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Hold That Thought!

By Melonie Cannon

When I was 9 years old, my family was sitting on the front bench in Sacrament Meeting. My Mom, probably occupied with a baby, asked me to tell her what page the opening hymn was on. I looked up and couldn’t see it. “I don’t know. It’s too far away,” I replied. Stunned, she looked at me and with the impending-doom voice said, “Tomorrow we are going to get you glasses.” Needless to say, I was blind as a burrowing mole. How long had my vision impairment been going on, I cannot say. I only remember the day I received the glasses as the day that I discovered the world. The grass had millions of blades! It wasn’t just a large green smudge. Did you know the street is made of hundreds of little rocks? My older brother had freckles. My sheets had tiny flowers on them. Gingham was actually little squares! Books could be held far away and read. Oh, the joy! The rapture! I had no idea how beautiful the world was. I had no idea what I was missing.

So, it is when we come across new ideas. They enter our lives like a new pair of glasses and help us see the world in a new way. Our world hasn’t changed a bit, but the way we perceive it has. Recently, I saw some of an Oprah show concerning the book and movie called, “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. I have not seen the film, but I picked up the book and started reading about the law of attraction. Basically, it discusses focusing our thoughts to create what we want in our lives. We must believe that we will receive and that the Universe (God) wants to give it to us. Our thoughts have the power to create, as all things are/were created spiritually before they are/were created physically. “You can have what you want—if you know how to form the mold for it in your own thoughts. There is no dream that may not come true, if you but learn to use the Creative Force working through you.” Robert Collier

I have been desperately looking for a wonderful, unique house for nine months. I have reviewed hundreds of houses online and probably walked through and around close to 100. The lease is almost up on our rental and my family has no where to move because nothing has felt like home. Last week, I decided to give the law of attraction a try in this case. I prayed, I believed, and just “knew” that I would find my house. I talked like I had already found it and thanked Heavenly Father for all the blessings he had given me, including my new and wonderful house. That day I saw a new listing and drove by. It was the house. I scheduled a walk through for that afternoon and fell in love with it. It had everything I wanted from my need list and almost everything I wanted from my want list. “YES! The Secret works! My thoughts brought me my new house after months and months of work.” I called my sister and told her I found my new house. I felt so grateful and happy. I scheduled a showing the next day so my husband could go see our new house too. That whole morning I fretted. Would he like it? “He’s going to hate it,” I would think. I kept telling him all the wonderful things about the house, but inside I kept repeating all the things he would find wrong. I stewed, I vexed, I knitted a fine scarf of worry. As we walked through the house, my husband was silent. This was not like him. He has opinions about everything and is very bold about sharing them. At the end of the tour the realtor asked him his opinion. “I don’t like it,” he said. “I had a bad feeling about it when we were walking up on the front porch.”

I will spare you nice readers the crying scene that followed. Needless to say, the law of attraction works. I had found a great house and had lost it in a space of 24 hours due to my own thoughts. All the bad vibes I sent out came back and invaded my husband’s brain. I hadn’t even realized what I was doing. What power we have! President Benson said, “You will be held accountable for your thoughts, because when your life is completed in mortality, it will be the sum of your thoughts. That one suggestion has been a great blessing to me all my life, and it has helped me on many occasions to avoid improper thoughts, because I realize that when my life is over I will be the product of my thoughts.”

The gospel asks us to let virtue garnish our thoughts unceasingly. I always thought that statement was for my own benefit and salvation. It never occurred to me that having virtuous thoughts could also benefit the world and others. Like my glasses when I was nine years old, this idea helped me see my life a little clearer.

Do you have any thoughts on the topic?”¦(hee, hee)”¦

Do you control your own thoughts? If so, how?

Do you believe in the laws of attraction?

Any stories you would be willing to share?

Do you believe that Heavenly Father wants to give us the things that we ask for whether they will affect us in the long run for good or ill?

About Melonie Cannon

Melonie has surrounded herself with beautiful words for as long as she can remember. This led her to find a home with Segullah after writing an essay published in the May 2006 Segullah issue. She was invited to join the staff and has been a part of Segullah in various capacities since, including being the creator of the “Words Fall In” podcast.  She received her M.Ed from the University of Utah and was a certified Secondary English teacher before becoming a Mom of four. Over the years, her focus has been on natural healing modalities and becoming a sacred sound healing practitioner with a focus on the drum, rhythm, voice, and vibration. She is finishing her PH.D. in theology and metaphysics to further these studies and help women to connect to the divine within themselves.

30 thoughts on “Hold That Thought!”

