Does Wishful Thinking Actually Work?
In the movie, ‘The Secret,’ (which, when you say it out loud, you MUST say ‘The Secret’ in a whisper to have the right effect!) there is a core idea that the self-appointed self-promotion gurus that produced it are promoting. They call it ‘the Law of Attraction.’
This so-called law, according to the big muckymucks involved in making it, is that like attracts like, and ‘The Secret’ is that if you send out the right images, words and feelings, the universe MUST respond to you by sending the real item you desire in return. Wow. How magical! They must be using ‘The Secret’ to attract all the interest in, and money flowing from, the creation of the movie and spin off products related to ‘The Secret.’ (remember, whisper those words for maximum impact!)
Meanwhile, in most of my communication work, I teach that finding common ground is essential to successful persuasion and conflict resolution. It’s not uncommon for people to read into this idea the ‘law’ from ‘The Secret’ (excited whisper to really make it zing!) that like attracts like. Yet it’s also common for people (other people, those who don’t know ‘The Secret’ apparently) to tell me that ‘opposites attract.’ And don’t get me started on magnets!
Visualize Lots Of New Blog Readers
In an effort to do my part to clear up the confusion of these seemingly conflicted ideas for my blog readers and students, I’ve decided this is an idea calling out for a blog series. I can actually visualize ‘blog series’ all over this idea! And that’s just how I am going to approach it. Today, I’m going to write about the answer to the question, ‘Does Wishful Thinking Actually Work?’ Then Friday, I’ll answer the question, ‘Don’t Opposites Attract?’ And Monday, I’ll follow that up with an exploration of what it means to find common ground, as I answer the question, ‘Can’t We All Just Get Along?’
Hey, who knows? Maybe this series will attract more attention to my blog! Or maybe I’d be better off to sit here and, instead of writing, imagine more readers who are telling their friends and associates to read my blog, and then tell myself I have more readers who are telling their friends and associates to read my blog, and then feel them flocking to my blog where, ironically, nothing was posted because the universe understands already and my readers came because I wished them to do so! HAH!! er… Nah, on second thought, I don’t think that’s the right approach. I’m going to blog instead. Hey, who knows? Maybe my writing will attract more readers who will tell their friends and peers, whether I’m visualizing, affirming and emotionally projecting or not.
In case you think I’m beating around the bush, I’ll come straight out with my opinion about the ‘law of attraction.’
Are You Kidding? No Way!
Sorry, Charlie, wrong tuna. This law is not a law of the known universe. Nor is it a law of nature. And it most certainly is not a law that governs the relationship between what you think, what you do and what you get. So what is it? I think it is a useful fiction, and it works just swell for people who know that the best way to make a lot of money is to sell seekers/suckers on the idea. And what’s the idea? That you can get rich quickly and fulfill all your needs through wishful thinking.
By the way, for the people who made this film and are richly profiting from the spin off opportunities it set in motion, this is not wishful thinking. The cold hard fact is that people have been profiting from selling this same idea in other forms for a very long time. It’s a perennial idea for which the market is never exhausted, because there’s a seeker/sucker born every minute. Maybe that’s ‘The Secret.’ (Say it with breathless excitement!)
Applying Uncommon Sense To Sales
Wishful thinking has always been a good sell since the beginning of recorded time. Some sell it in the form of a talisman. Some sell it in the form of a product. Some sell it in the form of ‘praying the right way.’ What’s novel about ‘The Secret’ is that it just cut straight to the chase and sold it as what it is: Wishful thinking. And, it’s no secret that people have readily shelled out tons of real cash to be told they can learn a methodology of wishful thinking that is remarkably effective.
The beauty of the wishful thinking model sold in ‘The Secret’ (remember, say it with a whisper or you’re saying it wrong!) is that if the genie doesn’t come down out of the sky and give you your bicycle, it’s not because the methodology is flawed, but because you didn’t do it right!
Let’s review. The idea that you can attract something in the real world to come to you by wishing for it correctly is wishful thinking. What’s not wishful thinking? The selling of wishful thinking, especially if its packaged into a get rich quick scheme! (I wish I’d thought of doing that! Oh wait, no I don’t. I have a little problem with the ethics of that. Darn!) Marketing a program on wishful thinking is about as practical an idea as one can imagine. There always have been and always will be plenty of people ready and eager to persuade themselves to use these seeming shortcuts to wealth and health.
Here’s A Simple Test
What’s not effective about wishful thinking? Waiting for results. There’s an old saying that sums this up pretty nicely…er, ugly and disgusting…but makes the point. “You can wish in one hand, and spit in the other. Which do you think will fill up first?” Once you’ve done the thought experiment (yes, don’t actually spit in your hand!) read on.
Clearly, spitting is more effective than wishing when it comes to hand filling. And I’d say that taking action is way more effective than wishing in just about everything else, too.
You’re in spitting distance of part two, which I’ll post on Friday, ‘Do Opposites Attract?’ Any contrarians out there who dislike this post about the law of attraction may find that an attractive follow up to today’s post.
Meanwhile, I’d love to hear comments and experiences with ‘The Secret’ (whisper it like you mean it!) that you may have had (you, meaning the thousands of new blog readers that I’ve attracted with my visualization and affirmation, along with the several existing readers who I got here through bribery and actual writing.)
Rick is a best selling author and the founder of the Art of Change Skills for Life. His book titles include, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to bring out the best in people at their worst, Life by Design and Influence and the Art of Persuasion. These days he is spending quality time away from the spotlight enjoying the company of his wife and practicing his electric guitar.