June 21, 2011

The Substance Behind "The Secret"

After hearing about The Secret for the past couple years and in the mood for a different kind of book than I normally read (i.e. fiction), I thought I’d give it a try. Having a vague idea that the book’s premise was something about unlocking one’s greatest potential through the powers of positive thinking, I thought it would be an inspiring, if not, entertaining, little read.

Truth be told, the book does come off a little hokey, and as someone who is not typically compelled to works of the self-help/spiritual genre (although I'm finding myself drawn to this genre lately -- The Four Agreements is next!), I maintained a hefty amount of skepticism while reading the book, which I think was a wise idea. The main takeaway is that you can achieve/possess/have whatever it is you want by putting forth positive energy into the universe.  And, while it's undeniably a bit hocus-pocus sounding, the underlying message is that, within reason our dreams – which are deeply unique to each of us – can be achieved through focus, determination, and most importantly, positive thinking. I believe that to be true. I may not be able to win the PowerBall through expelling positive thoughts into the world (although the book says it can be achieved – I say that’s hogwash, but who knows).  However, I do agree that certain, reasonable goals and wants can be achieved/obtained through the power of positive thinking.

Think about it. Negativity is self-defeating. If you say you can’t do something, you’ll never be able to do it. But if you say you can, whatever it is you want to achieve will automatically seem -- and therefore be -- attainable, achievable, easy, even. But achieving something is not possible just by wanting it, The Secret says. Oftentimes, people confuse want with an ability to achieve, but many times that want is paired with “I can’t”, resulting in a psychological inability to achieve that want. Personally, I believe that to be true.

For example, a year ago I told myself that I was going to lose 10 pounds. While I had wanted to lose it for a while before that, it was a bit of a struggle for me because I always felt like my body didn’t want to weigh any less, and therefore I was incapable of being lighter. When it occurred to me that I was setting up limitations for myself, it suddenly became much easier to get down to my goal weight. Sure, it took determination and consistency, but it didn’t feel any more difficult than what I was doing to maintain my weight before. In fact, obsessing on the “I want” less and focusing on the “I will” more resulted in greater achievement.

Though this is a rather shallow example of the powers of positive thinking, it is one that reenforced the overarching ideology of The Secret, even if some of the teachings of the book should be taken with a grain of salt, of course.

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