105 Ways to Give a Book

The Secret: Part I

“I learned from The Secret that what you focus on expands. I hoped that wasn’t going to be true of her ass.”
— Roland Gentry, from “You Pay Your Dues
The SecretI missed the first buzz of Rhonda Byrne’s book, The Secret. But it wasn’t long before library patrons were asking for Secrets or The Secret to Life or That Book From Oprah, and I put my name on the hold list below three hundred other wisdom-seekers.

There may be a problem when you’re reading a book, and you’re already rolling your eyes at the dedication:
Dedicated to You

May The Secret bring you love and
joy for your entire existence.

That is my intention for you
and for the world.
I’m not going to enjoy this, am I? And it’s not that I hate self-help books. I’m a big fan of expanding self-knowledge and a big fan of books, so occasionally those two interests direct me to some interesting and useful publications. The writing in this one, though, was a little... much for me right from the start.

The overall premise of the book — and DVD — is that you attract to you that on which you focus. There is part of this concept that has value for me. I do think that as you focus on the negatives, you bring more negative energy in. I also think by focusing on the positive, that you bring positive energy in.

However, I don’t believe that if you focus on getting a bicycle for your birthday, that you’ll get a bike. I don’t believe that if you focus on a car, that you’ll get a car. I don’t believe that if you focus on George Clooney, you’ll get George Clooney. Because believe me, I’ve been focusing my energy there for years.

Oh I forgot — if it doesn’t work, then you’re just not believing in it strongly enough. Very clever.

Let’s get back to the good, just for today. There is value in understanding that your own thoughts control your experience of the world around you. Your positive or negative outlook will affect any given situation and/or your interpretation of that situation. I know people who always believe that they are the victims, and they do turn out to have bad luck more than I would otherwise expect. But neither are they able to look at the good aspect of anything that happens, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In my own life, I’ve been looking at my tendency to attract chaos with my focus on current chaos. I’ve been feeling so very disorganized in my household and my activities, and it does seem that the more it bothers me, the worse it gets. Part of the problem is in my own ambivalence on the issue. While I would like an organized home and mind, I also think that some of the creativity in my humor and my writing comes from the disorder of things. It’s what let’s me make the link from Phillipa Gregory’s books to Lunchables. Or Nobel Peace Prize winners to Pinter tea lights at Hallmark.

What I didn’t get from the book, in attracting like to like, is how to break the bad patterns of attraction. For instance, in my situation, do I just imagine that I’m an organized person and then I’m done? So who picks up the actual Happy Meal toys and tosses the rock tumbler kit?

The Secret has 1,486 reviews on Amazon, and they are all over the board. Some of you may have strong opinions as well. Let’s leave today for your positive or more general comments. Tomorrow I — and you — can let loose on some less stellar aspects of this provocative book.


Emy said...

Part of my problem with the whole Secret phenomenon is the part about how if it doesn't work, you didn't focus on it enough. Think about that for a minute, and it starts to get a little evil. You've got cancer and the treatment's not working? It's because you're not focusing on it enough! That sort of thing. Ugh.

Judy said...

Have not read the book yet, but have read others like it by some of the contributing authors.

On a positive note, if you DO focus on the positive, you might be more likely to experience it... and this may be BECAUSE you are focused on it, you might tune into some opportunities you might otherwise overlook. In general, 'as you think, so shall it be' is an often quoted axiom, and it can't hurt to think positively.

Will save other thoughts for tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Frances Hodgson Burnett has this idea running through all her books. She explores the power of positive and negative thoughts to heal in THE SECRET GARDEN, for example, and connects to a concept of God-- "The Big Good Thing", "The Joy Giver". In THE LITTLE PRINCESS she speaks to the idea that noble thoughts can lift one above ignoble circumstances; first in imagination, and then in reality. And in THE LOST PRINCE she expresses her belief that when a person calls out for help, help is given. She references God again-- "Thought Which Knows All"--as well as a paraphrased version of Jesus's "Ask and you shall receive", along with similar New Testament verses.

Robin Brande said...

