A theory has been floating around LA for the last year that we attract what we think about. This theory has permeated spiritual centers all across Los Angeles, and was first introduced in the book by Rhonda Byrne called, _The Secret_. Publisher's weekly summarizes the thesis this way: "One's positive thoughts are powerful magnets that attract wealth, health, [and] happiness."
Ellen Degeneres has been promoting this theory. So has Oprah, and I've even seen it cropping up on TV shows like "American Inventor," where contestants psych themselves up by repeating positive thoughts like, "My invention is going to revolutionize America!" or "I'm going to walk away with four 'yeses' from the judges!"
I even hear portions of _The Secret_ out of the mouths of friends.
For example, at the beginning of my pregnancy, when things were particularly bumpy, I called a friend from school who had recently joined the United Church of Religious Science. When I told him I was worried about the pregnancy he replied, "Christin, you have absolutely nothing to worry about! Think about it. You and Dwayne are both healthy people. Neither one of you has had great tragedy in your lives. Why would your baby be any different?"
A few weeks later, my neighbor knocked on my door asking how the pregnancy was going. She and her boyfriend attend a spiritual center called "Agape" that follows the principles of _The Secret_. I gave her a good report but confessed that I did struggle with worry from time to time.
"Oh, don't even let those thoughts in!" she retorted. "When they come to your mind just say, 'Thank you very much for that input, but I'm not going there.'"
I was touched by my neighbor's encouragement and decided that I would try this positive thinking thing. After all, there is merit in the idea that our thoughts impact our lives. So I spent the next few days trying to run off, ignore, or redirect anxious thoughts.
It didn't work.
Unfortunately, I just got more anxious. I felt paniced. "What if I'm inviting terrible things into my life by allowing these negative thoughts to swarm me?" Instead of feeling more serene, I was feeling more paranoid.
All of this worrying culminated in the shower. I was standing beneath the stream of warm water dizzy with worry when a thought of a different nature tapped me on the shoulder. It said, "Center your thoughts on Me." Suddenly, I felt such peace.
I think _The Secret_ has one thing right: our thoughts DO direct our lives. But I believe there is only One who has the power to transform our minds, and thereby transform our lives. Thomas Merton writes it beautifully when he prays,
Only You [Holy Spirit] can at once empty me of all things and fill me with Yourself, the Life of all that lives, and the Being in Whom everything exists.