… 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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