Let me let you in on the secret. Not "a" secret, but "the" secret. The Secret is a little book by Rhonda Byrne that has become a pop culture phenomenon.
You might say The Secret came into my life in an odd way, unless you already know about the secret, in which case you will hear the story of how the secret came into my life and believe I willed it there with my positive thoughts - which is exactly how the secret works!
I was helping out a neighbor, sitting with her ill child while she was out for the afternoon. The TV was on, but it was broadcasting some awful daytime drama with a cast of characters constantly on the verge of either violence or tears. I looked around for something to read, and there on the coffee table was a copy of The Secret.
I picked it up and did the "Janet's World Quick Skim," successfully developed so I could complete all my course work on trains traversing Europe during my junior year, and essential to this day for school newsletters, college catalogs and some selections by my book club.
So I didn't actually read the book, but the secret is, I gleaned enough to write this column. The book centers on the law of attraction - like attracts like - and it relates this principle to an individual's life. The gist is: Think positive thoughts, and you will attract positive consequences. Your thoughts determine your experience in the physical world, and what you are feeling creates your future.
Most of us already knew this secret because we saw it in action in school. We could easily identify cliques made up of students who focused on athletics, on appearance, on intellect, or on bullying. Kids' pervasive thoughts determined their schoolyard roles.
Sure enough, as we grew up, the secret manifested itself in our experiences in higher education and the workplace. We'd soon find out that in any organization, there would be divisions poisoned by the negativity of their leadership while others prospered under the tutelage of individuals with a deep faith in a positive vision.
I daresay the secret is found in friendships, marriages, families - in every form of social unit. If you are a positive person, you tend to surround yourself with positive people. And when you hang around with "can-do" types, no situation - no matter how dire - seems insurmountable.
A great example of the secret in action in film is from Gone with the Wind. Scarlett is up on the hill yanking out a bitter turnip to eat because her family home has been destroyed by the Civil War. She stands and declares, defiantly and triumphantly, "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."
So I buy into this positive-thinking aspect of the secret, even if it makes some of you readers think I have the intellect of a ficus tree. To which I say: How do you know how smart a ficus tree is? What about a rhododendron? Or an azalea?
It's just one more example of my indefatigable positive-thinking process.
But even my inherent happy-go-luckiness couldn't prevent my disappointment in the infomercial-type selling into which The Secret ultimately descends. The book nearly promises that wealth and material goods can be obtained through simple mastery of the secret.
So a lot of readers are going to focus on that diamond necklace in the shop window, instead of the AIDS crisis in Africa.
I sighed in exasperation, and in that sigh, heard all the credibility escaping from the big positive balloon that floated The Secret out to the masses.
Here's my secret: Don't believe everything you read. Only the good parts.
To contact Janet or hear podcasts, visit http://www.janetgilbert.net.