This law posits, quite simply, that thoughts become things. If you ask the universe for what you want, focus on having it, behave as though it's already there and are open to having it then the universe will deliver, whether the object of your desires is a new dishwasher, clear skin, a baby or a million dollars. Guaranteed. Thousands of books now exist based on this simple principle, many of which have spent months on the New York Times bestseller list.
Offering structure and guidance in an increasingly secular society, these bibles can easily be regarded as merely repackaging the same inspiration historically provided by our languishing religions; to consider the Law of Attraction as merely a new, benign, more digestible name for prayer. But there is a crucial difference between the two - while prayer by its very definition acknowledges that ultimate control lies outside of the self (and atheists can equally substitute fate, destiny, gravity or particle physics for a deity in that construction), positive thinking and the Law of Attraction invest ultimate control in the individual, suggesting that by using thought, said individual can effect seismic shifts in their outer world, with nothing whatsoever attributed to social structures, cultural roles, interaction, genetics or dumb luck. The Law of Attraction posits that thoughts create reality, investing in the individual both extraordinary power and extraordinary responsibility. Egocentricity is central. Craving becomes having. Wanting becomes deserving.
In my local bookshops, the choice of books explaining the Law of Attraction is genuinely overwhelming, but there is one at eye-level that is irresistible. "Excuse me," demands the title of Lynn Grabhorn's bestseller, Your Life is Waiting. It seems a shame to make it wait any longer. Ms Grabhorn "invites you to become the creator of your own bliss", an offer that sounds positively masturbatory, particularly in conjunction with the oft-cited "laws of vibrational attraction".
As the newest incarnation of 20th-century positive thinking, the Law of Attraction has gone a step further to entice an even more demanding, even less satisfied generation, fostering a sense of insatiable entitlement while making no reference to the more distasteful topics of hard graft, perseverance, talent, luck or determination. The dedication in Ms Grabhorn's book expresses perfectly what could be considered the root of current societal dissatisfaction - the shift in expectation that means that we are less happy and satisfied than our grandparents, though we have more possibilities and advantages than they could have hoped for. "To every one of us," she gushes, "who finally... maybe... possibly... believes they have the right to perpetual happiness, beginning now."
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