by Destiny Chukwuma Ogbonnaya
In 2016, I visited my uncle whom I like discussing ideas with. He told me what he thought about recent books he read. He told me about the “Billionaire next door” and “The law of attraction”. Coincidentally, I had bought a book titled “The secret” that focussed on the law of attraction. Before then, I have read many self-help and motivational books. I have read books on Psychology, Philosophy, History and Classics.
The Secret is a good book but I had an alternative proposition for the phenomenon described in the book. The law of attraction states that we attract what we think about. Recently, I was listening to audio books with “thinking” in its title. They are great books. They include “Think and grow rich”, ” As a man thinketh”, ” Thinking for a change” etc. By the way, I will not ask you to read any of them. My recollections is that humans do not like doing what they are asked to do and they do what they are asked not to do. I do not really know why. Perhaps, we need to revisit the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Let me tell you a story to buttress my point.
A man living close to a road at Abakaliki, a city at Ebonyi State in Nigeria, noticed that his fence was at a corner where people feel that they can have privacy to urinate. Over time, the odor being perceived inside his compound was becoming unbearable. The man wrote on the wall, “PLEASE, DO NOT URINATE HERE”. To his greatest surprise, the number of people urinating there suddenly increased! Perhaps, people thought that that spot must have been a good spot to urinate and the man was just being naughty. Frustrated that his tenants were beginning to leave the compound because of the odor, he thought of what to do. An idea came to him and he decided to implement it. The man changed the initial warning to an invitation. He wrote ” PLEASE I AM LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS TO URINATE HERE SO THAT I CAN TAKE THEIR URINE TO A NATIVE DOCTOR FOR RITUAL”. Guess what, people stopped urinating there and your guess is probably as good as mine.
So, I will neither ask anyone to read nor not to read the books I will mention in this contribution. Let us continue with the law of attraction. From my research and study of the principles, frameworks and theories supporting the law of attraction, I noticed a gap. The gap in the theory which is also causing people not to maximise the benefits of books and literatures on thinking is that the word “thinking” has not been operationally defined. Think or thinking is a verb but what do people do when they are thinking? By thinking about thinking, I noticed that there is a flaw in the law of attraction as it is currently formulated. Not that everything about the law of attraction is wrong, rather it was not formulated in view of the operational definition of thinking.
Merriam-Webster defined thinking as ” the action of using one’s mind to produce thoughts”. But what are “thoughts” and how do people “use” their mind? What do you expect a person to do if you ask the person to think? Since 2011, I have been investigating the subject of thinking. I conducted a study to find out if people think in domains and if domain-based reasoning can improve one’s thinking. As a result, I define thinking as a computational process of combining the domains of questelligence to create an image perceptible to self and others. Questelligence is a hypothesis that the capability of a person to ask questions varies directly with their intelligence. I will devote more time to discuss my conceptual framework for questelligence in a different contribution. I am also writing a book on this. For now, let me mention the domains of questelligence as used in the definition of thinking. The questelligence domains are products of communicative evolution of humans over human existence which hold intelligence and things that are intelligible. There are seven questelligence domains as proposed and tested in my study. They are: Object(ive) domain, People domain, Time domain, Reason domain, Process domain, Specific domain and Place domain. When we think, we are computationally applying “permutations and combinations” to make images and series of images perceptible to us and others. Understanding the operational definition of thinking and applying it can change the way people think, act, live and solve problems. This is not limited to solving individual problems but family, corporate, national and global problems. By the way, questelligence assumes the notion of systems and system thinking.
The Object(ive) domain is the main purpose or object one is thinking about. People domain is the human element which might be an individual, a group, organisation or nation. Time domain is the notion of the past, present,A frame is a collection of images. An image is a domain or a combination of domains of questelligence. and the future. Reason domain is the rationalisation of the domains chosen for creating the images. Process domain is the sequences of events, images and how they change with time. Specific domain focuses on the specifics of other domains. Place domain includes physical, virtual, abstract locations where the frames of the images can be located.
As illustrations, consider the images you see in the following frames.
A. Michael is seated on a dinning table eating dinner.
B. Michael is seated on a dinning table eating dinner. His brother, Benison, is standing behind him reading a book. Their sister, Anita, is seated on the couch watching TV.
C. Michael, 5-year old, is seated on a black dinning table, eating a delicious dinner. The sculpture of his brother (Benson) reading a book, is standing behind him. Their sister, Anita, 30- year-old, is seated on the couch watching TV.
Linguistically speaking, there are seven domains of questelligence that we combine to communicate and interact. It is important to notice that the details of the frames A, B and C increased by simply introducing more domains of questelligence. A story is a logical arrangement of frames of images.
