Why The Law Of Attraction Is Bullshit (And What To Do Instead)

I live in Chiang Mai, Thailand at the moment, and there is a whole lot of meditation, yoga, alternative medicine, etc.

Some of that stuff is really great, but there is one massive, extremely dangerous misconception which needs to be rectified.

I have heard way to many people talk about “The Law of Attraction” – otherwise known as “the secret” – in a way that raises all kinds of red flags. A quick formal definition (thanks Google):

The law of attraction is the name given to the maxim “like attracts like” which in New Thought philosophy is used to sum up the idea that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life.

That definition, in itself, is profoundly useful and accurate. Focusing and visualizing positive or negative experiences DOES have the (very obvious and rational effect) of causing correspondingly good or bad things to happen.

Positive Example: If you constantly visualize your goals and ideal self, then you will automatically recognize opportunities to progress towards each, and also catch yourself doing things that are inconsistent with them. (See Cognitive Dissonance).

Negative Example: If you are obsessed with the idea that your significant other is going to leave you, then you will start to inadvertently sabotage your relationship and basically guarantee that it will indeed happen sooner or later.

Great. Use this effect, and use it well.

But here’s the problem…

Too many people misinterpret this principle as some magical, mystical principle which REPLACES taking intentional action to actually achieve what you want.

Yes thinking about it is cool, but you actually have to DO something to make it happen. In. Every. Single. Situation. Even if it’s just recognizing and pursuing an opportunity that “the universe has magically manifested” for you.

I have a really good friend who talks a lot about all the things she wants. I want this relationship, that job, this house, blah blah blah. And she writes about it, visualizes it, and does all the “secrets.” That’s all great, but what I have constantly told her is that you can’t just stop there, you also have take action. And I was listening to a Darren Hardy talk the other day and he framed it really well:

(Paraphrasing) You can’t just think about what you want, you have to understand who you need to be to achieve what you want.

(Thanks to Hugh Bayati for sending me this talk.)

 Go ahead and visualize your perfect spouse every night, and journal about them too…

But if you are not working on YOURSELF to become the kind of person you have to be to attract that kind of person (or client, or opportunity, or income) then it doesn’t matter how much you visualize it, even if you find the opportunity you will be unable to take advantage of it.

If you have the HABITS of a minimum wage employee, then it doesn’t matter how much you wait for the universe to “manifest” for you that 7-figure income… It just ain’t gonna happen.

Ok. Enough ranting about what you shouldn’t do. Let’s talk about what works really well.

Whenever I have a list of things I want to work on, or goals I want to achieve, I always focus on those involved with working on myself first. After all, I truly believe that investing yourself pays off infinitely more than any other investment you could possibly make.

Whether that is in the form of education, correcting some negative thinking patterns, taking care of your health, etc, it is all essential. Your body, your mind, and your character are the foundation for everything else.

Here’s a confession: I don’t like spending money. I grew up pretty poor, so I am pretty frugal.

But I literally spent $87.68 just yesterday on books I will read. I will be reviewing a course about programming and growth hacking that I think I will pick up later today for $149. Over 50% of my current expenses involve self-education, increasing my productivity, or improving my health.

Meanwhile I prefer to cook my own food because it saves a few bucks (and it’s healthier).

Whatever amount of time, energy, money, and social capital you have to invest… always invest as much of it as possible in your foundation – growth, health, and integrity.

If you do this, then…

  • When your dream client shows up, you are professional and skilled enough to work with them (and do a great job).

  • When you have to pull an all-nighter to land a partnership with your dream mentor, you have the physical energy and emotional fortitude to handle it.

  • When that woman you’ve “been looking for all your life” shows up, you can attract her and make her happy in a relationship (versus her thinking you are just another lazy/arrogant/boring/immature loser).

I like concrete action steps, so here are a few:

  1. What is your biggest psychological hangup, and how can you work on it?

  2. Are you currently living the way that the kind of person who achieves everything you want in life has to live? If you want to invent the next Tesla, then either start working as much as Elon Musk or change your vision.

  3. Instead of thinking only about the things that you want, consider who do you want to be? Don’t just talk about how you want to give a Ted Talk next year, but work to develop the confidence, connections, and charisma required to do so.

The most important question:

Who is that person in your mind who is achieving all of your hopes and dreams, and what is the difference between you as you currently are, and that person?

– – –

Mentioned in this post:

The Law of Attraction

Darren Hardy on Success

– My good buddy Hugh Bayati

Elon Musk, Hard Work and Little Sleep

Now that you know you can’t just wait for good things to happen with you, check out my other post on how to make things happenWillpower is Overrated

One Habit To Transform Your Life: Read One Book Per Week

Apologies for the cliché title, but if I made a list of things that I personally find transformative… learning, and especially reading, would be towards the top. It’s a true game-changer.

