around the same time.

That’s not the case, of course. Yet it illustrates the secret in action. Genia’s mother was pregnant and, as father, I was focused on that. And thus was more aware of pregnancies and the whole budding parent experience. Previously I did not have that interest, so to speak, and thus was unaware of all those pregnant folks. Didn’t see them, in a fashion.

Ever had the thought “I’ve got to get my mind off of _____” and made the effort to do something, read something, chat with somebody, watch something – whatever – in order to divert your thinking from something undesirable. I’d wager most people have done this. If you have, and you don’t find it strange that you instinctively wanted to move your attention away from something aggravating or painful, then you “get it.” The rest is elaboration as they say.

Thinking and giving emotional attention to anything creates more of the same. It doesn’t matter if the attention is given to something desirable or something deplorable. The law of attraction will collect like thoughts/feelings/experiences and hand them to you. Why not give attention to the thoughts/experiences that you feel good about? If for some reason you believe it’s “wrong” to feel good, then you probably aren’t reading this anyway.

Another way to look at it, is what I call the dwell line. In “Habits, Patterns, and Things That Go Bump in the Night” there is a section on grief which identifies the moment in time when the person first learns of the loss, in this case the sudden death of a loved one. At that moment the full shock of the event and the host of fearful, distressful, painful emotions hit. This is the dwell line when person is overwhelmed and the shock dominates thinking, feeling, and behavior. The goal is to move beyond the dwell line which permits more freedom of thought, feeling, and experience, a.k.a. grief.

It’s possible you know someone who remains on the dwell line years after the loss event – living each day as if the loss occurred the day before. Their experience, relationships, everything, is perceived in that manner and that horrible day is re-created daily. Law of attraction in action.

What grief does is to allow movement mentally, physically, and emotionally beyond the dwell line. Consider a spiral rising above the dwell line. Each loop represents one year. Thus on any anniversary of the loss event, the person could be rising above and beyond the dwell line which is indicated by “getting on with life” as many put it. Or, time could pass and the person remains on or very near the dwell line. The process we call grief is the law of attraction in action.

Where Froma Harrop and others get side tracked with the law of attraction is their quasi-fantasy-wishful thinking-touchy/feely interpretation. If a person has never thought about such matters, and is abruptly introduced to the concept, it is not surprising that their appreciation is fragmented. In Ms. Harrop’s world, partisan politics is the landscape - everyone and everything is perceived in a with-us or against-us context.

Another person might have devoted the bulk of his/her adult like to making war on poverty. Their perception is a dog-eat-dog competitive world with un-fair distribution of limited wealth. The world and its poor would be a better place if the wealth were evenly divided (guess who makes those decisions?) Therefore laws are established to confiscate the property of some and granted to those who had less. Does it work?


History is littered with failed socialist/totalitarian nations, notions, and experiments. They fail because the law is in action. The dominant thought/idea/attention is increased. This is difficult for many to comprehend – poverty can’t be reduced or eliminated by studying it, fighting it, and such. This applied energy, by law, results in more poverty, etc. As the adage goes, teach the person how to fish. (And get over the idea that you can make the person fish.)

The law of attraction is the great tool for the pursuit of individual happiness. That fact is disturbing to many. They dwell on it. Now you know, the rest of the story…

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments welcome. You know the etiquette.