share guide






Understanding “The Secret”
and The Law of Attraction

An Interview with Jack Canfield, coauthor of
Chicken Soup for the Soul®

with Dennis Hughes, Share Guide Copublisher

Jack Canfield is a Harvard graduate with a Master’s Degree in psychological education. He is one of the earliest champions of peak-performance, developing the specific methodology and results-oriented activities to help people take on greater challenges and transform their lives. One of the bestselling authors of our generation, Jack is one of the teachers featured in the current hit film The Secret. The Share Guide caught up with him recently to get his insight into the amazing phenomenon of
“The Law of Attraction” featured in The Secret and why this book and film has everybody talking.

Jack Canfield

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Jack, you were featured in the popular film, The Secret, which focuses on The Law of Attraction. How did you become involved with that project?

It’s connected with an organization I started three years ago called the Transformational Leadership Council.  This group includes several people connected with the book, The Secret, such as John Demartini, John Gray, Bill Harris, Raymond Aaron, and John Assaraf. The author and producer of The Secret, Rhonda Byrne, was in United States wanting to film people who were teaching The Law of Attraction, and she heard about our meeting. She decided to come because a lot of the people that she wanted to interview were all going to be in the same place.  The filmakers took over a room at the resort where we were meeting in Aspen. They put up a green screen and started calling people out for hour-long interviews. There were about 12 of us that participated.

The film is excellent; it’s full of affirmations. We really like the phrase, “Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, you can achieve.” Didn’t Napoleon Hill say that?

Yes, he did.  My first mentor in this area was W. Clement Stone. He was a good friend of Napoleon Hill; they actually coauthored a book together.  I got to work in Stone’s foundation as a young man.  The phrase that became instilled indelibly into my brain at that time was: “If you think you can, do.”  Stone had a thing called, “Do it now.”  He’s the one who said “If life hands you a lemon, squeeze it and make lemonade.”  He actually derived that out of Napoleon Hill’s quote: “Every negative event has a seed of equal or greater benefit within it.” 

So that goes back to some of the roots of this kind of thinking.

Yes. Even in the Bible, which was written thousands of years ago, it says, “Ask and you shall receive.”  The basic idea is that you have a desire and then you ask God--or you might call it the “universal mind” or the “quantum field.” It’s only our doubts and our self-esteem issues that get in the way of manifesting whatever we want very rapidly.

So this goes hand and hand with The Law of Attraction and positive expectations.

Yes. Basically, if you look at The Secret, there’s three steps: Ask, Believe, and Receive.  In the asking phase, you have to be clear about what you want.  If you say, “I want to meet a nice guy,” well, what does nice mean?  I teach all my students, for each specific thing that you want, write out on a piece of paper exactly what it is, like a purchase order. For instance, if you want to meet someone, what kind of qualities do you want this person to have? What kinds of interests would they have?  If you want a house, how many bedrooms does it have?  Does it have floor to ceiling windows or bay windows?  Does it have a window seat that looks out over the ocean or does it have a mountain view? You have to be very specific about what it is you want.  A lot of people focus too much on what they DON’T want. As soon you get clear on what you do want, and you don’t have any conflicting thoughts, The Law of Attraction works. Conflicting thoughts is the part you really have to work on. You need to use what I call “releasing techniques.” One that I have found that is really valuable is The Sedona Method. It was developed by Lester Levenson, and is now taught by Hale Dwoskin.  It’s a way of releasing any negative thoughts or negative emotions that come up in response to holding a positive image.  For instance, we get thoughts like, “I’ll never be able to do that” or “Who am I kidding?”  We start to feel afraid when we think of ourselves as being successful or having a lot of money.  We think people might judge us as not being spiritual or having sold out.  You can go to and they have audio tapes and books about The Sedona Method.
Once you’ve gotten clear on what you want, and you’ve removed any limiting beliefs or negative emotions that might get in the way, the next step is to believe you can get it. That’s where I think reading inspirational books can really help--whether it’s Chicken Soup for the Soul books or ones like Think and Grow Rich or The Success Principles, or any other books that have stories of people who’ve achieved what you want to achieve. They help get you into a state of positive expectation.
Lastly, there is the area of receiving, and that’s where you’ve got to create a vibrational match for what you want.  This is where a lot of people really fall down.  They don’t realize that they’re thinking negative thoughts or sending out negative vibrations, but they are actually pushing away the things they want to attract. 
Esther and Jerry Hicks talk constantly in The Abraham Work about having a “vibrational escrow account.” All these things that you say you want have been lined up in the universe for you and are waiting for you to be in a place where you can receive them.  I like to use the metaphor that it’s like you ordered a box that UPS comes to deliver, but your mailbox is too small to let it in.  So how do we expand the size of the mailbox?  We do that through being in a state of joy, gratitude, and appreciation. We forgive all the people we used to feel negative about; we let go of our resentment; we do the things we love. If you can figure out how to do all that, then what happens is you get a very clear model that says, “I ask for it, and I believe and expect I’m going to get it.”  It’s as if I ordered a pizza, and I fully expect that in a few minutes they’re going to come to the door and hand that pizza to me.  If people could have that same kind of positive expectation regarding the job they want, the relationship they want, the money they want, or the social change they would like to manifest, we would see a lot more happening a lot more quickly. 

