It is a most dangerous book. It promises you your heart’s desires if you only think a certain way. If only life were that simple. The book is called “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. It is laced with quotes from self help authors. Its philosophy is very simple: “what you think, you attract because you are on the same frequency. If you think positively and good thoughts, you attract good things to you. If you think negatively or bad thoughts, you attract bad things happening to you because you are on that frequency. Only the good can come into your life because that’s the way you think.” Let’s look at this principle and some of the other principles that this book teaches which I find troubling. Item #1: You attract good things because you think good thoughts. I have been angry with people over the years but things generally work out because I held my tongue. Likewise, I have had good thoughts about people and things, only to be short changed. I think about being successful only to fall short of my goals. I’d like to think I’m successful because of my hard work, not because I thought pleasant thoughts. I make my own opportunities. I believe in the quotation by Canadian humourist Stephen Leacock: “I’m a great believer in luck. The harder I work at it, the more I find of it.” Item #2: You can change your feelings and shift frequency in an instant by “Secret Shifters” – favourite music, pleasant memories, nature. If we could wrestle any negative emotion into submission in an instant, we could eliminate mental illnesses and every addiction under the sun. We could cure homelessness, shut down mental hospitals, prisons. And let’s not forget those parallelized by self doubt like the chronically unemployment. And, then, there are those people tormented by guilt or parallelized by some fear. They must bear their crosses often to no avail. No amount of positive thinking will relieve their pain. If one were suffering from the flu with stuffed nose, head and chest cold, felt down right miserable, we wouldn’t tell him to stop feeling this way. But don’t we do the same when we tell someone paralyzed by fear, riddled by terror and anxiety, to stop feeling this way. Even if the fears were not real, the sensations are. Healing takes time. And there are those individuals who have so much hatred, self loathing. Asking them to turn it off is like asking someone confined to a wheelchair to get up and walk. If they could turn off their hatred in an instant, we wouldn’t have the impulsive crimes like the shootings that we hear about. Some of these people may be genetically inclined to these emotions. Though I would say environment plays a major factor. You become by what you live by. The salvation of the truly hurting lies in a caring community by those who can empathize with the sufferers’ pain. Those self help authors who think that these people can just “snap out of it” are living in a glass bubble, not aware that feelings of frustration and hopelessness are real feelings. I just wonder how many self help authors have ever known these feelings. And how many of them have ever contemplated suicide? I would recommend that these authors walk in the shoes like those that are truly hurting. Feel the pain of these people. Understand their frustrations and hopelessness. These authors wouldn’t be so liberal in preaching their philosophy. We have criminals who have no empathy when they harm their victims. We call them psychopaths. These self help authors who can not relate or empathize with the hurting are no different. Item #3: When bad things happen, we were on the frequency to attract bad things. (This one is very troubling.) Was the woman who was sexually assaulted on the same frequency to attract the assault? And should we prosecute her assailant because somehow the victim attracted the attack? On a grander scale, were the attacks on 9/11 caused because the victims’ were on that same frequency to attract those attacks? Were the Jews on the same frequency to attract the Holocaust during World War 2? This book would suggest that they did. Or were these attacks caused by fanatical extremists bent on destruction, motivated by free will? * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Books like “The Secret” are a dime a dozen, though its philosophy is a bit extreme. At my local bookstore, there must be 1000 titles; many write if one just changes his thoughts and attitudes, one can have his heart’s desires. There are even some religious books that preach religious prosperity. Pray the right prayer and God will grant one’s heart’s wishes. But with all these titles, I would guess we are as miserable as ever. The question is why? For starters, I have to believe that the philosophy these self help books offer is not something new that make people successful, happy, etc. The readers who read these books have a pre-conceived idea about succeeding. They already have the faith to succeed. For example, I am troubled by celebrities promoting the latest diet, saying it works. But for a diet to work, the dieter must have a pre-conceived desire in wanting to loose weight. The desire to loose weight must be greater than the desire to eat. And that is why, I believe, most diets fail. Likewise, according to some religious writers for faith to work, the religious followers must already have some form of faith. We see this principle at work with some medications. Medications have a better chance of succeeding if the patient has the faith that they will work and wants to take them. For self help books to work, followers must have a pre-conceived idea or faith that the philosophy will work. The authors are just rehashing what the reader already knows. But a more important reason why we may be miserable despite these books is that these books fail to address the real hunger – the hunger for meaning in peoples’ lives. It goes deeper than just changing one’s attitude. We want to make a difference. We need to make a difference. We want to know our lives matter. And we won’t be satisfied until we do. Something these books don’t address. If they were, we wouldn’t need all these titles. Self help books minister to the “worried well”, not the truly hurting. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * I am sure there are those who think positively who think good things will meet success. But I have to believe they are the exception not the rule. In reality, there are talent righteous people with the right disposition, work hard but never find success. There are mediocre talented people who will make it because of some stroke of luck or chance. Some even have sold their souls. But for most of us, hoping for success when we think good things, we are setting ourselves up for disappointments when we fail. And I have to believe there are more failures than successes.