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The Real Secret About the Power of the Mind

“What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: Our life is the creation of our mind.”  ~Buddha

Unless you spent the last decade in a Tibetan monastery or under a rock, you probably know about Rhonda Byrne’s book/DVD The Secret.

This 2006 self-help volume, highly endorsed by the likes of Oprah Winfrey, erroneously educated readers on “The Law Of Attraction,” a hypothesis that suggests we have the power to influence events and circumstances of our live in three simple steps:

1.Ask the Universe for what you want.” In essence, get your desires very clear in your mind. (Do not limit yourself to any possibility.)

2. Believe. “Act, speak, and think as though you have already received what you’ve asked for.” When you emit the frequency of having received it, the law of attraction moves people, events, and circumstances for you to receive.

3. Receive. “Feel the way you will feel once your desire has manifested.” Feeling good now puts you on the frequency of what you want.

The general public accepted this get-thin/rich/famous/talented-quick scheme and ate it up like a bowl of Cherry Garcia ice-cream.

One interesting characteristic about people who believe anything they’re told without the benefits of research is that they tend to have a very fickle belief system. So countless people believed The Secret, then slumped into devastated depressions when asking the Universe to make them skinny didn’t actually make those size two skinny jeans glide on and button up.

But instead of people blaming the gurus who presented this misinformation, they took it personally, given they’d also been told that if their wishes weren’t quickly granted, it was because the wisher just wasn’t wishing hard enough.

Call me crazy, but I’m the kind of gal that wants to be empowered by my gurus, not disempowered. Happiness is not only something you feel; you really have to work toward it.

I’m a healthy skeptic, someone who looks at things in a doubtful way and requires that you do an excellent job at proving your point. We healthy skeptics require that you take the time to research and present scientific evidence reported by experts in the field being discussed.

This, in my opinion, is where The Secret falls down. Would you ask an auto mechanic to operate on your gallbladder? Sounds crazy, right? Well, when it comes to the law of attraction, you’re not getting the whole story unless you look to someone holding a doctorate in quantum physics.

Frustratingly, the woo-woo quasi-spiritual world has watered the law down, all for a get-rich-quick scheme that didn’t pan out. In so doing, they created an army of non-believers against a completely plausible theory.

Life can be depressing and disappointing for those who put all their faith in this slapdash piece of mass media. It is time we empower our lives by doing our homework folks.

So what’s the real secret?

Instead of looking to quantum physics to solve our problems, let’s look to our own brains. As Carl Jung said, “It all depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves.” Perspective is everything! Your mind is a powerful tool.

The Secret is correct in that we need to change the way we look at things, but it’s not as easy as those three overly simple steps.

The best way is to get into the habit of thinking consciously. How many times have you driven home from a place only to find an hour later that you are home, yet do not remember a single moment of the drive?

When you walk around in autopilot mode, it can cause “confirmation bias,” a facet of human intelligence that’s been evidenced by countless studies. The brain can only handle so much information, so it will take the path of least resistance whenever possible.

The easiest way for the brain to process something without expending extra energy would be to process information that confirms the info you have already stored, as opposed to interpreting new experiences based purely on their own merits.

For example, if you often have a negative outlook on the world, you’ll tend to pull that negativity—unhealthy skepticism—into any new information you encounter.

Once you start living consciously and avoiding confirmation bias, you can start using your brain as the powerful tool it is. Do I think I can use positive thoughts to become a super model? Well, no, but I can certainly use my thoughts to overcome injury and other adversity.

The “placebo effect” is evidence of this. In the medical field, placebos have worked in countless ways, including sugar pills used to cure depression or, in some cases (over 40 years ago), surgeons would perform placebo surgical procedures that produced positive results for the patient.

Personally, I try to live life aware of my self-fulfilling prophecies. If I wake up with an attitude that the world is unfair, I’ll inevitably meet a world full of selfish meanies. But if I wake up in the morning and draw my attention to all the times in my life that people helped me or just showed kindness, I walk into a world of lovely individuals.

Time and time again research shows us how powerful this tactic can be on a human being. For our purposes, this is confirmation that our minds are powerful tools that can take us places as sacred as healing the body.

Happiness and fulfillment are choices as close as your thoughts. I believe that living consciously can certainly affect your interpretation of life and even help you with choices that will make your life more fulfilling.

Choose your thoughts carefully and mindfully cultivate them. It will serve you well. There’s no secret in that.

