This perpetual search for The Answer reached its apex a couple of years ago, when Oprah led the frenzy over The Secret. The video and accompanying book were a rehash of one of the oldest of self-help truisms—"think positive"—refreshed with a dusting of "science." The secret of The Secret was something called the Law of Attraction. As Oprah put it on the show, "It says that the energy, that the thoughts and feelings that you put out into the world, both good and bad, are exactly what is always coming back to you, so you have the life that you have created." Oprah and the teachers of The Secret, as they call themselves, did not mean this metaphorically. They explained that the universe and everything in it are made of vibrating energy, and by thinking positively we can actually "attract" the positive vibrations of the universe and bend them to our will. "You're a field of energy in a larger field of energy," one of The Secret's teachers said. "And like attracts like, and that's very, very scientific."
By harnessing this powerful science, they said, we can have anything we want—happiness, love, fabulous wealth. This was so inspiring to Oprah that she devoted three shows to the product and appeared on Larry King to talk it up more. She said it encapsulated everything she believes. "I've been talking about this for years on my show," she said. "I just never called it The Secret."
On one of the Secret shows, Oprah gave an example of the scientific power of the concept. She said that once, while she was hosting an episode about a man who could blow really big soap bubbles, she was thinking to herself, "Gee, that looks fun. I would like to blow some bubbles." When she returned to her office after the show, there, on her desk, was a silver Tiffany bubble blower. "So I call my assistant," Oprah told the audience. "I say, 'Did you just run out and get me some bubbles? 'Cause I got bubbles by my desk.' And she says, 'No, the bubbles were always there. I bought you bubbles for your birthday and you didn't notice them until today'."
There are many lessons that might be drawn from this anecdote. One is that if you give Oprah a thoughtful gift, she may not bother to notice it or thank you for it. This is not the lesson Oprah took away from her story. Because the way she sees it, her assistant hadn't really given her the gift at all. She gave it to herself. Using the power of The Secret, she said, "I had called in some bubbles."