What Is The Law Of Attraction & How Does It Work?
Of all the 12 universal laws, the law of attraction undoubtedly gets the most attention. Simply put, this spiritual principle suggests that like attracts like and positive thinking can usher in a more positive reality.
Here are the basics on what the law of attraction is, what it isn't, and how you can use it to achieve your goals.
What the law of attraction is.
Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, once said: "Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny."
The idea that we attract what we put out has clearly been around since ancient times, and many credit Buddha with first introducing this notion to the world.
The law of attraction operates under the following three principles:
Like attracts like:
Working with the law of attraction to manifest your dreams may sound straightforward, but it actually involves careful intention, action, and a degree of surrender.
Like attracts like—even if we're not conscious of it. We're always "attracting" positivity or negativity based on the energy we're putting out ourselves.
"We are all like magnets, both reflecting and attracting what we hold in our thoughts," explains spiritual author Shannon Kaiser.
Or, as professional intuitive Tanya Carroll Richardson puts it, the law of attraction is like "putting in an order with Spirit. Then Spirit will look around to find the best match for your manifestation request."
Nature abhors a vacuum:
This principle suggests that empty space cannot truly exist, and always needs to be filled by something. As such, it's important to make space for positive change in your life by clearing out negativity.
Like decluttering your desk or bedroom, your mind needs to be decluttered, too, so you have room to attract new things that better serve you.
The present is always perfect:
Perfecting the present moment is the third and last aspect of the law of attraction.
It tells us that there will always be things to be unhappy about if you look for them, but rather than dwelling on things that are going wrong, finding ways to make things better is fundamental to shifting your reality into one that attracts what you desire.
That's not to say you can't acknowledge negativity or feel emotions related to it. (That gets into spiritual bypassing or toxic positivity territory.) Rather, it's about doing what you can at the moment to improve any negative situation and letting the rest go.
What the law of attraction isn't.
Of course, positive thinking and belief alone won't make your dreams come true. You need to put in the work, too!
This means living in alignment with your goals and taking the necessary steps to bring them to life.
For example, if your goal is to run a marathon in under four hours, you still need to put in the training and treat your body right in the months leading up to the race. From there, layering on some positive mantras and visualizations can further reinforce your goal with the universe.
Anyone prone to worry should also know that the law of attraction isn't a punishment. As Kaiser notes, "When people first learn and start to practice this law, sometimes they get worried that if they have bad thoughts or low vibrations, they can somehow mess up their life." Nobody is perfect, and we can use the law as "a mirror of our own mindset and self-worth" when we're working through a challenging phase.
And always remember that at a certain point in manifestation, "it's important to surrender and let the Universe take the wheel," Richardson adds. "Opportunities, people, and resources can show up out of the blue, so be open to them." Things may not play out how you imagined (in fact, they probably won't) and that's OK.
How to start using the law of attraction today.
Here are a few ways you can incorporate the power of positivity into your life today:
- Visualize: Visualization is a powerful tool for bringing an idea or desire into reality. You can mentally picture the future you seek or bring it into the physical realm by drawing it out (artistic skill not required). You can also create a vision board for your goals to keep you inspired and motivated.
- Keep a gratitude journal: Given that like attracts like, intentionally focusing on the things you're grateful for can invite more abundance into your life.
- Speak it into existence: Another way to bring your desires out of your head and into the physical reality is to voice them out loud. "Wake up and declare out loud to the universe, 'I would like X,'" Kaiser explains. This is an especially good practice if you're just getting started.
- Watch for synchronicities: Synchronicities are those meaningful "coincidences" that seem slightly miraculous. If synchronicities related to your goal keep coming up (back to the marathon example, maybe your bib number keeps popping up on signs or billboards), it's probably a sign that you're on the right track.
- Reframe a scarcity mindset: When we're seeking something we don't yet have, it's easy to get caught in a cycle of scarcity and lack. But focusing on your lack of love, lack of money, lack of happiness, etc., only reinforces that lack. Remember to feel as if you're already where you want to be. As Kaiser says, "Let go of how you think things 'should' go, and trust the universe to work its magic, remaining open to whatever the universe thinks is best."
How to use the law of attraction to work toward specific goals:
Love & relationships
The first step in using the law of attraction to welcome more love into your life is to notice how you could be subconsciously resisting it.
For example, Kaiser says that "if the universe keeps bringing you unavailable people, this could indicate something within you is still unavailable."
Once you identify this block, you can do the work of breaking down these inner barriers and building up a more open approach to relationships. Tune into who you truly are and what you want, and then trust the universe to bring you the partner you need, not necessarily the one you think you want.
When working with the law of attraction in your professional life, it's important to get specific about what you want.
Write down your career goals using concrete statements like "I want to work with like-minded people who support my ideas" or "I make X amount of money in X city." And of course, action is important here. If you want that promotion, ask yourself, "What would the 'promoted-me' do?"
Financial fears are sensitive and valid, and it takes a lot of unlearning to create a healthy relationship with financial abundance.
With money, it's especially easy to fall into a scarcity mindset. Instead, try your best to focus on what you already have rather than what you lack. One mantra Kaiser uses for this is "Abundance flows through me so I can happily give."
In all of these areas, it's best to start small and focus on manifesting bite-sized changes first. The more you practice, the more effective at manifesting you'll become, until you can eventually tackle bigger, more life-altering shifts.
The bottom line:
While it may sound too good to be true—and can take time to get the hang of—at its core, the law of attraction is about shifting your mindset to one of abundance, calling in what you want, and aligning your action with your desires. When you can do those things, you can become the author of your life, and attract a host of possibilities.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, as well as a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.