You are here

The Real Secret

Originally published on January 9, 2009, updated on September 28, 2009

Over the past couple of years, I've had dozens of people recommend The Secret, a popular self-help book on the law of attraction. I have yet to read this book, but my understanding is that "the secret" boils down to this: we should continuously focus our thoughts on everything we want in life, as we tend to manifest what we regularly think about.

Most people would probably agree with the idea that visualizing a desired outcome is just one important step to manifesting that outcome. Visualizing all day long and not taking action to realize one's hopes just doesn't inspire confidence, at least not for the masses.

Here's a different law of attraction, one that, to me, feels more like the real secret to how life works:

Whatever you put out comes back all the time.

A good example of this law at work can be found in the current life of a distant relative of mine - let's call him Nelson.

Nelson isn't shy about professing his love for money - one of his top priorities in life is to make lots of it. He appreciates expensive cars, fine dining, and clothes that you likely won't find at Wal-mart.

Nelson lives comfortably on a stable salary, but he's hungry for more money, and he's constantly looking for investment opportunities that can increase his net worth with minimal work.

In an effort to make more money, Nelson regularly asks family members, relatives, friends, and other contacts to consider investing with him. Thus far, near as I can tell, he hasn't been able to attract enough investors to generate any real momentum with his financial goals, and I'm pretty sure I know why.

In spending time with Nelson over the past several years, the feeling that I've developed about him is that he cares very little about others. Some would say that he's missing the compassion gene, if such a gene exists. Bottom line: I don't get the warm fuzzies when I'm around him, and if he asks how I'm doing, it's hard for me to believe that he really cares how I'm actually doing.

At some point over the past few years, I think Nelson realized that he could improve his chances of winning over potential investors by employing various human relations techniques, like calling people by their first names and asking questions that indicate that he is interested in their lives.

When he started doing this with me, I was a little creeped out. Something was off, painfully off, when he asked me what I was up to or said that we should hang out. Every nucleus of every cell in my body felt that his questions were rooted in self-serving motives, and that if I got run over by a bus the next day, he would still be primarily focused on finding his next investor.

Put another way, who he was screamed so loudly into my ears that I couldn't really hear what he was saying - I was too aware of how I felt about him. He was trying to seduce me with personality techniques, and it felt...greasy.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think that Nelson is a bad guy; at worst, I think he may be a bit emotionally stunted. I just don't want to invest with him because over a period of years, he has regularly demonstrated through his behavior that he doesn't really care too much about others.

My guess is that most others who have also chosen not to invest with him have felt some of the same things that my wife and I have. We care for him as a human being and relative, but we can't support his basic approach to life i.e. living mainly for himself.

My belief is that Nelson is getting what he's putting out there. To be more precise, what he's putting out is that he's a self-serving person who doesn't really care too much about what happens to others. Given this, it just makes sense that he hasn't won over too many investors or made much progress with his financial goals.

We have another distant relative who is close to being Nelson's opposite when it comes to the energy that she gives off through her behavior. Let's call her Justine.

Each time we see Justine, the feeling for us is that she is consumed with happiness and wants to give her all to us - her food, her attention, her kids if we would take them. Just kidding about the kids.

Seriously, I trust Justine with everything in my life, as I know that her heart runs deep with love, warmth, and genuine concern for others.

What Justine's putting out there is genuine love, and everyone I know who knows her can feel it. She doesn't have to say much to any of us. We all feel who she is, and she is deeply loved because of this. She's getting what she puts out.

I'm grateful to be aware of the real secret - that we tend to get what we put out there. Awareness of the real secret is what almost always allows me to figure out what I've done to make someone feel bad or awkward at times, and what I've done to make the world a brighter place for others at times; I like to avoid instances of the former, and reproduce instances of the latter.

Being aware of the real secret doesn't mean transforming into a Pollyanna. Who doesn't get angry enough to want to slam a door once in a while? The idea is to recognize the natural consequences of slamming doors - we either create more fury or sadness for the other party, and we likely lose some respect from those around us.

Being aware of the real secret can hopefully be a reminder to choose not to slam a door whenever the urge comes up, and when we aren't strong enough to overcome this urge, the real secret reminds us to produce a sincere and unconditional apology because this is what emotionally mature people do, and this is what deepens trust and respect in relationships.

Being aware of the real secret can lead to choices that result in friends and family members who care deeply about us, and who trust us with everything. Who wants fickle popularity that's a hundred yards wide but only half an inch deep when you can have relationships that are built on mountains of genuine love, trust, and respect?

