Byrne’s mantra is ‘Ask, Believe, Receive’. Her idea, in a nutshell, is that by thinking positive thoughts you can attract good things.
The Secret was published in 2006 and has since sold 30 million copies, been translated into 50 languages and earned its author, Rhonda Byrne somewhere in the region of $300 million by 2009.
Byrne’s mantra is ‘Ask, Believe, Receive’. Her idea, in a nutshell, is that by thinking positive thoughts you can attract good things. Byrne sees this as an inevitable and irrefutable universal law, a bit like gravity. The other implication, of course, is that if you think bad thoughts, bad things will happen because you’re attracting negativity.
Celebrity fans of Byrne’s theories include Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith and Lady Gaga and closer to home, journalist Stacey Dooley, who has liked tweets from both a ‘Law of Attraction’ Twitter account and the official The Secret feed:
Back to Jim. His well-meaning intervention at my time of crisis wasn’t the first time someone had recommended Rhonda Byrne’s cult bestseller to me. More than 10 years after it was first published, The Secret seems to keep cropping up. Search #TheSecret on Instagram and you’ll find 1.7 million posts, try #lawofattraction and you’ll see 6.7 million. A lot has changed since 2006 but clearly we’re all still looking for ways to change the course of our lives.
My best mate’s friend has been trying to convince me to read Byrne’s book for almost five years and, more recently, I was having a panic attack on a plane somewhere over the Faroe Islands on the way to Iceland when an inexplicably kind businessman in his 50s started quoting from it and telling me that, if I really wanted to, I could cure my anxiety about flying through the air, thousands of feet above the ground in a metal tube, with positive thoughts. Reader: it didn’t work.
But this time, with very little left to lose and Secret recommendations reaching critical mass, I decided to suspend my disbelief. I sat in the bath and downloaded the audiobook, narrated by Byrne and her panel of ‘experts’ – which includes a ‘personal transformation specialist’ and ‘visionaries’ – and settled back to listen.
I’m not going to lie, the idea that I could improve my own life, get rich, be more successful and maybe even make the world a better place through the sheer power of my own thoughts was appealing.
What if my default cynicism and reluctance to engage with The Secret was holding me back from hacking the universe and living my best life? Why was the book and its many disciples so persistent if there wasn’t something in it? Was the universe sending people into my life to tell me to read it so that I could finally progress to the next level of existence? I needed to know.