  1. How strange that you bring up this book. I just read an article in Meridian about this book. It's by Richard Eyre.

    I have pondered deeply about his idea of their being three deceivers. I worry that I assume I am in control, I am too independant, and I claim ownership of all good things that happen to me. My concern about Bryne's book is that she takes God out of the equation. We can easily place him within her framework, but she only holds small kernels of truth. I have too many personal experiences watching people I love take small kernels of truth that are held in a larger secular context and running off in dangerous and destructive directions.

    Aside from the discussion about her book, I do think the Lord blesses us through our free agency. I often think he is probably more eager to bless us than we know, but He is waiting upon us. He won't infringe upon our agency to bless us when we could not bear the weight of those blessings, or when we aren't in a proper state of mind/body to accept them.

    I have been using mind exercises with myself to increase my running mileage lately, and it's working! So I know my mind is a powerful tool for my good or ill. I can also usually talk myself into a calm and peaceful state.

    I don't think, though, that I can think myself into anything. Accepting that assumption would require, for example, people in Darfur to be able to think themselves out of that situation. I think that illustrates some of the danger in accepting this idea too wholeheartedly.

    Good thoughts, Melonie! Especially since it's been on my mind lately! Good luck with the house — come live by me. I need friends.

  2. The part about The Secret that concerns me is God's will. I can direct my attention in a particular direction, but as a covenant person I must submit to the fate Heavenly Father wants/needs for me.

  3. Hey, Justine. Thanks for directing us to Richard's article. He has great insight. I also believe that we have to be careful of deceivers. However, I don't think that he got something from the book. The book reiterates over and over that you do not do this alone and that "the Universe" has to respond to your thoughts and place those things in your life. It never says that you are doing things alone.
    In my Mormon interpretation, it meant that I need to be more careful with my thoughts.."guard your thoughts unceasingly.." (or something like that)and what the thoughts can create in my life and the life of others.

  4. I totally agree about the thoughts part!! I suppose I am wary of so manny of these things because I have had too many personal and painful experiences watching people I love be slowly led away, to where they ultimately ended up far, far, far off the path. I worry because I hear the words of those loved ones echoing in my ears, "This book/DVD/class/whatever has really helped me find peace and happiness."

    Because of that I feel soo strongly that I have to make sure I'm finding my peace/happiness/answers from the scriptures and from prayer.

    Even Eyre says a discerning eye can find the great truths in Bryne's book. I haven't read it. I guess I don't trust myself to. And I'm ok not trusting myself. I know many of my wonderful and gifted friends will think that narrow-minded. I have just watched it happen too many times, and am too wary of Satan's subtle and crafty message to let my leash out too far.

    Flip-side though, our minds are so incredibly powerful, and I know my thoughts create the arc of my day, EVERY DAY. I can start out quite sour on some mornings, but if I choose my thoughts well, can accomplish great things and can see demonstrable results. I think much of it, for me, is choosing to have the Spirit with me.

    Ramble, ramble, ramble…

  5. Our desires and God's desires are not always the same. What we may think is a challenge may be a blessing, ultimately. For example, I have always prayed when trying to get pregant for a certain gender. I have always received what I asked for until my last child. We weren't planning on having anymore children and I really desired a girl so that my daughter could have a sister. We didn't find out what the sex was until delivery. I was convinced the first 20 weeks that I was having a girl because that is what I prayed for, hoped for, and had positive thoughts about for about two years prior. After the ultrasound, though we didn't see anything on the screen that would tell us what the sex was, I had a feeling that it was a boy. But, of course, I fought that feeling and just knew that Heavely Father would give me what I wanted. When they said, "He is so big," while I was delivering him, my heart dropped, knowing that my desires were not fulfilled. But, I know now that asking and hoping for a specific blessing is only one side of the experience. There is a plan in place for each of us. There is a reason that I did not have a girl. Maybe I just needed to learn that He does not always fulfill every desire and that my healthy baby boy was the only blessing that I needed at that time. Then again, I hope to have lots of girl grandchildren! Enjoyed your post and will try testing out "The Secret"…..

  6. Ooohh, Katrina, you just reminded me of an awesome experience I had once when I somehow ended up in a small room with 10 or so people and Elder Neal A. Maxwell was one of them! Someone in a wheelchair asked him something like, "If I am strong enough mentally, and have enough faith, will the Lord heal me if I ask?"

    Elder Maxwell, without even a pause, said, "If you have enough faith, you'll know if you should ask."

    It's been 20 years since that statement, and I remember it like it was yesterday it was so powerful.