I have always been a voracious reader. In fact I remember how often I would get called a nerd in school by other kids for reading, or yelled at by teachers when I would get bored, stop listening, and pull out a book in class.

I mean if you’re not going to teach me I might as well teach myself right?

No! Bad student! (Read: soulless mind-slave). Yay for social pressures to stop doing positive things! 🙂

Nevertheless, I still read a ton to this day. I have found the simple act of grabbing a good book when you want to learn about a topic or acquire a skill is transformative. And I use that word without exaggeration.

Isn’t it amazing to think that knowledge on almost any topic is just a book away?

For any topic you could ever want to learn about, there is someone who has studied the topic for decades and condensed all of it into a few hundred pages.

Simply put… it’s really freaking cool when you think about it.

Recently a couple friends of mine started the habit of reading 1 book per week, or 50 books in a year. This wasn’t a long way from what I was already doing, so I decided to jump on that bandwagon!

Here’s my current reading list that I am building out for this year:

Titles

The Power of Vulnerability

Play: How it shapes the brain and opens imagination

59 Seconds

80/20 Sales and Marketing

Breakthrough Rapid Reading

Influence (audiobook)

Personal Development for Smart People

Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant

Ask

Never Eat Alone

Content Machine

Charisma on Command

Little Red Book of Selling + The Secrets of Consulting

Cashvertising

Get Slightly Famous

The One Thing

This Book Will Teach You How to Write Better

Problogger: 6 Figure Blog

The Ultimate Sales Machine

Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers

Brain Rules

Profit First

The Psychology of Selling

Bold: How to Go Big

Losing My Virginity

Execution IS the Strategy: How Leaders Achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time

The Power of Forgetting: Six Essential Skills to Clear Out Brain Clutter and Become the Sharpest, Smartest You

Fooled by Randomness

Book Yourself Solid Illustrated: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling

Antifragile

Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World

Speak to Win: How to Present with Power in Any Situation

The 48 Laws of Power

The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

The Gifts of Imperfection

Daring Greatly

Do More Great Work

I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t)

(I actually have a full list of books I want to read that is several hundred titles long)

In just a few months, it’s exciting that I will have learned a ton about…

  • Work-life balance
  • Psychology
  • Relationships
  • Marketing
  • Brand-building
  • Influence and charisma
  • Networking
  • Finance
  • Productivity/efficiency

In fact (geek out moment here) I often find myself getting overly excited about books…

“Oh! I can learn more about evolutionary psychology with this book! And how to read facial expressions with this one…Oh cool and I always wanted to learn a bit more about a Buddhist monk’s view on quantum entanglement!” (real examples)

And then I proceed to buy dozens of books that I will never have the time to read.

This is one of the reasons why I think it will be helpful to be more intentional about this goal. I tend to read random books at random times, but this way I will be able to track how much I read, and WHAT I am actually reading.

I’ve created the above list based on which books (out of the list several hundred long) best relate to my current goals.

“What gets measured gets managed.” – Peter Drucker

Great strategies to maximize this goal:

  1. Read 30 minutes every morning and evening (AWESOME way to start and end the day and automatically knocks out 1 book per week)
  2. Listen to audiobooks at 1.5x speed (or 2x if you can handle it) – Thanks Kurt for this suggestion.
  3. Create an Evernote notebook called “Book Notes” and create one note for each book to jot down ideas and realizations.
  4. Make sure to take action on at least 1 thing from every book that you read – it’s not just what you know but what you DO with what you know! (The Evernote tip makes this a lot easier)

 

 One final thought:

I have a weird fear I will run out of things to read/learn some day. The thought is that yes you can learn the basics of everything in a book, and most intermediate level topics, but if you want to learn about advanced particle physics or something, the list of available topics is quite a bit smaller.

Then you have to start picking up textbooks to read. And that just sucks…

What are YOU reading this year?

If you DON’T have a reading list, what is something that you can drop to find an extra 30 minutes per day to automatically have the time to read dozens of books this year

– – –

Not only am I trying to read every day, but I’m trying to *write* every day as well! Check out my newest habit here: How to Create New Habits (And Watch Me Create One Live!)

A really nice Huffington Post article on How to Read a Book a Week

The Fallacy Of Storytelling – Important for your marketing, your autobiography, and everything in between

Day 5 of New Writing Habit

Lock and load! I have been keeping track of random ideas to write about in Evernote to pull from in the morning.

