A few months ago, before it became a NYT Bestselling book and appeared on Oprah (twice), my mother-in-law lent us a videotape of The Secret.
My husband and I sat down to watch it and at first, I was nodding my head. It made sense that strong, positive thinking is instrumental in accomplishing your goals. That's what I did when I was trying to sell my first book, and continue to do with each and every book that I write and then promote. But as the movie progressed I started thinking, wait a minute...
There were two scenarios in which characters, based on real-life siutuations, used The Secret to change their lives. The first was a guy who was bullied by the local ruffians in his neighborhood and was struggling to get his stand-up comedy career off the ground. But then he changed his thinking and viola, the bullies slunk off and he was a hit at the same comedy club that booed him off-stage.
The second scenario was a young woman who was walking down the street and saw a dazzling necklace in the jewlery store window. She pined for it. But she could never afford it. So she used The Secret to change her thinking and viola, her boyfriend gave it to her.
That's when I turned off the tape.
This is 2007 and I was appalled that this best-selling phenomenon is whispering a subtle message of passivity. The Secret showed the guy take action in changing his life. But the heroine? Oh she just closed her eyes, tapped her heels together and whispered, "There's no place like home" until Prince Charming delivered love, security, and happiness in the form of a necklace.
As a writer of romantic comedy, I always roll my eyes when I hear literary critics tear down romance and chick lit as anti-woman when in truth, romance and chick lit portray women who actively pursue their goals. They don't wait around for some guy to give them what they want; they demand it and if he doesn't rise to the occasion (hee hee, get it?), she walks.
So I have an alternative to The Secret. Suze Orman just released a new book, Women and Money and after watching her PBS special, I felt inspired, hopeful and even more, empowered. Her message to women to create security for themselves is the kind of message I want my neice and all the young ladies in my life to hear as they grow up into young women.
But before I end this, I'll admit that my husband has given me some fabulous jewelry that I cherish. But there's no way to describe the pride of walking out of store with a piece that I bought myself with money I earned from selling my second book, thankyouverymuch.
Stay strong ladies!
Photo: Las soldaderas during the Mexican Revolution