i watched most of 'the secret' video, which i see is now up on youtube
. some of it i like, some is just plain common sense, some of it completely lacks common sense, and some of it is infuriatingly awful. that odd confluence has had it lingering in my mind for weeks.
here's what i like/agree with:
- positive thinking opens you up for positive things to happen, likewise with negative thinking/negative things.
- in order to get what you want, you must be able to express it clearly.
and that's about it. one of the troubles with the 'positive thinking' mantra is that it is not a simple thing to do. emotions cannot be manipulated. our way of expressing them can be habitualized, which i think is really
what 'the secret' is trying to get us to do.
there's a catch-22 inherit in the philosophy: it asks us not to focus on the times we don't get what we want (negative things), and to rejoice in the things we do get - so in the end what we're left with is all the times the secret "worked" for us, and we've successfully ignored all the times that it didn't. faithful pursuit of this mantra will result in a 100% 'secret' success rate!
in the video we see a man gay-bashed by thugs, then he subsequently bombs at a comedy club. he uses 'the secret,' and is suddenly treated nicely by would-be attackers and knocks 'em dead at stand-up. here's where the secret begins to get delusional, and we haven't even gotten to the curing cancer part yet.
i'm the first to tout the power of positivity. it's taken years of painful learning for me to see that those who look for problems find them, and those open to opportunity meet it. i believe that it's about adjusting your perspective to an impartial world. must we be willfully delusional? can't we be optimistic realists?
being an optimistic realist means understanding two basic points:
- 'positive' and 'negative' are subjective concepts.
- events that occur outside of human influence are neutral.
what is 'positive' to me, is likely also a negative force encroaching on someone else, somewhere. everyone believes that whatever it is they're doing, they're doing the right thing.
i can't take responsibility for the actions of others, or for events out of my control, and i don't belive that tragedies happen 'for a reason.' the secret would have you belive that you do
have control over people and events, that you have some magical special-effects wave-like power that washes over the globe when you make a wish - a power that stops them from doing whatever it is that you would consider 'negative.' if these negative things do
happen to you, it's your fault
for not wishing it away hard enough.
no amount of positive thinking is going to stop a stupid girl (who is probably using 'the secret' to get to work on time) from making a left turn into my car.
no amount of positive thinking is going to make someone (who is probably using the secret to 'make the world a better place') hell bent on kicking the shit out of a faggot suddenly rethink a lifetime of hatred.
'the secret' isn't going to clear traffic for you to get to work on time, and 'the secret' isn't going to create a traffic jam to delay your boss long enough to finish your report.
what is also so disturbing about the 'secret' is how unabashedly materialistic it is. nearly all of the 'wishes' you're encouraged to make involve getting things, getting rich, a new car, a new bike: stuff
. it doesn't tackle the basic wish most of us have - 'to find happiness,' because a state of induced happiness is required in order for the secret to work in the first place. 'be happy' it says, 'and you'll get the stuff you want.'
aside from the materialistic aspect, i do agree that expressing what it is you want puts you on the fast track towards getting it. the trouble is, it can be so difficult to figure out what you really want, but once you know, once you really
know, (and by really knowing i mean, knowing fundamentally what you want from your life), and if you work towards building good karma, cultivating support from your friends and those around you, it will come.mamet says
that we should train ourselves to speak our aspirations without apology or arrogance. to me, that is the real secret, and i'm still working at it.