This prevents the need for innovation on the spot – very helpful!

– – –

“History is written by the victors.” – Walter Benjamin

I’ve studied enough philosophy (and physics, interestingly enough) to understand there there is no meaningful, objective reality. After all, I am colorblind, and that alone causes me to view the world differently than you, not to mention any differences in beliefs, testosterone levels, or portfolio of life experiences.

But most of those examples are passive and uncontrollable shapings of experience…what about doing this intentionally?

Consider the last story you told someone – how you were late for work, or scored a number from that hottie across the bar.

We tend to have the opinion that our stories are “what really happened” but consider the perspective of the listener and how your version of the story entirely shapes their mental experience!

Here is an interesting example:

Say a business prospect rejects your proposal. What is the story you tell yourself and others?

Version 1 (negative): “I am not worthy of their business. I am too inexperienced anyways. I probably screwed up the proposal anyways.”

Version 2 (neutral): “Maybe they realized doing business is not a good fit right now. Oh well, you win some you lose some.”

Version 3 (positive): “Cool! Less work I have to do now. I will have more free time to spend with my family. There’s a reasonable chance they will want to work with me anyways.”

Which of these versions is “right”? The answer: none of them, or all of them.

You probably DID submit an imperfect proposal. You DO win some and lose some. And you WILL have more time to spend on other things.

But consider the emotional qualities of each of these stories, all of which are “true.” You sound like a loser to yourself and others in the first story, and the third sounds like an awesome opportunity!

What does this mean?

You can be INTENTIONAL about the kinds of stories you create in your life. In fact, you are already doing this!

Consider the social pressure to “talk things up.” We happily self-select the prettiest, happiest pictures of ourselves to put up on social media. We brag about that promotion we received even though we secretly worry that we are unqualified and about to be overwhelmed with work.

Maybe that hottie you got that number from was an incredibly mean person…

Here are 3 descriptions:

  • Warm-hearted with secret but intense insecurities
  • Millionaire poker player
  • Quirky and interesting person who is always doing something interesting

 

The secret (you see where this is going don’t you?): these are descriptions of the same person!

The mental picture we paint of each was dramatically different, however. And what if I wanted to describe this person to someone?

I have a friend who is a….[choose a description]

If I wanted to complain – Description 1.

If I wanted to brag – Description 2.

If I wanted to appreciate – Description 3.

Understanding the power and subjective stories can make life feel more like whatever you want it to feel like. You can be the hero of your story, the bad guy, the victim, the wise man. You can characterize yourself and your story however you’d like.

…and in the process control the opinions of others about you and your life.

I am not suggesting that this should be used to manipulate (although it can and does do that) but rather the effect is present regardless, and we might as well understand and take control of this intentionally to live the best life possible.

What is the story you choose?

– – –

Here’s a cool video on Positive Perception: The 5 Minute Motivator

A related blog post by me on overcoming the Top 4 Fears That Control You

Choose Your Beliefs

Day 4 of New Writing Habit

The past week since the last post I have been putting this time towards writing things directly related to certain projects (example: creating worksheets) but somehow this is an entirely different experience.

It’s not as creative, and definitely interferes with the habit. No more of that. 30 minutes of consistent blog post writing no matter what.

– – –

Throughout our lives we accumulate beliefs, interpretations, perspectives…

But the problem is that 1) these are all subjective and 2) once beneficial beliefs or lifestyles often become extremely counterproductive, if they were ever useful at all.

I’ve decided to systematically work on shaping my beliefs in an intentional way, rather than having them merely be a reaction to my environment.

It takes only a few minutes of reflection to find internal beliefs that are either clearly negative or extremely outdated. Since beliefs often take years to internalize, even your self-image relates more to your past self than to as you currently are, which is a big problem for anyone who grows rapidly or lives an ever-changing lifestyle.

With minimal organization, here are a list of beliefs that I am trying to intentionally alter/refine/create/remove/etc. Clarifying explanations provided where relevant.

Choosing My Beliefs With Intention

Vulnerability Beliefs

Explanations: I have been listening to a really great audiobook called The Power of Vulnerability and it made me super uncomfortable as I realized I have intensely internalized a desire and tendency to never open up to people, even when it appears I am. I strive to be protected, invulnerable, strong, perfect, etc., and recently I have realized how this makes relationships very difficult. Here are beliefs to offset these tendencies to be less demanding of myself and others, and more emotionally vulnerable.

(It makes me uncomfortable even writing about it! Even writing the words “emotionally vulnerable” makes me feel like I am being weak.)

