The phrase Law of Attraction, although used widely by New Thought writers, has a variety of definitions. Turn-of-the-20th-century references conceptualized the law of attraction as relating to physical structure and to how matter develops. A more modern consensus among New Thought thinkers is that the Law of Attraction says people’s thoughts (both conscious and unconscious) dictate the reality of their lives, whether or not they’re aware of it. Essentially “if you really want something and truly believe it’s possible, you’ll get it”, but putting a lot of attention and thought onto something you don’t want means you’ll probably get that too. Widespread popular interest for the law of attraction reached its peak after the release of the The Secret, a 2006 cinematic release. After the film’s release, the book Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham by Esther Hicks and Jerry Hicks made the New York Times Best Sellers list, drawing more attention and interest to this topic.
Prior to this, the couple had been in the New Age field since the 1980s. In 2007 Rhonda Byrne, the writer of the bestselling book The Secret, had become so popular that she was interviewed on Oprah Winfrey. By the time Byrne went on Oprah the book had already gotten its break on the Ellen DeGeneres show and was “hugely successful”. Oprah aired the first of two segments on February 8, 2007. Since many of the claims of the law of attraction appear impossible without violating established scientific principles and our understanding of the universe, it has received criticism from the scientific community. Physicist Ali Alousi, for instance, criticized it as unmeasurable (and therefore unscientific) as well as questioning the likelihood that thoughts can affect anything outside the head. The Associated Press is also quoted as saying that “some medical professionals suggest it could even lead to a blame-the-victim mentality and actually be dangerous to those suffering from serious illness or mental disorders”.
The Law of Attraction claims to have roots in Quantum Physics, although this is dismissed by the scientific community as pseudoscience. According to proponents of this law, thoughts have an energy which attracts whatever it is the person is thinking of.In order to control this energy to one’s advantage, proponents state that people must practice four things:
1. Know exactly what you want. 2. Ask the universe for it. 3. Feel, behave and know as if the object of your desire is already yours (visualize). 4. Be open to receive it and let go of (the attachment to) the outcome. Thinking of what one does not have, they say, manifests itself in not having, while if one abides by these principles, and avoids “negative” thoughts, the universe will manifest a person’s desires. In 2006, a film entitled The Secret (2006) based on the “Law of Attraction” was released and then developed into a book of the same title in 2007. The movie and book gained widespread attention in the media from Saturday Night Live to The Oprah Winfrey Show in the United States. The same year the Hicks’ The Law Of Attraction was on the New York Times best seller list. The success of the film and various books led to increased media coverage. Oprah Winfrey devoted two episodes of her show to discussing the film and the law of attraction. Talk show host Larry King also discussed it on his show but criticized it for several reasons. He pointed to the sufferings in the world and asked: “If the Universe manifests abundance at a mere thought, why is there so much poverty, starvation, and death?” This is similar to a common criticism that the law of attraction only works because most of the anecdotes cited in books and movies are about people who live in a culture that has paths to allow people to overcome adversity, while this is not true for much of the world. In August 2008, Esther and Jerry Hickses’ book Money and the Law of Attraction: Learning to Attract Health, Wealth & Happiness appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list. Unschooling advocate, Dayna Martin, incorporates the Law of Attraction into her approach to radical unschooling, a parenting and homeschooling philosophy.
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