Photo by Victor1558

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About Sarah Stevenson

Sarah Stevenson, a.k.a., The Tini Yogini, is a Certified Yoga Instructor in Southern California. She has a degree in Behavioral Psychology and writes for Beachbody, which provides effective and popular workout videos, including the Insanity Workout, a high intensity fitness dvd for total body conditioning.

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  • http://twitter.com/bookofwhy Nicholas Montemarano

    I appreciated your post. The Secret is a book that is appealing to so many people for obvious reasons—yet has created such backlash too, also for obvious reasons. Full disclosure: my new novel, THE BOOK OF WHY, coming out in a few weeks, is all about this. My narrator is a bestselling self-help author who believes in: ask-believe-receive. But here’s the catch, and why I’m responding to your post: he really means well. He’s afraid of not having control in a world that can seem frightening. So I just want to say: I agree with much of what you wrote in your post, and thank you for it, but I also find myself feeling sympathy for people who believe in ask-believe-receive (even though I agree that life doesn’t work that way). Like the narrator of my novel, they’re probably just wounded or scared. Like all of us, from time to time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MsZane Kisane Appleby

    I so enjoyed reading your post, it is wonderful to see from other peoples perspective… Law of Attraction (in it’s entirety, not just the limited presentation from the Secret DVD), is a huge part of my life. I have experienced it and played with it from many angles and have used it to manifest so many of my desires, I live a full and wonderful life doing what I love and travelling often, AFTER being told I would never work or travel and would be on medication and a disability pension my whole life. To change this circumstance, it was simply a choice. To me the truth of law of attraction IS exactly what you have written, presence, awareness and perspective. You cannot achieve any goal unless it is clear; ask. You will not make effort in thought or action to get to that goal unless you believe you can get there, or at least one step closer; believe. You will not even allow yourself to receive (discarding anything outside of you) if you do not feel internally that you are good enough or deserve to, we can be our own worst saboteurs… There are so many ways we can interpret information, what I have just written is simply one. I totally agree with you that unless we become conscious of our thoughts and actions, unless we be present in each moment and make the CHOICE to be happy and fulfilled AND grateful, now, and not just when we get to some goal/place/body/situation that we perceive to be the solution to all our problems, then we will live a life on repeat, replaying the old patterns and thoughts without ever noticing. I appreciate the Law of Attraction for the fact that it has allowed so many people to start to believe they have the power in their own minds to make this change. xx

    Ps. Nicholas Montemarano, I find your reply interesting too, I feel like I have LESS control when I am living the universal law of attraction and must place much more trust in myself than when I am not… I am curious to see the perspective of your narrator how LOA makes him feel like he has more control… Will your book be available in Australia or on audio?

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.stevenson.900 Sarah Stevenson

    I look forward to reading your book Nicholas :) I too feel the sympathy you feel and if the direct approach I took here hides that I want to make amends :) We are each going our own way, I am simply trying to turn lights on in certain rooms (so to speak). I wish you incredible success with your book

  • http://www.facebook.com/sarah.stevenson.900 Sarah Stevenson

    Bravo to you dear Kisane…sounds like you really do indeed get the points I am trying to get across in this article and have made them work for you in your own life :)

  • excelinwa

    Thinking like you have already received something is so crucial. To me, this is the true differentiator because it takes your mind to that place it needs to be to succeed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/crono.alsayed Abdullah AlSayed

    You understand quality of thoughts very well, thank you for sharing.

  • Dinesh M Babu

    Wow Kisane! You have exactly summed it up along with the clear perception displayed by the author of this post! I have witnessed that the The Secret’s detractors are totally biased. They were from Forbes, Slate dot com and many other.

    There is this one woman who wrote what happened when she tried The Secret. She did all sorts of crazy things and blamed it on The Secret. In the book, they are speaking the right things but out of mere exuberance, they weren’t speaking it the right way.

    The real secret actually says how we create our environment, life situations according to our deepest thoughts, beliefs and feelings. While that author wanted to try the secret, she also wanted to prove it wrong. She did things crazy and made a mess.

    In fact, we believe in the fact that one does not have to take antihistamines, when one has cold. We have other notions on what a cold actually is and how to treat it. I am not going all out to support The Secret. In fact, it is totally immaterial. Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam have already explained The Secret much more precisely than The Secret.

