First off I must start by saying, I’m not a believer. Not of any religion, not of superstition (okay maybe a little), not of marriage, especially not of any self-help book that claims itself a “law”.
So if you believe in any of those “laws”, move on, close this browser, go to another page (I have other awesome posts on this blog as well). Please, I urge you. Because you are not going to like what you read, and I certainly do not want to piss any of my potential readers off.
If you decide to stay, please understand I’m not trying to completely disprove this “law”, I’m simply sharing what I think about it, and my experience with it, so feel free to agree/disagree as you see fit.
The “law of attraction” (LOA) basically is a law that says that the universe will give you whatever you want, all you have to do is just ask for it, believe it will happen and allow it to happen. Oh please. But being a good scientist, I didn’t want to jump into conclusions, so when I saw a “create your vision board” meetup near me, I signed up for it. Because Oprah talked about it, my favorite local HK comicist is into it, and I really wanted to find out who these people are and what do they say, so even though it was a paid meetup (around US$10), it was worth investing to feed my curiosity before it kills my cat.
Well I did have some fun thinking about what I should say I want, because they basically said you can want anything and it’d be possible. Here’s some of the things on my wish-list: Obama – I want to be a black US president, I want to own Michael Jackson’s Neverland, and I want to be a Victoria’s Secret model (courtesy of my equally crazy friend).
Not wanting to be thought of as trying to challenge the “law”, I settled for less in the end: I want to own the house/office of Gucci’s CEO, I want to write like Haruki Murakami – he is indeed my favorite writer but I’m a million years away from being as good as he is, I want to be successful like Arianna Huffington, and I want to free all political dissidents and human rights activists in China. Pretty solid things to want huh?
I arrived around 20 minutes late, but it seemed like the group just started. It was a group of very welcoming people, everybody seemed nice. The organizer, Ms M, is a teacher, so we were all given a kiddy worksheet (and I lost it soon after… must’ve been my subconscious, or the power of the universe trying to stop me from writing this post). We were asked to write down our contact details on a sheet of paper. I took a glance at that contact list, pondering if I should leave my contact information, and two columns got my attention, first asks if you want to attend the weekly group meetings, and on the second column you’re supposed to indicate if you want to share your manifestations, and here’s the catch, you have to agree to only sharing positive manifestations.
I tried hard not to roll my eyes when I saw that. The simplest rule for any salesperson: share only positive examples. That is for sure the easiest thing you can do to make your product more convincing and believable.
We were separated into smaller groups of four, each with a leader who’s supposed to be a coach to us first-timers. Our leader, Ms S started by telling us her story, she quitted her job in Europe to travel, and fell in love with Hong Kong once she arrived (who wouldn’t?) so she decided that she wanted to stay. She got a couple of interviews, and before she went to the interviews, she thought to herself that she’d land a job here, she did. And instead of one, she got two offers. That was her manifestation, because she asked the universe for a job, she believed in it, so she got it. I don’t know why but this sounds an awful lot like Brian Griffin’s “Wish it, want it, do it”. (Here’s a clip about the inspiring book.)
Jokes aside, I was impressed by Ms S’s story. But then I thought, wait a minute… have you ever looked into the mirror and thought/said something like this to yourself, “Hey you can do it! Be confident, you’ll do great!” Yes, I have, admittedly. There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a pep talk or psyching yourself up before interviews, and it probably does more good than harm. One interesting thing about psychology, is that when you act confident, interviewers will see that, and may perceive you as a strong confident person. If you are a LOA believer, you’d call it “giving out a positive vibe”. Whatever you want to call it, confidence is always a good character for jobs, and it probably increases your chances of getting hired.
We then went on to go through the kiddy worksheet (that I lost). Luckily I do remember a few things on the worksheet. There are several things you have to follow:
1. Try not to use the words “don’t”, “not” or “no”.
Here’s what I don’t (oops) get, yes ok, be positive, that’s a good thing, but sometimes when you are being positive you would say things like: don’t give up, don’t be afraid, nothing is impossible, etc… That shouldn’t give out bad vibes, I suppose? Adidas said “Impossible is nothing” and they sell like crazy!
2. Have more positive thoughts and less negative thoughts, so that you’ll be sending out positive vibes instead of negative vibes.
