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While the law of attraction has us believe we can be reaching our goals by simply focusing on what we want, the Principles of Attraction may be a more successful way of achieving our goals through mindfulness and thought-directed action.

Just think hard enough about the life you want, and you’ll have it – it’s as simple as that according to Law of Attraction. For many, this method fails to work. And that’s why the Law of Attraction has some serious challenges. Although the Law of Attraction is an established paradigm, the Principles of Attraction is a new mode gaining popularity. It is a slight change in wording but one that makes all the difference for the concepts underpinning the psychological theory.

What is the Law of Attraction?

The Law of Attraction is a psychological theory that dates back to times of the Ancient Greeks. It dictates that if you focus your mind on visualising or imagining a certain desire it will come into fruition. All of your thoughts, actions, and focus must be channelled towards this image constantly. By doing this, the Law claims that you will attract what you focus on – from like-minded people, to the desirable life or object itself. In basic terms – think hard enough about it and it will happen.

 

What is the difference between the Principles and the Law?

The Law of Attraction promotes obsessive one-track focus on a particular item or feature of life, and in its endeavour to seek positivity and attract like-minded people, it simultaneously alienates and promotes pessimism. Conversely, the Principles of Attraction focuses on positivity and mindfulness, channelling our energies towards a healthy and sustainable goal.

Girl with hands over face lying in bed One of the largest challenges that we encounter when looking at the Laws of Attraction is that they don’t take into account the realities of life which are quite often beyond human control. According to the Laws of Attraction, incidents such as physical accidents, weather disasters, bad timing, illnesses and injuries are all linked back to a lack of positivity and visualisation of our goals. Somewhere along the way we have lost focus and have attracted the ‘bad’ because we weren’t focused enough on the ‘good’.

This element is referred to as ‘visualisation’ under the Law of Attraction. The Principles of Attraction turn away from this somewhat inactive visualisation aspect and expand the term to encourage a more active role for us as visualisers. Psychologist and life coach Dr James Michael Nolan says, “our thoughts can get the ball rolling for the possibility of creation” but we must put the hard yards and energy into achieving our goals – simply picturing them is not enough.

 

How do I follow the Principles of Attraction?

Professor Neil Farber of Psychology Today advises the following in order to achieve a lifestyle in line with the Principles of Attraction:

  • Visualising is a process not an outcome.
    • Picturing your desired life does not produce this desired life. Visualising and focusing your energies into this idea is a process for obtaining what you are looking for – it does not immediately produce your desired life.
  • Value-based goals are more important than wants and desires.
    • Do not focus on the two-storey house with swimming pool, six bedrooms and a large backyard. Ask yourself why you want this. What feelings and emotions are underpinning this end goal? A sense of achievement? A place to call your own? A place your children can grow up with space and freedom? Make these values of family, connectivity, space and freedom your goal. Visualise these rather than what you perceive as their physical embodiment.
  • Your actions matter.
    • Regardless of how much time you spend focusing on your goals, at the end of the day it’s you who needs to make them happen. You are responsible for your actions and when your collective energies are all focused on these values, your actions should follow suit. Your goals are much more likely to be realised this way.
  • Be mindful of the present.
    • While looking ahead to the future and what you are hoping to find there, don’t forget to live in the present. It’s the choices that you make in the current moment that have the biggest impact on your future.
  • Remember challenges.
    • Regardless of how hard we might focus and commit our actions to achieving our goals, there are things in the world that are out of our control. No matter how much positive energy we may be sending out into the universe, accidents, challenges, roadblocks and stop signs are part of life. Don’t be hard on yourself – these things are not from a deficit in positivity on your part, but are features of all human life. Be optimistic, but realistic.

 

What other things can I do?

Dr Nolan suggests that a good way to maintain positivity and mindfulness whilst following the Principles of Attraction is to keep journals and lists of things that you appreciate in life already. This, combined with surrounding yourself with positive caring people and engaging with them in nurturing ways, is essential to staying happy while pursuing your goals.

Suggested Activities for mindfulness:

  • Meditation
    • Woman meditatingEvery morning before beginning the busy day, spend between 10-30 minutes meditating. Find a quiet place in the house, take a seat cross-legged or lay flat on your back and focus on your breathing. Follow your breath in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, out for four seconds, hold again and repeat. Calming your mind will help you reflect on whatever comes into your thoughts and prepare yourself for the day ahead.
    • Meditation can also be useful at the end of the day. Incorporating meditation into your nightly routine can assist with reflection on the day that has been and calm your senses ahead of the new day to come.
  • Gratitude lists
    • Writing a small 5-10 points list about things you are grateful for and the reasons you are grateful for them in your life is an excellent way to stay mindful and focus your goals in a healthy way. These lists can be made at the beginning or at the end of the day, and are particularly useful when we are feeling lost, sad, angry or losing touchNotebook journal writing with our goals.
    • These lists can cover anything from a person you are grateful for, the city you live in, to the small things that have made you smile during the day.
    • Keeping these lists in a journal or notebook is also very important. If we’re having a particularly bad day and are finding it hard to channel our thoughts positively, looking back on these lists is a wonderful way to redirect and focus our energies in the right direction again.
  • Mother and daughter walking in moutainsWalking
    • Going for a stroll – particularly with loved ones, family, and friends – is another fantastic way to practice mindfulness and focus on your goals. Reflecting on the things you see on the walk such as the natural surroundings, the sounds, the people you may have encountered is an important way to remind yourself to live in the present moment while still aiming to achieve your goals.

