Law of Attraction

Thomas Troward was an early influence on the New Thought movement. He claimed that thought precedes physical form and that “the action of the mind plants the nucleus which, if allowed to grow undisturbed, will eventually attract to itself all the conditions necessary for its manifestation into outward visible form.”

In 1906, William Atkinson used the phrase, “like attracts like,” in his book Thought Vibration. The following year, Elizabeth Towne, editor of Nautilus Magazine, a Journal of New Thought, published Bruce MacLelland’s prosperity theology book Prosperity Through Thought Force, in which he summarized the principle, stating: “You are what you think, not what you think you are.”

In his book The Science of Getting Rich, Wallace Wattles espouses similar principles. Truly believing in the object of your desire and focusing on it will lead to that object or goal being realized on the material plane. Wattles states that his premise stems from the monistic Hindu view that God pervades everything and can deliver that which we focus on.

The phrase “Law of Attraction” appeared in the writings of the theosophical authors William Quan Judge in 1915 and Annie Besant in 1919.

In 1928, Napoleon Hill published The Law of Success in 16 Lessons, where he directly references the Law of Attraction, by name, repeatedly. In 1937, he published Think and Grow Rich which went on to become one of the best selling books of all time, selling over 60 million copies. In this book, he discusses the importance of controlling your thoughts in order to achieve success, as well as the energy that thoughts have and their ability to attract other thoughts.

By the mid 1900s, various authors addressed the topic under a range of religious and secular terms, such as “positive thinking”, “mental science”, “pragmatic Christianity”, “New Thought”, “practical metaphysics”, “Science of Mind”, “Religious Science” and “Divine Science”. Among the mid 20th century authors who used the term were Florence Scovel Shinn (1925), Sri K. Parvathi Kumar (1942), Alice Bailey (1942) and Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov (1968).