The Secret is self-help book written by Rhonda Byrne. Byrne claims that positive thinking can create life-changing results such as increased happiness, health, and wealth. The book is full of references to magnets, energy, and quantum mechanics. Byrne believes human thoughts manifest as tangible events in the physical universe—sort of like in The Sphere. The Secret has sold more than 19 million copies worldwide. Like most New Age books, it’s an agglomeration pseudoscience, erroneous logic, and pure fantasy.
Books like The Secret stymy personal development by creating the illusion of action. People convince themselves that they’re making great strides, when they’re really doing nothing. Oliver Burkeman makes a pretty convincing argument against positive thinking in his book The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking.
The effort to try to feel happy is often precisely the thing that makes us miserable. And that it is our constant efforts to eliminate the negative—insecurity, uncertainty, failure, or sadness—that is what causes us to feel so insecure, anxious, uncertain, and unhappy.
You can’t get 6-minute abs, there’s no such thing as an easy 4-step seduction program, and you won’t win the lottery. Even if you could perform these feats, you wouldn’t be satisfied. Appreciating and sustaining positive experiences requires a strong foundation.
You can’t wish your way to a better life, but you can still win! Set easily achievable goals that build towards a more impressive objective. You might surprise yourself, or you might fail, but you’ll be doing something—which is better than nothing. Detach yourself from the results, and give in to the process. People will look at your accomplishments with wonder. They’ll call you an overnight success, or attribute your triumphs to magical woo woo bullshit, but you’ll know the truth.