 

Why doesn’t the Law concept work?

Woman writing in journal  The key difference that Dr Nolan highlights is; “Principles outline how things go, or tend to go. Laws say they cannot go otherwise.” This is why it is useful to consider attraction within the framework of principles; guidelines and features to follow rather than make-or-break laws that will often end in disappointment.

Studies show that following the Law of Attraction method without consideration of the elements underpinning the psychological process results in a success rate of only 0.1%. Very few people can achieve their obsessively-visualised end goal within the rigidity of the Laws of Attraction. The Principles, on the other hand, give us flexibility and room for growth – not to mention the impact on your own sense of self during the process.

 

What should I take away from the Principle of Attraction?

  • Take action for you own life choices.
  • Make decisions that will help you achieve your goals.
  • Chanel your thoughts, meditations, mantras and efforts into what you want.
  • Send positive energies outward and receive positive energies back in return.

It is up to us to personally change our attitudes and follow the Principles – it is not up to the world to deliver us everything we want if we think hard enough on it. As Professor Farber says, “Don’t leave your goal fulfilment to the universe.” Go out, set your goals, aim your positive energies at achieving them, and appreciate the good things you already have. Two women smiling and happy

 

Declaring your goals for a healthier year ahead can be exciting and empowering. You may have accelerated into 2020 with enthusiasm for the high expectations of what you will accomplish in the months ahead. Why then, is the reality of maintaining a new habit, so much easier said than done?

What exactly is a habit?

 

A ‘habit’ is defined as a behaviour we do automatically, requiring either very little or no thinking at all.

For example, loading the dishwasher every night after dinner is automatic. Brushing our teeth before bed?  Automatic. Purchasing that perfectly brewed cup of coffee each morning? Automatic. We have completed these behaviours repeatedly; therefore our brain requires very little effort to put these into action. It is expected. It is routine.

If habits require little effort, why is it so difficult to establish new ones?

The key to maintaining a new habit is having the opportunity for repetition.

Using the coffee example, every morning for as long as you can remember, you’ve been stopping at your favourite café on the way to work to buy that lovely cup of joy to help get you through your day. Perhaps in the beginning, before this ritual became established, you may have found it a bit of a challenge to go out a little earlier each morning to ensure you had enough time to grab your caffeine fix before work. And yet, following months of repeating this behaviour five days a week, it soon became second nature and now easily fits into your daily routine.

 

 

The science tells us that when we repeat a new behaviour, the nerves in our brain and nervous system are stimulated; this strengthens our neural pathways, which means over time, this behaviour becomes automatic.

We need to have an opportunity to repeat our new healthy habit, and this needs to fit easily into our day.

So, what exactly can I do to make sure I stick to my new healthy habit?

There are three steps we can take to help that new habit become more automatic:

 

1) You need to identify a behaviour that you want to become a habit. Make the behaviour clear and measurable. For example, you identify that you want to practice Yoga more often. You decide you want to practice one hour of Yoga, three times a week. Write this behaviour in your journal, or on a calendar.

2) You need a cue, something that will prompt you to complete this behaviour. This cue could be environmental, situational, physical, visual or auditory. For example, you may identify that the best time for you to practice Yoga would be your days off, after the school drop off. So the situational cue here would be returning home after dropping your children at school. Perhaps, you could even wear your workout clothes for the school run so that you are ready to go.

3) You need an opportunity to repeat this behaviour. How many times can you realistically fit Yoga into your week? You may identify the best time would be on your days off, when the house is quiet. This gives you the opportunity to repeat this behaviour three times a week.

Visual tools are great to help keep you on track. Check off your sessions on the calendar as you go, check in at the end of each week to see how you went. Do you need to amend the schedule to make it fit easier into your life? Make it work for you!

What barriers do I need to watch out for?

Disruption to your usual routine can be a potential obstacle. We are human; we get ill; appointments will crop up unexpectedly; our days off from work may change. Our lives are changeable and so we have to create contingencies. If you have a really busy week coming up and scheduling in three one-hour yoga sessions is too much, could you reduce the duration of your practice to just 30 minutes? Could you change your days? Remember, some things occasionally may take priority over your Yoga practice. Do not beat yourself up if you have to cancel a session; practice compassion and kindness to yourself. Move on with your day, reflect and get back on track the following week.

Be aware of your inner critic. Some of us live with an inner mean voice that will try and sabotage our progress. It can be easy to listen to that inner voice that tells you to give up, and tells you that you will never be able to reach your goal, but it is important you are able to close off that inner voice. Offer yourself the positive encouragement you would offer a friend.

You may also want to watch out for when the ‘honeymoon phase’ ends. When we make resolutions, we are often taken by the ‘high’ of their anticipated success. Vivid images of what we believe our lives will look like when we achieve our goals can often distract us from the journey itself. When we initially start implementing these habits, we feel excited by how easy it all seems, only this can soon change to feelings of ambivalence; the initial drive to change can slow down. It is important to acknowledge the end result is not the goal here; what is important is that you are making small changes to enhance your health.

Every step, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. So please be kind to yourself and express gratitude at all times.

The take-away

Be realistic; plan feasible opportunities for you to practice this behaviour.

Keep it simple; do not try and introduce lots of new behaviours at one time. Take it one at a time and add in other challenges at a comfortable pace as you progress.

Have patience; developing and maintaining a new habit takes time. For some, it takes 21 days, for others, it can be 90 days, or even longer. Have patience and enjoy the journey.