March 1, 2007
Rhonda Byrne's `The Secret' spreads
NEW YORK - "The Secret" keeps on spreading. Two million additional copies have been ordered for Rhonda Byrne's self-help phenomenon, yet another beneficiary of Oprah Winfrey, who devoted two shows to the book in early February.
Released last fall by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, "The Secret" now has 3.75 million copies in print and for days has displaced the final Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," from the top of Amazon.com, where "The Secret" is currently out of stock.
The audio book, a four-CD set, is also selling fast, with 400,000 copies in print...
Created by Australian producer Byrne, "The Secret" began as a DVD film, released last March and, thanks to aggressive Internet marketing, became enough of a hit to be spun off into a book, which Byrne finished in less than a month.
Anita Creamer: 'The Secret' more hooey foisted on gullible people
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, March 2, 2007
Maybe we simply haven't been concentrating hard enough.
Because if the laws of attraction really worked that well, then reasonable people's desire to rid the world of self-help hokum -- Australian TV producer Rhonda Byrne's best-selling "The Secret" book and DVD being only the latest -- would've been a raging success by now.
Byrne has already appeared on "Oprah" to talk about "The Secret," of course.
"What we do is we attract into our lives the things we want, and that is based on what we're thinking and feeling," she told Oprah.
In other words, we create our own reality through what Byrne calls "the laws of attraction." Like begets like, so all we have to do is ask, believe and receive.
Oprah, never one to pass up the opportunity to congratulate herself on how special she is, says she's been living her whole life according to "The Secret" without even knowing any secret was involved.
Everything really is about Oprah.
But the truth is, anyone who's browsed through the self-help section of any bookstore during the past 50 years already knows the secret, too.
Clearly, positive thinking -- using whatever life hands you as inspiration for change -- is a good thing.
Concentrating your energy and attention on what you want in your life, as opposed to what you want to avoid, makes sense, too.
But could we please move beyond this childish thinking that change, real change, involves anything other than commitment and hard work?
Byrne likes to tell people that she lost weight only when she realized her error in thinking that weighing too much was the result of eating too much. The culprit wasn't the food; it was the way she thought about the food.
How nice for her.
The rest of us -- unenlightened clucks that we are -- remain stuck with the dull physiological equation that requires humans to consume less food and exert more activity to drop excess pounds.
It's a good guess that's true even for die-hard fans of "The Secret," and no amount of heartfelt spiritual evolution will change that.
The key to health and wealth isn't always inside us, and it's more than a little narcissistic and self-indulgent to think so.
Frankly, you can visualize your heart out, and you can ask and believe until you're blue in the face, but sooner or later you're going to have to put your dreams into action.
Responsible grown-ups know that. Here's something else we know: Sometimes, no matter how hard you concentrate on a positive outcome, bad things happen anyway.
For example, if like always and inevitably attracts like, then what explains the Holocaust?
What explains the Rwandan genocide, the thousands killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the devastation to the New Orleans metropolitan area and the Mississippi Gulf Coast caused by Hurricane Katrina?
Granted, some of those tragedies' millions of victims may indeed have been thinking negative thoughts and drawing unproductive energy into their lives.
But all of them?
Can gloomy thinking really combine to create some sort of cosmic vortex of doom?
I don't think so, any more than I think that someone who leads a health- conscious life but dies of cancer anyway was somehow attracting the malignant vibration of illness and death into her life.
What's presumably intended as inspirational pablum for the masses quickly turns offensive when it becomes just another way of saying that victims deserve their fate.
Sometimes, people get lucky. Sometimes, they get unlucky. And sometimes, they make their own luck.
Byrne, for example, got lucky when she decided to market "The Secret" to a shallow American public eager to latch on to the easy answers of the latest self-help craze as a way to feel better about itself.
Or maybe she was just really shrewd.