(Edited from a much earlier MySpace blog post)
Don't you just love those little get something free banner ads? The one I'm looking at right now says I can get a free* iPod Nano. And I'm sure I am. If I re-define the word "free."
It starts with little things, like a free trial of Netflix. Then you have to sign up for Columbia House. Then you're spending $300 on foreign-language CDs. Next thing you know, you've spent $2500 on tickets for a Swedish cruise line, and still no free iPod.
I suppose that after you've signed on to go into space for twenty grand, you get your "free" iPod. But wouldn't it be easier just to go to Target and buy one for $150? Or try eBay, I saw Nanos going for $75 the other day, and the seller doesn't require you to travel the Grand Canyon by train first.
What's sad is that there are people dumb enough to think they're getting a "free" iPod, or Coach handbag. And they go through every single so-called "sponsor offer," including the charter flight to Euro Disney, all in the pursuit of free MAC eyeliner and lipstick. If the masses weren't so stupid, companies would have abandoned the whole get-a-free*-iPod/handbag/Mini Cooper strategy years ago.
Honestly, rub a few brain cells together and think about it: it sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?
Well, it's the darnedest thing about stuff that seems to good to be true: it always is. If there were companies willing to give away expensive things for free, they wouldn't have to advertise. People would be beating down their proverbial doors to get their iPods, and it’s the same thing with those generous eBay sellers who are offering the secret to making a million dollars at home. If these people were really making that kind of money, would they be selling their secrets on eBay for $400? They wouldn't need that money. They'd have so much money they'd suffocate under its weight. The only ones who benefit from get-rich-quick schemes are the ones who propagate them.
Take recent bestseller Rhonda Byrne and her book "The Secret." Byrne asserts that if you purchase her book, or the companion DVD, or anything else with her name on it, you will understand what history's greatest thinkers knew and how you can apply this elusive knowledge to your own life, enabling you to make buttloads of money, lose weight, get laid, become famous, and say no to drugs.
It's certainly worked for Rhonda, hasn't it? The woman's loaded these days. She's everywhere. Her book is the bible in the Church of Oprah. She's been on every TV show and magazine worth its salt.
Personally I only watch "House" and repeats of "Seinfeld" and the only magazines I read contain celebrity gossip. So I'd not heard of Rhonda Byrne until my therapist asked me if I'd read her book. I said I hadn't, and he lent me the DVD that one of the other therapists in the office has been sharing.
Well, I watched most of it. It was longer than I thought, and I fell asleep about forty minutes in. But I think I got the gist of it. And I have to say, it's no secret. There isn't a thing in that book that hasn't been written before by Dr. Phil, Anthony Robbins or Deepak Chopra. And I do not wish to sound rude, but most of it's bull.
If having the life I wanted was as simple as "The Secret" makes it seem, I would be six inches taller, independently wealthy, 50 pounds lighter, antidepressant-free, a successful, well-respected writer, and an undercover CIA operative, with 20/20 vision and smaller pores.
Just for laughs, I decided to focus on getting good news in the mail. I suppose it worked, as it turns out I may already be a winner. But that was all I got, nothing else good in the mail.
Or any of the crap I've bought on Etsy. Crimeny, people. I paid ten bucks for shipping; the least you can do is send me my stinkin’ merchandise sometime this year.
I don't mean to imply that a person can focus on how bad their life sucks and still be happy and successful. But neither do I believe that victims of domestic violence or rape brought it on themselves with their negative energy, or that parents whose babies die of SIDS weren't thinking healthy thoughts.
I don't think that focusing on something brings it to you. You just notice it more. For instance: my parents bought a Toyota Highlander three years ago. Since that time, I have noticed a LOT of Highlanders on the road. I don't think that my parents' purchase has compelled the masses to flock to Power Toyota. I simply never had reason to notice the Highlander before. It wasn't relevant to me; I never considered buying one or driving one. Now that I see one every day, I notice them everywhere I go. I don't think that the car is selling better on my account. I just notice them more.
I think it's important to focus on the good things in life and to put good out into the world, but for moral, ethical reasons (read "Happiness is a Serious Problem" by Dennis Prager for more on that). If you tell yourself, "I'm going to have a wonderful day" over and over, your day will become wonderful because your mindset predisposes you to notice the good in things.
Bad things happen, no matter whom you are or what you do. Jesus was crucified, and I don't think it was a matter of negative thinking that did it. There doesn't exist a way to keep bad things out of your life. And this is how it should be. It's important to have opposition in things. It gives life meaning. It's not always fair, but crap is going to happen. It's a given. It is perhaps one of life's only certainties. Positive energy is a good thing, but it's not going to make your life perfect.
And it certainly isn't going to get you a free iPod.