What Is The Law Of Attraction & How Does It Work?

mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant By Sarah Regan
mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant

Sarah Regan is a writer, registered yoga instructor, and Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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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.

Working with this law to manifest your dreams may sound straightforward, but it actually involves careful intention, action, and a degree of surrender. That's because 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.

Thinking positive thoughts is only the first step in attracting more prosperity. You also need to believe that brighter days are ahead and that whatever you're trying to call in will come in its own time. "You have to feel as though what you want is with you already," Kaiser says. "Then, 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." That's where an element of patience and surrender comes in.

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."

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What the law of attraction isn't.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
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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.

Career goals

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?"

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Finances

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."

With this law of attraction primer, you're ready to explore the principle in your everyday life. It's best to start small and focus on manifesting bite-size but positive changes. The more you practice, the more effective at manifesting you'll become, until you can eventually tackle bigger, more life-altering changes.

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