Ryan Chartrand

Wouldn’t it be great if you had the power to make all of your dreams come true, just by wishing them into being? What if you could get rich, lose weight, fall in love, and still have enough time to go shopping for a new car? Well, according to “The Secret,” by author and teacher Rhonda Byrne, this is not only possible, but easy!

The theory behind “The Secret,” which Byrne outlines in the book and also on DVD, rests on the application of the law of attraction to the realm of the mind.

She, as well as many others (including, she says, Albert Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci), believe that whatever a person chooses to focus their mental energy on will eventually find its

way to that person, for better or for worse.

According to this belief, whatever your heart desires will soon come to you – but only if you think about it hard enough. The size of your request doesn’t matter; in fact, the universe has no concept of size, Byrne says.

For instance, a woman wishing for $1 million to drop out of the sky has the same chance of realizing success as the guy next door does of landing a date with his hot neighbor.

Byrne says that people have known “The Secret” since the beginning of time, but it hasn’t been readily available; the great minds of centuries past wanted to keep it under wraps, so their powerful positions wouldn’t be threatened.

Now, though, Byrne has decided that it is her life’s mission to share the wonders of the secret with the rest of us. She even credits it with her book’s success, as well as for the millions of dollars in DVD sales she experienced beforehand.

This brings us to another point: “The Secret” may sound a bit strange, but there is no doubt as to its immense popularity. Since its February release, the book has sold 3.75 million copies reached No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list, and completely sold out on Amazon.com (don’t worry, there’ll be more soon).

Add to that millions of dollars in DVD sales since March of last year. It seems that everyone, including Oprah, is crazy about it.

So what’s the big deal? Could it be the high dose of optimism that’s attracting people? Maybe it’s the idea of controlling each aspect of one’s life that appeals to micromanagers everywhere.

Basically, “The Secret” mixes a bunch of positive thoughts with a little bit of the supernatural. Things start out sounding pretty plausible, but the whole idea becomes harder and harder to believe as the book goes along.

The first chapter suggests things like thinking good thoughts when you’re going to get a haircut and reminding yourself daily that you are capable of being on time, in order to achieve a positive outcome. Statements like this aren’t too weird and don’t deviate much from the norms for a typical self-help book.

However, things quickly progress to skeptical proportions. For example, in a later chapter, Byrne tells her readers to rejoice every time they receive a bill in the mail, pretend it’s actually a check for an obscene amount of money, and thank the universe for the wonderful gift. That’s the point where she might lose a few followers.

Besides Byrne’s narrative, which includes stories and example of the secret in her own life, the book also includes the interspersed thoughts of 23 contemporary “teachers,” all of whom follow the secret.

This keeps things somewhat interesting, as there is always some of anecdotal distraction from the author’s sometimes overbearing eccentricity. Also, its simple prose makes it an easy read.

Still, the book is highly repetitive, and most people will get the point after the first few pages. By the time you finish the first chapter, you’ll know whether or not you’ll want to continue.

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