The concepts in The Secret are really nothing new. Many great thinkers and successful people will tell you that a measure of their success, of their brilliance stems from their ability to maintain a positive outlook and that is a sensible and rather logical philosophy. Have you ever spent time around a seriously negative person? They complain, the words “I can’t” frequently escape their lips and they live in a constant state of misery and failure. Contrast that with a determined, positive-thinking, and successful person. The two are poles apart with the latter being a well-rounded, content and successful person. This is the central thesis behind The Secret and many other books and films like it.
Its mass appeal, however, is the result of clever marketing. There are literally hundreds of books out there that espouse the same sort of teachings, but The Secret is currently enjoying a greater degree of success over them simply because it is marketed as a mysterious formula for achieving happiness. But whether or not the core of attraction, positive visualization, et al. is religious in nature is a matter of speculation as is the debate between spirituality vs. religiosity. Ms. Byrne may very well have been inspired by the Bible, but that is not to say that most people are. Some of us simply don’t require religion in order to find the inspiration and motivation to be successful in life, yet we believe in the power of staying positive as a means to achieving our own ends and being successful.
Now, in the case of The Secret, the actual “doing” is rather minimized with most of the emphasis being placed on the “thinking”. Any successful person will tell you that yes, a great deal of positive thinking is necessary in order to achieve your goals; however, action is required on the part of the individual who wishes to achieve success. For instance, an aspiring novelist may sit around all day and daydream about making the New York Times Bestseller List, but if he / she does not actually practice his / her craft by writing daily or putting together a manuscript for submission, the goal becomes pointless.
Furthermore, the concept of failure is not adequately addressed in The Secret as it perhaps should be. Failures occur and they occur often. Myself, I like to think of them as learning experiences on the path to success. I embrace them, learn from them and move on. I much prefer Jack Canfield’s philosophies on success as they embrace action and failure as well as maintaining the proper mindset. Briefly stated, having the right attitude is the basis for all success and happiness, but achieving anything in life requires effort and having to deal with the occasional setback. When you think about it, is all very logical. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Positive thinking motivates. Negative thinking demoralizes. Work produces results. Quitting in the face of adversity produces just the opposite.
At any rate, your analogy of the old idea being served on a different platter is most certainly correct and there will no doubt be newer versions down the road wrapped in various packages such as religion, spirituality, or perhaps even atheism. My own opinion of The Secret is that it is brilliant! Brilliant in that someone had the intelligence and foresight to take an old idea, spruce it up and put a new label on it and market it for millions of dollars.