It may have started out under wraps, but the message of Rhonda Byrne's book, "The Secret" is one that millions now subscribe to: The "law of attraction," as it's called, is the idea that our thoughts have the power to change our reality. Good thoughts—hope, trust, faith, optimism—can bring happiness and wealth, while bad thoughts—pessimism, fear, anger—can be roadblocks to success. First published in 2006 and selected as an Oprah's Book Club pick, "The Secret" became an internationally bestselling phenomenon. She has followed with two more books--"The Power" and "The Magic"--focusing on specific elements of the "law," and is currently at work on a fourth book which promises to send readers on the most "rewarding journey that any human being can undertake." Byrne told Bookish which books and authors have influenced her philosophy and revealed what she has to say to her critics.
Bookish: Which books and authors most inspired you or were on your mind as you were developing the philosophy behind "The Secret" and "The Power," and why?
Rhonda Byrne: For "The Secret," the book that took my beliefs about life and turned them upside down was Wallace Wattles' "The Science of Getting Rich." This book stands amongst my top five books of all time because it completely changed the way I saw life.
My second book, "The Power," was inspired by my continuing search for more truths, and many authors inspired me in that journey. One in particular was Louis Claude de Saint Martin, who was a mystic who lived in the 1700s. A mystic is someone who uses the path of the heart rather than the path of the mind in their quest for the truth about life. There are only remnants of Saint Martin's work left today, but I devoured every word that he wrote. The compiled letters of correspondence between Louis Claude de Saint-Martin and Kirchberger are amongst my favorites.
Bookish: Describe the moment in your life that made you believe in the law of attraction.
RB: The moment I read "The Science of Getting Rich" was the moment I knew there was a cosmic law that governed and responded to our thoughts. Because everything that had happened in my life was the living testament of that, I believed and knew it immediately. The next book I read after Wallace Wattles' was Charles Haanel's book "The Master Key System," and in reading that book, I knew that the cosmic law was called the law of attraction.
Bookish: What advice would you give to people who have a hard time believing in the law of attraction but want to?
RB: Our thoughts seem so insignificant but, in truth, they have created and continue to create our world and our individual lives. Other than nature, try and find a single thing that has not been created by thought. The way we feel about other people and interact with other people comes from our own thoughts. We can't speak without thought. Any action we take, even to lift our arm or to stand up, comes from thought. Cars, planes, railways, buildings, cities, ships, technology, music, art and all things created by human beings not only began with thought but were created and materialized through thought. We accomplish our work through thought, and live every moment of our day through our thoughts. If you really examine everything in the world, you will realize that it was thought that caused it and created it. And so then ask yourself, if human beings have built everything there is from thought, how can I say that thought is not powerful? What distinguishes the people who are living the life of their dreams and those who are not? The ones who are living the life of their dreams thought they could do it, and those who are not, didn't think they could do it.
Bookish: In your books you suggest that financial success is one of the ways in which the universe "blesses" people who practice the law of attraction. Do you think all financially successful people have tapped into the goodwill of the universe? Why or why not?
RB: When a person can turn their thinking around so that they deliberately think more and more positively, rather than negatively, by the law of attraction their lives will also turn around. It will seem as if they're blessed, as if the Universe has got their back and is pouring financial success all over them, but the truth is that their lives changed because they changed the way they were thinking. The greatest achievers of our day are optimists, and they could never have achieved what they did or become financially successful from the place of pessimism.
Bookish: What new insights compelled you to write "The Power," and what do you think it offers that other ways of thinking do not?
RB: The book "The Power" is how I use the law of attraction in my life. It's just so darn simple to think about what you love, rather than what you don't love and don't want. But more than that, there's no greater power that we possess to change our life than that of love. Love is a positive power—there's not a trace of negativity in it—and when we can understand what love really means and use its immense power in every part of our life, we can move from where we are now to a fantastic life—in a flash!
Bookish: What's on deck for your next book? What's on your mind as you plan or write it, and what are you hoping it will deliver to readers that you haven't already given them?
RB: I am currently working on my next book, and my huge desire and intention is that it will become one of the most inspirational books ever written. It's a story about the most exciting, adventurous, and ultimately rewarding journey that any human being can undertake—a journey that is available for every one of us to take right now.
Bookish: It's Oscar season, and Hollywood is seeking help from all the powers it can summon right now—how would you recommend Jessica Chastain, Hugh Jackman or any other nominee use the principles from your books to nab an Academy Award™?
RB: If an Oscar nominee were to use the law of attraction to win an Oscar then they would have had to have held a sincere dream and an immense desire within themselves to one day win an Oscar. From that immense desire they would attract the perfect roles to realize their dream. I remember reading that Steven Spielberg wrote his acceptance speech for an Oscar at the age of 12. That is using the law of attraction to win an Oscar!
Rhonda Byrne’s intention is to bring joy to billions. She began her journey with "The Secret" film, viewed by millions around the world. She followed with "The Secret" book, a global bestseller, available in over 50 languages and with over 20 million copies in print. "The Secret" has been a fixture on the New York Times bestseller list for a total of 198 weeks, and has been named by USA Today as one of the top 20 bestselling books in the past 15 years.