An acquaintance of mine recently gave me a DVD with the promise that it would change my life for the better. I was skeptical, of course. My life is already pretty darn good. And this DVD bore no resemblance to the handsome, well-hung, supergenius party-boy billionaire I knew would actually change my life for the better.
It was The Secret - a poorly disguised 60-minute how-to-get-rich-quick-by-doing-nothing informercial that "teaches the centuries-old secret to unlimited joy, health, money, relationships, love, youth: everything you have ever wanted."
"Wow!" I thought. Everything I have ever wanted? Man, I kinda want a lot of things. I also don't want a lot of things, like taxes and cancer and war and poverty. Can I learn the anti-Secrets too?
The Secret is: a bunch of people have discovered a way to make pantloads of money off the fears and worries of the lower and middle classes, through preaching "The Law of Attraction". This principle suggests that people's feelings and thoughts attract real events in the world into their daily lives. It essentially tells you that if your life really sucks, it's most definitely your own damn fault. But if you just buy this book or DVD, they will show you how to "ask for, believe in, and receive" good fortunes abound.
At first I found this stance a somewhat refreshing change the current trend in society: blame everyone else, especially your parents, because you're super special, so why take responsibility for your own actions? Accountability is fo' suckas!
But sorry folks, none of it adds up. At the age of 7, I asked for a pony. I believed everday with all my heart that my pony would miraculously show up on the front lawn. Thirty years later, still no fucking pony. The Secret People tell me that: a) I don't "truly desire" a pony; b) I don't "truly believe" that I'll ever have a pony; c) my negative thoughts about bus drivers and idiots who wear Crocs to work are blocking any and all possibility of my pony finding me in this horrible mixed-up world; and d) aren't you a little old to be asking for a pony?
The concept of self-visualization, or New Thought, is indeed ancient, but it's most certainly not "scientific" (no studies have ever been done on the Law of Attraction), and was never intended as a marketing tool to gain material wealth. It is simply the power of positive thinking, and any immediate fortune that comes from it is cosmic coincidence. I will concede that looking on the bright side never hurt anyone, even if it makes that positive thinker about 10 times more annoying than ever before. But I'm sorry - it won't deliver you a mansion, a hot sportscar, a supermodel bedmate, or that dream job as a tastemaster at an ice cream factory. Okay, maybe that's just my dream job.
I propose that the awesome power of negative thinking has awarded me a far more blissful existence. When you come to expect the very worst in life, you're usually pleasantly surprised at how well things turn out in the end. Besides, I'm already wealthy and successful, because I learned a very different Secret many years ago: by simply placing these teeny tiny classified ads ...