  7. I agree that "the law of attraction" is a powerful idea–and a very true one in the sense that we often get what we really, really want. The corollary to "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" is "where your heart (and thoughts) are, there will your treasure be also." But see, here’s the thing. Mortality—our grand test with eternal consequences—is not about what we want. It’s about what He wants. And what He wants is to give us Eternal Life. But for that we must submit to His will; we must become the covenant people Courtney referred to.

    The big problem with The Secret is that people don’t always recognize that there’s another source out there in “The Universe” who has the power to give us what we think we want. He’s always been willing to do that. Just ask Doctor Faustus. 🙂 Trouble is, there’s always a price—a terrible, terrible price.

    God asks us to submit our will to His, and in return, He gives us everything He has. Satan tries to convince us that what we want is the mess of pottage (money, power, fame, a skinny body, jewels . . .)—and the price for that can be our very soul.

  8. Okay, that smiley was supposed to show up right after the remark about Doctor Faustus. I'm not a sadist, really! There's nothing funny about the terrible, terrible price Satan extracts from us.

  9. So, Melonie, give us the rest of the story. What's happening with the house? Who won, you or your hubby? I'm sending my positive thoughts *your* way (but only if the house is in PG!) 🙂

  10. See, I agree with the part about my thoughts being powerful but not powerful enough to make my 4th baby a girl after 3 boys. It BUGS me when people are like if you want it, or think it is, or send it out to the universe. Memebers of the church! I will accept what the Lord sees fit to give. Do I think I could handle a girl? Yes, but the Lord knows what we can handle and what we need.
    I DO think that positive thinking is very strong but it has it's limits.

  11. Since hearing about The Secret, I have thought of it in the context of our Divine Nature, the creative powers we inherited from God. Even within the natural realm and through the veil they are very strong and can be tapped and made stronger through exercise ("exercising faith"). There are two sides to everything ("Opposition in all things") as Sharlee pointed out, but I always thought of The Secret as a very watered down version of exercising perfect faith–very Jacob 4:6. I very much enjoyed Brother Eyre's warnings about the darker side of what seemed like a harmless and partially-true trend. This post was great!

  12. On my mission there was a fad for a while called "el convenio." In a nutshell, we tried to be absolutely perfectly obedient in every possible way. Then, we requested from Heavenly Father very specific goals: twenty discussions this week, twenty-five the next, thirty after that. We prayed specifically for these goals. We focused on them, trying to bend the universe's energy toward baptisms.

    This system worked off and on for me. I often reached the discussion goals, and it was clear that the Lord put people in our path to help us achieve them. But the only person I baptized while using the convenio was a fifteen-year-old girl who promptly went inactive, only weeks before we were wisely prohibited from baptizing minors without at least one parent.

    After I returned home I read one of my all-time favorite General Authority quotes, from Elder Oaks (October 2003 Ensign), on this very subject:

    "I reminded the missionaries that some of our most important plans cannot be brought to pass without the agency and actions of others. A missionary cannot baptize five persons this month without the agency and action of five other persons. A missionary can plan and work and do all within his or her power, but the desired result will depend upon the additional agency and action of others.

    "Consequently, a missionary’s goals ought to be based upon the missionary’s personal agency and action, not upon the agency or action of others."

    Love that quote. Love it, love it, love it. Wish I had had it on my mission.

    So, to make my rambling somewhat relevant, all my thinking and prayers and goals and obedience did not affect others' agency and action. It blessed my life. But I didn't get what I wanted. Because I was trying hard to be righteous, God blessed me with what he gives all his children who are trying hard to be righteous: what I needed.

  13. Hey, the previous comment was from Emily M., not Matt. I forgot to check the name field when I left the comment… oops…

  14. Melonie, I love your description of seeing things in a new way.

    I enjoyed this discussion. Regarding question number 5. I think we are eventually given exactly what we desire. I'm sure it's not always what Heavenly Father wants for us, but he allows us to have whatever it is because we have chosen it.

  15. Thank you for all of your comments. Why don't we all get together and write a book entitled "The Real Secret..?" Jennifer B, I'd love you to elaborate. I think there must be some story there. I think it is an unusual stance to take for a Mormon.
    Emily/Matt, Thank you so much for the quote from Oaks. Others have agency and their agency will affect us. It is so very true. In my particular case, my husband's agency nixed the thing I desired. I trust my husband completely. He is close to the Lord and is very sensitive to His promptings. If my husband felt wrong about a certain house, there must be a reason for it. The Lord will bless us with what we need and He knows we need a home. So, I will blog an update soon, I'm sure, and tell you the story of how we were given our new house.
    Thank you all for your comments and insights. I appreciate so much that you take the time to read this blog and offer such interesting thoughts.

