There is some hocus pocus out there that says you can get what you want in life just by thinking about it. You may call it the Law of Attraction, or Living With Intent, or The Secret, or so many other names. Do I subscribe to this nonsense? Do I believe that “what we think about, we bring about”?
I’m going to have to say yes, but not because I think some genie is going to hear my intentions and make all my dreams come true, or even that God will hear my innermost desires and will start opening doors for me just because He likes me to say things out loud. I believe it because I’ve seen it work and I have a limited understanding of how the attention span of human beings works. It’s all about our limited attention span.
If I tell you to look out your window and spot everything yellow, you will be able to spot yellow things as if they were shining beacons, like they were calling to you. What you might miss are all of the blue, or red, or purple objects. If I ask to borrow your favorite book, you aren’t reading all those titles on your bookshelf. You’re scanning for the red spine that you remember. The rest tends to fall to the wayside.
And so it is with anything. If you wake up in the morning thinking about how shitty your day is going to be, you will notice all the shitty things about the day: the four red lights you caught on the way to work, the fact that the coffee was cold when you got into the office, the weird smell in your basement, the lack of anything appetizing in your refrigerator. “Figures. I should have known there weren’t any Marie Calendar Chicken Pot Pies left in the freezer. Foo.”
But, when you say to yourself that you want to solve your writer’s dilemma then you tend to overhear people who are talking about writing at a table near you, or you introduce yourself to a woman and find out that she happens to teach creative writing. I don’t believe that this is fate or magic or kismet. It’s that you are primed to hear about writing today. If you were thinking about getting some new boots today and you ran into the same woman (and she happened to be wearing great boots), you would notice her footwear and ask her where she got them. And you would probably have no idea that she taught writing workshops, if you even heard her mention it because you were too busy looking at her kick-ass boots! We see what we are primed to see.
I know I’m just statin’ the obvious, but why don’t we make ourselves see the things that will help us become the people we want to be? Why not state your desires first thing in the morning; out loud, to yourself, to your wife or to a voodoo doll that looks like David Hasselhoff? I doubt you’ll win the lottery just because you say you will, but I bet you’ll hear about a ton of lottery winners and talk to others that play the lottery and hear what the Powerball is up to today. Instead, let’s say you were focused on learning to dance. I’m willing to bet that you’ll overhear people talking about great places to dance, great teachers that have moved to the area, or maybe you’ll be driving along and happen to see a small sign for a new dance studio with cheap enrollment. Fate? Sure, if that makes you feel all magicky inside. Either way, it works.
So, what do you want to learn or have or be? Why not think about it a little harder every day rather than saving it for that once-a-month dream session you have after a few too many vodka tonics? See how many opportunities you spot.
And if I’m wrong, you spent a few extra minutes thinking about something that brings you pleasure. Sue me.