The last couple days, I’ve thought a lot about the “Law of Attraction” and making it work so I can have what I want. Last night I posted a brief introduction to the Law of Attraction, and then went to bed with a lot of questions on my mind.
Basically, the questions boil down to this: If there is this “Law” governing the Universe that says we can have whatever we want just by asking for it, then why are so many of us still unhappy?
When I got up this morning, I had some great feedback waiting for me, from my very thoughtful friend Cindy. (Her comment is posted on yesterday’s blog.) The question is not, How do I get what I want, but rather, What do I actually want anyway?
Cindy made an excellent point, that the world around us (starting with school) beats any sense of personal desire out of us, so that by the age of 7, we lose our individual sense of purpose, and become a confused mess of what others want for us – along with a vague sense that this isn’t really what we want. “I want to help animals” gets stuffed under “I should want good grades in math,” followed by, “I should want to date the captain of the __ team” followed by “I should want the same for my own kids.”
Why can’t I get what I want? My desires are so confused and buried by what others tell me I should want, that I can’t get a radar lock on what it is that I really want.
The only way that the Law of Attraction can work effectively is when I get absolutely clear on what I want in my heart of hearts, and stay focused on that. If I’m trying to want what I’m told to want, then my motivation is weak and I cannot sustain the drive towards the goal. (For evidence, check out your local multi-level marketing company. Listen to the executive try to convince the underlings that they should all want what she wants. Watch them quit when they fail to attract what the executive wants for them.)
So, all that aside, what do I want?
I want to be happy.
But I’ve been trained by the world to be unhappy, because I don’t have the stuff that makes people happy. So I look around at the world outside, as I’ve been trained to do, and ask, “What would make me happy?” And I see this all-electric sports car that does 0-60 in less time than it takes for a good belch.
And I want it. Why? Because it’s fast and beautiful and good for the environment, so, based on what I’ve been taught since the age of 3, of course I want it! Now, what do I have to do to get it? Well, I need lots of money. How do I get that? Lots of overtime in a job that pays well. So, I go to work for whoever offers a lot of money and I work very hard. I work so hard, in fact, doing something that I don’t enjoy, that I become very unhappy. And before long, life becomes a struggle to keep the job I don’t really want, doing crap that makes me hate myself, to please my employer, so that maybe, some day, I can have what I want: a car.
Unfortunately, getting the car only makes me happy for a few days. Then my happiness is replaced by the fear of losing it. (Although the Buddha never had a car, he would be intimately familiar with this process.)
If I’m lucky, I wake up one day, and realize that I’ve been living someone else’s dream. And I grieve for the lost years. And I remember that what I really wanted all along was to be happy. And then instead of looking out there for happiness, I look in here, in my own heart of hearts.
I love Cindy’s comment on yesterday’s post: “What is missing from my Now that is motivating me to chase Later?” She has a lot of other good stuff to say, so if you want to read it (and only if you really want to!) check out the comments on yesterday’s post.
What I want is to hear back from you about what you want. But if you don’t want that, then you can do whatever you want.
I’m glad that you’re blogging on this topic. It has confused me for a while, and yes – made me feel guilty too! There are people out there ( management at Ethan Allen) that actually tried to make me feel bad for not attracting the things I wanted, as if I didn’t believe enough or focus hard enough. My misunderstandings of the LoA caused me to buy another vehicle that I wanted (and now I have still another gruelling 2 years to pay off) and caused me to be dissatisfied with what I earned for a living. And once that hornet’s nest was stirred up, it was hard to get back to being satisified with what I had been given. Humility and appreciation for what I had came through 1.5 hard years of having mostly everything taken from me and now I understand what really is important!
As a christian, I’ve had a hard time reconciling the 2 practices and I figure I’ll stick with Jesus’ example and anything else that fits in with that – great. And anything outside of those teachings that causes me to desire earthly things – not great.
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