Have you heard about “the law of attraction”? It was featured in a movie and a book called The Secret. I’m not too keen on interpretations that reduce “the law of attraction” to a get-rich-quick scheme or to any other incantation with magical powers to make the universe bow to our demands. But there is another way to understand this secret, and it has to do with the power of appreciation. When we appreciate the mystery of life and the way the universe works to meet both our needs and the needs of others, then “the law of attraction” really comes into play. Sound intriguing? Read on.
We’re coming down the home stretch in our series on appreciation, having written now about the importance of cultivating an appreciative eye and an appreciative heart in good times and bad. Before summarizing the series, however, I want to make clear that appreciation is not just a feel-good practice. It’s also a transformational practice. Cultivating appreciation transforms us which, in turn, transforms others. When we radiate the power of appreciation, others get on the same wavelength. We launch an appreciation party that makes life more wonderful for one and all.
This isn’t rocket science, of course, since it’s no more complicated than the old adages, “like attracts like,” “what goes around comes around,” “ask and it shall be given,” and “we find what we expect to find.” The difference, for those who understand the power of appreciation, is that we choose how we are in order to attract what we want. It also comes down to intentionality, application, and practice • or what some call “the law of attraction.”
“What’s that?” you ask. Anyone who has ever read or watched The Secret knows what I’m talking about. Do you want happiness, health, and wealth? Do you want to realize your wildest dreams? Do you want to find your soul mate, the love of your life? Then Rhonda Byrne, the creator, author, and producer of The Secret, reveals how to make “the law of attraction” work for you.
In many respects, The Secret or “the law of attraction” are just other ways of describing the power of appreciation. By focusing on and appreciating what we want as if it were already true, “the law of attraction” holds that the universe aligns and brings those things into being. Such appreciation is quite different from yearning after or pining away for something. It does not radiate the energy of neediness.
The power of appreciation rather adopts a proleptic frame, a forward look, that envisions a desired future state and trusts the universe to deliver that state. It’s no more complicated than asking for what you want, believing it will happen, and being open to receiving it.
That, in a nutshell, is The Secret or “the law of attraction” revealed. Ask. Believe. Receive. If it sounds too good to be true, then Byrne suggests that you may not have tried it or tried it correctly. The process can break down at any step along the way:
- Ask. Do you know what you want? Have you pictured it clearly? Can you describe it in detail? What does it look, sound, taste, smell, and feel like? Once you get the details straight, have you asked the universe (or God or a Higher Power or life) to deliver them to you? Have you said, “Yes! This is what I want!” both to yourself and to at least one other person? If you don’t know what you want, and if you don’t ask for what you want, then don’t be surprised • The Secret holds • if you go through life feeling rather unfulfilled, aimless, and needy.
- Believe. Once you’ve put your desires out into the world, once you’ve held them firmly in mind and communicated them to at least one other person, do you take a “Yeah, right, I’ll believe it when I see it!” attitude? Or do you take a “For sure, I’ll see it when I believe it!” attitude. The first attitude should be familiar to those from Missouri, the “Show-Me” state. Such people take a skeptical attitude when it comes to promises like The Secret. Others, however, are more confident that the universe responds to our intentions. Trusting the universe to align, truly trusting, is the key to receiving.
- Receive. Although trust is the key, mindfulness is the cylinder. No amount of trust will work if we feel unworthy or if we fail to notice and respond to what the universe is doing. Asking and believing provoke all sorts of intuitions and synchronicities, both internal and external, for those who have “eyes to see and ears to hear.” The universe rarely delivers what we ask for in one fell swoop, on a silver platter, without our having to lift a finger. The universe is more subtle than that. Things surface and happen. As they do, we can see our desires being fulfilled.
So what do you think of The Secret? On a certain level, it’s not that much of a secret. “Thoughts become things,” to quote Mike Dooley, is not exactly a new idea. Coaches spend our lives working with people to create new mental frameworks which generate new behavior patterns which lead to new outcomes over time. That’s The Secret in action, and if you’d like some help with that, then I’d invite you to give us a call.
If you decide to call, however, please be advised that LifeTrek is not as inclined as some organizations to turn The Secret into a get-rich-quick scheme. I’m not suggesting that we can’t use the Ask-Believe-Receive formula for health, money, and love. We can. But I am suggesting that if we make those things our goal, the power of appreciation will not prove to be very powerful when it comes to “like attracting like” or “finding what we expect to find.”
That’s because health, money, and love are not ends in themselves; they are byproducts of a well-lived life. The power of appreciation works best when we focus it on universal human needs rather than on particular strategies for meeting those needs. Shelter, security, and safety are, for example, universal human needs. The more we appreciate those needs being met, the more the universe will meet those needs both for us and for others. That’s the power of appreciation at its best. It opens us up to new possibilities and fulfillments.
A six-bedroom house with two fireplaces in a gated community, on the other hand, is a particular strategy for meeting those and many other universal needs. Putting a picture of that house on a vision board, asking the universe to deliver it, and trusting the universe to make it so is where I begin to part company with some practitioners of The Secret, “the law of attraction,” or the power of appreciation.
Not only does such an approach make it easy to blame the victim when the universe fails to deliver the house (you must not have trusted or been open enough); it also makes it easy to forget what the power of appreciation is designed to do: to make life more wonderful for one and all. It’s not a magic formula for getting our desires met; it is a magic formula for getting our needs met. The difference is critical.
When we ask the universe to meet our needs for subsistence – transcendence, safety – challenge, work – rest, honesty – empathy, and autonomy – community, and when we trust the universe to find a way to make it so, that’s when the power of appreciation can work its magic. When we imagine the details not in terms of the number of bedrooms but in terms of the wonderful feelings that spring forth and flow when needs are being met, that when we start to resonate in attractive and meaningful ways. And when we resonate in those ways, when we resonate with appreciation, the universe indeed resonates back.
So I’m arguing for an open and adaptive understanding of The Secret. It works best when we come to appreciate what Robert Gonzales describes as “the living energy of needs.” Even when needs are not being met, we can nevertheless appreciate how wonderful it feels when needs are being met • and that is the vibration that calls forth The Secret, “the law of attraction,” the power of appreciation, the gratitude gain, the novelty nudge, the help of hope, and all of the other good things that I have written about in the past few months.
That is the vibration I wish for you this day and every day forward.
Coaching Inquiries: How would you describe your relationship to the universe? Do you trust it to meet your needs or do you doubt that it takes any real interest in you? How could you become more active in asking, believing, and receiving? How can you resonate the power of appreciation, in good times and bad? With whom could you share your enjoyment of the living energy of needs?
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Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.
Since we finished our work with you, our lives have moved in very different directions. I now run my work through a small office in the back of my camper via cell phone modem, with the Rocky Mountains out my window. Works great! As dreams start to come true, they rarely look like they were initially envisioned. But with my wife’s income and the company floating itself, we will be in a great place for the revival of the economy. Capitalist, socialist, or somewhere between, there will still be the need for production • so I will take it as it comes. Thanks for all that you did to help us move forward. We’ll stay in touch.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
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