Back in 2008, I read a life changing book. I can’t recall how I heard about Rhonda Byrne’s universal bestseller, The Secret, but it took me a good year to track down a copy and finally wrap my eyes, head and sense of abundance around its message.
Once I’d finished it, I felt that an entirely undisclosed area of life (I hold back using the word ‘Universe’ because this post could get laden with the word) had just presented itself to me in swags of comforting velvet like a bubble bath after a hard day; an intergalactic skeleton key handed to me that I previously had no idea existed, let alone the very doors it opened; a jewel encrusted grotto full of unimaginable magic was mine for the exploring. Hence why it’s no surprise why Byrne’s thought-expanding offering is indeed called The Secret.
For those who aren’t familiar with the volume’s sentiment, the basic gist is that it’s universally possible to achieve, be and obtain anything and everything we’ve ever wanted in life. The formula is surprisingly simple: think it, viscerally imagine it and it will come to you. An important part of the success equation is that it’s imperative not to over-think the ‘hows’ on your road to ‘manifestation’, however; simply, imagine it and your subconscious – and therefore the ‘Universe’ (Byrne and others frequently expound how both are more or less one and the same) – will do the rest. Piece of cake, right?
Over the last three years, theoretical variations on the The Secret‘s message have been plentiful (Abraham Hicks, for instance; a new crop of life coaches and motivational speakers; video tutorials widely available on YouTube on raising your ‘vibration’; Notes From The Universe, and a wealth of others) even to the extent that the idea is making frequent appearances amid the pages of mainstream women’s press these days. All subscribe to and impart the previously uncelebrated code to unlocking what is now generally referred to as ‘abundance’ and instructions include out-and-out positive thinking, banishing all negative thoughts; vehement belief that there’s no such words as ‘can’t', ‘won’t', ‘don’t’ and ‘impossible’ – in fact, obliterating them entirely from your vocabulary; observing signs that the Universe sends us; calling on ‘higher beings’ for guidance and help; inevitable mediation; and pro-active steps towards our goals…
Hang on a sec: did I just write ‘pro-active steps towards our goals’? Herein lies the problem. Common sense would have it that self-starting on your ‘journey’ toward whatever it is you’ve decided you want is exactly what we not only should do, but need to do to get anywhere at all. The only thing is, this intrinsic detail isn’t given rise to the extent that would probably clear a lot of things up for a lot of people. And, oddly consistent with the growth in popularity of positivists and disciples of manifestation over the last handful of years, a growing trend in ‘entitled to’ attitudes seems to have surfaced alongside them.
But before you write me off as cut from the same cloth as Richard Dawkins, allow me to assure you I’m not. I greatly admire spirituality, faith and worldly belief and I’m not knocking either that or the likes of The Secret in this post; but like with everything, there’s a fine line between these wholesome values and downright delusion. Furthermore, the exponential rise in reality TV shows coupled with apparent nobodies becoming front page somebodies out of seeming nothingness and for reasons no one’s entirely certain of, has served only to crank up a generous faction of the general public’s desire for fame. And fame equals wealth, right? Wealth and trappings and, sadly, perceived adoration. You see, us humans crave approval and adoration: it’s a basic survival instinct. But, like the fight or flight instinct has found redundancy in the modern dearth of sabre tooth tigers we might once have fled from, our ideas on winning the popularity trophy has also continued to update itself in line with technological advancement, and indeed, trends in popular culture. This is where it can get very dangerous.
The two main aspects that find themselves conspicuously absent amid all this – fame, material wealth, social popularity, whatever it is that turns you on – are effort and realism. Take the frustrated bedroom creative. Where it’s all well and good (perhaps well-rounded to boot) to create, the pursuit steams to a grinding halt if the bedroom – or whatever room – is where the creations or ideas stay. Some people are fine about that; ‘I do it purely for myself’ isn’t uncommon explanation, however true or not it might be. But for the majority, we desire nothing more than a bit of recognition. Or what about that killer business idea you dreamt up? In terms of what the abundance gurus extol by way of manifesting things, a business idea won’t set itself up. It’s not rocket science: you have an idea, you get on the phone, you talk to people, you start with your baby steps and get the balls rolling. Yet, so many who follow the wisdom of magical manifestation either fail to take these baby steps at all, rather preferring to sit tight in their armchairs and wait for the big deal to land in their laps from nowhere.
This is where effort comes into play: sort of like expecting to win the lottery in the absence of ever buying a ticket. And sometimes, even when the endeavour’s there, things don’t actually pan out. I’m hesitant to allude once again to X Factor auditions, but this – especially in the instance of angry Four No’d auditionees – demonstrates the point perfectly, not so much in terms of effort (because wagering your chances at an open audition isn’t a bad stab at effort), but moreover realism. Leona Lewis had a very real chance because she was (is) actually good; Onkar Judge not so much. As disappointing as the news may be, dreams should at times remain exactly that.
What’s sad is the way the ‘go get it’ meme has bust out of its ’80s yuppy power suit like a grisly Hulk and turned into the monster from Cloverfield. All too often, the attitudes and demeanours that accompany the go-get mantra resemble little more than a tantrum throwing sociopath. Where the good message of ‘you can do whatever you put your mind to’ was probably intended to be taken with a pinch of realism, a dash of pragmatism and a generous dose of humility, its sentiment instead gets snagged in the jaws of birth-right entitlement. Some people were indeed born to be famous, extremely wealthy, [insert whatever you consider virtuous ad infinitum], but some won’t stop until they’ve got it, whatever it takes – including completely demeaning oneself so that the achievement in question bears a weirdly paradoxical velocity.
This is by no means an original observation – just my own musings on a phenomena which has and will continue to fascinate me. It’s also by no means the case for everyone: a lot of people actually have the right idea. Most people I know prelect in one way or another this idea that there’s no such thing as impossibility, wherever their belief finds its roots. But where’s that pesky fine line and how near to it are you? Is the, “Don’t worry! Everything will be fine,” or the, “Of course you can do it!” promises irresponsible? Is the Universe truly intervening and helping us on our way to abundance, or do we simply create our own luck?