Category: Articles

The Subway Experiment


by Alan Cohen

My friend Jenny owns a Subway sandwich shop in a large city. When local teenagers began to loiter near the entrance to the shop, Jenny politely asked them to leave. When they continued to show up, Jenny contemplated how to clear the walkway for patrons. Finally, she set up some speakers at the doorway and played classical music at the shop's entrance. Within minutes, the teens scattered as if a stink bomb had been dropped in their midst.

Every interaction is based on the Law of Attraction, symbolized by Velcro tape. Velcro works when two sets of fibrous hooks catch onto each other and bind together. When one set of hooks becomes old and worn, they become flaccid and straighten out until they no longer catch and hold. End of match, end of sticking together.

The flip side of the Law of Attraction is the Law of Repulsion. Actually there is no repulsion; either things match and they stay stuck together or they do not. Repulsion is more accurately an absence of attraction. The teenagers at the sandwich shop were attuned to one frequency, while the classical music represented another frequency. There was no match, so the teenagers decided to go elsewhere to a place that matched their frequency.

You don't have to get rid of people you don't like or harmonize with. Simply strike a clear, strong keynote of the frequency you value. If the other person can match that frequency, he may shift to meet you at the frequency you broadcast. If he cannot match the frequency, he will go away. You don't have to struggle or manipulate to make him go away. You just have to stand firmly in your desired reality.

At a seminar I presented in Greece, a woman named Georgia reported that she had been married to a man who was emotionally abusive. I told my husband I wanted a divorce, but he refused to give it to me, she recounted. So I decided that even if he didn't love me, I would love me. I would give myself the kindness and caring I had been seeking from him. So I wrote myself a love letter telling myself how beautiful, valuable, and desirable I am. When I read the letter, I felt so attractive and affirmed that I wrote another one as if from a man who was deeply in love with me. I continued to write myself passionate love letters every day for a few weeks.

Then one day, my husband found one of these letters. Since it was unsigned, he assumed it was from another man. He came to me waving the letter in his hand and told me, 'I can't compete with this - you can have your divorce!'

In order for Georgia to stay in a situation that dishonored her, she had to dishonor herself. Part of her believed that she deserved emotional abuse or that a better situation was not available. So her husband and marriage mirrored that belief. When Georgia realized, This can't be it and she began to give herself the love she was missing, her frequency changed. She was now broadcasting on the wavelength of a loving relationship, no longer a match to the lifeless frequency to which her husband had been tuned. At that point, he had no choice but to meet her at the new frequency or leave. In this case, he chose to leave. In other cases, a partner might shift.

If you are seeking to shift a relationship or any dysfunctional situation, do not attempt to dictate or force how the other person should act. Simply establish yourself in your desired energy, and let the Law of Attraction take care of the details. Sometimes when a coaching client wants to leave a relationship, I tell her, Just get clear on your ideal relationship and start living it. Be the person you want to be in relationship. Don't put a name or face on your ideal partner. He might be your current partner, or someone else. The more you dwell in your ideal scenario, regardless of the other person's behavior, the more power you have to manifest your ideal situation.

Rewarding desired behavior will get you much farther than punishing undesirable behavior. In a college behavioral psychology class, the professor had a habit of pacing back and forth in front of the classroom while he lectured. So the students tried an experiment on him. Whenever the professor lectured from the left side of the room, the students paid attention to him, took notes, asked questions, and laughed at his jokes. When the teacher stood at the right side of the room, they paid no attention and gave him no reward for his lecture or his jokes. It didn't take long before the professor was lecturing exclusively from the left side of the classroom.

The universe will reward you for being who you are - but you must be who you are before the universe can reward you. Establish yourself in the energy you value, and you will get more of it. Like the Subway loiterers who headed for the hills, anything not a match to you will leave of its own accord. Then you will be left only with people and situations who are playing and listening to the music you prefer.

Alan Cohen is the author of many popular inspirational books, including Enough Already: The Power of Radical Contentment. Join Alan for his acclaimed Life Coach Training to become a professional life coach or incorporate life coaching skills in your current profession and personal life. For more information about this program, Alan's other books, free daily inspirational quotes, and his weekly radio show, visit, email or phone (800) 568-3079 or (808) 572-0001.


