I bet that most of you have already read the ultra popular book "The Secret."
The Secret was originally published in 2006, and it's been a phenomenal hit since then. To be more exact it took an epidemic scale.
After it had been presented on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the brand exploded. According to Forbes magazine, up to 2009, both the film and the book, the "Secret" had generated more than $300 million in sales.
The book is a "classical" example of self-help books, a very popular category in recent years.
A simple search on Amazon.com will show almost 145.000 results for self-help e-books alone.
I read the "Secret" back in 2006 I think, but I've also read a few more similar books and articles.
The general theme of the self-help industry is that positive thinking creates a natural law, the law of attraction as it's called, which is capable of helping the individual accomplish anything.
Damn, how the hell could I forget about this book? If only I remembered this basic principle, I would have made it in life without busting my ass for the last couple of years.
I would have relaxed on my couch, thinking about being wealthy, fit and with a lot of women and the universe would magically work in my favor to get all these.
Fuck! My lousy memory.
A positive attitude helps a lot
Today's article isn't about reading the "Secret" though. As always my goal is to provide you with actionable advice based on my limited experience so far in business and life.
Sure, nobody can argue that positive thinking is powerful. I'd even say it's kind of mandatory to succeed in life.
One of the biggest changes I managed to achieve in my belief system since I started the journey towards self-improvement, is that I managed to change my attitude almost 180 degrees.
The way we face various situations in life is crucial. A positive attitude is by default a better approach.
Whenever we have positive feelings about something, even about something bad that happened to us, our brain releases a different set of chemicals than when we are frustrated, angry or depressed (even if the event is exactly the same).
The first set of chemicals (the positive ones) will help you overcome any situation a lot better than the latter.
There have been used up tons of ink writing things like that, so I don't want to argue a lot about it. If someone thinks that a bad attitude is more helpful, then I'm sorry I can't be of any help.
A more valid argument that I'd listen is the following.
"Hey Rob, I know a positive attitude helps, but man, when life throws shit at me, I can't be all that positive you know. I get mad."
Very well, that's an excellent argument.
An argument that I'm going to shoot down in a moment.
But to do so, let me first remind you of a fundamental requirement.
Everything is your responsibility. To always have a positive attitude under any circumstances, you must adopt the everything-is-your-responsibility mentality. I'm sorry bro, no shortcuts around that.
Unless you feel a powerful active machine, you won't be able to achieve an all-weather positive attitude.
If you don't master this mentality, you'll always feel positive about things, only when positive things happen to you by chance. Which as we all know, can't be the case every time.
By assuming full responsibility for everything, you come in a state of complete power and control.
Best case scenario is that you'll be able to control the outcome of this fucked-up situation. Win-win.
Worst case scenario is that you won't be able to control the outcome of the situation. BUT. You'll be able to control at least the emotional impact it has on you. Which is powerful.
BOOM. Let me repeat once more.
Having control over the actual outcome can be fantastic. Imagine the following scenario.
You love a girl, and one day she announces that she dumps your ass for the hot football player of the local team.
Now, only if you could control this outcome (her not dumping your ass), that would be fantastic. A happy ending.
But, as we all know, we're not magicians. We can't realistically control everything in life, especially when it involves complicated or unknown factors in there.
But let me ask you this. What's the second best outcome out a difficult situation like this? If you really think about it, if you can't control the outcome itself, the next best thing is to manage the emotional impact it has on you.
Let's imagine the same scenario with a little twist.
Your girlfriend enters the room:
"You know Rob; I'm tired of you. This relationship isn't going anywhere. I'm dumping you for Jake, the sexy football player."
"Okay honey, please don't forget to take the garbage out when you leave. It's been a pleasure meeting you."
Two birds with a stone. Jake is happier because he has got a new girlfriend and the garbage's out without you moving a finger.
Tell me about positive attitude.
Now let me explain why having total control over your emotions is the crucial part here.
Like I said, you can't control your girlfriend's brain (at least not directly and in the last minute), if she wanna dump you, she'll dump you. It's her right. But what you can always control is your emotional stability.
