Discovering The Secret
Rhonda says she stumbled on what she calls The Secret at the end of 2004. At the time, everything in Rhonda's life had fallen apart—physically, emotionally and financially—and she was in "total despair." Then her father died suddenly, and she was worried about her grief-stricken mother. "I wept and wept and wept, and I didn't want my daughter to see me sobbing," Rhonda says.
That's when Rhonda's daughter gave her a copy of The Science of Getting Rich, a book written in 1910 by Wallace D. Wattles. "Something inside of me had me turn the pages one by one, and I can still remember my tears hitting the pages as I was reading it," Rhonda says. "It gave me a glimpse of The Secret. It was like a flame inside of my heart. And with every day since, it's just become a raging fire of wanting to share all of this with the world."
Rhonda defines The Secret as the law of attraction, which is the principle that "like attracts like." Rhonda calls it "the most powerful law in the universe," and says it is working all the time. "What we do is we attract into our lives the things we want, and that is based on what we're thinking and feeling," Rhonda says. The principle explains that we create our own circumstances by the choices we make in life. And the choices we make are fueled by our thoughts—which means our thoughts are the most powerful things we have here on earth.
The Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith says he was a drug dealer in college—until he was arrested in a deal gone bad. Michael says he had a spiritual awakening during his trial and decided to turn his life around. Today he leads the Agape Spiritual Center in Los Angeles, where he teaches thousands of faithful followers the path to reaching their highest potential.
James Arthur Ray was insecure and awkward as a teenager until weight lifting helped the self-described geek gain confidence in his 20s. He says that surviving a near-fatal motorcycle crash and almost going bankrupt forced him to focus on the life he truly wanted. Now he runs a multimillion-dollar corporation dedicated to teaching people how to create wealth in all areas of their lives.
Lisa Nichols grew up on the tough streets of South Central Los Angeles. She admits that as a self-conscious teenager, she often used sex to feel loved by men. After hitting rock bottom at age 19, Lisa prayed for a better life. Now, she has made her fortune by motivating more than 60,000 teenagers to make better choices in their own lives.
Chicken Soup for the Soul creator Jack Canfield was deep in debt before he made it big. Now his best-selling books have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, and Jack travels the country teaching the secret of his success.
Jack says everything you focus on can have an effect on your life—from books to magazines to thoughts. "All of that affects how we feel, and the feelings actually send out a wave into the universe, and anything that's vibrating in a similar level gets attracted into our life," Jack says.
"Most people focus on how it is. We talk about our current reality—'I'm in debt. I'm overweight. I'm not happy. I'm sad. The world's not working. We're at war,' whatever. And the more you think about that and focus on that and talk about it, the more you attract that [negativity]," he says.
James says that in order to attract the things you want into your life—to place the right order—you have to do what he calls going "three for three." "Your thoughts, your feelings and your actions all have to be firing simultaneously in the same direction," he says. Visualizing your future life can help to hone your thoughts and feelings toward the things you want.
The panel says the thoughts and the feelings are often easy for people to grasp, but you still have to do something about them. "A lot of people watch The Secret and they say, 'Well, I'm sitting around visualizing my millions coming into my lap.' Well, they'll come take your furniture away. And then how are you going to visualize [when you're living] on the curb?" James says. "You've got to act on it. Make decisions on where you're going versus where you have been."
Jack and James say that this means there is no such thing as a coincidence. "Everything happens by principles and laws in our universe. And so consequently, we have an absolutely unlimited power within us," James says.
Michael says that thoughts—which turn into experience, speech and behavior—become the "feeling tone of your life." "An individual can actually begin to generate a certain feeling of gratitude, of love, of peace and of harmony, and the universe will begin to match that feeling tone—and what will flow into your life will match the feeling that you're holding," he says. "It means that everyone…can release themselves from being a victim and begin to take control of their life's destiny."
"If you think about it, the universe has a conveyor belt of presents lined up for you, and until you receive the one and fully are grateful for it, the next one can't come out of the chute. It's all lined up," Jack says.
Lisa says this perspective applies to weight, family, friends and other aspects of life. She says too many people who want to make things better focus on what's wrong with the present. "Instead of wanting to change it, appreciate what's there," Lisa says. "Find the things about it that work … and by doing that, you create a space for it to get better."
For example, Lisa says she would like to lose some weight. But instead of focusing on the negative—that she hasn't dropped the pounds yet—she loves and appreciates the present moment. "I accept it. I love it. I embrace every inch, every pound," she says. In this way, Lisa is creating the space to "celebrate the now" and then invite better things into her life.
Michael says that spiritual growth does not mean religion but our "real identity." "The love, the peace, the joy, the wisdom, the harmony—these are all qualities of the spirit that it's seeking to express through us," Michael says. "And so as we become more awake, more aware of that, our life is filled with that kind of vibration, that kind of feeling tone. To grow spiritually is to actually become more aware of who you really are."
Ryan says her financial woes started back in college when she took out loans. After college, Ryan got a job, got pregnant and got married. To cope with the new bills, the couple opened more credit cards, and Ryan helped put her husband through school. Then the unthinkable happened: She and her husband got divorced—and Ryan's debt worsened. "I went from living on two incomes to living on one income, but I kept the same bills," Ryan says.