Being aware of the real secret is the first and arguably most important step that we must take to experience good health and personally meaningful lives. There are no shortcuts to getting healthy and feeling good about our lives - we have to earn both through what we put out there, through what we do every day.

Embracing the real secret can be uncomfortable, especially at first, because there's not as much room to blame others for any friction in our lives, or to just sit and complain about our circumstances. But over time, embracing the real secret leads to self esteem and emotional maturity that characterize a life that is ripening as it should, growing in wisdom, not regressing into bitterness.

Being aware of the real secret should fill us with hope. What greater hope can any of us wish to feel than the hope of creating the lives we want through thoughts and behaviors that we consciously choose?

This post is a reminder to myself of how I want to live each day, and how I want to treat every person I encounter. Thank you for reading.


Join more than 80,000 readers worldwide who receive Dr. Ben Kim's free newsletter

Receive simple suggestions to measurably improve your health and mobility, plus alerts on specials and giveaways at our catalogue

Please Rate This

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (268 votes)
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.


A poem I wrote on the shores of Kauai in 1988 comes to mind when I read your post...

I threw a rock into the sea,
The ocean threw it back at me,
I wondered what was happening.
And this is what I found.

I asked the ocean what was up,
And how am I to live?
The ocean answered rapidly,
What you get you give.

Thank you for all you do.

... and this feeling you put out Dr. Kim, is why I have more trust in you than in the many other health experts on the internet. Congratulations, and thank you!

Dear. Dr. Kim: what you've described as the 'real secret', is the biblical law of sowing and reaping. As in the natural, so in the spiritual realm: we reap what we sow, we reap more than we sow, and we reap later than we sow (draw the analogies to a garden, for example). This law, as you've also described, is also known in the world as 'what goes around, comes around'.
Thanks for sharing,
Mary S.

The REAL SECRET for me has taken a very long time to realize. I have spent so much money buying self help books and reading them, taking motivational classes, listening to self help tapes. One day while sitting with a small group and listening to their life's discussion, the idea hit me like a bolt of lightening. I bluredted out, "the real secret is to live in the NOW, to be happy NOW."

Yes, the "Now" is all we have!

Hi Dr Kim,

I to have many self-help books but it depends what people are looking for, some people are looking for the books to change there life, that like reading a Love story like Mills and Boons or Horror books and saying "I wonder if a ghost will come into my room" I think you should read The Secret, it is a wondeful book and funny enough you are both saying the same thing,they are not suggesting you sit there all day just trying to manifest what you want (who as time for that) but just like you believe in your product they believe in theres better we stay postive than live in the negative, by the way i know your products work well done.

Donna (uk)

Hi.A great article on 'The Real Secret'.For me the real secret is about giving motivated by love.Giving for the joy of giving,giving without expecting any return,giving to those who are helpless,giving to those who are desperate,giving to those who need to receive.
We tend to take our eyesight for granted don't we.Well I saw a programme recently on a wonderful American eye surgeon(Dr.Marc Lieberman of the Visioning Tibet project)who has been travelling to Tibet for years to help the Tibetan people affected by cataracts.True giving.What a gift to be able to restore someone's sight.Strange isn't it where the world's priorities lie ? We can spend fortunes on various projects and ventures but cannot protect people and children and prevent easily remedied illness or the loss of someone's sight by a simple operation.Our world is upside down.People die and go blind yet the madness continues.
As a Christian myself how true the words of Jesus from Luke C.6 V 38:Give and it will be given to you,good measure,pressed down,shaken together,running over will be put into your lap.For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.
Every blessing for 2009,David.

I enjoyed this article, thanks. None of us can succeed alone. And selfish people can't ever get along with other selfish people; it violates the relationship principle of Trust, which explains why Nelson is always looking to turn good-hearted people into suckers.

This site is becoming a favorite site, competing with The People's Chemist and Mercola articles. I will definitely try some of the products here too.

Excellent article again Dr Kim! My belief about THE SECRET is that it is nothing more than another new age teaching, demonicly telling us 'you dont need God, you can do it all yourself!' (I think that might be a repeat of the episode in the garden of eden) But your view on the REAL SECRET hits home for me and I'll make sure I consider it daily.