I know it's way harder to handle than it sounds but it's trainable trust me. It's all about repetitions.
So the next time something bad happens to you, in case you believe the effort justifies the reward and you can alter the outcome, be my guest and go for it.
But whenever you don't have control of the outcome, try to think what are the positives out of this situation. It's all about controlling your emotions. The more rational you are, the easier it is.
Why the law of attraction is a fraud
First of all, let me admit that the "Secret" could help you amass vast wealth...only if you were involved in the production of it.
In any other scenario, the chances of actually helping someone are small.
The biggest problem and the strongest marketing trick at the same time is that the "Secret" and all similar self-help books, videos, programs, and coaches, take advantage of a fundamental "glitch" inside the human brain.
I put the word glitch in quotation because it's more of an evolutionary trap rather than a glitch.
What do the "Secret," the pick-up industry and Viagra have in common?
They all promise the maximum results with the minimum effort.
"Hey, read this book, think positive, and you'll become healthy, wealthy and successful."
"Follow my pick-up program, learn a few pick-up lines, and you'll fuck more women, than Tom Cruise."
"Take this pill, and your dick will be as hard as granite."
The innate "glitch" all these industries (and a gazillion others) are taking advantage of is called energy preservation.
Humans are designed to live and survive in extremely harsh conditions. In Africa Savanna is do or die. Every calorie counts.
Unfortunately, our primitive brain can't always distinguish when it really needs to expend calories and when it's not. Whenever it's given the option to achieve the maximum result with the minimum effort, it will choose that over anything else.
The path of least resistance.
Every industry that promises tremendous results with low effort is a fraud by default and self-help is no exception to that.
If the author of the "Secret" told you that you have to take massive amounts of action, or that you have to work your butt off for 10, 20, 30 years to become financially free, would you buy it?
Probably not? Almost none is up to the task to work like mad for a few decades so that he can live like a king for a few others.
On the contrary, it's way more appealing to preach that, if you think positive enough about wealth, then wealth shall be.
The same stands true for almost every other occasion you know. Unless you're naturally gifted and you look like Brad Pitt, you have to try to be successful with the opposite sex.
You need to know how human nature works; you need to make hours of practice interacting with women or men, you need to be rejected many times before you correct your mistakes and become fluent and efficient in social skills.
The list goes on and on and on.
If Viagra people told you that you can still fuck like a rabbit at 60, but you have to eat healthily, exercise all your life, sleep like a baby, and abolish all stress, they wouldn't sell a billion dollar drug at the moment. Would they?
Instead what they say to you is: "Do the kind of shitty life you want, drink, eat like a pig, and in case you still want to fuck, here's your magic (blue) pill."
Do this instead if you want to have some results
The no-action strategy reminds me of Homer Simpson. The legendary cartoon that's so popular in the U.S.
No wonder since it illustrates an average guy, who "demands" so many things in life but does nothing about it.
Rings any bells?
Before I close, I'll admit one thing.
Success, money, super-health, meaningful relationships, etc. aren't directly related to happiness.
Someone can feel happy while being poor.
Someone can feel happy while living and dying without putting a dent in humanity.
Someone can be happy while he takes a shitload of drugs to have an erection.
Someone can feel happy being associated with low-quality people.
Most people prefer to live delusional because it makes them feel better for their incompetence.
It's not my job to argue about it.
Although I'm not a millionaire yet, I've studied many successful people, and I have this to declare, with a very very small probability of error.
No amount of positive thinking alone is going to make you a millionaire.
No amount of positive thinking alone is going to make you healthy.
No amount of positive thinking alone is going to make people love you.
Desirable things in life require tons of effort. They need many sacrifices, discipline, determination, and a whole lot of other A-type traits.
I used to "believe" and preach the same spiritual mumbo-jumbo affirmations to ease my ego and feel better about my mediocrity. I used to say that financial freedom, success, meaningful relationships and having a significant impact on this world aren't for me. It's not that important.
But now that I'm aware, I can't allow myself to live and die an average guy.
Who's with me?