The Picture and the Frame

IM 3:2

by Alan Cohen

Sometimes I look around my house and all I see are projects. The light fixture in the living room needs to be rewired, leaves are clogging the rain gutters, and the hibiscus hedge is due for a trimming. That's just the beginning. For every project I get into, I notice three more to be done. This is a never-ending process. The day will never come when I will step back, look at my home, and say, There - it's done.

When I saw the film Shining Night (, I received a reprieve from the onus of keeping the house perfect. This inspiring documentary about Morten Lauridsen, one of the world's most gifted composers of chorale music, shows Mr. Lauridsen creating in his summer studio in the Pacific Northwest. I was struck by the humble, less-than-well-kept-up cottage in which this master creates his heavenly compositions. The house's exterior paint is peeling, he composes on a slightly-out-of-tune piano, and creature comforts are minimal. The cottage is a launch pad for music that heals. Morten Lauridsen cares more about his music than the building in which he composes it.

A Course in Miracles offers a striking metaphor for the contrast between spirit and form. In a section called The Two Pictures (Text, Chapter 17), we are offered two pictures and two frames. One is surrounded by a frame so heavy and so elaborate that the picture is almost obliterated by its imposing structure. Into the frame are woven all sorts of fanciful and fragmented illusions...The glitter of blood shines like rubies, and the tears are faceted like diamonds and gleam in the dim light...Look at the picture. Do not let the frame distract you...The frame is not the gift.

Then the course suggests another picture, the beauty of which far outshines the frame: If you accept this gift, you will not see the frame at all, because the gift can only be accepted through your willingness to focus all your attention on the picture.

The only purpose of a house, car, technological device, or body is to serve as a vehicle for the expression of love. As long as the form is a venue for the spirit, it is useful. When the form ceases to serve the spirit, or the spirit ends up serving the form, the system becomes dysfunctional, it will engender pain, and dissolve. When any relationship, organization, institution, corporation, government, or religion ceases to help its constituents and begins to exist only to prolong itself, it has outlived its usefulness. The entire universe is set up to support life; when the spirit becomes absent, the form has no purpose and it must disappear.

The good news is that for every form that dies because the spirit is no longer present, a new form will live because the spirit has taken up residence there. Spirit cannot be killed. When you move with the river of life, you will always be alive and everything you do will flourish.

Consider your home, career, relationship, and any organization in which you participate, and ask yourself, Is this bringing me greater life, or is it draining life from me? Am I looking at a picture that heals and empowers me, or have I become entrapped in a gaudy frame? While such introspection can be challenging, it is the door to healing and freedom.

For many years I have attended and taught manifestation workshops - how to get stuff. As I observe my own life and the lives of people who have manifested lots of stuff, I notice that we eventually became more interested in the de-manifestation workshop - getting rid of the stuff we have accumulated that we don't need. At a farmer's market, I was tempted to purchase a beautiful blown glass dolphin with a soft gold veneer. Then I thought, Do I really want one more thing to keep somewhere, clean, protect, and then store in the garage? I asked Dee if she wanted me to get it for her. I don't think we need any more stuff, she replied. We shared a contented smile and walked on.

Morten Lauridsen's humble cottage is lowly to the eye, but a cathedral to the soul. The music he generates there, free from the distraction of upkeep, will change the world and bless it far longer than his cottage will. One day his cottage will fall to dust. His music will stream through the ages.

As a result of Mr. Lauridsen's example, I have a new attitude to my house and my possessions. My home has become my friend, not my intimidator. When I look at the leaves in the gutter, I know I will get to them. But for now, I will get to my writing, my beloved, and my family. The hibiscus flowers are gifts, not obligations.

I am not against stuff. I am for enough stuff. The good stuff. The appropriate stuff. The stuff that is truly helpful. If you love something, it is enhancing your life, and you are using it for upliftment, it is holy stuff. If it is cumbersome or bringing you down in any way, you cannot afford it. May all of your frames only enhance all of your magnificent pictures.

Alan Cohen is the author of many popular inspirational books, including Enough Already: The Power of Radical Contentment. Join Alan for his acclaimed Life Coach Training to become a professional life coach or incorporate life coaching skills in your current profession and personal life. For more information about this program, Alan's other books, free daily inspirational quotes, and his weekly radio show, visit, email or phone (800) 568-3079 or (808) 572-0001.


