I picked up my passport today, after it’s month-long journey spent circulating various embassies. It’s now full of full-page visas, just waiting to be stamped.

Took me a while to find the Mongolian Embassy, despite the fact that I was there just a week ago. It’s situated in the basement of a pretty normal apartment block – this matches its presence on the web, which takes the form of a message saying “This user has exceeded their bandwidth”.

Mind you, the area it lies in is not your average downtown suberb. It’s Shibuya – home to the rich and famous. During my search for the embassy, I lost my way and ended up down a rather high-class cul-de-sac. The houses round there are extraordinary, as if some mad architect on speed has been let loose with a hyperactive etch-a-sketch – the resulting pictures springing up in glorious psychedelic 3D reality, complete with castle-style walls and CCTV systems that Jeremy Beadle would die for.

They EVEN had their own private mini-police box. Poor police man, standing there in his phone-box size cubicle all day long, with nothing to do but count the number of atoms in a breath of humid air. He was so happy to help me out with his amazing map of the area – I think I made his day.

After the embassy trip, it was off to meet my friend Stu for a coffee: last weekend he attended a two-day NLP seminar run by one of the most respected teachers in the field, and I was keen to hear about his impressions. I’ve been interested in NLP for a little while now, having unknowingly been learning some of the more basic tecniques over the past few months through my reading, and finding them to be very effective (things such as taking positive action against negative habitual thinking, overcoming fear through associating intense positive feelings with desired outcomes, telling myself IT DOESN’T MATTER, as ultimately, not much really does).

The Secret

We also chatted a bit about The Secret, a book which teaches The Law of Attraction, a book that I’ve mentioned before on TDM. At its peak last year, it was selling about 400,000 copies a week; pretty staggering stuff for a book that basically teaches the same thing as a thousand books before it. The DVD would have appeared to have done pretty well too, despite winning The Most Corny Beginning to a Video Ever Award 2007.

Anyhow, a few days back I was listening to a conversation between a couple of best-selling authors, who between them have written well over 30 self-development books. It was interesting hearing their thoughts on The Secret, which pretty much matched my own feelings after I’d listened to the 5 hour audio version.

Of course, one’s first reaction is to dismiss it due to its commercial clothing, and reject it due its Hollywood makeup. But, the fact is, it has achieved an amazing thing. It has taught millions of people something which should really be common sense, something that should be taught in schools (along with basic finance and such practical things). It has changed a lot of lives, helped a huge number of people better their lives – that is no small thing. If it makes money in the process for the author, well, so what? (although I think 3000 yen is a bit steep!)

There are two criticisms: The first is that it focuses upon material possessions. You know, Mercedes Benz in the driveway, a multi-million dollar home etc. There’s no reference to more worthy causes, such as using the technique to help others, or helping to bring about wider changes in society. Of course, one can see why they chose to focus upon material gain: no-one would buy it otherwise. What’s more appealing: a new BMW in the driveway or the end of conflict in some far-flung country that you’ve never heard of? Unfortunately, a great many people it would seem opt for the BMW.

The second is that it’s a bit simplistic. “Just imagine that BMW, and Hey Presto! It’ll appear in your driveway”. As the critics pointed out, one of the people who feature in the film, Jack wotsisname, author of the Chicken Soup series, speaks of how he went from rags to riches in a very short space of time. The producers of The Secret chose to focus upon his use of the law of attraction, but failed to mention the fact that even when Jack was absolutely broke, he was one of the most generous, kind and thoughtful people you could hope to meet. And as we all know, life is one big boomerang.

Despite these faults, one can’t deny that it’s a great book for its intended audience of beginners in this field of self-development (which of course includes me. As a beginner I am especially appreciative of all the feedback I’ve been getting from readers. Thank you).

Just carrying on in that vein for a second, it’s amazing how much I’ve experienced the red car syndrome lately. People who I’ve never really thought of as having particularly enlightened beliefs in this area (not because I’ve thought them to be lacking in anything, but purely because I have never given this sort of thing much thought) are revealing their amazing inner beauty, and generously imparting this precious knowledge. It’s a real joy, and serves to nurture my own core beliefs that until now have lain dormant below the surface.

Oh, I heard a good definition of Success and Happiness today. Which one do you think is more important?

– Success is Getting what you want

– Happiness is Wanting what you get

Accept Everything
I was advised a couple of days back. You know what? It makes for a far easier life if you do! Just go with the flow… (that doesn’t mean handing over all control to some other force – do that and you’ll wonder why life is not going the way you would like it to!).

Thank you to all teachers at my new Kindergarten.