Arment Dietrich

The Secret to making an obscene amount of money is spinning an unlikely and misleading story

By: Arment Dietrich | July 25, 2007 | 
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Want to get rich quick?  Want to stay healthy and find true love?  Want to lose those love handles?  Well quit thinking fat thoughts, doughboy, and think positive!  It’s all right in front of you…so says the author of “The Secret,” the Oprah-endorsed best seller that claims to hold the secret to success in its faux-dog eared pages.

But despite its impressive sales, the book seems contrived, with the authors sitting on the golden pedestal of manufactured success, talking down to the masses.  The secret, according to author Rhonda Byrne, is to simply think happy thoughts, like so many Peter Pans.  The power of positive thinking can, apparently, overcome war, disease, poverty, and loneliness.

Here’s what one blogger writes, in support of the book:

“It’s a three-step process: Ask. Believe. Receive.

She likens it to sitting in a restaurant and placing an order. We look through the menu, choose what we want, tell the waiter about it, and sit back and relax, waiting for it to come with the absolute faith that it will. ASK: look through the menu of the universe and choose what you want to achieve, or what you want to be. BELIEVE: have the utter conviction that sooner or later, you are going to get it. RECEIVE: be as you would be had you already got what you want. If having the wealth of Bill Gates is what you want, believe that you already do, and be as happy and as content as you’d be if you had it.”

Here’s my take: You’ll receive your food because you ordered it and the waiter believes s/he will receive a tip…even though s/he didn’t ask for it.  Also, that’s how restaurants work.  Big deal.

To me, the power of positive thinking sounds like a load of hooey.  And the fact that millions of people are buying this book and its DVD counterpart screams spin.  It plays off people’s hopes and fears.  It belittles those – like me – who are under the (apparently false) assumption that hard work can propel you to success, and deigns to suggest that happy thoughts can bring you all the material possessions you’ve ever wanted.

Worst of all, I think, the book trumpets materialism, making televisions, fast cars, and designer clothes seem the height of happiness.  It seems shallow to me, and the fact that moguls like Oprah give the thumbs-up, legitimizing this drivel, is obscene.  Certainly it’s a good thing to have positive thoughts, but that alone will not erase your debts, it will not find you love; it will not stave off obesity or disease.  There’s more to do on your end of the bargain. 

I’m not just ranting after reading reviews and hearing criticism.  My ex-girlfriend gave me the book; I gave it a chance.  But seeing as she’s still my ex-girlfriend, I can say with all certainty that “The Secret” is full of it. –  Alex Parker

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