Today a friend sent me the video below. Apparently word’s escaped that I like thinking and chatting about life and existence and whatnot… While definitely cheesy, it’s an excellent reminder of how your locus of control influences your attitudes and behaviors, which may influence your propensity for success and happiness. It references the Law of Attraction. Ya know, that idea popularized by The Secret and endorsed by Oprah–that claims that what you project into the universe comes back to you.

In essence, if you focus on the positive, then positive things will occur in your life; if you exude law-of-attractionnegativity, you’ll experience negativity. The more tangible you make your goals and desires and the stronger you project your visions and vibes ‘out there’, the greater they’ll return to you–for better or for worse. I know, I know. You’re making a face like the guy to the left. And admittedly The Secret and Oprah and the video take the idea to an extreme [The Secret, for instance, claims that if you cross out the negative balance on a bill and turn it into a positive amount, then you’ll begin to receive checks in the mail instead…]. But the video and the Law of Attraction, to a certain extent, raise good points.

Side note: I liked the guy’s take on complaining. He says that to complain, you must have a reference point of something better that you want that you’re not willing to create. In most cases, I agree. For instance, if you complain about your stressful job, you inherently must believe that a better, less stressful job exists. Why not go out and get that job and alter your existence for the better, rather than complain? Analyzing my own complaints, I feel like the vast majority stem from factors within my control. And the things outside of my control that prompt complaints [like the weather] have certain behaviors I can implement to alter my experience to eliminate dissatisfaction [wear appropriate attire, stand in a fire, etc]. So, first accepting that your experience and perception are within your control and then actively influencing them for the positive can eliminate most points of complaint–both big and small.

Now, not everything is within our control, and yes–certain things merit complaint. If your house spontaneously combusts and burns to the ground, I think you’ve earned the right to gripe about it. The psychiatrist in me recognizes the importance of venting. I suppose this may differ from “complaining”, though?

Back to the Law of Attraction. The dude in the video claims that three steps breed success:

  1. Decide and Ask for what you want
  2. Believe you can receive it
  3. Be open to receive it

He points out [and I agree] that most people struggle with #1. And if you can’t create tangible goals and desires, you inherently can’t believe in them nor achieve them, so you must start with 1 in order to even begin to achieve success.

In my previous experiences both remote and recent, I’ve experienced the positive effects of the Law of Attraction. I created “SMART” goals–even written them down, visualized them and created a plan with specific action steps on a realistic timeline to achieve them. And I got what I wanted.

My father has experienced it too and has been know to say, “the harder I work, the luckier I get.” A Jim Kelly classic.

However, in other instances, despite putting forth 110% effort toward a specific goal, external factors thwarted success. Despite whole-heartedly believing something was possible and doing everything in my power to make it happen, I felt like I was swimming upstream or trudging through quicksand without ever achieving the goal. Because in reality, while your actions, attitudes and behaviors certainly shape your existence and your potential, not everything is directly influenced by you.

This feeling of swimming upstream despite knowing in my heart of hearts that I’ve exerted my absolute best effort has caused me to step back and re-evaluate my life. The universe clearly was telling me something.

For instance, when I pursued a new job in the Marketing industry, I went on 40 interviews in a month [I know, crazy]. I’d get fifth and sixth-round interviews with certain companies, but something would fall through. “We really want to hire you, but we’re on a freeze and don’t know when we’ll have the funds to hire you,” I heard more than once. Or the department I applied to work for suddenly disintegrated in a re-org.

So rather than continue to swim upstream to a job in Marketing, I evaluated my true vocation and decided to pursue Nursing. I left the conventional 9-5 life [well, 9-7 or 8 or 10…] and re-gained a flexible schedule. Shortly thereafter, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and my father and I became her primary caregivers–a task that quickly turned into a 24/7 job filled crises. Had I remained locked into a full-time marketing position, my family would never have been able to meet my mother’s needs and I would have missed out on the precious time I was able to spend with her–not to mention redirecting my career into a more fulfilling direction.

I’ve learned through these experiences that, yes, mostly the “believe it and you can achieve it” mentality carries weight. Or at minimum, “alter your perception to alter your reality”. And when things don’t pan out the way you intend, perhaps you’re meant to venture along a different path to a destination you simply can’t visualize at the time.