Truth or Sabotage


by Alan Cohen

I work with a rental car agency that gets me good deals. When I began to use the agency, I phoned in an order to the owner, who is a friend of mine. When he emailed me the confirmation, I discovered he made an error on the pickup time of the car. I called him back and he corrected it. This happened not just once, but three times. Hmmm.

I told the agent that I planned to recommend his service for participants of my residential retreats. He told me, Great! Just be sure to have them book online - that's a lot easier for me than processing a phoned reservation.

Suddenly I realized why the agent had consistently messed up my orders. He didn't want to take phone orders. His errors were subterfuged ways of saying, I don't want to do this. When he finally told me the truth, I was happy to change the way I ordered. But he had to tell me the truth first.

We all seek to express our truth. We all must express our truth. There are two ways to express your truth: directly or indirectly. If you do not express your truth directly, it will come out in odd, aberrant, and damaging ways. Self-sabotage or sabotage of others occurs when you don't speak your truth directly. Honest expression of truth ends sabotage.

I had an office assistant whom I asked to pick up a laser printer cartridge on her way home from work one day, and she agreed. The next day when she came to work, I asked her for the cartridge. I couldn’t find the shop, she told me. We found a map to the shop and she went off that day after work to find it. The following day she again returned empty-handed. I got there after they closed, she reported. I let her off work early that day to make it to the shop on time. The next day she told me, I forgot to bring the company credit card.

Finally I picked up the cartridge myself without a hitch. The truth my assistant resisted telling me was, I don't want to do this. I wish she would have told me that up front; it would have saved both of us time and trouble. When you don't tell the truth up front, your truth comes out in weird ways that make more trouble for everyone.

We all have the ability to do anything we choose to do - IF we choose to do it. The story is told about Joe, who came home from work one day quite tired. As he was unwinding in front of his TV during the evening, Joe's buddy phoned him and asked Joe if he would help him move his refrigerator. I'd sure like to, Joe answered, but I had a tough day at work and I'm beat. Maybe another time.

Ten minutes later Joe received a phone call from his girlfriend, who had just gotten back into town after being away on a business trip. I'm back, honey, she told Joe. I just got a new Victoria's Secret lingerie outfit. Would you like to come over and help me try it out?

Did Joe suddenly have energy? You bet! He wasn't lying to his buddy when he said he was too tired: He was too tired because he wasn't motivated. We all find the energy and means to do what we choose to do. We find no energy to do the things we do not want to do. If we are forced to do things we do not want to do, we will find a way not to do them. That's how powerful we are. The question is, will you express your preference honestly, or will you create veiled situations to get your point across?

You don't have to get sick to get out of school, have an accident to get out of work, or have an affair to get out of a marriage. You can simply, clearly, directly express that you do not wish to do this. You might ruffle some feathers, but the cost will be far less than illness, accident, or a nasty divorce.

Yet there is a hidden value in direct communication. You might create a solution that surpasses simply staying unhappily or leaving dramatically. By expressing your feelings, you might be able to change schools, transfer departments at work, or deepen your intimacy, connection, and reward in marriage. Truth has ways of getting to solutions that sabotage does not.

Ceanne Derohan wrote a classic book entitled Right Use of Will. We are always using our will, but we may not always be using it in alignment with our good. Your will is like an automobile with its engine running and the gearshift in drive. You can steer the car onto the main highway and take the most direct route to where you want to go, or you can drive it through many detours and byways, over bumps and through walls. Ultimately, you will get to your destination, but one path is a lot more direct and fun than another.

The universe rewards authenticity. Things are supposed to go right, and they usually do. When you say yes to what you choose, and no to what you do not choose, you are living in alignment with yourself. Life asks no more - or less - of you than this.

Alan Cohen is the author of many popular inspirational books, including Enough Already: The Power of Radical Contentment. Join Alan for his acclaimed Life Coach Training to become a professional life coach or incorporate life coaching skills in your current profession and personal life. For more information about this program, Alan's other books, free daily inspirational quotes, and his weekly radio show, visit, email or phone (800) 568-3079 or (808) 572-0001.