What if we could create and change our lives by the use of our thought?  Attain cars, success, and happiness with a few affirmations and the use of our imagination?  I’m sure this New Age philosophy sounds familiar.  Well, after reading The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes, I wasn’t convinced that this is all it took to attain the things you want in your life.  Though it sounds fun to view life as a “catalogue” where you can pick and choose what you want and trust the law of attraction to bring it to you, is that what happiness is really about?  In the book it says that this philosophy is the key to health, relationship, prosperity, and true happiness.  Sounds fun, exciting, and simple enough.  But as I really began to divulge the book and examine closely to what it was saying, it seemed to be very problematic.  There’s a chapter on money, wealth, relationships, etc.  The book tries to show the reader how to attain materialistic happiness, but is that what human happiness is all about?

In the spirit of my blog, I tried to dig a little deeper and came across Louise L. Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life.  I bought it off www.half.com nearly a week ago.  It only cost me a $1.00 with a few extra bucks for shipping and handling.  I opened the packaging and the book looked like it had been through a rough journey.  The edges were tattered and there were quite a number of price tag stickers on the front cover, each one getting cheaper as the dates became more recent.  The cover has a giant heart with the colors of the rainbow filling the inside. 

As I began to read, I couldn’t put down the book and I finished the 200 pager within a few hours.  It was actually funny because, I went to the gym and people read the title You Can Heal Your Life and responded in a variety of ways.  This one older white guy laughed and shook his head.  When I headed over to the bikes to keep reading, this older lady placed her hand on my shoulder and said “Hun, you okay?”   A little intrusive and humorous, but altogether it didn’t bother me.  I just kept reading.

The book opens up with discussing “What is the Problem?”  Louise Hayes believes that it is safe to look within ourselves.  When we focus on our exterior problems (my body doesn’t work, my relationships are dysfunctional, and my finances are low) they only seem to accumulate, grow and even lead to other problems.  Though The Secret says that we can simply close our eyes and imagine what we want in order to make it ours, if we don’t believe we deserve it then things won’t be blessed upon us.

Hayes says that the root of the problem is when people do not love themselves.  Not a narcissistic love, because that sort of vanity is rooted in fear, but she is talking about a deep respect for oneself.  A sense of confidence and pride in who we are and our place in the world.  An example she uses is being overweight.  I choose this example because being a female college student with many female friends, this is always seems to be a key concern.  Hayes says that we waste a lot of energy trying to correct this problem, but it really isn’t a big problem.  She says, “To spend our time berating ourselves for being too heavy, to feel guilty for every bite we eat, to do all the numbers we do on ourselves when we gain weight, are just wastes of time.  Twenty years later we can still be in the same situation and still not even begun to deal with the real problem” (27).  She suggests that instead of focusing on excess weights or diets, we go on a mental diet that helps us to eliminate our negative thoughts.  When we don’t love ourselves and are the constant subject of criticism, she says that this absence of love is what causes the excess weight to begin with.  She adds it’s amazing to see how quickly weight sheds off when we improve our self-esteem.

Not only does she go through individual problems that people consistently complain about, but she also helps the reader figure out where those problems are rooted in.  Examples include security, fear, resentment, and anger, which in turn affect our stability and comfort. 

We are constantly being told through society, parents, religion, and all other dominant institutions how we must behave and act.  Many of the time we buy into these beliefs like “Boys don’t cry” or “Don’t go out at night” or “Don’t trust strangers” or “Money doesn’t grow on trees”.  These messages instill insecurity and limit our thoughts of what possibility the world holds for us. When one believes these things they tend to become true and they in turn shape their lives.  Hayes goes over the steps of deciding to change, how to change, and building the new.  She guides you along the way with mental exercises that helps us to fight the resistance to change, let go of resentment and fear, and changing our consciousness.  Similar to The Secret, she does say that when we feel like we deserve good things, we don’t feel guilty asking for them, believing we are worthy of it, and accepting it willingly.  She also guides the reader with a number of affirmations that help people make the changes that they want to see in their lives.

Whether or not you believe in New Age philosophy, reading the book helped me identify many of the messages that I grew up hearing, and I was able to see how they have affected me in my life.  Everything comes from somewhere… whether it’s a bad temper or phenomenal sense of humor; we have learned it somewhere in our lives. 

We live in a society that teaches us that something is always wrong with us.  You have to look like this or act like that.  We are never taught to just be happy with who we are.  We are always expected to change parts of ourselves to fit into a preset mold.  Is that what the reaction of the people in the gym represents?  How about the fact the book was marked down to $1?  We are in fact taught that it isn’t safe to look within ourselves and all the bad that comes our way is what we deserve.  When we do get in touch with what the key problems are they usually are something we are able to change.  We can turn our lives around and make things better for us.  Read the book; Peace be with you.