After reading your comment about how The Secret is "nothing more than another New Age teaching, demonicly telling us you don't need God..etc" Nothing could be further from the truth. I can only assume you haven't read it or talked to people who TRULY understand it. Of course there are those who have a superficial understanding of it who askew the meaning of it. Dr Kim said it well, but also consider that The Secret is talking about tapping into your Highest Good. Many people call this God. It's the Life Force within you. It is all good and all loving. When we are in focused on THAT, (which is also living in the now) then we "naturally" strive to our highest potential. To live in the now, to suspend judments of others and not dwell on either the past or the future THAT really is the secret.
It is a huge challenge in our present human form, but all the great teachers over the centuries have said basically the same things too. Focus on your goodness and on the goodness of others and most of all, try to be "present" in our day to day activies. So if I were talking to you now Wayne, I would be focusing all my attention on that moment of us conversing. I hope this helps you understand. Blessing of Love to you and yours..Shelly

Wow, Wayne. I was feeling all warm and fuzzy after readind Dr. Kim's post and you really ruined it for me. I am an Atheist and have know about "the secret" since childhood, thanks to my awesome and wise mother (atheist single parent, thank you). I was pretty shocked at your foolishly vicious remarks. But, I also thank you for your terribly closed minded perspective. Life is filled with Wayne's and they make us true-believers (no irony-intended) of the inate goodness of the human spirit throw up our hands and look around for the pitchforks. It is important to not let our negative feelings, such as the one's I had when I first read your post, consume us. But to focus on the positive and hope (yes, Atheists hope) that by leading by example such abhorrent behavior can be curtailed. Just the fact that you read Ben Kim's articles must mean that your not a complete a**hole person. I will not pray for you, Wayne, as I am a non-praying Atheist. But if I ever meet you, and there are so many of you out there, I will buy you a drink and we'll swap Dr. Kim recipes. There is always common ground to be found in Kim's lentil chili. Peace yo!

Well, first off I'd like to say, Happy New Year to Everyone! and I pray that 2009 is a year of Better Health and Wellness for All of Us!
(The premise of the book, The Secret from what I gather is that it is some "New Age" type thinking that you will attract what your focusing your mind on to think. That the universe will give to you what you want.)

To be frank and honest about that book: I believe this is for the most part a bunch of nonsense. While there may be slight inclination of truth to this book, it veers away from God's Law:
The Law of Sowing and Reaping. If you sow to the Flesh, you will reap Corruption, and if you Sow to the Spirit you will reap Life!

Not to get to doctrinal for everyone I will give an example to illustrate this Law: If you Steal something (sowing to the flesh) you will go to jail(reaping what you sowed). For the Other Part: If you give People the Truth with Love(Sowing to the Spirit) then you will in Return Receive Trust from those who have done this to(Reaping the Reward).

Lets Face the Facts: If your constantly thinking about a paticular something then chances are very high that you will act on what you have been thinking. This is how things will attract to yourself. Practice makes perfect.

Garbage in(the mind) Garbage Out(what comes out of your mouth and actions).

What ever your placing more in your mind it will eventually come forth in your life!

The Good News For 2009 is this:

The very Moment that you Believe that Jesus Christ(God the Son, the Creator, Saviour, Sustainer of Life and Lord) Died for Your Sins, Was Buried and Rose Again the Third Day for you is the Very Moment that you will Possess Eternal LIfe. Simple Faith, simply Trusting This Good News.

God Speed, and Only the Best for you All!

Get a Newstart every day:
Nutrition: eating right
Exercise: cardio/strength
Water: Distilled or filtered somehow
Sunshine: 5 to 10min minimum if possible
Trust the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour
Air, fresh air outdoors(though we've been bombarded w/Chemtrails in the Sky which are sprayed on us almost daily(their Chemicals).
Rest/Sleep 7-8hours for myself
Time in the Word of God (what you place in the mind will come out of your life)

To me, these 3 are the most important. I have found that the more things I become grateful and thankful for, the more wonderful experiences I have show up in my life. It's all about energy and vibration. Appreciation is high up on the vibrational scale. Being there brings a match in vibration back to you. I have also learned over the years that being genuine and authentic draws people to you. I remember many times in my life when I acted around people in a way that was more in tune with what I wanted them to believe of me. I couldn't figure out why I didn't have as many friends as some people had. What was it that those people had that I did not? Why did their phones ring more often and their invitations never run out? It took many years to learn that just being you in the "raw form" if I may, was who most people really wanted to be around. Being real. People around us know instinctively those who are real and those who seem not to be. For me it took a lot of practice (and still does). I spent my whole life trying to please others, and in doing so, it must have felt "fake" to those around me. I truly believe the secret to happiness is Gratitude & Authenticity. From this so many doors have opened for me. Sometimes still, my ego gets in the way but I'm on a journey now...