So positive expectancy is important, rather than dwelling on the negative or looking over your shoulder, worrying about what you want to get away from.

Right. Too many people are focused on what they don’t want.  We talk about anti-drug programs and the anti-war rally, anti-pregnancy programs in the schools. We say,  “I’m going to stop smoking.”  Well, all the energy is focused on smoking.  How about, “I’m going to develop a totally healthy, pure lifestyle.” The problem is that as you’re describing your current reality, you’re also creating your future reality.  That’s why people who complain and moan about the way things are, keep recreating more of the same.  They feel like they’re stuck, but the fact is “stuck” is actually a constant recreation of the same reality.  I create it again and again by talking about it and affirming that “this is the way it is.” 
We have to focus our conversation, our thinking, and our daydreaming on the way WE WANT IT TO BE, instead of worrying about how we don’t want it to be.  “The plane’s going to be late.  We won’t find a parking space.  There won’t be any reservations available for dinner when we get there. We’ll have to wait for two hours.”  You hear those kind of conversations constantly.  Then there’s the person that says, “I know it’s going to be easy. The lines will be short.”  They just expect it to be that way, and weirdly enough, most of the time it is!

Do thoughts actually have a frequency?  Is this something that’s been measured? 

Based on the latest research in quantum physics and neuroscience, we know that every thought we think is like a radio station without a radio. Think of it as being like how your cell phone can send a wireless message to Singapore or how your Blackberry can send a letter to people all over the world. All that information is condensed in little energy packets, which we call “frequencies,” which have amplitude and a wave form.  We now have research to indicate that at the very least, our thoughts can travel 250,000 miles.  That’s the result of experiments that were done with astronauts that were up on the moon or in a lunar module.  They had students at the parapsychology department at Duke University sitting in their laboratory. They would close their eyes and focus on what shape the astronaut was sending them--a square, a triangle, a circle, a pentagon, etc.  The students had an uncannily high rate of accuracy, which would indicate that the thoughts could travel that far.
There have been famous studies like the one at Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research facility where they found that random number computer generators were actually affected by human intention. And now they’re doing worldwide transcendental meditation projects where they have thousands of people meditating on the same day to see what kind of magnitude of effect it has on the world.
Isn’t it true that the feelings connected with thoughts are really what drives the Law of Attraction? And doesn’t passion make a difference in how it works?