  16. Thank you Melonie for this discussion. The Secret has been on my mind for a few weeks. I've seen the movie and own the book, and have been involved in some interesting discussions about this with family.

    I like the comments so far, and am still developing my own ideas about this subject. My thinking kind of falls somewhere in the middle of all this. I believe that our thoughts are very powerful, and that we can accomplish or aquire things using positive thinking, however, I also believe that there is a limit to what the Lord will give us. We must have righteous desires, and must put forth the effort to have or be the things we wish for.

    The scripture that just keeps coming back to me is "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Matt 7:7) Other scriptures that I find helpful in this discussion are Matt 7:8-11, Enos 1:15, 3 Nephi 13:8, D&C 8:10, D&C 88:65.

    If we have a righteous desire and ask, having faith in Christ, we will receive personal revelation. Sometimes, we will get what we want, other times the answer is no. He knows what we need, so we should be careful of what we wish for.

    It is late, am I making any sense at all? Sorry, for the long post, and rambling on.

  17. Wow! Those are some thought-provoking questions. The thing is I have witnessed the power of attraction at work. My husband has this uncanny way of thinking about someone out of the blue he hasn't see or heard from in ages and then within the next 48 hours he will see them somewhere, as if completely out of the blue.

    It happened to me once recently. I had been thinking about a family that had once lived in our ward. The very next day I dropped into Stephenson's Copy Center spur of the moment and the mother was there making copies. In particular I had thought about this person's daughter and wondered why I hadn't seen her in the school choir anymore. So when the topic of her daughter came up I asked, then I told her how great the new choir director is and what a difference he has made in the life of my son. Just last week I got to hear the kids sing in the Provo Tabernacle and there was her daughter–she had just rejoined the choir a couple of weeks ago. And they happened to be singing something I knew to be her favorite song, "Come Thou Font of Every Blessing." Their performance was powerful and inspired and had an impact on all who attended. None of that seemed to be coincidental, but I would be arrogant to think I had been responsible for the fact that she was there and participated in it. Maybe I had been primed by inspiration to be prepared to play a tiny role in what transpired. Who knows?

    One year at Christmas I kept thinking about how I wanted three things for my family. A used basketball standard. A pool table. And a hand-me-down coat for my daughter. I never mentioned this to anyone, but within two weeks I had people offer me all three. Did I make it happen? Who knows?

    The truth is I have spent a lot more time and energy praying for people I love to be healed of addiction, suffering, and both physical and mental illness. Did I get what I wanted? If only it were that simple.

    And that's what I want to say, I guess. It's a great theory, even when you remember that God is "The Universe." But I don't think it's ever that simple. I don't know if it would even be good for us if it were that simple.

  18. The principles of "The Secret" are based on truth. Remember Alma 29:4

    I ought not to harrow up in my desires, the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction.

  19. Here's an interesting review of The Secret by Jana Riess. Jana has been the Religion Book Review Editor for Publishers Weekly since 1999. She holds degrees in religion from Wellesley College and Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in American religious history from Columbia University. She speaks often to media about issues pertaining to religion in America, and has been interviewed by the Associated Press, Time, Newsweek, People, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and Newsday, among other print publications, as well as “Voice of America,” the Today show, and NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “Talk of the Nation.” She is the author or co-author of six books.


  20. Pat, thanks for the pointer to Jana Riess' excellent and informative review of The Secret. This confirms for me that The Secret is the same occultist blasphemy baloney it looks like, and rather more pernicious than what televangelist Benny Hinn dishes out.

  21. Here here! for Jana Riess' review. I enjoyed it.

    I think that the doctrines of personal revelation and keeping pure thoughts, even hopeful thoughts, are not equivalent to hoping, wishing, picturing, and ultimately sending out a summons for our dearest wishes. There are some things (most things) we simply do not have control of, therefore our need to submit ourselves the will of the Father or kick against the pricks. Anyone can hope for and imagine good health, wealth, and happiness. But I think it takes more self-discipline and powerful thinking to be happy with imperfect circumstances.

    And yet, I still believe deeply that our minds are very powerful. I really do believe that visualizing my favorite calm places will slow my heart rate and that rehearsing my anxieties will give me a real knot in my stomach or make me sick some other way. So, good vibes are okay with me! But, I think it's dangerous to take credit for the all the good things in my life and also dangerous to take responsibility for all the bad.

  22. Be careful about making judgements on books that you haven't read based on someone else's review. Jana Reiss actually had some things wrong from the book and took things out of context and exaggerated. We should all make our own judgements and use the Spirit to direct us to find the good.

  23. You're right, Melonie. I should have been more objective about the review. My comments after that though, weren't meant as an endorsement of the review, just as my own ideas on the subject of sending out positive thoughts. I should have left the review out of it.