"Whatever you put out comes back all the time" is actually the Law of Attraction. ( I wish the movie hadnt abused that phrase so much). Focusing on your thoughts is how to get your feelings alligned with your good. It's the feeling that determines what increases in your life. So good feelings will bring more opportunities for you to increase more good feelings.

Your Aunt is known by the feeling she puts out. She reaps what she sows. Its mentioned in the Bible many times in many varied scriptures. And the Bible mirrors many ancient Hindu spiritual texts which beatifully give us the same message. Particularily Gospels that were not canonized. The secret of life was too precious and early church founders were very clear on editing the Bible. (different subject)

Charles Haanel is an excellent read. Judge Thomas Troward is extremely knowledgable albeit difficult to read without extensive background and a willingness to get it. Wallace Wattles too. I can think of so many more all from the last century. Nowadays the information comes to us through writers such as Robert Anthony, Joe Vitale, Bob Procter, etc.

The movie reduced the philosophy to a very weak and feeble quick fix to lifes problems. It does not do justice to the ancient wisdom of our thoughts or words create this material world. That last statement is worth researching if you want the real deal. but I deeply appreciate Dr. Kim and always take the opportunity to thank him for my good health. Cheers. Jackie

I agree with your post, Dr. Ben! I would like to add that "The Secret" as shown on the Oprah Show and on the DVDs that I bought don't go far enough. There are more Secrets, such as the emotion, intent and motive.

I read your views on "The Secret" on the back ground (in my mind) of your other life stories you shared with us, so impregnated with sinceare love and feelings, softening the heart and soul. You have found the secret, I am glad to have found you dear Dr. Kim. I want to manifest for the world a self that inspires goodnes and love. God bless you and yours.

Indeed, a profound and mature thinking, and like for me, it really hit the spot. I so listen to all of these self help ideas, and for some reason I just the same feeling from them, they are the "Nelsons" of the world. Half the time, I know their heart is not in it, not even by a long shot. Yes of course, what you said, is not exactly a brand new theory, but in fact, thousands of years old, and yet, something we should remember each and every day. This "secret" will truly live on forever. I am glad you wrote this article. Thank you.

The Secret is the latest and by far the highest profile example of the trend of self-help gurus making a living by offering their philosophies, concepts and strategies to help us, our marriages and our families.

However, by deferring to authorities may diminish our own critical thinking skills to grow and evolve on our own. In addition we run the risk of given up the freedom to build healthy lives, marriages and families based on our unique history and life experience. If we are not careful, we may overlook the value of our own life experiences along with the advice of friends, family and especially the elders among us.

Instead of looking outside ourselves for answers, one alternative may be a return to our (common) senses! Begin, to reclaim your natural ability to think for yourself. The common sense that was once readily available to all of us is still there free of charge and waiting to be applied to just about any challenge we might face in life… all you have to do is use it.

Dr. Kim, Your comments about the two relatives really made an interesting
reading topic. Just to let you know while if you plant chillies you cannot reap
mangoes is the definite TRUTH but let your Mr. Nelson buy the book THE GREATEST
Carnelian Sage and perhaps he will turn a corner and reform himself. By the way
i get no commission for recommending this book, just thought or how should i say, i feel for your Nelson and hope at last by knowing this secret his dream
to get rich will be fulfilled.
With warm wishes,

How very interesting for 'Nelson' that his desire to become somewhat 'other oriented' didn't produce the results he hoped for. What a long process of change needs to occur to become a different person than the one we have moulded for ourselves...and how hard a process this is! Unless the focus of our life is changed on the inside (perhaps by the One who created it), it won't matter what we try and dress up the outside with, we will still pursue the same selfish desires. How closely connected are the spiritual and physical aspects of this truth in relation to our existence. Here in may also underly the importance of good spiritual nourishment for the person inside, as well as providing good and proper food intake to the physical vessel in which we reside.

One word: KARMA. What we "think" about matters because every action begins with a thought, and every selfish thought only makes the universe smaller and smaller for ourselves. It's entirely up to us how we want to relate to the world - the world can only reflect back what we put out.