This one is understandable. Some people like to moan and complain about the most miniscule issues, nobody wants to be around those people. You might find that they have a point sometimes, but other times you just want them to shut up and appreciate that they were not born in Africa with no food and having to flee from their countries. If you are a positive person, you care about people and you smile a lot, chances are people will find you nice and they’d like to be around you and be nice to you. I wouldn’t call that a “law of attraction”, to me it’s just a “law of reciprocity” – not a law actually, because people can still be mean to you even if you’re nice. Social psychology 101.
3. Believe without doubts.
Alright, finally… THIS IS IT! Haa! I knew it! It doesn’t just take things that sort of make sense to create a cult, you need people to actually believe, without questions. This is a requirement for almost all religions – faith, or in other words, belief beyond logic. Now you can choose to have faith in whatever you want to believe in, I’d rather believe in logical thinking.
Here comes the fun part after going through the worksheet. We finally got to flip through piles of magazines, cut down the things we want, and paste them on our “vision boards”. Except that I’ve already done my research and chosen the things that I wanted, so all I had to do was just to cut them out and stick them on a couple of blue paper document files. And while I was at it, I couldn’t help but had to ask Ms S one question, “There’s gotta be some physical limitation to it. Say, if I want to become a supermodel, but I’m so short, how would that work?” That’s a question that newly-employed Ms S couldn’t answer, so she called Ms M, the teacher over, and I asked my question again. Ms M looked at me, expressionless for a moment, like teachers do when they are mad, I think she was trying to hide her anger, or to criticize me for doubting the “law”, or maybe she was just thinking of a good way to answer. Might have just been me letting my imagination go wild, combining it with my childhood memories of teachers. Finally, she answered, “You are in the process of becoming one.”
“But I’m too short! There’s no way for me to become a model!” I exclaimed.
“Models don’t have to be tall.” She said, still expressionless. (she did use the word “don’t”, BECAUSE… obviously you can’t say “Models can be short!”)
“Like I’m still gonna grow…?” I was going to roll my eyes again and I tried hard to stop myself so I think I ended up with an awkward half-rolled eye. I knew it was time for me to shut up. I didn’t want to be a bad student, and I certainly didn’t want my real identity – the “mole” – to be exposed. But there was this slightly annoying voice in my head that sounded like Naomi in 90210, “Are you serious? Give me one example of a 5-ft tall model, ONE example.”
I ended up chatting about Murakami with a nice Vietnamese girl next to me, who happens to be his reader as well. With the piles of magazines on the table, and Ms M shouting, “Who wants a BMW?”, “Who wants a hot guy?” once in a while, I started thinking, there are so many things you can want, but there’s only a few that you really do want, and those are the things that matter.
But people were too busy going through magazines to realize my epiphany, and not long after people started to leave. So that was it? No creepy talks or chanting or sharing or visualizing? Nothing extremely exciting apart from more senior members of the group sharing their “manifestations” – this word gives me the chills – it’s just people talking about how the things they wanted came true because they were positive.
As I walked out of the cafe, I wondered if it was worth spending HK$80 (US$10) on a worksheet, 2 document files, glue, a good supply of magazines, and a group cutting and pasting exercise.
I decided to give it a chance and test it out. If it’s all about believing, it’s easy for me. As I was heading towards my bus stop I saw my bus coming, when I was still about 30 meters away, I decided to believe that I could catch the bus and I speeded up, it worked.
When I got home, I decided to test it again by believing my cat would come back by herself to the apartment after she ran off into the corridor (she does that quite often), I stared at her for like 5 minutes, visualizing her walking towards me. She stared right back at me, meowed a lot, and walked towards the other direction.
Conclusion: 1 win, 1 loss – you can work out the math
My favorite example is this: every time there is a lottery jackpot, I’d imagine myself winning it, thinking of all the ways to spend and invest that money, same as a few million other Hong Kongers. And guess what? Only one, or rarely two, out of these people get it. But we all have the same dream, we all are positive about winning the lottery, nobody buys it thinking that they won’t win… How does the universe choose the lucky winner out of millions of people? I can only say that the universe works in such mystic ways that I probably cannot comprehend!
In case you’re wondering, here’s my $80 vision…