    Hinduism, for example, puts it at the right place. The consequences of your actions are not consequences of your actions but of your thoughts, says Hinduism. That’s why, during a planetary transit, your thoughts get corrupted and so are your actions and not the environment that changes first.

    When Westerners try to speak of “no proof, evidence”, I smirk at their naivety in believing only pure materialistic science. There is an even deeper understanding of everything than mere papers. That understanding is much more beneficial than believing in plain reality of the objective world.

    People like you are examples of how thoughts create reality. One named Alexander with some incomprehensible second name further went on to say that thoughts changed inner nature and so you acted in a way that benefited. Here, you can see that he still doesn’t come close to understanding the real secret. He doesn’t have that connection and still thinks from a materialistic, physical, objective stand point.

    To me, the correct understanding is just that it works! It works both at the physical level and also at the universal level!

    It works, though not exactly as The Secret described or led people to believe, but it does work.

    I don’t understand how some people are intended to be denied the secret by Darwin supporters and many materialistic planes just to have people in utter gloom.

    While all sorts of beliefs (or beliefs in themselves) carry limitations (as belief itself is a limitation), how are we to subscribe to the general Allopathic, materialistic, limited reality?

    Let me tell you that while Westerners are scratching the surface on hard finds of today’s science, our mythologies in all religions combined have already dived deeper into them and have come out with beautifully precious pearls!

    This is not a religion vs God vs atheism debate. Some (religious and non-religious) disciplines and paths have already explained how to begin from your body to reach out to the universe.

    They advocate bodily disciplines to remove the layers of sheath that you built upon yourself and travel to your inner conscious. They are non-religious too. These paths are difficult for the laymen and for some such people as the ones limited in their physical vessels, like materialists, Slate dot com cranks and idiots and Forbes people!

    This is a different kind of reality! Let’s call this the Third Eye reality! It is the path of oneness! It deletes dual notions and makes them one! If you are thinking whether The Secret is real or fake, one should also understand that it is immaterial to analyze it.

    Clear perception will let you know what is right and wrong at the sight of it. It will not have you think it over days. There is no debate and there is no real or fake. Everything is as fake as they are real. Everything is as real as they are fake.

    These people have looked through their two eyes and not out of their Third Eye. I am not bringing Third Eye exclusively here. I mean it is the path of clear perception and understanding and not the divided path of this or that! Only very few people have such wisdom! And it comes by training yourself to it, which I think you have done!

  • Dinesh M Babu

    Hi dear Sarah, You know I was talking to one of my students today and I told him to go comment on blogs and websites for some reason. And tonight, I end up doing it!

  • James

    Hi, excellent article!! I think the most worrying thing with the Law of Attraction is how most people are desiring these things. I’m far from being selfless, but I worry that by creating an environment that satisfies my desires, which is what I’d imagine most people use it for, that they are sending a load of people further down the wrong road they are already on!!! Whether it works or not, the entire concept just seems to solidify/intensify desires – which from a Buddhist perspective, is going to cause countless readers an increase in suffering – if it works, what they desired for might make them happy for a bit, then boom I wish I didn’t wish for that!!! Or if it doesn’t work, discontent with an unsatisfied desire…….

    So, be careful what you wish for!!!

  • Jonathan Thomas

    The secret is to write or print your affirmations on paper many times (repetition)

    I feel extremely prosperous now

  • Bibi42

    Sorry, but I have to disagree with you Sarah, even though I enjoyed your post.

    I had practised ‘the secret’ long before it had even been thought about, let alone made into a book or a movie. I could never understand why things I needed/focused upon would always just turn up in the most unexpected of ways… but they always did. After watching ‘The Secret’ I slowly began to realise that this was exactly what I had been doing for much of my life (I’m 70 now!)

    I found that the times my ‘wishes’ came to me were when I did a lot of heavy focusing at the start, imagining what it would be like to have whatever it was, etc., and then completely letting it go from my mind, usually thinking that I couldn’t afford it anyway. But the seed had been planted and that was all that was required. I believe that it is this trick of letting it go that makes the ‘magic’ work… not that it is magic, of course. We are simply creating it with our minds and the mind is ever-creative. We truly can create whatever we choose.

    Similarly, if we focus heavily on the negative (like being afraid of having something stolen from us) then this is what will come to us. It works both ways!

    Bearing in mind that the world is an illusion (albeit a very persistent one – as quoted by Einstein) we can manifest whatever our minds choose. There is love and abundance for each and every one of us, if only we knew how to use the power of our minds!