For millennia, wise people have recognized the power of thought. In 1889, Prentice Mulford published a book entitled Thoughts Are Things that is still studied and quoted today.

In 2006, Rhonda Byrne compiled quotations (and a few misquotes) supporting the idea that, when we focus on something, think about it often, we attract that thing into our lives. She interspersed some comments and anecdotes of her own. The result was her blockbuster book The Secret.

Many people who have not actually read that book are quick to criticize it. I’ll address common criticisms later. For now, I’ll just note that every book ever written contains some mistakes or inaccuracies, and those mistakes do not make the rest of the book worthless. Personally, I saw nothing to lose, and possibly something to gain, by trying the suggestions in The Secret.

The book describes a three-step process. Step 1, get clear on what you really want and ask for it. Step 2, believe that what you have asked for is on its way to you. Step 3, open yourself to receiving what you asked for. Visualize yourself already possessing it and feel the happiness, exhilaration, whatever feelings you will feel when that thing arrives.

I found Step 2 challenging. I wanted to try the process to see whether it worked. But the process required that I already believe it works. How could I get there from here?

I kept reading and found several answers, short cuts to the process. One is to ask for what you want (which you can do by simply writing it down) and then be happy. Use the simple practices recommended in my previous post: laugh, assume upbeat posture, meditate, nurture gratitude.

So the happiness short cut recommended in The Secret meshed with skills that I already used with success and that I teach to others. I’ve augmented my skills by using The Secret for ten years, and it has worked for me.

Do I have every single thing I could possibly wish for? Of course not. But I’ve gained a lot more of what I want than I did before I adopted this process.

Have I gained these things without effort, forward planning or work? Of course not. But when I opened myself in happiness to notice opportunities and inspirations to direct my work, that work became joyful, just as described in The Secret. For example, writing Love on the Rocks with a Twist never required discipline. I longed for that work. What did require discipline was taking breaks from the computer.

Still skeptical? Ask yourself: what harm could it possibly do to clarify what you really want, write it down, then, boost your happiness by making time to laugh, meditate or visualize? No harm at all! On the contrary, as we’ve seen in previous posts of this Happiness series, these practices boost success and improve your health anyway.

What can hurt is negativity, focusing on what we don’t want. I’ll discuss that next time.