The Power of Thought Authors

images-2In keeping with my intention to write about my favorite self-help authors, I will start with the overall idea that was so profoundly suggested in James Allen’s book title, As a Man Thinketh.

The idea that you can think up something and shoot it out to the Universe and have your wildest dreams realized was not the sole property of Rhonda Byrne, author of  The Secret. The well-known name for the phenomenon she illustrated in her book is the Law of Attraction, and that idea goes back a long time–some would say as far back as the Old Testament.

I couldn’t even begin to list all the influential authors and thinkers who have written about this basic principle, but I’d love to know why we don’t practice more of it.  

One of the things that has always put me off some Law of Attraction books is that they sometimes are packaged as a Genie in a Bottle, or as Dorothy’s ruby slippers.   All you have to do is click your heels three times and you get anything you wish for–a veritable Christmas morning of wealth, health and happiness.   Some evangelical Christian preachers exhort their congregations to open up their arms, or their purses, and wealth and prosperity will be theirs, like manna in the desert.  As my friend Dolores used to say, “Ahhhhh don’t think so.”

I can’t help but think that this is a abuse of power.  Do we have the power?  Yes, I believe we do.  I believe I’ve experienced it myself, when I went from being a timid sheep of a worker in the typing pool to Vice President of a major market research company, and ultimately to owner of my own company.   I went from an “I can’t” kind of gal to a “I can” one, and with the help of some of the authors I will present in this blog, those two words literally changed my life.

So, do I believe in the power of thought, or the Law of Attraction?  Undoubtedly.  “What man can believe, he can achieve.”  But let’s not use it the same way the fisherwoman used the magic fish in the fable–simply ordering good fortune without  gratitude or purpose.  Let’s use it to open up a channel to hear God within and trust that the divine intention will power the Law of Attraction to the benefit of the Universe and its inhabitants.   

So, here are three of my favorite Law of Attraction books, and I’m not going to include the Secret because it’s gotten its fair share of deserved notoreity.  I’d like to highlight some oldies but goodies:

booksJames Allen:  As a Man Thinketh:  Free eDowloads are available, or there are all kinds of printings of it.  This is a classic, and is beautiful in its simplicity and brevity.    Amazon’s Editor’s Review says,

“In As a Man Thinketh, James Allen reveals how our thoughts determine reality. Whether or not we are conscious of it, our underlying beliefs shape our character, our health and appearance, our circumstances, and our destinies. Allen shows how we can master our thoughts to create the life we want, lest we drift through life unconscious of the inner forces that keep us mired in failure and frustration.”

James Allen quote:  “For true success ask yourself these four questions: Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now?”

Charles F. Haanel’s The Master Key System:   I have to be honest.  I just recently downloaded this classic.  You can open it immediately with this link, thanks to The Secret website.  But I’ve read all the classics, and I’ve constantly read references to the Master Key System.  It was written way back in 1912, but it is far from irrelevant.  I read recently that Bill Gates read it in college and that’s when he dropped out of Harvard to start Microsoft.   

Charles F. Haanel quote:  “And as the most powerful forces of Nature are the invisible forces, so we find that the most powerful forces of man are his invisible forces, his spiritual force.”

books-1Catherine Ponder, The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity.  Catherine wrote prolifically about the “Laws” of all good things:  health, prosperity, goodwill.   I like her books, and I read them, but I have to admit that her books smack a little too close to the Genie in the Bottle approach.  She has scads of stories of people whose lives turned around by following her “laws,” and that may be so, but her sales pitch is a little strong–probably because she wrote for people just emerging from the Great Depression.  However, I find the ideas themselves good reinforcement–she promotes visualization, prayer, self-confidence, and hard work and persistence.   Plus, I am happy to recommend a good female self-help author.

Catherine Ponder quote:  “The forgiving state of mind is a magnetic power for attracting good.” 

These authors built the foundation for Rhonda Byrne and Wayne Dyer and all the other more recent notable Law of Attraction authors.  The language is a little different from what we’re used to–they were a far cry from the language-barren world of Twitter!  But if you can get past that, they have the power to help you change your thinking–and thus, your life.

