The Secret explains how the law of attraction governs our thinking and actions, and how you can use it to achieve whatever you desire in life.
You know how you sometimes get really excited about something, it hijacks all your thinking for a couple of days, and then a few months later, after you’ve long forgotten it again, it randomly pops back into your life? Or have you ever set an outrageous goal, never looked at it again, and later realized you did indeed accomplish it?
This once happened to famous talk show host Oprah Winfrey. She read a book called The Color Purple, and immediately recognized herself as destined to portray one of its characters in a big Hollywood movie. This manifested even more when she got a random call to audition for a secret movie, which turned out to be…The Color Purple. However, as she didn’t hear back for months and months, she was eventually ready to let go of the idea. Right then, she received the call from Steven Spielberg.
That was in 1984. For the next 20 years, Oprah couldn’t quite explain how she’d managed to turn this fantasy into reality. Until Rhonda Byrne told her about The Secret. This 2006 movie and global bestseller with almost 30 million copies sold is by many considered the perfect blueprint for achieving your goals. Today, we’ll analyze it.
Here’s the essence of The Secret in 3 lessons:
- The law of attraction is one of the most prevalent principles in the world.
- In order to use the law of attraction, you must think about what you want, not what you want to avoid.
- The three steps of the law of attraction are asking,believing, and receiving.
Do you have a big, crazy vision? Here’s how to prime yourself for achieving it.
Lesson 1: One of the strongest rules in life is the law of attraction.
While Byrne packaged the idea in a new way, which appealed to the masses, the law of attraction itself is as old as we are: like attracts like. In German we have a saying: “As you shout into the woods, so they echo back.” In essence, the law of attraction states that what you think and feel determines what you’ll attract into your life.
The concept has been written about as long as self-help books are a thing. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The Master Key System by Charles Haneel, and even the book Rhonda herself found it in, The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles, all describe it in different forms. For example, if you focus on all the negative feedback you get as an artist, you’ll likely encourage more criticism. Similarly, it’s hard to imagine a person who hates money to become wealthy, and so on.
What the book is often criticized for is its overemphasis on the power of the law. While there is a concept in psychology called priming, that shows we intuitively act based on influences, you can’t live your entire life this way. So yes, it’s important to put yourself in the right state of mind to achieve your goals, but that alone won’t cut it.
Lesson 2: The law of attraction only works when you think in positives, not negatives.
Another case study of the law of attraction is Jim Carrey, who, funnily enough, discussed his experience with Oprah in 1997, also before she knew about The Secret. As an aspiring actor, Carrey would stop on his drive home every night, think about his future accomplishments and visualize them. He took comfort in the fact that he “[did] have these things, I just don’t have a hold of them yet, but they’re out there.”
He even wrote himself a check for $10,000,000 and post-dated it 5 years. Lo and behold, he did end up making the sum from Dumb and Dumber, just around the deadline. What’s remarkable about the way Carrey did it, and Rhonda says this is a prerequisite for the law of attraction to work, is that he always envisioned the positives that would come into his life, rather than the negatives he was trying to avoid.
When it comes to our internal monologue, loss aversion is a powerful driving force. We’re a lot more worried about losing what we have, rather than getting what we want. That’s why most of us subconsciously play not to lose, instead of playing to win. In part, this is why people who take more risks have less competition. Fewer people shoot for great than for average.
Plus, if you’re trying to convince yourself, framing something as a win sounds more convincing than fear mongering. That’s why at Better Humans, we always frame headlines in terms of positive transformation, not negative consequences from inaction.
Lesson 3: To manifest your dreams, you must ask, believe, and then receive.
Besides regularly thinking about your goals, visualizing them, and framing them positively, Rhonda suggests an actual, three-step process you can use to make the law of attraction work for you:
Ask. This is about being specific in what you want out of life. Vague questions get vague answers. Use a present tense structure and write down what you want from a perspective of gratitude: “I’m grateful to have [INSERT DESIRE].”
Believe. If you don’t have unwavering faith in your goal, why should others? This is about radiating confidence, so that the people you meet along the way will support you. Don’t be blindly optimistic, but in a go-getter spirit.
Receive. Imagine how you’ll feel once you accomplish your goal. What would life be like? Visualize. This’ll prime your actions in the right direction.
Again, I’m all for planning, being motivated, and believing in yourself. However, the one big caveat to all this is that your actions have to back up your state of mind. As Gary Vee says “the law of attraction only works if you do.” So think positive, prep for success and then work like a madman to get what you want.
My personal take-aways
They say the best books split the audience and this one definitely does. Some people swear on it like gospel, others dismiss it as feel-good mumbo jumbo. I think the truth is, as so often, somewhere in the middle. Yes, these ideas work, but only to an extent, and they’re not the be-all, end-all. Take them with a grain of salt, reflect, and then come to your own conclusions about The Secret.