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I don’t know how it happened, but refrigerator magnets have become an essential part of my kitchen.
Handier than tape and re-usable, too, they enable easily posting items such as to-do lists, phone numbers, souvenirs from recent events, and a weekly schedule of who’s doing what.
Aside from their convenience, I’ve always been intrigued by magnets. As a child, I would put two next to each other and observe how one side attracted while the other side repelled. Later in high school chemistry class, this phenomenon was explained to me, but that didn’t end my fascination with them.
A magnet’s innate qualities of attraction and repulsion have parallels elsewhere in life. Beyond the obvious ways we are attracted or repelled—likes/dislikes of food, music, art, weather, etc.—what if we took this idea to a higher level? In that case attraction becomes analogous to love; repulsion is hate or enmity. Attraction is love and life; repulsion is loneliness and alienation. Attraction indicates unity; repulsion indicates disunity.
In the 13th century, Persian poet, Islamic scholar and Sufi mystic Rumi wrote in his Mathnavi about that quality of attraction among people, saying “We are related to one another as iron and magnet.”
After recognizing how attraction and magnetism are characteristic of human relations, what if we identified the principles of attraction and applied them in our own lives and communities? The Baha’i teachings frequently mention magnetism, in both a physical and a metaphysical sense. One of my favorite quotes by Abdu’l-Baha says: “The language of kindness is the lodestone of hearts and the food of the soul.” – A Traveller’s Narrative, p. 43.
Such a simple thing: kindness. Confirmed by that quotation, I know that kindness attracts and even nourishes hearts and souls. Surely I can find opportunities to express this quality every day, encouraged by recognizing the impact it can have.
Other passages in the Baha’i writings mention service, harmony, and faith as having the power to attract heavenly strength. In practical terms, this reminds me of the effect my own acts can have, as I try to be helpful to others and to seek friendship with them. Drawing on the comparison to magnetism, the outcome will be love and unity.
During my many years as a self-employed consultant I often experienced feast or famine—I was either overwhelmed with work or worried because I wasn’t. But I eventually learned that I could avoid the famine by going into motion. I consciously intensified networking, set aside more time for volunteer activities, and focused on professional development. Time and again, in ways I never could have predicted, those conscious activities would attract new business opportunities.
Much like in nature where a body in motion is known to be an attracting force, so do people become attracting when we move and grow. I am not dismissing the very real obstacles many face financially, physically, or socially; and we all have times when it seems our options are few and problems insurmountable. At those times, when we look to the community or entire world beyond our own daily lives, we might even wonder where to start.
Recognizing that we are magnetic beings gives us a starting point. The mere act of getting up, showing up, and putting out energy will attract results. It may not always be immediate or as anticipated, but we will have an effect on ourselves and others. The key idea to remember is that through motion we gain momentum and feel energized. Once in motion, that energy will be channeled through us to create a better future.
Come to think of it, maybe advice such as “get up, show up, and put out energy” should be printed onto a refrigerator magnet as a daily reminder.
This series of essays comes from Jaellayna Palmer’s newly-published book, Personal Path, Practical Feet, which is available here.