This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success" by Deepak Chopra. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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How powerful are your thoughts? Can they actually affect your experiences?
According to Deepak Chopra, your thoughts and feelings are always contributing to the mix of thought-energy that makes up your reality—even when you’re not aware of it. Chopra argues that, since everything you have and experience is just a reflection of your thought-energy, you can transform your experiences by paying attention to what you think and why you think about it.
Let’s explore how your thoughts create reality by impacting your thought-energy and experiences.
Your Experiences Reflect Where and Why You Direct Your Thought-Energy
In what way do your thoughts create reality? Chopra explains that all matter in the universe is made up of two things: thought-energy and the information carried within this energy. The information within the energy defines the specific details of the object in question. For example, the thought-energy that creates and flows through a frog includes all of the biological needs the frog needs to survive. This information is different from the thought-energy that lives within and flows through a bird.
(Shortform note: This raises the question: Who thought up the frog? Chopra’s belief in an intelligence at the heart of creation (he once openly rejected Darwin’s theory of evolution) has invited significant criticism from scientists and skeptics who perceive his vague descriptions of God’s role in a conscious universe as “pseudoscience.”)
Further, Chopra argues that thought-energy and the information carried within this energy also define each of your experiences. However, your thoughts directly influence the nature of this information—specifically, your motivation for thinking a thought defines the information within your thought-energy and creates experiences that reflect this motivation. Let’s break this down into two parts to explore exactly how this works:
- Where you’re directing your thought-energy: According to Chopra, what you give your attention to directs your thought-energy to specific areas in your life.
- Why you’re directing your thought-energy: Chopra explains that your intentions for thinking about something define the information within your thought-energy and create life experiences that reinforce those intentions.
For example, you may think about wanting more money and direct your thought-energy to the topic of money. However, if you’re thinking about money because you’re scared of being poor, this fear shapes the information within your thought-energy. Consequently, your thought-energy creates experiences in your life that fuel your insecurities about money.
|Change Your Self-Image Before Attempting to Change Your Thoughts|
Chopra’s explanation of how your thoughts create your experiences implies that you can change your life simply by taking control of what you think about and why you think about it. However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds: While you may attempt to change your thoughts when you’re aware of them, the majority of your thoughts take place beneath your awareness in your subconscious mind.
In Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz explains that your subconscious mind learns from your habitual thoughts and feelings to create your self-image. It then influences you to think and behave in ways that reflect this self-image and actively discourages you from thinking or behaving in ways that are inconsistent with your self-image. Maltz goes so far to say that your subconscious mind sabotages your conscious attempts to make your habitual thoughts more positive.
For example, if you habitually think about money because you’re afraid of being poor, you’ve trained your subconscious mind to include poverty as a part of your self-image. As a result, your subconscious mind influences you to automatically think and act in ways that keep you poor. It might influence you to think thoughts that make you feel powerless or encourage you to overspend. Additionally, it may sabotage any attempt you make to increase your income—for example, influencing you to procrastinate about opening a savings account or applying for a job.
Unlike Chopra, Maltz argues that you can’t rely on your thoughts to change your experiences unless you consciously change your self-image and retrain your subconscious mind. He suggests that you can achieve this by regularly visualizing yourself behaving in ways that align with what you want and who you want to be.
You Can Consciously Influence Your Thought-Energy to Create What You Want
Chopra argues that, since everything you have and experience is just a reflection of your thought-energy, you can transform your experiences by paying attention to what you think and why you think about it. If you don’t have what you want, consider how the content of your thought-energy prevents you from experiencing these things.
(Shortform note: Like Chopra, many self-help practitioners claim that you just need to focus your thoughts on the right things to improve your life. For example, Louise Hay (You Can Heal Your Life) argues that you can “affirm” what you want to make it come true. For instance, if you want more success in your life, she would suggest that you change the statement “I’m not successful” to “I am successful” and repeat this multiple times a day. Eventually, you’ll come to believe this thought and you’ll automatically think and behave in ways that lead to more success.)
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Here's what you'll find in our full The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success summary:
- Why success isn't based on how much you achieve or accumulate
- How true success comes from aligning with the flow of spiritual energy
- Chopra's five methods for connecting with thought-energy