By now most of you have probably heard about, seen, or read The Secret, right? It has been all over the place. In addition to many people, like me, writing about it, emailing people about it, and talking about it for the past year since it was released, it has now become a “phenomenon.” Featured on Oprah twice, Larry King Live three times, Ellen, the Today Show, CBS This Morning, on the cover of Newsweek, and many others, The Secret is being talked about and shared all over the world. This is very exciting on so many levels.
For those of you who are not familiar with The Secret, it is a documentary film and a book with information from many speakers, teachers, authors, and philosophers all about the universal Law of Attraction. Simply put, the law of attraction states that “like attracts like.” And, in this case, it has to do with our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Essentially, The Secret asserts that what we think about, focus on, feel, and believe will manifest everything into our lives – good and bad. I agree with this completely and have seen it work this way throughout my life. My wife Michelle and I have been practicing the law of attraction – through the teachings of Abraham-Hicks, Lynn Grabhorn, and others – for the past 5 years. We have seen incredible things happen in our lives and in the lives of so many around us…again, both “positive” and “negative.”
All of this being said, there is some controversy surfacing about The Secret and a few concerns I personally have with both the movie itself and the resulting controversy. The critiques of The Secret I’ve heard are 1) It focuses too much on material things (money, cars, houses, etc.) and is therefore simply part of American middle-to-upper class greed. 2) There is not enough focus on action, it seems like people are being encouraged to just sit on the couch, think about what they want, and that these things will magically appear. 3) The notion that only “positive feelings” are important seems to be short sighted, unhealthy, and unrealistic. We are all human and we have the total range of emotions – light and dark – and if we try to deny the dark ones we can create more harm than good. 4) The creators of The Secret have just re-packaged age-old wisdom and are now benefiting from lots of “suckers.” 5) This is all new-age, woo-woo, BS. 6) It is insensitive and harmful to teach people that they attract everything into their lives…even the bad stuff. 7) It is not true that people can have anything and everything they want, the world does not work that way.
The list of critiques goes on, but these are the main ones I continue to hear. While I love The Secret, agree with the principles of the law of attraction, and think this movie and book are doing an enormous amount of good in the world, I think some of these critiques are valid and require us to take a deeper look not only at this movie, but at the law of attraction itself and the way we interpret it.
First of all, it is important to remember that The Secret is not the TRUTH. It, like so many other wonderful things in life, is just one interpretation of how things work and how we can be empowered in our lives. As one of the people on Larry King Live said the other night about it, if it works for you, great, use it. If not, don’t. I agree with this. We have a tendency to think in a black and white way with stuff like this. It either has to be all “true” or all “false.” Well, as we know and if we are honest, life is much more complex than that, especially as it relates to things like this. There is truth in The Secret and it is valuable, in my opinion. However, it is not the TRUTH or the ANSWER…just an approach that gives many people access to power in a new way. If you don’t agree with it or believe it, that is fine, you don’t have to. I also think it is important to remember that we are so complex as human beings that no matter how aware, educated, or evolved we are, we will never come close to understanding how life works and the mysteries of the universe. People have been thinking, talking, feeling, writing, reading, teaching, learning, and asking these questions for generations. We will continue to do this until the end of time and this is an essential aspect of being alive.
I do believe that we create 100% of our reality and that we attract everything to us…even the bad stuff, even the baby who dies after a week of life, even the people who were in the World Trade Center on 9/11. I think it is a choice at some deep, unconscious level. I am nervous to say this because I think it may be insensitive or untrue. At some selfish level, I don’t want to admit this for fear of people thinking I am insensitive. I cannot “prove” it, it just resonates with me and if I do believe that I create my own reality and manifest things into my life (which I do), I can’t imagine that it works sometimes and not others. And, I think that we will never fully understand how and why the things that happen in life happen. The best we can do is to understand them more deeply and become more conscious about them all the time. As is discussed in The Secret, most of the time we are manifesting unconsciously.
The Secret is something that allows us to engage in this discovery. I think the problem with The Secret is that people are focusing too much on it as an entity and phenomenon, and not enough on what it is teaching us. It is something that is taking new age, meta-physical concepts and putting them into a mainstream culture that may not know what to do with them. The law of attraction is not a quick sound bite or even a shallow “concept,” it is a deep understanding and awareness of how reality is created. We all have different understandings and interpretations of this. And, this dialogue and inquiry address the root of many of our core values and beliefs about how life works, why we are here, and our role in the Universe. For many people, myself included, who agree with and resonate with the teachings of The Secret, it is important that we not either use it as some kind of evolutionary ego trip (i.e. thinking that we are better than other people because of it) and also not assume that we can just “think good thoughts” and that everything will turn out in our lives. This is both damaging and incredible shallow.
