Religion & Beliefs

I’ve Got The Secret

By now you’ve read about the self-help phenomenon that is The Secret. You’ve probably heard that the book is #1 in its category on the New York Times bestseller list, and that the DVD is #1 on Amazon (with the … Read More

By / April 4, 2007

By now you’ve read about the self-help phenomenon that is The Secret. You’ve probably heard that the book is #1 in its category on the New York Times bestseller list, and that the DVD is #1 on Amazon (with the book second only to the new Harry Potter). The Secret's cadre of experts has been featured on every major talk show, from Oprah, to Larry King, to NPR’s Talk of the Nation. Unsurprisingly, the media is fascinated by our country’s infatuation with a philosophy that insists you can get everything you’ve always wanted… simply by pretending you already have it. That’s right, The Secret is, above all, about the power of positive thinking. Its central tenet is the law of attraction; according to Bob Proctor, one of the gurus on the DVD and in the book, “Everything that’s coming into your life you are attracting into your life…Whatever is going on in your mind you are attracting to you.” OK, so this is nothing new. This is what self-helpers through the ages have always believed, it’s why they go around smiling their gooey smiles and inviting random strangers to meditation meet-ups and community kitchens—in order to attract other self-helpers to meditate and cook and self-congratulate with. You are what you seek: This is what Scientologists believe; what people take home from the Landmark Forum, what they learned from EST back in the day. So what makes The Secret so different from all these “self-actualization” groups many of us think of as cults? It requires nothing of you. You need not spend anything beyond the cost of materials to reach your full potential–$34.95 for the DVD, $23.95 for the book—even less on Amazon. You don’t have to go to classes with people who annoy you, or fear being seduced into a pyramid scheme, or believe in Xenu, or force your bladder into submission during an overlong revival at some airport Hilton. The Secret fits perfectly into the lazy, thrifty hole in the soul of America. It also plays into Americans’ beliefs in omnipotence and magical thinking. Who among us hasn’t believed they might be discovered while walking down Hollywood Boulevard, or made a billionaire by purchasing a Powerball ticket? Who doesn’t fantasize about instant success without effort? Transformation without perspiration—a total life makeover in one thirty-minute segment—that is the real American dream.