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Vision Boards: Do They Really Work?

… But Can I Really?

When Oprah gives her endorsement to, well, anything, her legion of fans is almost sure to follow suit. So when she devoted episodes of her show and issues of her magazine to The Secret and vision boarding, the public took notice and paid attention—but not without some skepticism. In fact, for as many people out there who embrace The Secret’s foundations, there are just as many, if not more, who raise an eyebrow at its insistence on optimism as the solution to all of life’s problems. Barbara Ehrenreich actually wrote about the danger of such thinking in her book Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Is Undermining America, arguing that social problems like poverty can’t be solved by positivity alone.

Not that there’s anything wrong with looking on the bright side when times are tough. But it’s like what the Complete Idiot’s Guide and Martha Beck and other vision board enthusiasts say—just thinking isn’t going to do much of anything. Even so, does the belief alone that creating a vision board and focusing your mental energy toward a specific goal do anything? Can vision boards actually work? You’ll find plenty of people who say they do. You’ll also find those who say that they’re a waste of time. There’s no definitive answer either way because it’s a matter of belief. If you believe in the power of vision boarding enough, you might find opportunities opening up that others might not notice.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, a social psychologist, wrote about that effect in a 2008 Psychology Today article, exploring whether the Law of Attraction is a placebo effect. “The placebo effect is truly mind-over-body, or mind-over-mind, in action,” she wrote. “The pill may be a sugar pill and the strategy may be completely worthless, but if you think that it’s going to work, it just might work.” And that might be why vision boarding and positive thinking in general might work for some people and prove fruitless for others.

The hype of The Secret is dying down these days, but there are likely people out there still cutting out compelling pictures and writing down meaningful affirmations on poster boards. And if that gets them that much closer to their goals, more power to them. There’s no harm in creating something tangible to inspire you. And given how much you enjoyed making collages as a kid, it might even be fun. Just don’t forget to put forth effort in other ways to make what you want out of life happen. Vision boarding, should you choose to go down that road, seems only one small part of the bigger picture.

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Image: WiseWellWoman / Flickr

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By Vicki Santillano, DivineCaroline

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10:24AM PST on Nov 11, 2012

I loved making collages when I was younger, and I recently started making some to add color and positivity to my room.

1:46AM PDT on Oct 25, 2012

If they work or not, it's not any great consequence. The best part is being positive. It's better than the negative route.

4:41AM PDT on Oct 21, 2012

thank you ! I love collage and have gotten into the practice and was mulling over how to expand to make them more inspirational for others--I love this article and the healing quality of the boards like mandalas! Mahalo!

6:06PM PDT on Oct 19, 2012

Thanks for sharing.

1:02PM PDT on Oct 19, 2012

I am actually in the process of making a vision board. For me it is putting together signs of hope as well as goals. No I do not view it as a way to bring life to me because I know that if I want something I need to go and look for it. However, I know that it will be a positive exercise. And that in itself is a step toward my goals.

6:07PM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

Vision Boarding is indeed only a smaller part of the whole picture - but is is a powerful, succinct reminder of what we are aspiring to..."a picure is worth more than a thousand words".
The Vision Board can be compared to a road sign: It clearly shows the name of a town/city and its distance away etc but you still have to drive there, you still have to take action to get still have to DO something to realise your goal. The secret is to make small steps, consistently, every day.

3:02PM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

thinking, be it positive or negative, directly affects what the universe puts out there for you. In other words,

Read more:

11:10AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

Well written article, thanks.

3:52AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

Thanks ...

2:31AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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