I think it is awesome that The Secret is out there and that people are both benefiting from it and getting activated by it. I recommend that you check it out and see for yourself what you think. https://www.thesecret.tv
Ah…to be human, arrogant, confused, powerful, critical, and wanting to make sense of it all. I love it. Check out The Secret and see if it helps you and your life. If so, watch it or read it often and share it with others. If not, forget about it.
With Love and Truth,
For the past two months I have had a hard time posting to this blog. As per some of my previous messages, the death of my dear friend Richard Carlson has been heavy on my heart and dominant in my mind…especially when I think about writing anything. After my posts, emails, and newsletter about him, his life, and his death most of what I have thought to write or post here has seemed irrelevant or insignificant. Not that appreciation and gratitude are not important…they are, and Richard constantly told me to be even more BOLD with my expressions of appreciation and with my work. One of the last times we got together, when he was giving me feedback about my manuscript as I was in the final editing process for my book, he said to me, “Mike, you have to be even more passionate and clear about how essential appreciation is to the quality of one’s life. It is not just some nice thing you do once in a while or when you feel like saying ‘thank you,’ it is a way of life and one of the most important aspects of happiness and fulfillment. People have to realize this!”
That being said, in light of Richard’s tragic death, I have found it difficult to write much of anything that seems to have value or importance. With that in mind, I decided to sit down late tonight and write what was on my mind and in my heart about death. Death seems to be both tragic and magic at the same time. There is the tragedy of the loss, the finality of it, the sadness, grief, and loneliness that come along with the passing of a life. When someone dies who is young, vibrant, and so full of life, like Richard, it seems that much more tragic and perplexing. Why would God take someone who seems to have so much to live for, so much left to give, and so many people who love them and count on them?
And, simultaneously there is so much magic in death…even with its sadness and confusion. Our hearts open up, we remember what is truly important, we momuntarily let go of most of the bull shit that we allow to run our lives, we get in touch with the deepest parts of our soul and spirit, and we are reminded of all there is to be grateful for in life. Death reminds us of the gift of life. Richard’s death has been one of the most tragic and at the same time most magical experiences of my life. And, I have learned so much about him, about me, and about life these past three months. I would give back all of these lessons and all of this magic for him to be here on earth with us right now…and, I know somewhere deep down in my soul that there is a reason for everything that happens, there are no accidents, and that Richard’s time on earth was done and he chose to go home. Well, at least I want to believe that.
What I do know for sure is this…If each of us lived our lives on a daily basis a little more aware of our own death and the deaths of those around us…we would all live very differently.
There is so much magic, even in the midst of the tragedy that is death.
I am grateful to be alive. I miss Richard.
With Love and Gratitude,
P.S. The memorial website for Richard continues to be updated…it is beautiful https://www.richardcarlson.com
Hello! It has been another month or so since my last blog post. I am not exactly sure why it has been challenging for me to write and post recently. It is not that I have a lack of thoughts on my mind. I think in light of Richard’s death and my posts about that…not much seemed to fit into the category of “important” enough to post. Now I am ready to start sharing thoughts, ideas, tips, suggestions, struggles, inspiration, and more – each week (or more ofter).
In the spirit of my last post about speaking my truth, I am going to talk about the “taboo” subject of politics. Two weeks ago Michelle, Samantha, and I went to Washington DC. While we were there we stopped by to drop off a letter of support for Senator Barack Obama…to let him know we believe in him, we are with him, and we are excited to volunteer for his Presidential campaign. To our amazement, we ended up running into him in the elevator of the Hart Senate building going up to his office. We had a wonderful conversation with him and were able to take the photo above with him in his office. It was an extraordinary moment for Michelle, Samantha, and me…one we will not soon forget.
Michelle and I were fortunate enough to be at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004 (working for Dennis Kucinich’s Presidential campaign). We were at the convention the night that Barack Obama gave his remarkable speech and introduced himself to the country in a most inspirational way. We were moved to tears that night and began to wonder with excitement and anticipation when he would run for President. Like most people, we figured it would be at least 8 or 12 years before he would be able to make a “legitimate” run for the White House. But, given the nature of things in our country and our world, and his incredible appeal and popularity, he has decided to seize the moment and step forward now. I applaud him for his courage and am so inspired by his vision, passion, and authenticity.
