105 Ways to Give a Book

The Secret: Part II

The most common thought that people hold, and I held it too, is that food was responsible for my weight gain. That is a belief that does not serve you, and in my mind now it is complete balderdash! Food is not responsible for putting on weight. It is your thought that food is responsible for putting on weight that actually has food put on weight. Remember, thoughts are primary cause of everything, and the rest is effects from those thoughts. Think perfect thoughts and the result must be perfect weight.
— from The Secret
What good news, because Chloe has been packing it on the last couple of years, and now I can tell her that it is not the food that is responsible for her large tummy, but her thinking that food will cause weight gain that is really responsible. I’m sure this concept would be life-changing for her, if she weren’t, you know, a cat.

Here’s my problem with The Secret. When I find a statement that I can get behind, like this:
Get clear on the weight you want to be. Have a picture in your mind of what you will look like when you have become that perfect weight.
Then I’m hit with something that seems this side of crazy, like this:
Let go of all those limiting thoughts. Food cannot cause you to put on weight, unless you think it can.
Come on! I see a benefit in the concept of focusing your energy on a positive instead of a negative — i.e., your target weight rather than the idea of losing weight — because you can make subtle and real changes by visualizing the end goal, or so I hear. With that picture of yourself in mind, maybe you’ll be less likely to grab that third Oreo (or fourth or fifth or sixth... don’t judge me!). But I can’t stand by the idea that food doesn’t contribute to weight gain. There are a lot of fat cats, fat lab mice, and ahem, fat people who will beg to differ on this concept.

The section about health raised similar problems for me. I think that it is possible to bring out healing powers from within, but I wouldn’t want to count on that instead of say, insulin for diabetes. I think that the more you focus on your bad health, the more depressed you get, and the worse you feel. But I don’t think that people are attracting cancer to them. Then there is this part, the most insane section of the book:
Often when people first hear this part of the Secret they recall events in history where masses of lives were lost, and they find it incomprehensible that so many people could have attracted themselves to the event. By the law of attraction, they had to be on the same frequency as the event. It doesn’t necessarily mean they thought of that exact event, but the frequency of their thoughts matched the frequency of the event. If people believe they can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they have no control over outside circumstances, those thoughts of fear, separation, and powerlessness, if persistent, can attract them to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I was going to put in a sarcastic comment about the World Trade Center or the Indonesian tsunami or the Holocaust, but I can’t even do it. I’m so irritated by that concept, that my blistering smart-ass response has been short-circuited.

Overall, The Secret was a great disappointment to me. There were some gems in there which focus on our own power to shape our thoughts and perspective, and by doing so, to shape our lives in real ways. There were useful messages about the power of positive thinking for our health, relationships, and ourselves. But for me, the good in this book was overshadowed by the bad and the totally insane.


TadMack said...

Oh, wow. I never read far enough to get to the bit about the mass incidents being caused by people on whichever wavelength of tragedy... How very insulting and disrespectful of those whose lives are lost in these ways.

Wow. How do people who love this book line that up with... their mental processes?

It sounds like the big secret is that everything is all our fault. Or not.

Robin Brande said...

"With that picture of yourself in mind, maybe you’ll be less likely to grab that third Oreo (or fourth or fifth or sixth... don’t judge me!)."

I so want to be your friend when you say things like that. You are too funny.

Yeah, the 9/11 aspect of that theory really is awfully hard to take. As is the death of a newborn, etc. Which makes us turn to karma, reincarnation, and other such theories, but they certainly don't help when you're the one suffering or watching someone else suffer.

I'm afraid my brain is not big enough to solve that puzzle.

Robin Brande said...

Oh, and let's not forget your comment about that food information being good news for Chloe the cat. You win in the funnies.

Emmaco said...

These sort of quotes (I feel like I've read half the book on the internet by now) are why I haven't been able to buy the book. I like to read a book before judging it, but these seem like immoral messages likely to lead to a reduction in compassion, and I don't want to support the author.

I understand people like the positive/negative thinking thing, but there's so many books around that talk about that (I was brought up on them as a small child in the 80s!) that I don't think we need a self-help book that seems to go too far into the realm of blame the victim.

Maybe Robin can help me here - what does this book offer that other positive thinking books don't?

Mo said...

I used not to believe in the power of positive thinking, but now that I do--I'm the King of Portugal. If that's not proof, then I'm not the King of Portugal.

Why do people buy books for adults?



(Portugal; King, of)

EM said...

Dude, Mo commented on your blog! I cannot see you through the blazing whiteness of your awesomeness.

Wait a minute. I get it! You brought him here through the power of positive thinking! You visualized Mo commenting, and lo - he commented!

Man, that book is awesome.

MotherReader said...

It's great to know how it worked for you, Your Highness, - or can I still call you Mo? Thanks for taking time out of your minnow-catching to weigh in on this adult book.

And what wonderful proof of my drawing good things to me through the power of my thought. Now let me work on attracting my speculative book deal....

Actually, EM, I at ALA I had a pretty Secret-like thing happen. I had wanted to see a couple of YA authors in particular, and I just ran into them on the exhibit floor. As if I had attracted them to me. So, who knows.

Sheila said...

I haven't read the book, so I can't comment on it directly; I'm just responding based on my impressions in your post. I think there's something seductive about the idea that everything is controlled by our thoughts. That absolves us of the responsibility to actually do anything. If I'm overweight because of my thinking, then I don't have to make the effort to lose weight. (And I speak as someone who has lost 37 pounds over the last 6 months - and trust me, it took a lot more than thought to do it.)

I agree with the ideas of positive thinking and visualization - but then you have to actually do something about it.

As I say, I haven't read the book, so maybe I'm misunderstanding.

Jules said...

I'm with Emmaco (these sorts of conversations are why I can't even stomach looking at the book, not to mention a lot of self-help books give me the willies), and I'm with Em on the blazing whiteness of your awesomeness.

Little Willow said...

Perhaps Chloe can sit upon the book while she ponders thus. :)

Kelly Fineman said...

Huh. I've been telling myself for years that the food I've been eating CAN'T cause me to gain weight, yet still my weight has climbed up. Clearly, my thoughts vis-a-vis ice cream and cake and whatnot need me to think them harder, or something.

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