Tuesday, May 7, 2019

How I Stumbled Over the Law of Attraction (and How You Can, Too)

Thee Optimist knows all about The Law of Attraction.  Yes he does.

For many years, Thee Optimist has been a fan of a New Agey, woo woo, much-beloved, and much-maligned thing called the Law of Attraction.

And when we say "fan," we mean it in the original sense of the term, which is to say "fanatic."  Thee Optimist is a Law of Attraction fanatic.  A zealot, if you will.  

Also, Thee Optimist is a student of the Law of Attraction, and knows a great deal about it.  You may not be completely familiar with it, so I'll summarize quickly: 

The Law of Attraction is the pseudo-scientific idea that the things you think, and which you picture in your mind, attract their physical counterparts to you in real life.  

In other words, when you think about stuff, it magically comes to pass.  This is sometimes summarized as "What you think about, comes about."

I call this belief "pseudo-scientific" not because I don't believe in it, but because many people who do believe in it refer to it as science.  And it isn't.  It does not conform to the scientific method.  You can't do it in a laboratory, under controlled conditions, and get the same results every time.  

Different people get different results.  A lot of people say they get no results.  When your results may vary, something isn't science, and it's not actually a Law.  

The Law of Gravity gives you the same results, everywhere on Earth, every time.  See the difference?

Bear demonstrates to cops how gravity works.

Attraction is more of an art than a science.  Kind of like medicine.  Medicine is not a science.  They make that clear to you in the waiver you sign (read it next time) when you get a medical procedure done.  Medicine is an art, and no one really minds.  

So let's call this the Art of Attraction, shall we?  That sounds like more fun anyway.  And it really gets at the diverse results people obtain from it.

Here's how I found it:

The original 1973 mail order paperback of The Lazy Man's Way to Riches, by legendary classified ad scam artist and Art of Attraction pioneer, Joe Karbo.

A Lazy Man's Discovery

I first stumbled upon this strange Art of Attraction sometime in the mid-1990s, while perusing the books on offer at a yard sale in the Catskill Mountains. 

I came across an old, old paperback book called "The Lazy Man's Way to Riches," by someone named Joe Karbo.  A number of things about this book appealed to me.

For one, it was green and had dollar signs across the cover.  Dollar signs appealed to me.  Very much so.  

For another, it seemed to suggest that a Lazy Man could achieve Riches, doing it the Lazy Man Way.  I was a Lazy Man, and the one thing I did have was a breathtaking lack of Riches.  It would be nice to find a Way to acquire some.

Another appealing thing, the book was brief, which meant there was not a lot of troublesome reading to be done.  And for yet another, the lady only wanted 25 cents for it (this was the 1990s, as I indicated).

Finally, when I opened the book, on the first page there was a bizarre cartoon drawing of a cheerful man wearing what might be a tuxedo, running along with a wheelbarrow full of cash.  

25 cents?  Sold!

What the...?

Everything is Free Now

Joe Karbo, the author of this classic, also sold mail-order vitamins and was responsible for those ads in the back of comic books promising a spy glass "that sees through doors."  

The drawing showed a young male peering into a tiny device while an adult woman pulled a stocking up to her thigh.

The spy glasses were actually a bunch of surplus apartment door peepholes Joe had gotten on the cheap with the idea of reselling.  Get it?  They see through doors.  

Yes, Joe was not above scamming curious 12-year-old boys who wanted to watch grown women get dressed.

But also: How far we've come in half a century!  We should be proud.  In those bygone days, young boys were lucky if they could find old copies of Playboy magazine in garbage dumpsters.  

Now any curious 12-year-old boy in America can access as much hard-core pornography as he wants, right from the comfort of his bedroom.  

Indeed, every boy can study the female form in gynecological detail, and get a wildly inaccurate idea of what the average person looks like naked, and how sexual relations are performed among the vast majority of adults. 

This is because previous generations of boys willed it into being with their thoughts.  And that, my friends, is how Attraction works.

By the way:

Joe Karbo never sold live monkeys in the back of comic books, that I know of.  But someone sure did.  Unfortunately (for me, but probably not for the live monkeys), $19.95 was prohibitively expensive in the 1970s.

In any event, Joe Karbo was good at selling stuff.  He sold hundreds of thousands of copies of his book and made a fortune.  He even bought himself a Rolls Royce.

Although he never mentioned the term, the book contained many of the elements that decades later would come to be known as the Law of Attraction.  That was in Part One.   

Strangely, in Part Two the book also explained exactly how to start a mail order business during the early 1970s.  

You can read and download a PDF of the book for free, if you want.  That's the promise of the internet, baby.  Everything is free.  I paid a quarter for this book 25 years ago, and now you don't have to pay anything at all.  Call it reverse inflation.  

Just go to this link.  

Ignore the warning that says "This is NOT a free ebook."  It is clearly a free ebook.  Read it and enjoy Joe's friendly, hypnotic writing style.  

This old ad ran for years and years.  Ever notice they never pitched the idea of a woman hypnotizing a man?  To do what, the dishes?  "You are my slave.  You will watch romantic comedies whenever I want."

So What Happened?

That's the real question, right?  Did it work?  Was it just a waste of time? 

Well, I read the book.  And I applied its lessons.  Basically, Joe suggested that you write down a list of the things you want, in explicit detail.  Then every night (or morning, or whenever), you read over the list, and imagine each thing coming to pass.

Also, you should write down a list of the personality traits, which in your opinion are necessary to bring about the things you want.  Then you imagine yourself having these same personality traits.

Doing all this was an arduous process, to say the least.  The hardest part, of course, was imagining myself with desirable personality traits. 

But little by little, a tiny trickle of the things I desired started to enter my life.  Then a consistent stream of them did.  Later, this turned into a raging torrent, which I was briefly swept away by, and I nearly drowned.  Yes.  In things that I wanted. 

Careful what you wish for. 

But yes.  I entered a very difficult field, and enjoyed success in it despite the steep odds and the anxious questions of the people around me.  I've traveled all over the world, met and worked with extraordinary people, and have had hundreds of exciting, incredible adventures.  

I live in a beautiful place, and for the most part, I am free to do whatever I like with my time.  Lack of money has become one of the least of my worries.  These really are Riches, just as Joe Karbo promised.  

My mom likes to say the reason all this came about was because she prayed fervently to Saint Jude.  In the Catholic church, Jude is the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes.  Apparently, I was one of these.   

Catholics are nothing if not pagan idolaters.  That's fine.  She has her superstitions, I have mine.  

Along the way I've worked very hard (much harder than many modern Art of Attraction gurus would have you believe is necessary).  

I've also been involved in a great deal of strife and bad feelings, had many disappointments and failures, and in general rode an astonishing wave of stress I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

And what I came to learn was: as far as the Art of Attraction goes, I was probably doing it wrong the whole time.

You can't just imagine things you want, but stay the same angry, cynical dickhead you've always been, and expect only sunshine.

In a later post, I will explain how I understand Attraction now.

As for Joe Karbo?  He died in 1980 at the age of 54.  That's too soon.  Seems like he might have forgotten to imagine robust good health for himself.

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  1. Great article, Mr. Optimist. When I was about 11 or 12 years old, my father had me read "The Lazy Man's Way to Riches," "Think and Grow Rich," "The Power of Positive Thinking," "Winning through Intimidation," and more. I used all of that information to masterfully forge a rather mundane, low-rent, anonymous existence..., thank you very much.

    1. Good for you! That is probably the best and highest use of the material. I wish I had thought of it.