Sunday, October 4, 2009

Book Review: The Secret

So I was searching through some quote sites looking for a fast route to the teachings of Buddha, and this is what I found:

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him. -Buddha

This is the exact same message as the bestselling book The Secret teaches.

The Secret is at the center of some controversy. Some people think it’s a hoax, and others treat it like the Bible. The book centers on the Law of Attraction, which is basically the belief that like attracts like: good thoughts will bring good to your life and bad will bring bad.

The author, Rhonda Byrne, went though some rough times before she learned this “secret”, turned her life around and decided to share it with the world via book and DVD. She claims it’s the most powerful law in the universe and the book is full of testimonials by people who claim the Secret turned their lives around, too: not just no-name crazies, but millionaires like Jack Canfield—who came up with the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Legit? Sure. Or maybe Jack Canfield is just a closet LSD freak. Who knows?

My sister gave me The Secret for my birthday this year. She told me (as nicely as she could)that she thought it would help me, no doubt because I’d been so upset with my own life for the preceding year that it was starting to become obvious to my family and friends that this was not a passing mood. I read it in a day and proceeded to go into obsessive-compulsive freak-out mode. I reeled back and forth between believing the book and thinking it was the biggest crock I’d ever come across.

Based on the Law of Attraction, though, I suppose that would be why it didn’t appear to work for me.

Still: if it was true, it would hold that I was headed for car wrecks, disease, and more freak accidents than I could imagine. And that scared the crap out of me. So I chose not to believe in the Secret. But now that might all change, given this new venture, so I thought it was worth a second look.

The book is not bad overall. Oprah likes it, so how bad can it be? My only problems come from out “out there” it gets at points. Ever the pessimist, I find it hard to imagine that the secret to life has been sitting in front of humanity since the dawn of time and no one has thought to expose it to the world until now. A little unrealistic, to say the least.

But that aside, the core of the message is good. The idea that good things bring more good things and bad bring bad holds up, even if for slightly different reasons than the book puts forth. As Charles Swindoll said in his poem, aptly titled Attitude, your mental state does affect your experience:

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we embrace for that day. We cannot change our past we cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one thing we have, and that is our attitude.

I am convinced that life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.

And so it is with you; we are in charge of our attitudes.

So it stands to reason that the Secret has some roots in reality, at the very least. And it’s an interesting theory to test out—I’ve had a few happy results, even though I usually don’t have enough patience or faith to let it go to the “full extent of its power” (hopefully that will change with this "new attitude", as I pay more attention to such things as vibes and thought frequencies). But 4 million copies sold is a little bit intriguing, at least.

FINAL VERDICT: A worthwhile read, if just to expand your mind and give other ways of thinking a try. I give it 4 stars, and thanks to my sister for opening me up to it.

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