This blog post is about the “being in the now” philosophy, and about the “law of attraction” philosophy: what are their similarities and differences?
Keywords: happiness, “in the now”, joy, law of attraction, satisfaction, well-being.
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The time has come to discuss the idea of “being in the now”, and some ideas that are linked to that concept.
I will argue that even if one does succeed in one’s efforts to “be in the now”, this may sometimes (even most times) lead to more problems and pain, not less.
Note that I am here using the word “more” to mean “more of the same things in the future”, indicating not necessarily that the intensity of the problems will be greater, but simply that the problems will be recurring, happening again and again.
The Idea of Being in the “Now”
I am sure that there are many varieties of the “being in the now” philosophy (sometimes also called “mindfulness”, etc.), and to avoid talking about any one of them, I am just going to make my own variant and talk about that.
The core concept, as I understand it, is that we should try to live in the moment, as much as possible. This means that we should minimize thinking about the past, and minimize thinking about the future.
Instead we should learn to focus on the moment, what is happening right this instant. We should feel our body move. We should observe our emotions. We should be more calm in our mind, and less “reactive” in our behavior. We may also develop a sense of “disinterest” about the world and our situation.
“Where am I? How does it look like? How many people are there on the other side of the street? What’s that bicycle doing there? There is a smell of coffee in the room. I feel the keys on my keyboard. Etc.”
Problems with Being in the “Now” (1)
The problem with the “being in the now” philosophy is that it seems to propose that we should observe the world around us as much as possible, and notice this and notice that. But we should also try to “stay calm” or at least not get too upset when things are not as we want them to be.
And it seems that we also should observe our “bodily world”: trying to “feel” and “notice” our bodily movements and gestures, etc. So it is some kind of “awareness” thing: we should notice our presence in the world more, right here, right now, and do it in a relaxed, calm fashion.
So the problem with this philosophy is that it proposes that we should observe both our inner (“bodily”) world and our external world all of the time, or most of the time. Why is that a problem?
Well, as long as we are in a very good emotional situation, with lots of positive manifestations happening to us every minute of the day, then, I suppose, there is nothing terribly wrong with it.
But if we really are in a very good emotional situation, then we already are super-relaxed and calm, so we wouldn’t be needing to do any “mindfulness” exercises anyway. So it seems “being in the now” is mostly for people who are not in perfect balance already.
Problems with Being in the “Now” (2)
The problem with “being in the now” is more easily seen when things are not so positive. And here I am not only talking about negative events that occur in our perceived external world. I am also talking about things that are happening to our body which we observe in our “inner bodily world”.
So the “in the now” philosophy teaches us to observe the world. But when the world gets ugly that philosophy teaches us to not react so much. So when your house is on fire, your husband is having an affair, you get fired, or you get a painful chronic disease, you should just react calmly.
The idea here is presumably that one should stay calm and just “let it be”, as not to arouse too much negative emotion, etc. And, of course, since the recipe around the whole philosophy is that one should “immerse” in observation all the time, one should not avoid looking at negative things, even if they continue to manifest, day after day.
And herein lies the real problem. The real problem is that, according to the law of attraction, one cannot observe negative things and expect them to go away.
The law of attraction clearly teaches that one must, as soon as possible, let go of one’s focus on negative events and circumstances, and instead replace it with a focus on those circumstances and events which one wants to experience.
The Law of Attraction Way (1)
So let’s look at what the law of attraction proposes. First, when there are only positive events manifesting around us, and we are in perfect health, then, of course, our focus on those positive things will take us to more positive manifestations. So this is the only time in which “being in the now” is not bringing in more trouble in our lives.
However, as soon as any negative manifestations start to occur, practising “being in the now” will prevent us from un-manifesting those negative things; for “being in the now” keeps the negative manifestations in our internal and external world.
So the law of attraction clearly states that we instead must ignore the manifestations, and instead use our mind to focus on other things. And by focusing on other things, practitioners of the law of attraction more or less automatically control their emotions about the negative things that happened. For they now focus on the joy of experiencing, in their minds, the wanted manifestations.
The Law of Attraction Way (2)
And this brings us to another issue that is crucial to the law of attraction, namely that of feelings, emotions, and desires.
The “being in the now” philosophy typically promotes the idea that one must “control” one’s emotions so that one can have a calm inner life. And the idea is sometimes also that we simultaneously should develop some kind of “disinterest”, perhaps also along with some “cooling” of one’s desires, etc.
Although the law of attraction philosophy certainly doesn’t propose that we should allow ourselves to (regularly) “explode” from negative experiences, there are a few differences here.
The law of attraction does not, to my knowledge, teach “disinterest”. On the contrary, the whole idea with the law of attraction is that we want to foster extreme enthusiasm about the things we want. And then we just ignore all those things that do not evoke our undivided enthusiasm.
Another point is about desires. There is no principle in the law of attraction that proposes that we should “curb” our desires, or that we should not “let them through”.
Rather, the law of attraction openly proposes that the whole point of us being here in this world is that we want to manifest the things that we desire to manifest. So “raw” desires are wonderful, and should be accepted as a fantastic thing, not as an “hindrance” to living one’s life.
The main problem with the “in the now” philosophy is that it doesn’t “cure” the disease. Rather, it acts simply as some pharmaceutical drug, removing the headache (symptom), but not fixing the real cause (one’s negativity). Therefore, the headache may well happen again, many times.
The law of attraction philosophy, on the contrary, deals with the problem. It proposes that all our headaches are a result of our negative attitude, and that by increasing our positivity, our headaches will gradually disappear.
However, the law of attraction philosophy does say that new types of aches very well may occur even to those who have developed themselves into, say, P2 (medium positivity) individuals.
But at that stage the person can automatically handle that new ache in a different way, compared to the practitioner who is following the “being in the now” philosophy.