The Secret (2006)

The Secret, available as a book, audio book, and DVD, claims that you (yes, you!) can have anything you have ever dreamed of having if you learn … the secret. Health, wealth, and happiness could all be yours if only you knew … the secret. And, for the price of a hardcover book and/or DVD (about $20), you too can learn … the secret.

Fortunately, The Secret is available on Netflix (both as a physical disc and via streaming), so I was able to learn the secret for free.

“The secret” boils down to the “Law of Attraction,” which, I learned, permeates the entire universe. The Law of Attraction states that we attract things into our lives — good and bad — through our thoughts. Bob Proctor, listed as a “Philosopher” in the credits, sidesteps explaining how the Law of Attraction actually works by stating, “Look, I don’t know how electricity works either, but I use it every day.” Magnets, man — miracles are all around us.

To use the Law of Attraction to our advantage, we need to focus on what we want in life. If you think about money you will get money, if you think about health you will be healthy, and so on. There are a few stipulations, however. First, the Law of Attraction is not instantaneous. That would just be silly, and dangerous. Second, you should focus on positive things because the Law of Attraction isn’t very bright. For example, focusing on “get me out of debt” will just attract more debt. Instead, you should focus on attracting money. And third, you should be reasonable in what you wish for … because apparently, the Law of Attraction can sometimes be stingy bitch.

Throughout the documentary’s 90 minute run time, a string of authors, therapists, philosophers, entrepreneurs, metaphysicians, visionaries, and even a Feng Shui consultant are paraded in front of the camera, explaining how The Secret worked for them. One fellow tells about how, five years ago, he cut out a picture of a mansion and stuck it on his wish board. Five years later, wildly successful in business and life, he pulled his old wish board out of storage only to find that he was living in the mansion he had dreamed of owning five years earlier. (Cue “Twilight Zone” theme.)

The problem I had with The Secret was that this is all presented as some sort of mystical, arcane knowledge. “The Secret has been passed down from generation to generation,” it says. “The Secret was known by Plato, Newton, Carnegie, Beethoven, Shakespeare, and Einstein,” we are told.

For what it’s worth, I do believe in the “power” of positive thinking. I don’t think it’s as much magic as it is a frame of mind. I think people who see the glass of water as “half full” surely go through life happier than those who see it as “half empty.” What The Secret neglects to mention is that success is a combination of ambition and hard work. When positive thinking leads to positive action, you can expect positive results! Sitting around and dreaming about losing weight won’t help you lose a single pound until you actually get up and start exercising. It’s the action that leads to success.

Or perhaps that’ll the subject of The Secret: Part II

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