Many critics of the Law of Attraction have suggested that this approach to life is about being selfish or ‘getting stuff’ at the expense of all else, but this is a misunderstanding. It is true that this philosophy – and indeed all authentic spiritual paths – tell you to firstly get connected yourself; plug in to God; love yourself – whatever you want to call it. And then you help others.
And it is a good idea to get happy first – because you can’t give what you haven’t got. And that’s why the concept of ‘selfishly’ getting happy yourself first is good advice. It’s about living the famous Gandhi line ‘Be the change’. First, change yourself – get happy… And then you can inspire the world. Love thy neighbour as thyself, says Jesus in the New Testament. If you don’t love yourself, how can you truly love your fellow man?
When people don’t do this, forgetting themselves, all in the name of being ‘selfless’, you get something like the ‘unhealed healer’, someone who spends their life trying to heal their own problems in other people. They do not heal- and neither do their clients. The world’s best helpers are whole and complete in their own right – and yes, sometimes that involves quite a bit of ‘me’ time to prepare and get themselves into a good space. Whether it’s Jesus going away for days alone into the mountains, or the modern-day mystic centring themselves in meditation or prayer or writing lists of appreciation – it has to be done.
There’s a line in A Course in Miracles that says “Only what you have not given can be lacking in any situation.” In other words, it’s not about what you’re not receiving from others or Life that’s causing you pain – but what you’re withholding.
It’s a profound statement, and goes against what much of the world believes. Even much of the modern-day interpretation of the Law of Attraction doesn’t see life that way.
All too often, people ‘into’ the Law of Attraction think it’s only about ‘magnetising’ stuff to them; they think it’s all about ‘manifesting what they want’; a kind of trolley dash where it’s every man for him or herself with the aim of getting as much stuff as possible. This is one way of going about it, but this is going about it the hard way.
Of course, the words ‘Law of Attraction’ themselves can make you think that it’s about attracting stuff to you – and yet the Law of Attraction says what you give out you get back. If you are out to take from Life, you will feel taken from. Many authentic spiritual paths know that to give is to receive. As we are, in truth, all one, when you give to someone else you are literally giving to yourself.
But one of the ego’s biggest tricks is the myth that if you give – you lose. Popular author Louise L. Hay, founder of Hay House publishing company, tells the story of how, in the early days of her teaching, she was struggling to make money. She went into meditation, and heard the guidance to switch her focus from ‘how can I get?’ to ‘what can I give?’ She did this, and uses ‘how can I help?’ as a mantra to this day. As a result, life continues to provide for her in abundant and extraordinary ways.
Feeling good is about what you’re giving out. It’s very good news to know that living your best life is all about what you’re giving out – as this gives you your power back. You have full control over what you give out and what your attitude is –which transforms your life experience – whereas you don’t have control over what other people do.
Many people try to manipulate other people into giving them what they want – which rarely works. Because again, ‘what you give out you get back’. In arguments, the pain you feel is caused by your ‘giving out’ of resentment, not what’s coming at you. Yes, many people want to remain victims complaining of what was done to them – but this doesn’t lead to happiness or success. Even being afraid of someone is judging them to be an unpleasant person – is it any wonder that this attitude attracts unpleasantness or attack back?
The idea of ‘selfless Service’ in Eastern religions is all too often taken as an unpleasant chore, like a parent telling you to do the dishes and then manipulatively making up that ‘something good will happen’ if you do it. And, unfortunately, it’s often used in that way. And yet selfless service is a self-serving act – it makes you feel good to do it. Helping and loving others is our true nature. If it feels like a big sacrifice or hard work you’re doing it with the wrong attitude.
Generosity means being abundant. It means giving someone the benefit of the doubt; it is the ‘do unto others as you would like them to do unto you’. What you give out, you get back.
In the earlier example used, the unhealed healer isn’t actually giving. She may think she’s giving – but she’s taking. She’s using a client to try to make herself feel better. True giving would be her looking for the best in the client, with zero expectation of a reward.
What matters is giving with no agenda; giving simply because that’s our true nature and where we feel our happiest. One of the best ways to manifest a dream life is to help someone else manifest a dream life.
Virtue is its own reward – and so is generosity.
Give, Give, Give
• Be generous with your thoughts about people: Make an effort to look around at people at the bus stop, station platform or shopping centre – wherever you are. Look at them with the eyes you would want for them to look at you. If you have a problem with someone –ask yourself what you are thinking about them. If your thoughts are critical – it’s no wonder you are not having a good relationship. Everyone can pick up on everyone’s inner thoughts –and some people say that nonverbal communication is over 90% of communication. Make lists of good things about them – and then watch how they change in their behaviour toward you.
• If you are desperately seeking something, look to give that quality instead. Follow Louise L. Hay’s guidance of flipping your attitude from “how can I get” to “what can I give”.
• You may want to give up those ‘gossip’ magazines that criticise people, as they can train you into patterns of criticism. They can be addictive, so upgrade your reading to at least a less critical, higher quality magazine where the reports are more complimentary of their subjects if you still want to read these magazines.
• If you are feeling concerned about what others think of you, come back to appreciating them (or life in general). This distraction will see any self-conscious fears dissolve.
• Be generous with compliments. And don’t just think them – speak them. I know it can be scary to say what you feel, but it’s amazing how a compliment can make someone’s day.