The secret about The Secret

March 16, 2016


It’s been 10 years now since the book, The Secret, and its promotion of the law of attraction captured popular imagination. The law of attraction is said to be a natural law of the universe that posits that “like attracts like.”  The Secret tells us that if we act, believe and receive, we’ll get back what we desire.

We’d all like to attract good things, wouldn’t we? Good health, a great job, money (like the Powerball).


That’s probably the most desired outcome of people who read the book.

More money.

Over the years I’ve read so many blog posts and articles by people who are excited about applying the book so they get more money and financial security. Sometimes they even ask for a particular thing–maybe a new house or a specific car.

More than 19 million copies of the book have been sold. If even 10 percent of the people who bought the book got the money they’d asked for, that would be 1.9 million people enjoying newfound wealth.

That’s probably not the case.

Is The Secret a sham?

So is The Secret a sham, only attracting wealth to its author? Or to Oprah, who is a believer?

I completely believe that like attracts like. But I’m not so sure it’s any big secret.  It’s been said a hundred different ways and one of them is “you reap what you sow.”  Nothing new here.

Here’s an example: People who surround themselves with loving energy are likely to only see loving energy around them. They won’t be attracted to or interested in those who put out negative vibes.

And it works that way with money, too.  If you are focused on financial security, it’s likely you’ll get there. But not by any secret. By your own hard work. And yes, visualizing success–that kind of focus– is a big part of it.

Any successful entrepreneur knows that if you apply your complete focus to something, you stand a better chance of its success.  Let’s take Amazon. Last year some interesting leaks exposed the extreme focus Amazon requires of its employees and how families and health have suffered. Now, I’m not suggesting you follow Amazon’s lead as far as employee treatment goes. But that expose was evidence of the laser sharp focus of Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder. That focus got him there.  Does the end justify the means? That’s another blog post.

As far as Oprah is concerned, I’m pretty sure she had the same laser focus on success and a few lucky breaks. She was in the right place at the right time, for sure–can you imagine the Oprah phenomenon being possible in the 1950s? I can’t.  But she also worked hard for her success.

New packaging for old concepts

The Secret is a self-help book that repackages much of what we’d like to believe, from the Bible and also from other self-help concepts, such as mind over matter.

What these popular sound bites really say is “put your head down and do the work” because it’s true that if you work hard, your chance of success if increased.

But: It doesn’t necessarily work that way with things like health and natural disasters. Some things are bigger than our attitude and belief. The Secret won’t cure cancer, as some say it could. You can’t get there if all you do is visualize. Nor could it have saved the 2006 tsunami victims, as the author, Rhonda Byrnes, supposedly said. That’s dangerous thinking.  But there are many other parts of life in which focus helps us succeed.

Far be it from me to rain on anyone’s parade. To the extent that The Secret helps people focus on improving their situations in any way, I support it.

But the idea that we’ll all get rich or healthy if we apply positive thinking is unrealistic. It’s part of the story, but not the entire story. Getting what we want takes more than that.

It takes work.

What are your thoughts on The Secret?

36 comments on “The secret about The Secret
  1. Leanne says:

    I never actually got around to reading it – I always work on the theory that “if it sounds too good to be true then avoid it like the plague”. As much as I like to believe in Karma and good attracting good etc, I totally agree with you that hard work (and slow and steady wins the race) is the way to ultimately achieve anything in this life.

  2. Katy Kozee says:

    There have been studies that have shown how important your outlook is in creating luck. Pessimistic people will literally not notice a $10 bill laying in front of them. In that sense, I think books like The Secret are useful because they help teach you how to hone your outlook. They can also be so dangerous though if they encourage someone to think they can solve a medical problem with a positive attitude or make someone feel responsible for something they couldn’t control. You need to keep perspective.

  3. Totally agree with you! Hard work breeds rewards. Great take on it.

  4. I agree with you, it’s no secret that success is a combination of hard work, some talent and luck. Yes, we can help tweak our luck with some positive thinking and also with a willingness to be open to taking some risks. And, you are right, nothing new was said in this book, it was all about the packaging and the marketing. And isn’t everything?

  5. This is the first I’ve heard of the self-help book, The Secret. But, like you said, the concepts of “like attracts like” is certainly not new. I suspect that your feeling that this book is just the latest way for someone to profit from re-publishing an old adage with a more modern day application.

  6. Although I do believe in the law of attraction to some extent, more like the ‘like attracts like’ you mentioned, I couldn’t get myself to read The Secret.

    I think books like this sometimes do a big disservice to people who want a quick fix. It’s like the religious belief, ‘if you have faith you will be healed’ which causes so many to even refuse medical help. When their condition worsens, they feel that their faith wasn’t enough.

  7. Amanda says:

    When me and my husband first got together he was a believer in The Secret, I for one am not and never have been. I think it’s a load of bs.If you want results you need to be focused and work at it not ‘believe’ it will happen.

  8. pia says:

    Thank you. Sometimes, more often lately, I want to throw things at people who go around saying the secret to their success is the law of attraction. I read a lottery winner who said she won it because….

    And sadly many people without resources use their resources to go to LOA seminars, buy books on it, etc. They’d actually almost have a better chance playing the lottery.

