“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” - Napoleon Hill

When You Wish Upon a Star was the anthem of my childhood. Like so many other kids, I believed, with all my heart and soul that magical things could happen if I just had faith.

As kids, we became believers when we saw Peter Pan and his friends fly off to Neverland, with just a little pixie dust, and a happy thought. We became believers when Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother transformed her with a touch of her magical wand. We became believers when Hercules became a God because he was willing to sacrifice his life to save another.

That inner kid is still very much alive in each and every one of us. Even as grown-ups we still want to believe that all things are possible. We have faith that there is some kind of cosmic force that can create alchemy to magically transform our hearts desire into reality. The law of attraction (LOA) is perhaps the closest thing that we can get to pixie dust or fairy godmothers in our adult lives.

You may have heard of the LOA after its mass popularization after the release of the worldwide bestseller The Secret. The featured experts in the book touted the LOA as a simple, metaphysical principle of which everyone on the planet can take advantage. They claimed that by simply imagining, and focusing on a certain outcome, the Universe will eventually deliver. But is it really that simple? If it were, then all of us would be prosperous and happy beyond our wildest dreams! Before getting deluded by these enticing claims, we need to get a firm grip on the definition and mechanism of the LOA to appreciate its complexity.

The LOA simply states that like attracts like. According to the law of vibration, the universe vibrates at a certain frequency. This includes everything from stars and planets, all the way to the tiniest atom. The brain picks up on these vibrations and interprets them as colors, sounds, and even the words people say to you. Your perceptual world is constructed based on which part of your surroundings you choose to focus.

Depending on the quality of your dominant thoughts, you will draw in the things, events, and people who vibrate at a similar frequency to you. For example, two droplets of water will fuse together where a droplet of water and oil won’t. The former has a more similar vibration than the latter. Based on this principle, the law of attraction states that if you want to manifest something in your life, no matter what, or who, it is, you must begin vibrating at a frequency that matches your desired reality by using the power of your thoughts.

Now, here’s where things get a bit tricky. According to psychological studies, the average person has between 12,000-60,000 thoughts per day. As many as 98% of them are the same thoughts that we had the day before, and 80% of those thoughts tend to be negative. It’s important to note that the LOA cannot distinguish between positive and negative thoughts, and will only magnify the dominant thoughts and beliefs.

If we want to make the LOA work for us, the first step is to rewire our brain and undo both the conscious and unconscious negative thinking patterns. We have to make a concerted effort to build a positive outlook and clear up the filters through which we perceive the world. This includes the layers of stories, fears, limiting beliefs, and internal blocks that have taken root in our inner landscape. Through a rigorous process of self-reflection and inner healing, we can replace these dysfunctions with healthier ways of being.

Another caveat of the LOA is that it could potentially make people lazy, causing them to rest on their laurels. They see their LOA practice as a chance to make petitions and send their wish list to the heavens, expecting that it will be delivered to their doorstep. But it definitely doesn’t work like that. This law cannot be treated like a genie from a lamp that grants us wishes. The LOA only works for those who are willing to balance their visions and dreams with practical realism, and who are willing to do their part in making things happen.

It’s because of these false notions that many people have discounted the LOA and reduced it to a fad. They didn’t see the desired outcome that they wanted in their expected time frame and therefore concluded that it doesn’t work. However, the law of attraction is very similar to the law of gravity. Just because you can’t see it and you aren’t consciously aware of it, doesn’t mean that it isn’t working. All you need to do is cultivate the right attitude and adjust your expectations.
As someone who has law of attraction techniques in my manifestation toolbox, I can vouch for its efficacy. I’ve seen it work multiple times in my life when I stayed true to my personal rituals, like creating vision boards, writing, and meditating on my intentions. Holding my vision in my mind and focusing on it puts me in the right mindset when I’m taking steps to bring them to fruition. When the magical elements kicked in, it came in the form of the right opportunities, people, and intuitive guidance. But it only came after I proved myself, and showed how serious I was about my goals. Even universally there are no free lunches. You still need to work for it.

Here are four important things to keep in mind while applying the principles of the law of attraction:

1. Get clear on your intention: When using something as powerful as the law of attraction, it’s essential to get clear on the exact intention behind your desires. As the saying goes, “be careful of what you wish for, because you just might get it.”. Ask yourself why you want to manifest your desire, and how it’s going to contribute to your long-term goals, and the vision that you have for your life. Is it in alignment with your personal principles? Is it ethical? Will it benefit other people in the process? A moral backbone and benevolent attitude will ensure that your motives are pure and fair because just like many other powerful tools, it can be misused. We need to hold ourselves accountable.

2. Balance it with a healthy dose of realism: We know that the law of attraction can work like magic if done properly and with a clear conscience. As much as I would like to believe that all our dreams can come true by simply believing in them, I think that injecting those dreams with a healthy dose of realism can boost the possibility of it becoming a reality. When we envision an outcome that’s grounded and practical, the law of attraction is even more potent. For example, if you have dreams of becoming the next NBA superstar but you’re 5 feet tall, over 30 years of age, and you barely played any basketball while growing up, chances are pretty slim that you’ll be in the big league. But if your aim is to get into the basketball team in your local area and you’re committed to improving your game, then you’re golden. Cultivating healthy expectations is not only magnetic, but it’s also emotionally healthy.

3. Use it as an add-on to taking real action: You cannot substitute hard work with a rigorous law of attraction visualization practice. I like to use LOA tools to complement the efforts that I’m putting in towards my goals. No matter what kind of endeavor you’re invested in, whether that includes losing weight, finding the love of your life, starting your own business, or raising responsible kids, it’s going to require time, dedication, focus, and discipline to see it come to life.

4. Let it fuel your passion and faith: Writer Paulo Coelho once said that an enthusiastic heart finds opportunities everywhere. When you’re charged up and excited about your dreams, you’ll make every effort to do what’s needed to make it happen, and you’ll constantly be on the lookout for the right opportunities. Passion along with faith forms the foundation for all action that you take toward your vision. Without a strong sense of faith, you’ll feel that every step is pointless. Law of attraction practices such as visualization, vision board creation, noting down your goals, meditation, keeping a gratitude journal, and behaving and feeling like you already have what you want can be instrumental in maintaining passion and faith in your dreams.

There’s a famous African saying, “When you pray, move your feet.” I love this because it emphasizes the importance of two truths - having an active practice of faith (“pray”) and the significance of taking action (“move your feet”). The combination of these forces perfectly summarizes the art of making the law of attraction work for us in creating our dream lives.

Author's Bio: 

Seline Shenoy is an Author, Podcast Host and Coach on a mission to inspire others to live fully and authentically + coax them to chase their biggest dreams (yes, even those scary one’s!). She is the founder and writer of the blog, The Dream Catcher.