If you’ve watched The Secret or learned about the process of manifestation, you may wonder, “Why don’t we all have everything we want?” The answer lies in my favorite formula for applying the Law of Attraction, composed of three simple steps:
  1. Intention—Be clear about what you want.

  2. Attention—Experience the thoughts and feelings of already having what you want, and take appropriate action.

  3. No Tension—Let go. Relax. Shift from being tightly focused on your specific desired outcome to being wide open to all possibilities. Trust that your highest good will come to you and feel the happiness of that.

A lot has been written and spoken about the first two steps. Many of us have mastered them, but have stopped there. We end up holding onto our desire like a terrier chewing on a bone.

The problem is we haven’t taken the last step. We haven’t let go and surrendered. We haven’t said, “Okay, this or something better.” The third step, no tension, frees our minds, opens our hearts and lets us be happy in this moment. If we skip this step, it’s like having a closed fist; how can we receive anything when our hand isn’t open? In our “gotta-get” culture, this is the step most people miss or dismiss.

Take a Breath

When my friend Bill Levacy first shared this formula with me, I had an “Aha moment.” I realized that every time I had succeeded in manifesting my desires, it had happened only after I’d done step three, let go and relaxed. In fact, one of my greatest successes is a perfect example of this.

In 1994 I had been working for ten years as a corporate trainer and professional speaker focusing on self-esteem for women. My career intention was clear (step one): to inspire and empower millions of people around the world to live their best lives.

My attention was focused on thinking, feeling and visualizing big success (step two). I was the queen of persistence and had taken all the right actions to further my career. Although I had achieved a good degree of success, I knew I wanted to take my work to a higher level, and it just wasn’t happening. I had done everything I knew to do and was burned out. Needing a break, I decided to go on a seven-day silent meditation retreat.

After a few days of silence, I began to tap into something deeper in myself. I moved into a state of no tension, where my grip on achieving my goal melted away, leaving me with a feeling of deep contentment.

On the fourth day of silence, while I was sitting quietly in meditation, a light bulb went off in my head and I clearly saw the words “Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul” in my mind. This was back when only the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book had been published, so the idea of spin-off books for different niche markets was a breakthrough. I was so excited I could barely contain myself!

The minute the retreat ended, I called Jack Canfield, who had been my mentor for the past six years and is the co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul. I told him my idea and he loved it. Before long I had a book contract to create what would be one of the first in the now legendary series of over 150 titles. Within a few years, I had coauthored six New York Times bestsellers in the Chicken Soup series, with over thirteen million books sold. I had finally fulfilled my original intention of touching millions of people’s lives.

There is More

I am absolutely certain that it was by using all three steps of this powerful formula—intention, attention and no tension—that I was able to realize my dream. Any two of the steps would not have done it.

So, did I live happily ever after?

Not right away. After using this formula for many years to attract extraordinary situations, people and things that I wanted, I eventually realized, like many people before me, that having the things and circumstances you want in your life is wonderful and it’s not enough.

Having things and circumstances—money, success, relationships, health—brings a certain happiness, being “happy for good reason.” Unfortunately, this temporary experience of satisfaction or joy soon fades and we have to hurry up and fulfill the next desire to get a new high. To experience true and lasting happiness, we must be free of the need for any external reason to be happy. As Deepak Chopra has said, “Happiness for a reason is just another form of misery.”

What we all want most deeply is to be “happy for no reason”—a lasting neuro-physiological state of peace and well-being that is not dependent on circumstances. I’ve spent the last few years researching happiness, and the good news is, this is an achievable state.

We seem to have things backwards. True happiness isn’t a result of getting what we want; getting what we want is a result of happiness. Why? Because, when we are happy for no reason we have mastered that step three, no tension, and that’s when our desires manifest more quickly and effortlessly than ever.

Perhaps we need to focus a little less on getting what we want to make us happy and a little more on creating a deep inner state of happiness. When we are happy for no reason, all else is just icing on the cake. This is the ultimate secret.

MARCI SHIMOFF is an inspirational speaker and coauthor
of the #1 New York Times bestsellers
Chicken Soup for the Woman’s
Soul and Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul. Her forthcoming
book is titled
Happy for No Reason: Seven Steps to Being
Happier Right Now. Marci Shimoff is a featured teacher in The Secret.