1. I don’t always have to be “strong” and being “strong” does not mean avoiding or denying my feeling. It is okay to be more open about my fears and anxieties.

2. While growth is essential, everyone is already “enough” as they are, myself included.

3. Vulnerability is a prerequisite for love, and I can only love someone as much as I love myself.

Success And The Good Life Beliefs

Explanation: I don’t see myself as “successful.” I don’t know why. Even though I have achieved so many things, I view the status of “success” and living the “good life” as reserved for some arbitrary point in the future. My best guess is that this arises from an unclear, mirage-like definition of these things which is always out of reach. These beliefs are meant to rectify this.

1. Every day is a beautiful day no matter “success.”

2. I am courageous – I go forward in spite of fear and uncertainty and without hesitation.

3. I believe “success” means being free to grow and spending one hour per day on a project that matters to me.

4. I believe failures of boldness are successes. True failure means failure of inaction or failing to learn and grow from a situation.

5. I believe that the good life means freedom of time (mostly) and location (mostly). More specifically – spending no more than four hours a day on things I don’t want to do to achieve that which I aspire to.

Beliefs About Relationships

Explanation: As an ambitious introvert who has trouble being emotionally vulnerable, it is super easy for me to invest 100% on achieving the unachievable “success” (see above) while ignoring relationships with other people. This is a terrible idea! I like learning from people who are more mature and experienced than myself, and they always emphasize the importance of their relationships above all else. This is something I am trying to learn from and more intentionally prioritize.

1. I believe happiness means loving others genuinely (practice glowing meditation).

2. I believe I can and should pursue deeper connections every day. I do not have to wait.

3. I believe I am loved because I feel love for other people. I am supported because I support other people.

Beliefs About My Purpose

Explanation: No one enjoys existential angst. The problem is often in the definition however. I (like many) have always aspired to “be a great man”, to “change the world”, and to “leave my mark.” Very cliche stuff, and no idea how that would look. So I sat down to define each of these terms because that is the only way to achieve them.

1. I believe significance means I help one person live a better life every day.

2. I believe feeling certainty means knowing I can grow and learn from any situation no matter what!

3. I believe that my form of greatness means having a great, balanced ocean of calm that exudes compassion and great internal strength. I believe cultivating this is one of the best possible uses of my time! I believe that to be great means to be free of ego, as freedom from pride is the most common trait of all great men I wish to emulate.

Beliefs To Nullify Self-Doubt

Explanation: Everyone has self-doubt at times. But I don’t want to wait for it to magically go away.

1. I believe I should be PROUD of myself when I exert my best effort – not just on work but on life and being a good person. I believe it is BULLSHIT to be stressed with things still on my to-do list.

2. I AM on the right path and doing the right thing. No more doubting (cure is goal setting). The dots WILL connect when i look back on my life – there doesn’t always need to be a plan.

Financial Beliefs

Explanation: I attended a financial workshop recently, and realized that my beliefs about money were super f#$^ed up! I grew up in an environment of scarcity – bankruptcy, house foreclosed by the bank, “I don’t know how we are going to buy food this month,” that type of stuff. So I have this deep-seated feeling like I am about to run out. Of everything. I feel anxiety when I think about my finances, as if I was in my parent’s financial situation. None of this is based on reality of course, and it causes me to be overly conservative with my finances, even when it comes to investing in myself or my business.

1. I have an abundance of resources already.

2. Money is easy to create.

3. Money is drawn to me – I am a creator of wealth.

4. Investing in myself or my business is the best possible use of my resources.

– – –

Part of my morning routine is to review these beliefs every morning, as a way of mentally rehearsing them to drive them home!

So far I have adopted them all at a superficial level, but I find in times of stress, fatigue, or self-doubt my old mental scripts start running automatically.

These things take time.

 But I am excited to see where this will lead 🙂

What are beliefs you have about yourself, your life, or what is possible that are clearly holding you back from living the kind of life you desire, of being the kind of person you know you can be?

– – – – – – – –

– The Incredible TED Talk by Brené Brown – A serious *must watch*: The Power of Vulnerability

– Check out my related post on developing confidence, and not being afraid to be proud of yourself: How To Develop True Confidence

 

The Power of Anti-Modeling

Day 3 of New Writing Habit

Technically this is day 4, but my previous day 3 got deleted! This is also a week later, as I fell off track due to life circumstances. 🙁

But no worries – I am happy to practice the art of getting back on track, which in many ways is more challenging (and more important) than setting an initial habit.