As you may know (or at least imagine from reading the previous few paragraphs) I am a proud LIBERAL Democrat and always have been. I say this from a place of pride and also as a way to honestly share my political perspective. I don’t share this in a self-righteous, closed-minded way. However, over the years I have become increasingly concerned about the lack of communication, honesty, and acceptance across the political spectrum. It seems to me that things in our country have become intensely divided and polarized. As a Democrat, I am excited to see someone like Barack Obama come along – an exciting candidate who seems to be able to genuinely connect with people and who also seems to understand the complexity of the issues. As an American and a citizen of the world, I am deeply moved that Barack Obama is the first politician in my lifetime who honestly looks like he can inspire, lead, and unify our country. Given the seriousness of what is going on in our world, we need a new kind of leadership, a new perspective, a new approach, and a new kind of leader. While I agree with his politics, my passion, excitement, and support of Barack Obama feel to me like they have less to do with his political views and more to do with his vision and message of HOPE and UNITY.
Without being naive, I believe it is possible for us to disagree with love, respect, and appreciation for one another. I am excited about our society moving in a direction toward peace and unity. I believe it will start within our own hearts, our own families, our communities, our schools, our politics, and then throughout the world.
If you want to be truly inspired, pick up a copy of Barack Obama’s new book, The Audacity of Hope. It is a beautiful vision of what things could be like in our country and our world.
As Martin Luther said, “Everything that is done in this world is done by hope.”
With Hope and Excitement,
Hey there. Happy New Year! It has been almost a month since I last posted to my blog. My intention is to post something each week. However, this past month I have been a little stopped in this area. It has nothing to do with me not having anything to say or write. As you probably know, I am rarely at a loss for words, ideas, or expression.
It has been hard for me to find something that I felt was “appropriate” for my blog. As weird as it sounds and as much as I say I am all about honesty, openness, and authenticity, I realize that I have lots of “rules” in my head about what I am “supposed” to write about in this blog, in my e-zine, and what I am “allowed” to speak about when I talk publicly. My work is all about appreciation and gratitude, I should stick to that, right?!? Well, not really.
There is so much more on my mind and in my heart, in general, and especially these days. However, much of what I want to talk about doesn’t seem to fit into the appreciation/gratitude box and in all honesty, I worry that people will not want to hear me talk about some of the other things on my mind that I am passionate about. I want to talk and write about death, politics, God, peace, relationships, love, spirituality, our shadow, the nature of the universe, and much more. Somehow, many of these topics are ones I either feel I am not “qualified” to speak or write about, or more honestly, I am worried that people will not agree with me about them and somehow I will be alienated.
Richard’s death has rocked my world in so many ways. I miss him and am incredibly sad. I am also still in a state of shock that he is gone. And, it has been such a magical experience this past month as I have been moving through my grief and connecting with others who knew him, loved him, and still do. I am clearly still in the midst of it, but so many profound thoughts and feelings have been coming to me about Richard, about me, about family, about my work, about life, about death, and more.
Richard speaks to me all the time – in my thoughts, feelings, meditations, and dreams. I mean he literally shows up – I see him, feel him, and hear him. This is one thing that I am scared to share publicly, but it is true and I love it. His message to me is clear, “Focus on LOVE, that is the only thing that is real. Most of what we focus on in life is nonsense and it takes us away from what is true, what is real, and what we all want.” I am feeling so connected to Richard, but also to my father and others who have passed away and are on the “other side.”
There is a real magic in death. This is another thing I have been scared to say out loud, but I feel it so deeply within me. I actually love funerals and memorial services. My friend Theo was the first person I had ever heard say this. I was shocked when he said it…not because I thought it was weird or bad; I was just amazed by his honesty about it and I totally agreed. I was grateful for Theo’s honesty because it gave me permission to realize that this was true for me as well.
Memorials are often so real, raw, and human. I love the intensity of emotions and the authenticity that comes out. I love that so much of the stupid stuff we focus on in our daily lives seems meaningless in the face of death. I love being able to appreciate the person who has passed away, the other people in our lives, and our own life. I love how it wakes us up to precious nature of life that most of the time we forget about. I don’t wish death onto anyone, although we are all going to die someday. Sadly, we rarely live our lives on a daily basis with any awareness of our own death. If we did, I think we would live in a totally different, much more real, and passionately bold way.
