The Meanders of the Mind-Set

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I don’t believe in the law of attraction. In other words, I don’t believe in the existence of a universal force which makes things happen just because we think about them. I believe in self-fulfilling prophecies, in the strength of the human will, and I believe in optimism. I understand that people who have a positive outlook on life assume that their dreams come true somehow, that they “attract” positive outcomes. But this doesn’t mean that a universal law is in place. Just as the placebo effect doesn’t prove that drugs with no specific therapeutic activity actually heal people. It’s the people that heal themselves. The mind-set, for that matter. It’s internal, not external.

The law of attraction should have a (R) or (TM) sign at the end. It’s a… hmm… new media product. It’s a way to sell dreams. And an effective one too. Quick fixes are a very topical issue nowadays. After all, time is a scarce resource (time is not a resource, but that’s for another entry). Perseverance is even harder to find 😉

The concept of a positive mental attitude (PMA) is not favored by some famous modern thinkers (e.g. Dr. Stephen R. Covey – see a longer section on that in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).
I have my doubts too. I believe that it is close to impossible to become optimistic. It’s not something that can be learned. Learning is one part of the story, executing and incorporating – another. To become someone is the difficult part.

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We have a baggage of experiences. (As far as I remember, behaviorists say that 50% of what we are like is genetic. The rest belongs to socialization.) This baggage contains all of kinds of self-imposed constraints (OK, the outer world helped us here). They kick in whenever we try to change things. At the end of the day, those constraints “convince us” to return to old patterns of thinking. For a big part of us, optimism is a temporary privilege.