Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Real Secret

'why yes I love him, but keep it secret!'Image by TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via Flickr

I admit that, while I own a copy, I have not yet read the book The Secret. I do know that, because of several mentions on the Oprah Winfrey Show, which I also missed, the book has soared to the top of the bestsellers list and become very popular. A quick trip to Wikipedia explains that The Secret discusses how focused positive thinking, a.k.a. the Law of Attraction, can bring increased wealth, health and happiness.

Which is all well and good, but here is my problem. Some wonderful people I know think that subscribing to the "Law of Atttraction" means never thinking or speaking out loud anything that could be construed by the Universe as negative. Suddenly thinking and talking to them about all the possible outcomes for a given situation, and in particular the undesirable (i.e. "bad") ones, makes me a prophet of doom.

For example, let's say I tell you, "Hey you probably should get that car indicator light checked out because if your car breaks down you are not going to be able to get to work." Makes sense, right? Yet somehow in the eyes of the "positive thinking" crowd, I am suddenly setting in motion the reality that the recipient of my advice is going to have their car break down.

I mean really? I am that powerful that I can cause a car to break down just because those words slipped past my lips? You are going to have to explain to me how expressing my concern for your car's well being is going to make it break down.

Here is the reality: just because you don't want to consider all the possible outcomes of a situation doesn't mean that an undesirable outcome will not happen. I know. Lots of undesirable things have happened to me so far during my lifetime and all the positive thinking in the world didn't prevent these things from happening to me.

Yes, I got through a lot of those undesirable times. I even learned some lessons from those times that, though painful, left me wiser, smarter and more equipped to cope with life. However, when I tried to "just be positive" at the insistence of my family during my cancer treatment, this one dimensional approach lead to a depressive episode four years later. That incident taught me a valuable lesson: to just feel my feelings when they appear instead of stuffing the painful and uncomfortable ones down and pretending the rough and troublesome ones aren't there.

The real secret to life is a lesson I learned as a girl when I participated in Girl Scouts: Be Prepared. As Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of scouting said:

The motto of the Girl Guides is "Be Prepared". Why is this? It is because, like the other Guides, you have to be prepared at any moment to face difficulties and even dangers by knowing what to do and how to do it.

In my humble opinion, you can't be prepared to deal with what life throws your way if you aren't willing to look at all the possible outcomes of any given situation. You can't be prepared if you only allow yourself to think and feel the "good" and ignore or deny the "bad." You can't be prepared if you aren't willing to take responsibility and take care of the things you can change.

Too bad there aren't Guides or Scouts groups for us mature girls to join that would offer us the opportunity to earn badges for learning how to be prepared for all the difficulties and dangers that adult life presents.

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