Saturday, September 8, 2007

Making the switch from Pessimist to Optimist & "The Secret"

Warning this post is a tad long

Recently I've decided to do a little informal research into this 'The Secret' phenomenon that's been slowly sweeping the self-help market for the past year or so.

I imagine it's a reincarnation of the The 7 Habit's of Highly Effective people by Stephen Covey that was all the rage almost a decade ago.

Or if you go a lot farther back than that - How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie which was one of the original books in the now booming 'self-help' genre.

The innovative difference about The Secret is that the authors/collaborators of this program recognized that a growing number of Americans simply don't read books anymore (I'm happy to say I'm not in that number) and instead marketed it as a DVD. And they also added dramatic music and cut-scenes to keep it interesting.

Here is a clip of the first 20 minutes:

And here's a clip of a SNL parody of the Secret & Oprah:

SNL parody about The Secret show on Oprah

As you can see, the idea behind 'The Secret' is that you can have whatever you want in life as long as you think about it long enough. It apparently also states that what comes into or goes out of your life is based on the Law of Attraction: what problems or benefits you have in your life - you have attracted into your life.

So of course you're asking - What does this have to do with personal finance Reggie?

In my case, it is becoming more and more evident to me that my tendency toward a negative attitude might be indirectly affecting my balance sheet.

I have been a pretty cynical and pessimistic individual until recently. To be honest I was down right depressed when I left Chicago. I think there is a possibility that all of the negative energy I've been throwing off (I hate my job, I hate my car, I hate where I live, I hate my new-found debt etc...) might be bringing negativity back to me full circle.

Two examples of how the karma is coming back to get me would be:

  • My failure to tithe when I originally paid off my credit card debt (I decided to save it for my trip out west) - and a few weeks later I pulled my credit and found a $1600 collection that I knew nothing about.
  • My failure to tithe (again) after tithing for 1 week (I decided I wanted to focus on paying off said collection) - and a few days later I find my car broken into and my stereo stolen. I'm charged a $250 deductible and my insurance rates may possibly increase for the long term.
I've also noticed that I wasn't really that upset about my car getting broke into because a) I was lucky enough to have insurance, b) the thieves didn't find where I place my CDs, c) The thieves didn't find where I hide my spare house keys in my car. That is until I started telling co-workers and friends about it.

People were saying things like that "That really sucks" & "That would burn me up" and "I know you're angry" and I went from feeling 'OK' about the situation to getting angry and deciding I needed to get upset at someone & blow off some steam.

Last night I spent my grocery money on wine and then some more on drinks at a nearby club. I also switched to my credit card mid-way through and added an extra $20 to the $250 on there from my deductible I paid earlier.

And today, I went over to my apartment complex office right when they were about to close and told them "I want safety lights put back in our building because they're out right now and my car got broke into the other night!"

The young lady told me she would have it handled and commented that she lived in the same building and realizes how dark it is outside.

I mumbled "thanks" and walked out with a scowl on my face. As I was walking out though I realized that I could have handled that in a much nicer fashion and not put that negative energy out again.

This brings me back to The Secret - I really think it might be beneficial to start thinking positive for at least a little while AND beginning to tithe regularly - whether it's donating to charity or my worship service or paying my parents back for old personal 'gifts' that they gave me over the last few years. The 'Law of Attraction' appears to be listed in the Bible:

Galatians 6:7-8 (King James Version)

"7-Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

8-For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."

It's also stated in the very first verse of the Dhammapada:

1. Choices

"We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you"

Bottom line, I believe I'll try and think on the positive side for a bit here, tithe and work towards my goals without being so cynical. The cynic in me wants to sit back and make fun of the Secret but the more negative I get, the worse results I tend to get. Also, I noticed in the trailer a physicist who is also featured in What the Bleep do we know- a great documentary about ...reality. It's time to be positive and do a little something positive for those around me too while I'm at it.

What do you think? Is the secret a bunch of hooey? Or Have you heard from people who have tried and benefited from it? let me know.


Moneymonk said...

Tithing is very important Reggie.

I rather God bless me with 90% of my income istead not blessing a 100% of my income.

The more you give, the more you receive. I am living proof.

Reggie, another kid with good credit said...

Thanks MoneyMonk. I am slowly learning - I'm in 'School of Hard Knocks" grad school now!