Many readers may be fans of Rhonda Byrne's "The Secret," whether in book or in movie form. However, I have been reading howls of indignation from various columnists who, occasionally over-simplifying, feel that there are dangers and false promises contained in the concept of the Law of Attraction.

I agree that positing the Law of Attraction as the only force operating in the world can appear to say that if anyone is ill then it can be assumed that they "attracted" their illness - which may be both false and cruel in the extreme. However, I do not see that the book says that - although perhaps it does imply it.

On the other hand, in addition to metaphysical traditions from across the ages that in recent years have been aggregated under the appellation of "new thought" or "new age," there is a great deal of psychological commonsense underlying much of what the book says.

Let us consider some of the underpinnings of the law of attraction...

First, get clear about what you want, or what your goal is. Very true! How can you reach a goal if you don't know what it is or where it is? On the other hand, if you have it strongly and clearly visualized then it is much easier to hold that vision in your mind, to select images for your dream board that will exactly show your dream, and to program your senses towards it.

What do I mean by "program your senses towards it"? I mean two things. First, if you program your mind toward something so that you are reminded of it regularly, then you are less likely to allow yourself to be distracted from the path that leads most directly toward it. It will remain one of the highest priorities in your consciousness.

Secondly, I mean that if you know exactly what you want, then you will NOTICE everything and anything that is relevant to it. One old example is the "count everything that is red" exercise. One asks people to count everything within sight that is red. Then one asks them to say, immediately, without counting, how many things they saw that are blue. Even though they looked all the way around while counting the red things, and hence must have at least scanned past the blue things, the brain was not primed for blue, but for red, and hence it failed to notice the blue.

There is a similar example in cars. Say you buy a new and different model of car, or that your friend buys one. The make, model, and color may not be particularly familiar to you, but from that day onwards you will notice any that are the same, and even some that are the same model but a different color. You may be shocked to discover that a car that you thought to be not particularly common is suddenly to be seen at almost every intersection. Why? It is not (usually) that the model has suddenly had a surge in popularity, but that your senses are now primed to notice it whereas previously it meant nothing to you, and so raised no "awareness flags" when you scanned past it.

Likewise, if you focus on a particular goal - let's say every evening and every morning, and perhaps a few times during the day as well - then your senses will be primed to notice anything and everything related to that goal. This may result in your being better prepared when an opportunity to move closer to it arrives. It may result in your noticing those opportunities with more alertness. It may result in your reading an entire article on the topic, instead of skimming over the headlines, so that you learn more about the players involved, or the websites where you can learn yet more.

Yes, it is true that one can also "ask" for the goal, as is recommended in The Secret. To many people, this is a normal aspect of prayer. As my mother used to say, "Pray as if it all depends God." But - ahah! - she had a second part to that admonition. "And then work as if it all depends on you." I see less of the admonition to work in The Secret. Yet I believe that if we truly want something, if we are really, really motivated to get it, then it would be more difficult NOT to work toward it than to follow our natural urge toward reaching it.

The third of the three steps is Receive. Those who believe that all their achievements are their own doing may prefer to call that "achieve" or "attain." However, there is a small glitch to that approach. No matter how hard we have worked for something, if we are not taking the metaphysical approach to which The Secret is related, then we see each achievement as something that WE did for ourselves. Hence there is no apparent need for gratitude. Yet gratitude seems to relate to another "law" that usually works. Being grateful for what comes to us, by our own hard work or as a gift from the universe, seems to be an essential aspect of happiness. How many people who loudly and insistently proclaim that they are "self-made" actually seem happy? Some of them HAVE lots of THINGS. But are they happy? I have my doubts.

Having gratitude for something, whether it is a meal that is set before us, a new job, a new relationship, whatever we have been hoping for, allows us to savor it. A wine-taster swirls the wine around the glass, inhales its vapors, and finally allows it to linger gently over all parts of the tongue, so that each taste-bud can savor the flavor for which it is designed. This is a far cry from the swift gulp with which many people dispatch even the finest of wines. Holding an attained goal in gratitude achieves a similar enhancement of good feelings. Perhaps we do not enjoy it by looking, smelling and tasting it, but in our minds we have a similar gentle savoring and appreciation of all aspects of it as we hold them in grateful awareness, as though actually holding it up for the scrutiny of Whatever or Whoever we express gratitude to. "Look," we seem to be saying, "how wonderful it is, how splendid, this achievement. We did it together, and I thank you!" Somehow, this small ritual can enhance our enjoyment of almost anything, and opens the channel for more. It does not lessen our pleasure, as though making us feel that we did not do it ourselves, but it magnifies the value so that our pleasure in it grows greater.

Whether or not you enjoy The Secret, the process of visualizing the goal, asking for and working toward it, and expressing gratitude for it cannot help but enrich our lives.

Author's Bio: 

Born and raised in England, Diana Gardner Robinson left school at sixteen and came to the United States in her twenties. She subsequently completed several graduate degrees in psychology and became a Certified Alcohol & Substance Abuse Counselor in New York State. While working in the addictions field she also took two years of training as a professional life coach and opened her coaching business in 1997. In addition to her coaching, she has been an addictions counselor and now teaches future addictions counselors. Her life experience has been wide, and this enables her to coach around issues of life balance and a wide range of stumbling blocks that, if we are not in balance, may trip us up or block our way. Visit her website for more information