Yes. In fact, it’s the feelings that are the vibration.  It’s like someone saying, “I love you,” as opposed to, “Oh, man, I really love you!!!”  The feeling between those two statements is very different and so is the vibration.  We all know that sometimes people will be saying words to us but they don’t match their vibe, and so we don’t trust them.  We question their integrity or their authenticity.  It is the emotions, the feelings, which we call the “vibrational rate.” 
Here’s how it works in regards to the Law of Attraction. Say you were imagining and vocalizing on your desire to get your PhD degree--you’d imagine the feeling you’d feel as you walked across the stage to receive your diploma after you accomplished all this hard work.  Imagine the pride and joy and relief and victory…all of that.  It’s the FEELING that drives the Law of Attraction and that’s why we’re always teaching people that when you’re visualizing, make sure you feel the feeling. 
The vibrational match is very important. That’s why you see all these things in The Secret about the feeling of gratitude. John Demartini doesn’t get out of bed until he has a tear of gratitude running down his face.  He says “thank you,” as each foot is hitting the floor, all the way to the bathroom and all the way to the shower.  That’s why we say grace as a ritual before meals.  It’s just a time to slow us down and say, “Wait a second, let’s focus on what we’re grateful for.” Then what happens is, you’re in that state, and it’s a vibrational match for all the things you want in the future. So if you can keep yourself in a state of gratitude and joy, no matter what you’re visualizing, eventually it’s going to manifest into your life. 
It’s like when we were doing the first Chicken Soup for the Soul, we got a lot of rejections. We had to hang in there for a long time and 144 publishers said No.  The Law of Attraction says, “You will attract the perfect person, thing, experience or opportunity that you need to manifest to achieve what you want. So HCI (Health Communications, Inc) comes along and agrees to publish our book. They were a very small publisher.  It was a perfect fit. They allowed us to be very large within that organization, and they had a tremendous amount of impact on the book--on the book cover, how we marketed it, our book tours, the press, etc--which would have been much more difficult to achieve with a mainstream big New York publisher. We would have been a very small fish in a big pond as compared to a very big fish in a small pond. So we got a publisher who really understood the kind of book we were doing and championed it.

So the first 144 weren’t really rejections; they just weren’t the right fit.

Exactly. It’s like trying to open a bunch of doors, knowing one of them was the right door and when you got there, it would open. It just happened that we got it on the 145th try.

Thomas Edison had 10,000 tries before he got the light bulb right. And he just said, “I never failed.  I just found 9,999 ways it didn’t work.”

We often think that if something doesn’t manifest instantly, that we’re not going to get it. The truth is that it will come when your doubts stop, and when you’re a vibrational match, and when you’re ready to have it.  For me, I decided I wanted to be a millionaire around 1978. I didn’t become one until 15 years later. But now, I’m a multimillionaire and every year my income goes up.

How does visualization activate or work with The Law of Attraction?

There are teachers that teach differently about this.  Some people say, “Just want it.  Let it go. And go out and have a good time.”  But I haven’t lived my life like that. I’ve always had what I call these “daily disciplines,” which include getting up in the morning and visualizing my goals as already complete. I believe in sending a constant message. I was taught by my teacher, W. Clement Stone, that the daily discipline of visualization does a number of things. One, it reprograms your unconscious mind, your reticular activating system in your brain, which is the part that filters things out of or into your field of perception. For instance, right now you’re not thinking about what’s going on in your right foot, but as soon as I mention it, you start thinking about it. The reticular system acts like a switchboard like the old operators who said “I’ll connect you.”  So basically, we’re filtering out millions of signals per second that we don’t think are that important. Mothers can sleep through a train wreck outside their house, but their baby makes one peep and they wake up, because their reticular system is programmed to let the sound of their baby through that filter, but not the sound of the traffic outside or a plane landing because that’s something that’s just background noise. The problem is that the reticular system is programmed to let in things that match your self-image. So if you have a negative self-image, you’re not going to let in opportunities that could make you a million dollars because you can’t even perceive those. They don’t get through.
There are things that program your reticutlar system, such as your beliefs and your goals.  So if I have a goal that I’m constantly visualizing as coming true, then the reticular system will let in ideas and resources in my environment related to this. They were always right there; I didn’t even have to attract them from somewhere else; they were already around me. But if you’re not thinking about it, you won’t even see the things that are in your environment that are models for what’s possible. The fact is, if you’re walking around going, “I’m so excited. I’m going to get a pizza delivered any minute. I can feel it.  I can taste it,”  then you’re affirming that it’s coming into your life. That’s what we’re talking about when we talk about visualization. It’s about enthusiasm and positive expectations, not about doubt.