Dr. Kim,
I have just read your article on THE REAL SECRET and I totally agree with the matter. When we give out hate, we cannot expect love.
Is it ok to say that our Conscience warns us but we do not listen to it because of our ego.

Mamta Jain

its been scientifically proven that ones thoughts have a direct consequence on things around them. (eg. Mr. Emoto's research on water molecules) i need the science behind the theories, before i can completely accept them. i agree totally, there is no way you can fake your way through life being ungenuine; people will pick up on it on some level. i appreciate your blog, every opportunity to yet again reaffirm the 'real secret' is a step closer to enlightenment!

Dear Dr Ben
Thank so very much for all the dedication and hard work you put into providing us with life saving tips.
I appreciate you.
I like your readers to know there are two small MUST read books by ECkhart Tolle, Power of now and A new earth.
I promise,these books will better you for the rest of your being.
Please borrow them from your local library and judge for yourself.

Dear Dr. Kim and all your readers,

When I received the newsletter with the title: The real secret, I feel a little sad, because as Dr. Kim with a book, the supposed real secret (visualizing what we want to get) is exposed in a video I saw a few days ago. Besides, a decade ago I was a New Age follower, and in New Age such "real secret" is very estimate. Now I'm christian, and my thoughts are quite different.

The supposed "real secret" is plentiful of selfish and vanity. You desire something (the "secret" do not differentiate good or bad), you visualize it and you get it. no matter if you don't need it, if to get it you are "spiritually-stealing" it from somebody who really need it, or something worst.

Christ teach us something really beautiful, when he said: "Act with other as you want the other act with you." Please, note it is perfect, not as the Gold Rule of Moral: "Don't do with other as you won't other do with you." The Gold Rule admit that you do nothing, but the Son of God is perfect, He encourage you to act in favor of other, as this acting will be at your favor too.

My mother, Zoila or Zully Jaspe (most of the people who loves her, that's almost a million person, call her Zully) died three years ago of sclerodermia (I'm not shure it is well written), after suffering for more than 30 years from luppus. My mother was in constant physical suffering, heavy limited in her motion, but always she keep a smile in her face to everybody. When my mother was interned in the hospital, everybody in the hospital's rooms call her "angel of the sky" because she walk from bed to bed consoling the sick persons, the suffering of anybody. Doctors ask her: "PLease, be still in your bed, you really need to rest" but it was impossible to her. Never God keep her in a hospital for more than a week, because in just a week she was completely recovered, as she, many others to which she brought love and compassion.

The best medical advice to the sick is to care of the other. That's the best medicine. As Ellen White wrote more than a century ago, "to take care of the other induce the forgetting of our problems, we need to be right to other, and the blessing of Heaven rains over us." (please, be good with me, I'm translating from my Cuban memory to English, in my own words).

Thanks to Dr. Kim, because he is really a follower of the REAL SECRET. The one not selfish or vain, but the one which still keep love in our race, something we need a lot. Once again, Dr. Kim make me happy of bein his friend (no matter he don't know me, I know him, and that's enough).

I HAVE read the Secret and watched the movie. You have captured the essence of that project 100% and also described exactly what it is missing.

My impression of The Secret is that it is too focused on money and also that it leaves out the most important information - which, by the way, you can find in a book as old as the Bible: "Faith without works is dead". Just believing isn't enough to attract, you have to do some pretty hard work as well.

Thanks so much for this reminder. I really needed it.


Thanks, Dr. Kim, for your words of wisdom. I give thanks for you! In this world of clamorous tumult, it is refreshing mist
to receive your counsel and encouragement for our health and lives. We would all do well to adopt some of your servant's heart.

Very excellent article on human relations. Would that we would all practice this and treat each other with the honesty, patience and love we would like to be treated with.

Dr. Kim,

I LOVE your site and articles, but I think you should have watched The Secret movie or read the book before using it as part of this article.

You reference to The Secret did not capture the essence of what the book and movie teach. I came to read the article thinking there would be a connection to the movie/book. There is not.

'Whatever you put out comes back all the time' would have been a better name, and a better place to start the article.

Thanks for all the great information you provide.


Thank you for the wonderful article, I loved it

That is the real secret which it wouldn't surprise me if it was taken out by our history makers who indulged in its attraction of wealth but starved themselves of the privilege of helping others obtain the like.

I do not understand why teachers are against essay papers writing firms! I opine that high school students can learn great facts from cutom term papers. Furthermore, that is easy to buy <a href="">paper services uk</a>!