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What is the Secret®?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated May 23, 2024
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The Secret® is the name of a book, movie, and popular technique for success. The book was written in 2006 by Rhonda Byrne, who also worked on various other works for the New Thought spiritual movement, which has its roots in the late 19th century. The Secret® draws heavily on an earlier book, The Science of Getting Rich, written in 1910 by Wallace D. Wattles, also a New Thought philosopher.

The basic principle behind both The Science of Getting Rich and The Secret® is that of positive thinking. Wattles called this "the Certain Way," and Byrne calls it "The Secret®." This principle was based on Wattles seeing that he was able to use earlier New Thought techniques to help change a number of things internally, and also to change his state of physical well being. He then began wondering whether the same techniques could be applied to change things like personal success, or wealth, or relationships.

The idea is just that if you believe something truly, you can get it. That positive thoughts attract positive actions in the world, and that negative thoughts attract negative actions in the world. Therefore, nearly all of what we experience in our day to day lives can be attributed to our state of mind. The trick, therefore, is to learn to control our thinking, to keep ourselves positive through a series of exercises and learned behaviors, so that we can achieve the goals we wish to.

The title of The Secret® comes from a claim within, which is that although these techniques have been known for centuries, they have been intentionally hidden. While it is true that they have been known at least since the mid to late 19th century, when the Law of Attraction was strongly promoted by New Thought philosophers, there is little evidence that they have been actively hidden. Many books were published before The Secret® that outlined the same principles, and many had relatively wide distributions.

The marketing campaign that accompanied The Secret® was large, with a particularly massive online marketing blitz accompanying its release. This campaign used viral videos that promoted the idea that The Secret® could help people become rich, by teaching them to change their thinking. These clips showed people who had supposedly used the technique, describing how it had changed their lives for the better.

Not long after the book, a film based on The Secret® was also released. The franchise reached renown in the United States when Oprah featured it on her show, and it quickly became a massive success that dwarfed many other self-help books. Many people continue to promote The Secret® as a set of life-changing practices, while others criticize it.

Most critics believe that the techniques given in The Secret® have little to no practical effect on people’s lives, and can in fact detract from people taking real action that can help them. Someone who needs psychiatric or physical care, for example, might interpret certain parts of the text to imply that they can simply think their way out of their troubles. At the same time, those experiencing massive pain or severe hardships may interpret the book to be telling them they are to blame for everything that is happening to them, by allowing negative thoughts to enter their minds.

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Discussion Comments

By turquoise — On May 17, 2011

I saw this book everywhere when it came out but never got a chance to read it. Should I read the book or see the movie?

I don't know if the content is the same, which would you recommend?

By discographer — On May 14, 2011

I truly think that the law of attraction is real. The secret is actually that thoughts materialize and so the way we think is responsible for many of the things we receive in our life.

Now, I don't think about this as definitively as the critics of the book do. Of course, we are not responsible for everything. I also believe in fate and destiny.

But has it ever happened to you that you think of someone or something and it shows up? Like a friend you were thinking about will call you. Or you will crave a dessert and you end up getting it?

Isn't this proof that thoughts are powerful? How else can we possible explain such incidents?

By burcinc — On May 13, 2011

I have read the book "The Secret" and one of the tips in the book that I really like is thinking and speaking positive sentences. Instead of saying "I don't want..." for example, you are supposed to say what you do want.

It's based on the notion mentioned in the article, that the universe gives us what we ask for. The author says that the universe doesn't understand "don't want," so you will end up getting exactly that. That is why we should only ask for what we do want.

I realized after reading this that most of my sentences have a negative structure to it. Now I'm trying to say positive things but it's not easy. It's so embedded in the way I think and speak, I think it will take some time.

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