I've watched the DVD a few times. And while some of it is a little hokey, I really love the overall message about turning our thoughts around. That's something I've focused a LOT on in the last year or so, and it's made such a tremendous difference in my own happiness and peace of mind. So count me in the favorable aisle.

But your question, Mother Reader, about how wishing your house is clean doesn't make it so is a valid one. This isn't about magical thinking, it's about evolution. Change has to start with a thought. I imagine myself in the home I want--without all this clutter I'm looking at right now--and even that thought moves me a little closer to doing something about it. I imagine what it would feel like to be lighter, healthier, etc., and that inspires me to make the necessary changes.

Is anyone waving their magic wand? Not in my world. But I've managed to accomplish an awful lot just by behaving as if I'm already that person I intend to be.

Now I just need to act as if she lives in an orderly house, and then figure out how she manages that.

Sara said...

MR: I would like to "attract" another DC KidLit Drink Night. Think about it.

No, I mean *really think hard* about it.

Is this positive thinking thing working at all???

MotherReader said...

Thanks everyone for input.

Robin, I know that you liked ideas from this book - while at the same time being able to see what's funny in it. I value your opinion on the topic. Your way of looking at my chaos problem makes a lot of sense, that "change has to start with a thought." I'm still not sure how to get the right thoughts in my head when it is filled with the wrong ones, but I suppose that is an evolution as well.

And Sara, I'll get to work on another DC Drink Night, even if it's just you and me. ;^)

Judy said...

One way to get the positive thoughts in your head is to PRETEND. Think about what you want to happen, as Robin says, then PRETEND it's happening, or that some small part is happening, or that you can do what you previously have not been able to do. Then you are focused on it, and it is more likely to happen. Does that make sense?

I even verbalize that I am pretending to do or be what I want to do or be better at, and often I get immediate results...enough to make me believe that pretending has worked.

tanita✿davis said...

Was waiting to get my hair done and someone had left this in the stylist's chair... so I picked it up.

And giggled madly.

I really don't like how it has that built-in, fail-safe, "you suck if you can't make this work" clause, I really don't like that. But I always appreciate the idea of accentuating the positive or what not. I do, however, tend to think of this book in the same breath as "Chicken Soup for the Damned Soul" and suchlike...

Lady S. said...

Never read the book, hadn't heard much about it, and am not even remotely tempted now. But how much am I with you on the chaos and the disorganization and the ambivalence about it.

I'm going to throw out a totally unbaked thought for this morning (should be working on an essay, but have got to get rid of the headache a bit before even attempting that). Instead of focusing as the book tells you to on positive and negative as completely opposed forces in your life, mightn't there be more (or equal) value in trying to look for the positive that comes through the negative? Or maybe, to put it in those terms, thinking of it all as just energy rather than black-and-whiteing it.

I'm warming to this as I go, actually! Because I was thinking a bit about the difference between me (horribly disorganized slob, accomplishes very little) and a very good friend (midwife who went back to work a few years ago - perfectly clean and tidy house, gourmet cook, etc.). We've two kids the same age (nearly 21) and it just now occurred to me that I handled a very serious crisis my daughter had 'well', for her and for my younger daughter, in part because I'm used to mess. I don't like it, in literal or metaphoric terms, but good things can also come through it, as they did in this case. My friend reacted more rigidly to a situation that wouldn't 'tidy up' nicely, to the extent that her behaviour towards her son became quite unsupportive, though she's a very loving mother.

Which is what you said, really, in a much more long-winded, rambling way!

Kerry said...

I hope this doesn't come across as ugly, but honestly, I can't believe people are falling for this "Secret" nonsense. This is just Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and every other slick-haired, TV evangelist/pocket-picker dressed up in New Age clothes. I'm serious - this is "Word of Faith" minus the Christian lingo.

Sure, positive thinking is a good thing - it is called optimism, but "attracting" and being on the same "frequency" - are you kidding me? Didn't we try this stuff out in our Hippie days and get over it?

MotherReader, I appreciated your Part 2 post...thanks for reading and reviewing this book.

Please forgive me if I've been to "heated". I've had friends get themselves into huge messes because of this kind of thinking.