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Lent of Letting Go: Goodbye 401k

“Money: it’s just a means of exchange,” my great uncle used to tell my great aunt, when she was worried about family financies.  But then again, he was a judge in Connecticut’s Supreme Court and lived in a very stately home on Wolcott Hill Road in Wethersfield.  Many others might have a different idea.

I remember when my college philosophy of crisis teacher, during a lecture on global poverty, referenced Lennon’s iconic “Imagine” when she said, “Imagine no possessions…. It’s easy if you’re rich.” 

In other words, money is not just money.  Possessions are not just possessions.  Money is not just a means of exchange.   But I still find comfort in repeating Uncle Edwin’s philosophy about money to myself when there’s not enough of it. 

Starting off this Letting Go Lent with a Bang

Today was the letting go of my 401k balance.  I won’t go into the details of why I had to withdraw all my funds because I’m also trying to let go of self-indulgence, but I can assure you, it was not a gesture or a statement or simply a good topic for this blog.  I have found myself in a situation in which this is the best option for me right now.

In making that call to Fidelity, I had to really detach myself from a lot of negative feelings:

  • I had to let go of fear of lack;
  • I had to let go of grief for all the hard work that went into saving that money;
  • I had to let go of insecure feelings about my own identity and value system;
  • I had to let go of sadness that I may not be able to help my family as much as I would like;
  • I had to let go of anger; and
  • I had to let go of the feeling that I had done something bad or stupid or imprudent that put me in this place.

But those negative feelings are not helpful–especially when the feelings are born of fear, ego identification, and shifting of blame. On the phone with Fidelity, I made some kind of a self-pitying statement to the rep along the lines of, “$25,000 doesn’t go very far these days. “ To which he replied, “Well, that’s more than a lot of people make in a year.”  He shut my mouth.

I love the following quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

The way to misuse our possessions is to use them as an insurance against the morrow.  Anxiety is always directed to the morrow, whereas goods are in the strictest sense meant to be used only for today.  By trying to ensure for the next day we are only creating uncertainty today.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.  The only way to win assurance is by leaving tomorrow entirely in the hands of God and by receiving from him all we need for today.  If instead of receiving God’s gifts for today we worry about tomorrow we find ourselves helpless victims of infinite anxiety.    Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship.  “The Simplicity of the Carefree Life”

I love it because it’s a radical thought.  The idea of not saving for tomorrow flies in the face of wisdom all the way down to Aesop.   But I think he is saying, not that we should not save, but that we should not concern ourselves, nor or be obsessed with worrying about money and hoarding it for the future. 

There is a wonderful article by Peter Singer that was published in the New York Times September 5, 1999 which poses a lot of moral and ethical questions about how much we should save or spend vs. use to better the lives of others.  I won’t get into that discussion here, but here is the link.  The point that is relevant to this issue is, how much do we each think is enough in our banks, in our 401k’s, in our Money Market Funds?  Investment brokers will scare us with calculators that make us feel like if we’re not millionaires by the time we’re 65 we better start saving refrigerator boxes and scout locations under the nearest bridge.  But how much do we need?  And how much should we worry about it?  And how much should we simply put those thoughts away, and go out and enjoy the abundance of God’s blessings in our lives?

 

So, now that I am back at the starting gate with 0 balance in my 401k, I can detach from fear of tomorrow and replace those feelings with gratitude instead:

I am grateful I have this money to begin with.  It’s really God’s anyway.

I am grateful that I have talents and skills that will allow me to rebuild a retirement savings plan, if that is what I choose to do.

I am grateful that now that the retirement fund horserace is over for the season, when it starts up again I can choose to be more charitable with future earnings.

I am grateful that I can constantly remind myself how blessed I am in, not only bodily needs, but in having the ability to share love with my family and friends. 

If I start feeling ungrateful, or resentful, or fearful, it is up to me to recall how much I really have, and I have the power to detach myself from those feelings of lack and want.

Detachment is so important because it allows us to live in the moment, in which there are always great blessings to be reaped.