Now, if thinking leads to the creation of images, the law of attraction tends to make the thinker passive in the process and time domains where the realisation of the thoughts will take place. Also, the law of attraction appears to assume that the thinker is the only person existing in the universe such that you will get what you want and think about. Yet, the law of attraction remains a powerful way of visualisation of the images that the mind create. The purpose of this contribution is to propose the law of recognition as a better approach and highlight its point of departure from the law of attraction.
The law of recognition states that there is likelihood that if you think and continue to think about an object(ive), you will recognise them and know what to do next when you come across them in reality. The first departure from the law of attraction is that thinking of an object(ive) is merely a necessary factor. Thoughts create images through permutation and combination of domains of questelligence. Since, thoughts are abstract in form, there is a physical congruence required to be mapped over the abstract attributes for physical manifestation of thoughts. In other words, after thinking, there are sequences of actions that need to be taken. From the perspective of the law of attraction, you should wait for your thoughts to manifest; but from the perspective of the law of recognition, manifestation is shaped as events unfold and the duty of the thinker is to continously think and act in a manner that will realise the set object(ive).
Let me give you an example. The law of attraction states that if you continously think, “I will fall sick”, you will attract sickness to yourself and you will actually fall sick. In order not to fall sick, reject any thought of falling sick and you cannot fall sick. The law of recognition approaches the issue of falling sick thus. A person practicing the law of recognition knows that the most important phase of the time domain is the present time. The past I frozen, the future is yet to come. Therefore, focusing on the present as a way of not falling sick is key. Falling sick is part of being human. If your mind suggests that you might fall sick, engage in the process domain. By questioning all available evidences that suggest that you might fall sick, you can establish if is reasonable. If it is not reasonable, you can freeze the thought as past (even though you are in the present) and do not entertain the thought again. If there is evidence of habits or exposure that could lead to sickness, thoughts can then be used to create changes in behaviour or precautions to stop the sickness from occurring. Again, if for instance sickness occurs, the person practicing the law of recognition can acknowledge the sickness and consult (doctors) for support. I for one believe in preventive medicine but if one falls sick, the laws of attraction may appear to blame the person for breaking the laws of nature but the proposed laws of recognition would focus on generating ideas to get well again. The fundamental question is how you recognise your thoughts in reality and how you can use thoughts to change reality. One thing you will not forget if you read “Think and grow rich” is that thoughts are things. The notion of recognition is dynamic but the notion of attraction appear static.
One of my concerns as a Christian is that the doctrine of faith as understood by many Christians today is based on attraction rather than recognition. Many preachers say or imply that you should believe or have faith and you will have what you want. Many people have done all they can to believe but their reality is far from their belief. Apostle James gave a formula of faith based on recognition. He said that ” faith without work is dead”. This was what I alluded to when I say that faith alone is not sufficient but faith and work can be profitable. This means that the chances of achieving the obeject(ive) domain increases with a combination of thoughts and actions.
Let me give you another scenario. Two University graduates from Chemical Engineering wanted to work in an Oil and Gas industry. One approached this objective with the mindset of law of attraction (A) while the other uses the law of recognition (R). A visualises himself working in an oil and gas company. Practices meditation every morning to call forth the job. On the other hand, R chose to select 20 top oil and gas companies to find out what is required for working with them, how his qualifications meet their criteria. It is likely that R may notice that there are job openings in some the companies which he can apply for. Let’s take the worst case scenario that he was not selected but assume that few feedbacks indicate that he needs to get a certain qualification. Since the feedback were independently given, R chose to invest in the required training. After registering and during attendance, he noticed that oil and gas companies come to recruit from those undergoing the training. One day, a company came to the training session and he engaged one of the recruitment officers. The officer guided him on how to apply. He did apply and was shortlisted. He finished his training and attended an interview. The panel said that they will recruit him because he has that additional certification. A is still waiting for the day he will be invited for an interview, even without submitting any application.
The law of recognition can only be practiced by thinkers because it requires dynamic updates of the images and frames being produced by the mind. Fortunately, thinking can be learned by practicing Questelligence. Questelligence has creative and analytical fronts because one of the assumptions of questelligence is that “create if the inverse of analyse” just as problems are inverse of solutions. They are mirror images. When we watch Crime investigation movies, what is happening is that we want to see how the police uncovers a story that has been frozen in the past. This will involve picking the pieces of the questelligence domains to create images and arrange the frames to create a story of how the crime happened.
To summarise this contribution, the law of attraction does not give a thinker adequate control and influence over events. The law of recognition empowers the thinker with confidence that he/she can manage eventualities since they can dynamically adapt to the changing circumstances by changing the domains to match the reality or possible reality. Thus, the law of recognition appears to be more realistic and responsible than the law of attraction that makes one appear passive in the scheme of things. So, we must think about our object(ive) and do something about them if we must guide them into existence.