Muriel Cooper
Psychologist in Mornington

Happiness and success


'The Secret' by Rhonda ByrneI have a five dollar note in a frame and clients often ask about it.

They also often ask about whether it is possibe to attract success to themselves as set out in 'The Secret', very popular some years ago.

Are the essentials of 'The Secret' correct? - they ask.  Do I believe in them?

The answer is YES.  I believe the basic principles outlined in 'The Secret' will work, but I believe the principles are what are important, not the essentials.

Essentials are reductionist, appealing to that part of us that wants everything – and we want it NOW – preferably brought about by some higher power so that we don’t have to work at it.  It’s not the road less travelled it’s the superficial road and the easy road.  Nice work if you can get it, but even those who believe in the power of prayer realise how important their part is in bringing about miracles.  Do I believe in miracles?  Yes, I believe we can make things happen – it’s just how  that’s the question. For example, here's how I got the $5 note.

Let me tell you a personal story about the $5 note.

I once had a beach house here in Victoria, Australia in Sorrento.  My daughter and a couple of friends where walking along the beach where there was an ice cream vendor.  My daughter wanted two ice creams, one for her and one for her friend.  Together they would have cost $5.  “I don’t have any money”, I said, looking at my friend.  “Sorry, I don’t have any money either, she replied”.  

I started talking to my daughter about quantum physics.  How some people thought all matter was light, but in a different form, that beams of light broke into waves and at that moment they became material – matter.  She was only 10 or 11 at the time, so I said, “why don’t we imagine a five dollar note coming down on a beam on light and coming in on a wave?”  She laughed and said she would.

As we walked along the beach she looked, and looked.  I visualized it too, in my own way, as did our friends.  

We got to the ice cream vendor and no five dollar note had appeared.  “Don’t give up” I said.  “I won’t” she replied, looking a little forlorn.

Just a little way up the beach my daughter was pointing at the water excitedly.  “Look mum”, she said, “Look, look!”

There coming on a pristine blue-green wave was a $5 note. This is absolutely true.

I said laughing, “There, now you can have your ice cream”.  "No way mum” she said, “I’m keeping this forever”.  

We still have the $5 note in a frame, to remind us that everything is possible, and never to give up believing in that principle.

So how did that $5 turn up on a wave at just the right moment?

Was it the ‘universe’, an example of Quantum or particle physics at work, or something else?

For more on this subject see “The Tao of Physics” by Fritjoff Capra and “The Dancing Wu Li Masters” by Gary Zukof.

One of the great founders of psychology, Carl Jung, created a theory for this.  He called it ‘synchronicity’.  A synchronicity is a ‘meaningful coincidence’.

It was a principle Jung felt encompassed his concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious , in that it was descriptive of a governing dynamic that underlay the whole of human experience and history — social, emotional, psychological, and spiritual.

Jung believed that many experiences perceived as coincidence were due not merely to chance, but instead, suggested the manifestation of parallel events or circumstances reflecting this governing dynamic.

One of Jung's favorite quotes on Synchronicity was from Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll, in which the White Queen says to Alice: "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards".’  (Source Wikipedia)

I have often contemplated that there are possible forces at play in the ‘universe’ that can, by sheer force of a person’s will, change events in their past, present or future. 

I believe this begins in the mind or brain of the person), so that they ‘grow into’ their destiny with ease, guided by the vast capacity of their unconscious mind which ‘nudges’ them into ways of thinking and acting that change the course of their destiny.

So, I say yes, ‘The Secret’ can work but I would like to add something very important.

‘The Secret’ is simply psychology.  It the kind of thing I work on with people every day.  Let me give you an example.

The Secret says that you are a magnet, attracting from the "Universe” (whatever that is – we have only theories and some fact presently), whatever we put out.

If we put out negativity – we get back negativity.  It talks about positive thinking.

I absolutely believe that to be true and I work with this every day.  It is true that:

‘Every negative feeling starts with a negative thought’.

What is even more self-defeating is ‘thought stacking’ or piling one negative thought up on another. 

This can result in you being so negative that no one will want to be around you.  Emotions, as the proponent of Emotional Intelligence Daniel Goldman says, are ‘catching’ (read his books ‘Emotional Intelligence' and ‘Social Intelligence’).

I have set many of my clients a challenge.  

For one week, think attractive.

Dress attractive, make the most of your appearance, think attractive thoughts, and project the feeling towards others that you are an attractive person.  Affirm to yourself “I am an attractive person that people really like to know”.  Do this constantly.

If they take the challenge seriously and do as I suggest, they invariably come back the next week saying words to the effect “I really felt different”, “People behaved differently towards me”, “For a while I knew what it would feel like to be popular, for people to like me”.  We then work on reinforcing those thoughts and behaviours through many means, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, cognitive behaviour therapy – these are all proven psychologically methods that really work.

What they have been doing is being positive about themselves.  They have come to like themselves - and those feelings are catching.

I strongly believe that this is the law of attraction as set out in ‘The Secret’, at work on an inner level.  It’s not so much what the universe provides but what you provide for yourself through your own efforts by changing your own thinking (with a little help from your friends and ‘the universe’, or causality, or God, or whatever holds meaning for you).

Is it a road worth travelling? – As a psychologist and a seeker I say - absolutely.  

But take care.  Don’t abandon the idea of seeking help for your depression or anxiety from a Mental Health Professional because you have read a book or seen a DVD.  Studies show that long lasting change occurs in only 10% of people who read a self-help book or watch a DVD.  

Long lasting change can often only be accomplished by a trained professional who can differentiate between genuine enlightenment and mental or emotional unwellness.  

If symptoms persist – see your psychologist.