What Is the Law of Attraction?
The law of attraction is a philosophy suggesting that positive thoughts bring positive results into a person’s life, while negative thoughts bring negative outcomes. It is based on the belief that thoughts are a form of energy and that positive energy attracts success in all areas of life, including health, finances, and relationships.
While the Law of Attraction has generated attention in recent years due to books like “The Secret,” it lacks scientific evidence for its claims and is generally viewed as a pseudoscience.
The Laws of Attraction
Advocates suggest there are central universal principles that make up the law of attraction:
- Like attracts like: This law suggests that similar things are attracted to one another. It means that people tend to attract people who are similar to them—but it also suggests that people’s thoughts tend to attract similar results. Negative thinking is believed to attract negative experiences, while positive thinking is believed to produce desirable experiences.
- Nature abhors a vacuum: This law of attraction suggests that removing negative things from your life can make space for more positive things to take their place. It is based on the notion that it is impossible to have a completely empty space in your mind and in your life. Since something will always fill this space, it is important to fill that space with positivity, proponents of this philosophy say.
- The present is always perfect: This law focuses on the idea that there are always things you can do to improve the present moment. While it might always seem like the present is somehow flawed, this law proposes that, rather than feeling dread or unhappiness, you should focus your energy on finding ways to make the present moment the best that it can be.
How to Practice
According to the law of attraction, you create your own reality. What you focus on is what you draw into your life. It suggests that what you believe will happen in your life is what does happen.
Some things that you can do to incorporate the law of attraction into your own life include:
- Be grateful
- Visualize your goals
- Look for the positives in a situation
- Learn how to identify negative thinking
- Use positive affirmations
- Reframe negative events in a more positive way
While the law of attraction may not be an immediate solution for all of life’s challenges, it can help you learn to cultivate a more optimistic outlook on life. It may also help you stay motivated to continue working toward your goals.
While the law of attraction lacks scientific support, proponents suggest that it can produce positive changes in a person’s life. Some reasons why people may experience benefits from this philosophy include:
The law of attraction may produce results because it taps into people’s spirituality. Spirituality itself is connected to a variety of health benefits including reduced stress, better health, lower depression, and better overall well-being.1
Many people believe that this philosophy works by aligning God or the universe with our wishes. This notion suggests that people are all made of energy, and this energy operates at different frequencies. Because of this, it is important to change the frequency of energy with positive thoughts, especially gratitude for what we already have.
By using grateful, positive thoughts and feelings and by focusing on our dreams rather than our frustrations, we can change the frequency of our energy, and the law of attraction brings positive things into our lives. What we attract depends on where and how we focus our attention, but we must believe that it’s already ours or soon will be.
Utilizing the law of attraction may also bring about positive impacts on mental well-being. By focusing on attaining a new reality, and by believing it is possible, we tend to take more risks, notice more opportunities, and open ourselves up to new possibilities. Conversely, when we don’t believe that something is in the realm of possibilities for us, we tend to let opportunities pass by unnoticed.
When we believe we don’t deserve good things, we behave in ways that sabotage our chances of happiness. By changing our self-talk and feelings about life, we reverse the negative patterns in our lives and create more positive, productive, and healthy ones. One good thing leads to another, and the direction of a life can shift from a downward spiral to an upward ascent.
Research on optimism shows that optimists enjoy better health, greater happiness, and more success in life. They possess traits that allow them to focus their thoughts on their successes and mentally minimize their failures.2
One of the foundations of many types of therapy is that changing your self-talk can change your life in a positive direction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, a widely used and effective treatment for many conditions, is based on the idea that identifying and changing automatic negative thoughts can produce positive effects and help people achieve better mental well-being.
Tips / Tricks
There are some exercises that can help you learn to put the law of attraction into practice in your own life. Some ideas include:
- Journaling: Writing down your thoughts can help you better learn to recognize your habitual thought patterns to see whether you tend toward optimism or pessimism and learn more about changing negative patterns of thought.
- Make a mood board: Create a visual reminder that helps you maintain a positive mindset, stay motivated, and focus on your goals.
- Practice acceptance: Instead of focusing on what is wrong about the present or what needs to be changed, work on accepting things as they are. This doesn’t mean that you won’t continue to work toward a better future, it just means that you won’t get bogged down by wishing for things to be different right now.
- Practice positive self-talk: If you struggle with being overly self-critical, set a goal to engage in positive self-talk each day. Over time, this may come much more easily and you may find that it is harder to maintain a negative mindset.
One problem with books such as “The Secret” as well as with some people’s interpretation of the law of attraction is that it suggests it’s the belief that good things will come to us that will bring us all that we desire, without any sort of action behind that belief.
It is the optimistic viewpoint that drives proactive behaviors that, in turn, bring optimists such great results in their lives. Optimists don’t receive their benefits from their attitudes alone—it’s the behavior the attitudes inspire that creates real change.
In order for beliefs to affect behavior, it is important to also have things such as:
Critics of “The Secret” and other books about the law of attraction also point out the very real concern that people may start to blame themselves for negative events that are outside their control, such as accidents and injuries, layoffs due to a financial downturn, or major illnesses.
We can’t always control our circumstances, but we can control our responses to them. In this vein, the law of attraction can provide the optimism and proactive attitude that’s associated with resilience in difficult situations, but it must not be used as a tool of self-blame.
Your responses to the challenges you face can make you stronger. In that way, the law of attraction can be useful when it encourages such strength. However, it should not be applied negatively or it can be more destructive than helpful.
The History of the Law of Attraction
While the law of attraction has received quite a bit of attention in recent years, the concept is not exactly new. These ideas have philosophical roots that date back to the early 19th-century approach known as “New Thought.” There was a resurgence of interest in the idea during the 20th century, particularly with the 2006 release of the film “The Secret,” which was then later developed into the best-selling book of the same title and its 2010 sequel “The Power.”