    I do think it’s important to be positive but to be realistic. Positive realistic thinking finds the $10 on the sidewalk (and good eyes plus looking at the ground) not “today something great is going to happen to me, because I deserve it.)

    My mother once gave a relative with cancer a copy of “Laughter is the best medicine.” Talk about a daughter wanting to die on the spot. She did have a point. Laughter and company help; but aren’t magic!

  9. Ronnie says:

    I have heard so much about this book over time but I never really understood what it was about. I think in a few sentences you summed it up in a way that intrigues me to take a better look.. I would be curious to find out if I can help myself focus better on my goals.

  10. Alana says:

    I never read it. I knew people who based hopes on it, such as a mother, herself disabled, with a disabled child who had herself helped others but was struggling with her health and finances. I’m not into people who sell false hope.

  11. Debbie Denny says:

    I do agree with you on this. You must work hard and focus. I think positive thinking has always been around. It is not a new concept.

  12. andrea says:

    Hard work (and believe in God) always get us everywhere – and MORE than any “secret” whatsoever!

  13. I agree with you. I watched the Secret movie. The main problem I had with it was it’s focus on consumerism. If we have the power of the universe within our grasp, is it really just about a shiny new car?

  14. alison says:

    I have never read the book but I do agree with the fact that if you work hard, you will see results. Now you can’t guarantee the results YOU want but there will be results i.e. you will be a better person because you worked hard. No matter what there are no guarantees so that is what I disagree with!

  15. MELISASource says:

    I absolutely LOVE this post! I’m all about positive thinking, but the real secret of it is this: The more positive you are the more motivated you are. The secret is you.

  16. Laurie Stone says:

    I totally believe our thoughts create our reality. I’ve never met a successful person who wasn’t an optimist. If you wish hard, will Brad Pitt appear on your doorstep? No, but it certainly helps point the ship in the right direction. Great question.

  17. Barbara says:

    I read it and watched the video years ago. I do believe in the concept, to a point. What you focus on will likely happen. Whether wealth, health, or perpetual bad times. I’ve known many gloom and doom types and, I feel, you need to distance yourself from that as much as possible. Creating a positive environment is the only way to reach your goals, whatever they may be.

  18. I think that when it comes to success it is all about handwork and luck. i work hard in acting but so much of success in film and television is about luck. meeting the right people, getting your foot in the door, being the right look for a part you can play so well is all about luck. i think books like the secret inspire people which can push them to work hard and handwork can lead to success. but luck is not something we have control over

  19. Ha! Your quote says it all. We make things happen by actually working to make them happen!!

  20. Jacqui Odell says:

    I love your quote! It’s something that everyone should live by!

  21. Camille says:

    Agree completely. You mentioned that Oprah is a believer. Indeed, I watched an episode of her show that featured this topic. The guests were a “Secret” supporter (the author?) touting the wonders of The Secret, along with a guest who was planning to use this method to “cure” her cancer. You should have seen Oprah and the other guest trying to convince this woman to follow her doctors orders and, while keeping a positive outlook, not simply deny all treatment and put her faith entirely in The Secret.

  22. Elizabeth O. says:

    I’m sorry but I haven’t read the book. Your message makes a lot of sense though, if you work hard on something there is no doubt that you will get it. It’s really simple and it has been proven time and time again. Without fail.

  23. Nicole Escat says:

    I love that words, that’s true work harder gets lucky result.

  24. I do believe like attracts like, same as being positive attracts people that are positive but also working hard also brings good results nothing is free in this life

  25. Top5life says:

    Focus is very important for success. Without it, its never possible to succeed at all.

  26. tp keane says:

    In my experience, people don’t like complications… negativity is a complication people don’t want to deal with.

  27. I’ve never read the book called, The Secret. Based on your synopsis of its theme, I don’t think I would enjoy reading it.
    Maybe one day.

  28. I totally agreed with you!! We must hard-work and focus on our work to get desirable results!!

  29. lexie lane says:

    Agreed with some information. Glad you shared this. Thank you for sharing.

  30. Faye says:

    I love the book and fully believe that whatever we put out into the universe we get back. Like attracts like, as you said. Great post!

  31. stacy says:

    just found your blog and it is great, i too read the book, i am almost 43 (next week) so i am not sure if i read it when it first came out or a little after, but i moved me, but sadly i do not use many of “the secret” encourages or not, but what your saying is true. Thank you for sharing and i am going to try and use some of your thoughts and words in my own life, having trouble finding my purpose, but i am getting there

  32. katrina gehman says:

    I haven’t read the book. I remember when it came out and all the talk about it but never read it. Seems interesting. I’ll have to remember to check it out at some point.

  33. Fully agree. The concept of “like” attracting “like” is nothing new, all that was new was the packaging.

  34. Anna Palmer says:

    New packaging for old content…so true…and yet maybe important as well. I can hear something many times in many ways and all of a sudden the final one will resonate. I have never been into “the secret” in its exact form…but as you say like attracts like. That line works for me.

  35. Leandro Lima says:

    Maybe things are not as they say in the books, but still you can get good recommendations from him.

  36. Prosperity says:

    Hmm, I strongly believe that positive thinking can bring positive result (law of attraction) also, based on your point, hard work also brings a good result. The two works based on your belief.

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