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

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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