The thesis of the book: unlock unimaginable power within you by taking full control of your attention.
Right now you have the power to raise your arm, raise your eyebrows, or even stand up and walk away from your screen. If you merely brought your attention to do any of these tasks then it will be done. This seems trivial, but harder tasks can be achieved by using the same law of attention.
If you want to achieve more, then you must practice using the most important human power: the direction of your attention, concentration, and will.
This is not a scientific book. It’s an inspirational self-help book that conveys the idea that in order to do great things, you must spend a lot of time on them. It has a few tactical pieces of advice, but the author does a good job of putting words together in a way that get you excited to go out and follow your dreams. However, I expect this won’t resonate with everyone.
Growth follows knowledge; action follows inspiration; opportunity follows perception.
We can see the effects of electricity in our world quite clearly: heat, light, power, and even music. Attention is the human equivalent - a hidden force that drives things to existence through conscious effort. What I like about this analogy is that later on the author states, “If a light fails us, we do not conclude that the laws governing electricity cannot be depended upon.” - The author is making a claim that his “theory” is definitely true and that any failure is a result of people not believing it enough. He goes on to say that this theory is not for everyone - only people who are ready to receive it. Like I said – this won’t resonate with everyone.
On to some of the tactical advice:
Before sowing any seeds, you must know what the harvest will be.
In order to obtain your object of desire, you need “Earnest Desire” (the feeling), “Confident Expectation” (the thought, or visualization), and “Firm Demand.” Of course, “labor, hard mental labor” is always necessary - the “kind of effort which so few are willing to put forth.”
Define your ideal situation. Visualize it daily. The visualization part is most important, as “this will be the easiest and quickest way to secure results.” However, “results can be by argument, by the process of convincing yourself absolutely of the truth of your statement.”
This is worth unpacking.
It’s not enough to visualize yourself with tons of money on an island somewhere. You need to see how it can be so. For example, you’d likely have some kind of company or career to make your wealth. What does that look like? How did you get there? It’s not enough to just look at the end in sight - you have to visualize from that “idealization” all that way to your current situation.
“Unless you can concentrate upon the object which you have in view, you will have but a hazy, indifferent, vague, indistinct, and blurred outline of your ideal and the results will be in accordance with your mental picture.”
One way to think about it is this: when you ask your brain to answer any question, it’ll attempt to do so immediately. You can ask yourself right now: what is the name of a random capital city? Go ahead, state one.
Notice what your brain did there? It’s akin to summoning “little workers” that search your memory (where knowledge is stored) for an answer to the question. If you ask, “how can I become rich?” Your mind will send those same workers but they’ll come out short or without specific advice (“get promoted, start a business, rob a bank…”). You are left unsatisfied with what your brain has come up with: there are no specifics! Thus, if you want to get results, you’ll need to “convince yourself” that you’ve done all the work to identify the correct answers. In the case of “start a business,” your brain could respond, Google “how to start a business.” It won’t be the precise answer, but it’ll be a next step, rooted in your current situation but idealized as the step to your final picture.
How do we deal with negative thoughts that get in the way?
“The way to fight darkness is with light — the way to fight cold is with heat” … “Weakness is simply absence of power; it comes from nowhere, it is nothing — the remedy then is simply to develop power, and this is accomplished in exactly the same manner that all power is developed: By exercise.”
The author spends a lot of time on positive affirmations. If you’re feeling negative thoughts, you’re just not “idealizing” hard enough.
Again, this mind which pervades our physical body is not only the result of hereditary tendencies, but is the result of home, business, and social environment where countless thousands of impressions, ideas, prejudices, and similar thoughts have been received. Much of this has been received from others, the result of opinions, suggestions, or statements; much of it is the result of our own thinking, but nearly all of it has been accepted with little or no examination or consideration.
The subconscious processes are always at work; the only question is, are we to be simply passive recipients of this activity, or are we to consciously direct the work? Shall we have a vision of the destination to be reached, the dangers to be avoided, or shall we simply drift?
I like this excerpt since it talks about how a lot of times we are in our own way by means out of our control. Our brains evolved from the most fearful cavemen to the point where we’re really good at coming up with reasons to be afraid. This is especially true when there is no real reason to be afraid.
If you have a negative thought, the best thing to do is quickly replace it with “a strong counter suggestion, frequently repeated, which the mind must accept.” Easier said than done - but try it. And when you do, you should find “vast difference between simply thinking, and directing our thought consciously, systematically, and constructively.”