– – –

I believe few of you are new to the concept of modeling. This is the idea that you choose someone who has accomplished a goal, skill set, lifestyle, etc. that you want to achieve also, and so you study what they do – copying them, in order to copy their results.

Whether many of you actually apply this is another matter, but also a subject for a different post!

But there is an opposite method which I have found actually MORE helpful in my own life than modeling. And through this technique I have accomplished many things I am truly proud of, while avoiding countless pitfalls of many people around me.

That method is called anti-modeling.

The problem with the traditional method of modeling is that it can be really difficult to get access to the people you want to model.

Maybe you can find their autobiography or follow their blog, but in many cases the only access you are able to find is at best several steps removed.

But what is infinitely abundant is the number of anti-models out there.

Think about it:

How many people have accomplished already exactly what you are trying to achieve? A handful, a couple thousand, or maybe even a couple million people depending on how ambitious your goals are.

Now how many people have accomplished something you do NOT want? The answer is everyone else. All 6.99 billion of them.

How does this work in the real world?

It’s easy. Just look at your local garbage-man, that racist guy down the street, that uncle of yours who never amounted to anything, your cousin who dropped out of college and ended up in jail a few times.

Or even the uninspired masses who live day to day with no real sense of purpose.

All you have to do is observe the choices each of these people have made to achieve these outcomes.

Here are some examples that I have personally learned from:

1. Many of those in business have accomplished great “success” but without a sense of purpose, and this ultimately leads to indulging in short-term pleasures like drugs, constantly getting wasted, or prostitutes.

2. My mother has a fixed mindset when it comes to learning certain things, and so she is unable to do so. For example, if you say the word “math” to her she stops listening, and so she can never learn anything new about that topic due to her beliefs about it.

3. My father has emotional issues he has never dealt with. And the result is he has destroyed many (actually most) of his personal relationships, been to jail a few times for assaulting his girlfriends, and other things that are super uncool.

Now, this may seem super judgmental. I suppose in some ways it is, but the point is not to make judgments about the person, but to observe causes and effects.

One example:

There is a common storyline that goes something like: get some kind of “normal” job out of college, get wasted and work a lame job until you are in your late 20’s, get frustrated/disenchanted with life and your work, quit your job to “find yourself” for a year or so, discover your purpose and work you enjoy in a radically different field or lifestyle.

Personally, I wanted to skip to the last part, so I took those who have lived the above as anti-models and did the opposite, going straight to the last step.

Another example:

There is a chain of causality that leads from a woman being enchanted by the idea of “chivalry” which inexorably leads in many cases to the effect of frequently dating “assholes.”

(It would take too long to illustrate here the exact reason for this, but if you want to test it just ask any woman who mentions that she likes “chivalrous” men how many times she has dated an asshole. The typical answer – a lot. The short explanation is that “chivalrous” usually equals spending money or being confidently assertive, which means the bad person who buys a lot of flowers will always win out against the shy nice guy.)

The point then, is not that there is anything inherently wrong with choosing men based on “chivalry”, or those who choose a corporate job out of college. But if you want a different outcome, then you can easily take control of the chain of causality which leads to assholes…or feeling like you wasted your 20’s.

Just do the opposite of everyone who has achieved the opposite of what you want, and you will get what you want.

Who would some of your anti-models be? And what have you learned/gained from observing them? Let me know in the comments! I’m super interested to hear and chat about it.

–––

If you were intrigued by the idea, read more on modeling here: http://www.yourdailylifecoach.com/modeling.html

And watch me make my first attempt at this new writing habit: http://grantweherley.com/create-new-habits/

MYE 010: Bestselling Author Mike Harrington on Dominating Your Book Launch

MYE010In this episode, Grant chats with Mike Harrington, best selling co-author of Free your Fear.

MYE 009: Increasing Accountability and Engagement

MYE009In this educational episode, Grant shares two keys tools to help you increase accountability and engagement with your audience.

MYE 008: Constructing A Perfect New Life, And Starting A Movement In The Process with Dan O’Donnell

MYE008In this episode, Grant speaks with Dan O’Donnell, an entrepeneur, podcaster and digital nomad living in Chiang Mai; creator of the Better Me game and the Positive Thinking facebook page, with over 800,000 people.

MYE 007: Sell Anything (And Go From 2k to 20k per month) with David Anderson

MYE007In this episode Grant speaks with David Anderson, a sales consultant who helps internet marketers convert leads to increase their revenue. He specializes in teaching entrepreneurs how to be more effective in Sales.

MYE 006: Build Your Brand With Expert Tools

MYE006In this educational episode, Grant shares some keys tools that will help save you time and can make you more successful and profitable in your business.