This book and film, The Secret, has been a big hit recently, but all of the information is perennial wisdom and has been written about by many people, including yourself. Why are more people interested now?

I think three things are true. One, I think that presenting it as a film that was so seamlessly and expertly made and flawlessly edited made a big difference. It has emotional and dramatic impact, and this is the first time that’s ever been done. It’s one thing to sit and read a book. You can’t share that experience unless someone’s sitting right there next to you reading the same pages at the same time. There are Secret parties now, which are happening all over America, and the group energy field that’s created by watching a movie together is much stronger than people reading books individually. Second, I think that having so many teachers in that movie, many of them known and respected, all saying the same thing, that just took any doubt out of it.  And third, I think there is a readiness now--people are waking up. Magazines like The Share Guide and movies like The Secret and all the great teachers now--all of this is part of bringing this message to mass consciousness. We’re now in a place in time where people are hungry for knowing how to make their lives work better.

There’s also the media of film, which imparts the message in a powerful way.

Right. The dramatic reenactment really made it watchable, and very powerful.  They edited it so well, and the conceptual unfoldment of it is brilliant. Also, film, TV and the internet is the preferred method now for most people getting their information. I think that Rhonda Byrne came at this project from pure service. Because of that, the energy that’s surrounding the movie is great.  Rhonda and I are in discussion now about writing a book together--taking my Chicken Soup story collection, and her background, which is The Secret, and writing a book along the lines of “Living The Secret.” It would be all about stories of people who watched the movie or read the book and then had a miracle happen in their life. There are thousands of those stories already that have been sent to their website.

You’ve written that most people can’t see how it’s possible to get what they want so they don’t even try.

I think believing that it’s possible is the first step, because if you don’t believe it’s possible, why would you waste time deciding? The first chapter in my book The Success Principles is about taking 100% responsibility for your life. It’s your mind, your imagination, your emotions, and your actions which produce your reality.

Once you accept it’s possible, what’s the next step?

You definitely have to decide what you want. If I call up a travel agent and say, “I’d like to go on vacation,” they’re going to say next, “Where do you want to go?” I could say “Some place warm,” but eventually they’re going to force me to decide. Until I decide, they can’t help me get there. Neither can the reticular activating system in your brain, what I call your “Inner GPS.”  Basically, first I have to decide, “Am I responsible?” If I accept that, then what do I do with that responsibility? It’s through the power of my thoughts and my beliefs, my visualizations, my emotions, and my actions. I have to get all of those coordinated and synchronized in the same direction.

Don’t you need to act on your inspirations rather than just waiting for things to happen to you?”

The answer is yes, you do. This is the biggest misconception I see out there in the world about The Law of Attraction. You can’t just wish for a Cadillac while sitting in your living room and have one show up in your driveway. Unless you live at the bottom of a hill where there’s many cars driving by and one of them doesn’t turn right because its brakes fail, it’s not going to happen. So what you have to do is take action--with faith that it’s going to come true. In other words, if I didn’t believe it was going to work, I wouldn’t take the action. It would be a waste of my time. If I have a positive expectation, then I will start to act in accordance with that expectation. If I want to be a doctor, I need to take some pre-med classes, go to medical school, and then do a residency internship.  The big decisions I need to make are between what we call “obvious actions” (like going to medical school or saving money for the car I want to buy) and “inspired actions.” I think these are the ones that most people don’t understand very well. When your energy is aligned--through meditation, through prayer, through your intentions being for the highest good of all concerned--then when you have requests, the goal is sent out to the universe and amazing opportunities happen. But you have to trust your intuition if you’re going to get inspired impulses to act.  You need to pay attention when you get those little intuitive impulses, like stop for coffee, or drop into the bookstore, or call Aunt Martha. Then you call Aunt Martha and find out that she’s having tea with some guy who can change your life. Or she says, “Come on down. There’s this really cute girl. You ought to meet her.” So you go down to Aunt Martha’s and there’s your future wife.  So you’ve got to be willing to trust your intuition. Most of us were talked out of it as kids. We were taught to be very, very rational. Rationality has its place, but it’s just one half of the total equation.

To learn more from Jack Canfield, visit

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