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Book review of Rhonda Byrne's best-selling self-help book The Secret

Rhonda Byrne's best-selling self-help book has sold more than 19 million copies worldwide and topped the New York Times' bestseller list for 146 consecutive weeks. The central idea is based on the 'law of attraction': positive thoughts attract positive outcomes. Essentially, Byrne argues that you can think yourself happy, healthy and wealthy. Acknowledging that many readers will share scepticism at its bold claims, The Secret goes to great lengths to substantiate its theories. Byrne lists the most famous of history's great thinkers as followers of this centuries-old secret; Plato, Galileo and Einstein purportedly understood the force of the mind as the world's determining influence. 

The book's suggestion is that these iconic innovators not only understood the secret but also used it to inform and enable their creativity; unshackled by the burden of fear and self-imposed limitations, they could achieve greatness.As a concept, the law of attraction is nothing new. In fact, The Secret is based on a 2006 film, itself informed by the New Thought movement which was first formed in the 18th century. 

The film shows interviews with various experts, scholars and authors in such diverse fields as quantum physics, psychology and philosophy. Indeed, it seems that a significant part of The Secret franchise is its attempt to build an impression of knowledge, which is sustained by frequent references to the authoritative and the elite.This does somewhat distract the reader from the book's core message, which is otherwise appealing and intriguing. The power of positive thought is generally accepted as a valid tool in therapy as well as self-discovery. The law of attraction seeks to reveal the power within each of us to take ownership of our life experiences through our thoughts. 

Dwelling on an unpleasant memory or foretelling failure focuses on unhappiness, thus creating more unhappiness; whereas it is far better to envisage owning that new car or achieving that career goal. Perhaps it's embedded in a little too much faux theory but The Secret has an encouraging message and will make you mindful of monitoring your thoughts and maximising your potential.

Review by Keri Wilson

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