I wish with all of my heart that there was some way for Richard to come back to life in body. I miss him, I want to see him, hug him, and connect with him in human form. However, I believe strongly that there is a plan for all of us and that we each get to choose when we die…we aren’t victims of accidents, health problems, or anything else. I think we each choose when it is time for us to return home, to the source of life…to God/Goddess/All That Is.
Maybe this is just a rationalization for the biggest mystery of humankind and something (death) that I struggle to make sense of, as most of us do. However, deep in my heart, this notion of choice regarding death feels so true to me.
Another gift of death is that it often gives us the courage to speak our truth – whatever that truth may be. For me, I feel a sense of liberation and passion about my own truth right now. I want to talk about life, death, love, appreciation, fear, shame, guilt, hope, dreams, and more on an even more REAL level. I want to talk about God, spirituality, the nature of the universe, and why we are here…in a more authentic way. It is time for me to stop apologizing for my beliefs, my opinions, my commitments, and my values. I do want to be aware of and sensitive to the fact that not everyone shares my point of view, but I don’t need to sell out on what is true for me in service of being “respectful” or “inclusive.” Being respectful and inclusive are both very important to me, but in all honesty, I often use these as a justification for not speaking my deep truth and my fear of upsetting people or having them not like me, agree with me, and think I am wonderful.
Richard’s death has been a true wake up call for me. I am not here to just say the “right” things, have people like me, make as much money as I can, impress others, look good or fit my message of love, spirit, connection, God, and life into some “corporate box” that will not not ruffle any feathers, and will be “appropriate” enough to allow me to get paid to deliver speeches and seminars in the corporate world. I am here to love myself, love others, teach about love, life, God, and truth in the very best way I can. I am here to step out and speak my truth, and in doing so I hope that I am able to inspire and empower others to do the same.
This blog post was easy for me to write, but is scary for me to post. I do so with my own commitment to truth and realness. I hope you hear and see things in what you have read here that speak to you. And, I realize that I have no idea what you will think or how this will impact you. At some deep level, that is not my job to figure out…it is yours. My challenge to you, to me, and to all of us is to speak what is true in our own hearts – now and always. Imagine what the world would be like if we all did that! Amazing! As I heard someone say in a seminar I took years ago, “We are all trying to survive life, and none of us ever will.” Let’s remember this and speak what is true for us!
With truth, courage, and vulnerability,
P.S. The photo below was just emailed to me and I am so grateful to have it. This picture was taken on 11/9/06 – the last time Michelle and I saw Richard. It was at Rich and Yvonne Dutra-St. John’s house (the co-founders of Challenge Day) the day that Challenge Day was featured on Oprah. It was a magical, beautiful day and we all shared in the pride, love, and appreciation of Challenge Day’s work and exposure. In this photo is my wife Michelle, our daughter Samantha, Richard, Richard’s wife Kris, and me. What a great memory!
It is still hard for me believe that my dear friend and mentor Richard Carlson is gone. Richard died suddenly and unexpectedly on December 13th on an airplane to New York. He was traveling to NYC for some media appearances for his new book, Don’t Get Scrooged. He died of a pulmonary embolism while on the flight.
My last blog post was celebrating him and his new books…and now I am posting to share about his death and to celebrate his life. He was such an important person in my life and in the world. The past week has been one of the most challenging and remarkable weeks of my life. Never in my wildest nightmares would I have expected this to happen. And, there have been so many miracles, blessings, and things to be grateful for in the midst of this tragic loss.
I was asked by Kris, Richard’s wife, to officiate the memorial service that was held for Richard on Tuesday. I was honored to do so, although terrified at the same time. This past week we spent a great deal of time with Kris, Richard’s two teenage girls, and the entire Carlson family.
What an honor to be able to support them in this painful time. As challenging as it has been, it has also been incredible. So much love, so much gratitude, and so much peace. In addition to being an incredible author, teacher, and healer…Richard was an extraordinary human being, husband, and father. He got as excited about a new book as he did about one of his girl’s soccer games or taking his oldest daughter to visit colleges.
I mourn his death and I celebrate his life. I will miss seeing him, hugging him, and spending time with him in physical form. I feel deeply connected to him – as much this past week and in the years we spent together as friends on this earth. I know that he will be with me always and that his wisdom and mentorship will continue to guide my life and my work.
Thank you Richard – for all that you did to make this world a better place and for the many gifts that you gave to me. I love you…
With Love, Celebration, and Gratitude for Richard’s life,
For more information about Richard, his life, and his work – check out his website at https://www.dontsweat.com/ Let’s all share his incredible work as a way to have his spirit live on through us and others!