Have you walked down the aisles of any Self-Help Section of a bookstore lately to notice the composition of the books being put onto shelves nowadays are mainly spiritual in nature, being written not by psychologists but, rather spiritualists, gurus, shamans and yes, even Oprah, the self-made LifeClass guru.
With so many books like The Secret, The Magic, The Power all written by Rhonda Byrne, it’s easy for us to believe that the tool of Life is mearely a formulaic method of thinking ourselves into happiness, success, love and good health.
Ironically, Byrne now lives in a celeb community, just up the street from another self-made self-help guru, Oprah Winfrey who has also made her money on preaching to the masses about how to live life through spiritualism.
Ironically, Bryne got her start through Oprah who helped launch Bryne’s book The Secret into successdom and now lives in the same celeb neighbourhood as Winfrey.
Bryne’s principles behind her famous books is that if you think something hard enough, it becomes a reality or, comes into being but, also coming into being for Byrne are lawsuits, ill-will and a lot of people left behind angry, by Byrne having trampled over them on while finding her way to the top with her fad-like cult following principles or, as I like to call it, “The Easy Way To Live”. She wiped her feet on and has allegedly duped and bilked several of the people who helped get her to the top and make her millions, out of the money that she had promised them.
Sitting on a multi-million dollar empire that she has built by taking in money from those of us who are in search of a way to deal with life’s emotional and mental stresses and ills. Her good-will principles seem to be that of hypocrisy and cut-throat, “double-dealing”.
Byrne and others like her that top the Best Selling book lists are not the first to have thought of these ideas. She was simply more savvy at marketing skills and found a niche in a society that is craving something magical to cure the ills that threaten us in today’s negative world.
It’s hard for one to believe that someone like Byrne should be paid any attention to, let alone followed when one hears the reality behind her thinking.
When asked about how it is that people can use this type of thinking to stop their torture and deaths during The Holocaust, Byrne responded with a mind-blowing and horrendously shocking answer, “if their dominant thoughts and feelings were in alignment with the energy of fear, separation, powerlessness and having no control over outside circumstances, then that is what they attracted”.
Based on the ideas of the Law of Attraction, Bryne repackaged the ideas behind this principle after reading a 1910 get-rich-quick classic The Science of Getting Rich, given to her by her daughter. It certainly seems that Bryne made good in getting rich from the principles but, unfortunately, it came at a price that others ended up having to pay and most likely, she will have to pay in some way or another as well eventually.
Probably the best known for his religious spin on the idea of thinking your way into what you want in and out of Life, was Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, an ordained Methodist Minister, came out with his best-selling book (still in print) “The Power of Positive Thinking”.
Peale, having no psychiatric training, formed a partnership with psychiatrist, Smiley Blanton, a psychoanalyst, to write, ” Faith Is the Answer: A Psychiatrist and a Pastor Discuss Your Problems” published circa 1940. When mental health societies scorned the book, Blanton totally and publicly disassociated himself with Peale.
Peale came with his own set of controversies. He fought against John F. Kennedy becoming president of the United States of America because Kennedy was Catholic. Peale declared publicly “It is inconceivable that a Roman Catholic president would not be under extreme pressure by the hierarchy of his church to accede to its policies with respect to foreign interests.”
Fearing Kennedy would serve the interests of the Catholic Church, Peale’s theories were labelled as nothing short of “bigotry” by critics. He was fired as a syndicated writer from over a dozen of his newspaper columns, condemned in a statement by one hundred religious leaders.
His anecdotal accounts within his book have been declared “difficult to substantiate” by clinical studies, using his principles. Psychologist Martin Seligman called Peale’s approach “dangerous”, stating, “First, positive thinking is an armchair activity. Positive psychology, on the other hand, is tied to a program of empirical and replicable scientific activity … Where accuracy is tied to potentially catastrophic outcomes (for example, when an airline pilot is deciding whether to de-ice the wings of her airplane) we should all be pessimists … Positive psychology is a supplement to negative psychology, not a substitute.”
There are many out there, making money on telling us how to get what we need and want by thinking our way to getting to that end.
Are they right? Can it be done? Can we get well, rid cancer, stop atrocities, prevent death, become millionaires simply by thinking positively and learning how to attract these things? Is there a formula for it all? Can we really simply sit on our couches and attract what we want or…even don’t want?
Shall we tell the victims of tsunamis and earth quakes, hurricanes, fires, murders, rapists and every other negative thing that happens to us as human beings that we “attracted it to us” as Rhonda Byrne intimates Holocaust victims have done?
Are we attracting our fates or are we attracting quacks (and those, like Oprah, who promote them) who are all simply getting rich on our vulnerabilities and desperation?
I think it’s the latter of the two but, who am I other than just another human being, looking to survive this life the same as everyone else on this planet. I just may do it being a little poorer than the gurus.