To support herself and her daughter, Ryan works long hours at a high-end clothing store. After her daughter goes to bed, Ryan works at her second job, a home-based Internet business. "It could be huge, but I can't spend the amount of time on it that I need to to make it successful," she says.
Now, Ryan sees every day as a struggle and won't even go to the mailbox because she knows there are bills waiting for her. "I'm sick and tired of being a victim," Ryan says. "How do I get out of this endless cycle of debt?"
Simply changing her language can also start to make a dent in her debt. When asked how she is, Lisa says she shouldn't respond with phrases like "I'm surviving." "That's not the kind of life you want to live," Lisa says. "When people ask me how I'm doing, [I say], 'I'm phenomenal. I'm great'. Even in the midst of all—I'm great," she says. "I'm great because I made it through."
James, especially, can relate to Ryan's troubles, having been on the edge of bankruptcy twice himself. He urges Ryan to take an "action step" toward her dreams. For Ryan, that's starting a debt retirement program to pay a certain amount of money toward her credit automatically so she can focus every bit of energy on financial freedom.
Still, the most important stride toward a debt-free life, Michael says, is forgiving her ex-husband and to stop feeling like he owes her something. "Let him know in consciousness, in your awareness, that he cannot determine your destiny. You're not leaving him unaccountable, but you're severing those emotional vibratory tonalities so that you can be free."
But how can you forgive when something truly tragic or terrible happens? James says you should grieve, but eventually you need to look for a hidden gift. "Here's what I encourage people to ask themselves: How does this serve me? … If you're really willing to dig, there's a lesson in there," James says. "And secondly, what can I learn from this situation?"
Even if you can't identify the gift now, Rhonda says to remain positive in order to benefit from of the law of attraction. "You can say, 'There are so many gifts in this for me. I can't wait to see what they are,'" Rhonda says.
In chronic situations with no end in sight, Michael says you should ask yourself another important question: "If this were to last forever, what quality would I have to grow to have peace of mind? Now, as my attention goes to the quality I have to grow, that quality starts to emerge," Michael says. "The issue that I'm resisting and fighting against becomes less and less intense … it begins to dissolve because it doesn't have your attention any longer."
In fifth grade, Lisa was in the first class to be bused to the Valley—a predominantly white neighborhood—where she thought she would be welcomed. Instead, she was met with name-calling. "My self-esteem went way down," she says.
Although she eventually became a popular student, Lisa struggled with depression. "At 17, when my best friends were thinking what college to go to, UCLA or USC, I was contemplating suicide and trying to figure out how to do it without getting blood on my mother's carpet because I knew they couldn't afford to move," she says.
Growing up, Lisa was also told that she wasn't pretty and wouldn't find love. She began having "a lot of sex looking for a little love," searching for her own validation in men. "The sex led to a lot of pain. I thought if I was saying no to the sex, I was saying no to potential love. And I didn't want to say no to love."
Lisa began to gain weight in order to avoid men altogether. After gaining 100 pounds, Lisa says she was obese and embarrassed.
Lisa decided to stop being a victim. She stopped looking for love elsewhere and fell "madly in love" with herself. Now, she teaches people how to treat her. "I'm the first example of how the world is supposed to love me and I have to give them the best example ever," she says. "We expect someone to show us our greatness when [instead] I'm supposed to show up understanding my greatness and allowing you to celebrate it with me."
Then, Beverly watched The Secret. "For the record, I've seen it 62 times. But the first time is when that lightbulb went off," she says. Beverly realized she was part of the problem. She stopped complaining and began to focus on her gratitude for Carlton. "I started telling myself, 'I am beautiful. I do deserve passion. I am in a passion-filled marriage.'"
Things changed immediately after Carlton also watched the DVD. Soon, he started making romantic gestures, like taking Beverly out for lunch dates and calling her during the day. She began doing little things for him, too—leaving him a rose in his car and surprising him with his favorite cookies.
Michael says Carlton and Beverly are an example of how gratitude brings about change. "My marriage now is wonderful," Carlton says. "I feel the passion. I'm loving it."
The first step, James says, is to be grateful for her health and choose to stay healthy and whole. "I want you to start every single day … saying, 'Thank you for the health I have.' Say, 'I love my legs because they're working functionally,'" James says. "Concentrate on your health and wholeness every day, and you'll attract more health and wholeness every day."
Lisa says Launell also has to believe she has the right to have the body she wants. "Make a decision. Do you have the right? Are you ready for it? Are you ready to look in the mirror and love every inch?" Lisa says. "Make 2007 about showing up in the now for you," Lisa says.
Repeating after Lisa, Launell declares, "I choose today to give myself the best life ever!"
Michael says to start making a conscious effort every day to take actions that will sync with the energy of the life you dream about. "When you're talking about action, you're talking about walking in the direction you want," Michael says.
But not just any action will do, James says. It has to be one that comes from the heart and will provide a real service. "It's not, 'If you build it, they will come,' necessarily. It's, 'If you build it and it provides value, they will come,'" he says. "It's that heart space. Not 'What can I get?' but 'What can I give and how can I serve?' And when you're in that moment, the universe lines up behind you and it's at your command."