The 2006 release of the book The Secret took the self-help world by storm leaving 21 million copies sold in the wake of this motivational tempest. You may have your own, I do. A marketing wonder, the design of its cover made the reader feel like they held wisdom of the ages in their hand. Yet its premise, the law of attraction, is as old as the self-help movement. At its foundation the secret of The Secret is this, to get everything we want from life the first step is to act ‘as if’ we are already have it in our possession. In other words the ability to visualize money in the bank, Ferrari in the driveway, or those cute new Jimmy Choo’s in the closet in order to make them reality.
This notion of acting ‘as if’ is the chosen arrow in the quiver of virtually every motivational guru in existence. The message, only packaged differently, has remained the same; if we are good enough to convince ourselves we already have what we long for the most then the stars, universe, or cosmic vending machine will do it’s part to dispense those most heart felt desires.
I’ll be honest, no matter your disposition towards The Secret I find it near impossible to act ‘as if’ when my practical side keeps reminding me otherwise. I find it hard to act ‘as if’ I were a millionaire if my account were overdrawn. Getting in a Yugo isn’t made any more badass by acting ‘as if’ it’s a Ferrari. And any woman will tell you a pair of Target flip-flops are made no more Couture by acting ‘as if’ they are Jimmy pumps. And up to now acting ‘as if’ I already own that casino in Rio hasn’t gotten me one step closer to opening its doors.
But that doesn’t mean acting ‘as if’ isn’t without benefits.
I’m radical in my support of marriage; even after failing once I remain matrimony’s biggest fans. My lack of success at my first marriage only reinforces the belief that it’s the people within the marriage that are the problem not the institution itself. The Queen and I have every desire to marry and eventually will, but until that day comes we continue working to arrange the moon and stars and remain perfectly happy – dating.
And it’s in dating where I think The Secret may be onto something. What if we were to take the basic proposition in the book of acting ‘as if’; and instead of a want for money, a bigger house, or faster car our wish was for a better relationship that grows into a great marriage? What if we were to approach our dating relationship ‘as if’ it already were a marriage?
The Queen and I have been dating for nearly four years, we aren’t engaged, don’t live together, and have lots of time away from each other. But my commitment to her and our relationship is no less sacred than a husband’s would be to his wife. Though we are still a ways from walking down the isle, I consider myself her husband mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. She is my best friend and the one who I seek for counsel and support, she is the therapist to whom I complain and she knows me better than anyone, and I want to spend the rest of my life with her.
And this is where I think The Secret has it right. When I started treating our relationship more like a marriage instead of just a test drive our connection and bond began to grow. After I knew she was to be the one was when I decided to commit myself more fully to our dating relationship disregarding the fact that ‘we were still only dating’. But as I put more effort towards adjusting my behavior, the attention I paid her, and the affection and love I showed her I began receiving more of the same in return. And as the book predicted, by acting ‘as if’, our relationship began to manifest into the thing I had hoped for all along.
The choice I made was this; to commit myself to her in the same way I believe a husband should promise his wife on their wedding day. Then to assume the foremost responsibility to respect her as if she were my wife forsaking all others and to honor our relationship even though I haven’t made a vow to do so. This mental shift also required a change in behavior, which by the way is where The Secret drew such criticism. Visualization of our deepest desires doesn’t imply that we just sit back and wait for whatever we want to come true, the burden remains ours to work towards their realization while we hold out for whatever cosmic forces to do the rest.
The Queen is often asked why she and I have it so good, why does our relationship seem to keep getting better and better even amid our numerous challenges and distractions while so many other dating relationships are falling apart around us? The answer is simple; because we don’t act like we’re dating. To ‘just date’ leaves far too much room for interpretation. And while it’s a rare and arguably radical approach, if the Queen’s and my goal is to one day marry and spend the remainder of our lives together why do we have to wait until that day to begin loving and respecting each other that way, why not begin doing so now? Why not start acting ‘as if’ today in order to create the future we want for tomorrow?