It promises all the wealth, health and happiness you’ve ever wanted. It’s financially and spiritually rewarding, and it’s accessible to anyone, anywhere. Is it any wonder that since its release in March of 2006, The Secret has become both international phenomenon and loaded controversy?
The self-empowerment movement, aggressively promoted by television producer Rhonda Byrne, proclaims that by actively sending intentions into the Cosmos, we have the power to bring our desires to fruition – and to drive them away. And with names like Oprah Winfrey, Larry King and personalities from major publications and universities weighing in, The Secret isn’t exactly under lock and key. But is it an ancient mystery unearthed at last or an example of marketing hype fit only for the 21st century?
On the upside, the movement promotes the power of positive thinking – which is hardly controversial. In fact, it’s no secret at all that believing in your own success can go a long way toward creating it. It’s just that most critics of the phenomenon stress that it is in defining and pursuing goals, and not in simply wishing for them, that we effect change.
Belief in your own success, happiness and well being affects how you interact with the world on a moment-to-moment basis. Your perspective – the assumptions you have about who you are and what you are capable of – influences the jobs you pursue, the relationships you choose, the risks you take and the attention you attract. We see opportunities when we believe in them, and we’re eager to go after what we want when we can honestly imagine achieving it. When simply stated, The Secret sounds more like basic psychology than ancient wisdom. Maybe that makes the producers guilty of creating hype, but not of manufacturing wisdom. And the more people start to stress the positive in their lives (especially finding gratitude for what we do have, which is a big part of The Secret), the better.
Critics have many complaints – not the least of which is that a handful of people have become considerably wealthy repackaging an age-old concept – but the most vocal criticisms are directed at the philosophy’s capacity for victim-blaming. After all, if your positive thoughts are all that is necessary to realize your dreams, the sick, poor and unhappy among us must be doing something terribly wrong.
Other noteworthy objections involve the health risks inherent in a movement that seems to value thought over action (If I can simply will myself well, why seek expensive medical care?), its quick-fix approach and its emphasis on self interest and material gain.
Whatever else it may be, The Secret is hardly that. Based on the Laws of Attraction, its message can be found in a multitude of other works, including Thought Vibration Or The Law of Attraction in the Thought World by William Walker Atkinson, The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles and The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peal. Then again, the promotion campaign did tout that this “secret” was known by wise people throughout the ages…
Any way you see it, there’s a reason there are so many proponents of the power of our thoughts on our lives. It works. If The Secret can inspire you to pursue your bliss, who’s to say it’s not instrumental in achieving it? As long as you don’t use your newfound zeal to sell the house, abandon the family or stop taking essential logical steps to realize your goals, there’s little harm in believing in yourself and setting out to create the life you’ve dreamt about – in fact, you’ll increase the odds you achieve it! So go for it. Let your dreams guide your reality and be thankful for where you stand every step along the way. Changing your perspective is the first step to changing your life!
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