  24. Perhaps weren't specific enough in your prayers and desires. You prayed for a house that you wanted, and got it. You didn't pray for a house that both you and your husband wanted. In other words, you got what you prayed for

  25. The thesis of "The Secret" is merely one aspect or piece of a much larger system that is explained in the gospel.

    Other pieces of the gospel's big picture have been mentioned: seeking guidance/revelation, making every effort possible to be worthy for it, preparing for it, doing the leg work, adjusting our desires to be in line with God's will, humbling ourselves, believing and having faith, studying it out, asking/praying, being grateful, developing our gifts and talents, being magnified, being taught from on high, etc.

    "The Law of Attraction" is a partly-secular and partly-mystical way of explaining that God wants to bless us, but we have to do certain things in order to obtain a blessing: believe, ask, seek, be humble, prepare, act in faith, obey commandments, etc.

    The laws upon which blessings are predicated are not always a one-to-one corresponce of particular-condition particular-blessing. The law for a particular blessing may be a grouping of several conditions, and several or all of those conditions may need to be met for that law to be fullfilled and the associated blessing to be activated.

    And of course there are exceptions to rules, or rather, the rules can be complex enough to have unrecognized exceptions built in. IE, Joseph Smith saw God at age 14 before he held the priesthood whereas scripture says a man must have the piresthood to behold God. And Cornelius and his family received an outpouring of the Spirit and a spiritual gift before being baptized and having the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    One of my favorite Johnny-on-the-spot stories was when I went to lunch, but first detoured to a Starbucks a few doors down to get a newspaper. Two men, one appearing to be Middle-eastern, and the other appearing to be Ethiopian, were conversing in English at those small tables outside the Starbucks. As I passed them, the only word that I was able to discern in their conversation was "Bible."

    After purchasing my newspaper inside, I stopped by their table on the way back to the restaurant. When they stopped conversing to look at me to see what I wanted, I asked if they were talking about the Bible. The Middle-eastern man then said that he'd like to read the Bible in Arabic. I asked the other man if he spoke Amharic (the language of Ethiopia) and he did.

    I have a "bookstore" in my car, with inexpensive copies of the Bible and Book of Mormon in dozens of languages, that I like to give away to anyone who will receive them. I said to the men, "Hold on, I've got something for you."

    It was "Christmas in July" for them. I gave the Arabic-speaking man a combination Arabic/English parallel-column bilingual New Testament, an Arabic Book of Mormon, and an English Book of Mormon. I gave the Ethiopian man an Amharic New Testament, a paperback English New Testament, an Amharic Book of Mormon, and an English Book of Mormon.

    Now, from my point of view, I've encountered enough Ethiopians and Arabic-speaking people in Indianapolis to know to be prepared with that material. No big deal for me.

    But, consider it from their point of view, and imagine the conversation when they got home to their wives that evening. "Honey, me and so-and-so were at the Starbucks talking about the Bible, and along comes this fat white guy, and hands us copies of the Bible and his Book of Mormon thing, both in our language and in English."

    So who's positive thinking did the attraction, their's or mine? Who's prayers were answered, their's to be able to find scriptures, or mine to find people in order to give out scriptures? I'm sure they rejoiced in finding something they were looking for. And I rejoiced in being able to be of service in fulfilling a need.

  26. Bookslinger I have bookmarked your blog and I must say through this whole thread I could feel the spirit weaving in and out, but when I came to your entry the spirit burned heavily within my heart. You have given an explanation to something I have been trying to relate since I read the Secret. The Secret's author is too simplistic and materialistic for us Mormon's to embrace. I personally use the supermarket method. I take what I can use and leave the rest on the shelf.

    Years ago I read a book written by if I remember correctly a former mission president but it was titled "Drawing on the Powers of Heaven" by Grant Von Harrison. Great book! In a nutshell it explains the importance of our thoughts and aligning our thoughts with those of our Heavenly Father (thus Elder Maxwell's response)in life and in prayer. It also goes into explaining what the Secret calls the law of attraction. My take on it all – Possible down side: Be careful what you pray for because you are probably going to get it. Up side: Think of the power when a universe of positive people align their thinking with that of God. Peace, love and harmony could be the result.

  27. I just did a search for the book "Drawing on the Powers of Heaven" on Amazon and two other books came up with it, one by Elder Perry and one titled Law of Attraction by some other author. Hmmmmm. All my experiences with missionary work and in all the church auxilaries trying to form a plan of action and to get the intended result from our actions & prayers tell me that much of this is true. Sure we will not get every individual to respond but if we cast out our nets we are going to get some fish.


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