You’ve probably read or heard about The Secret.

You might practice in the law of attraction or work at manifesting positive intentions.

You could be the Dalai Lama, who I’m convinced probably knows something we don’t based on that delightful smile and inner glow he has.

We all want to be happy and to feel satisfied.

We want purpose and meaning.

To be mindful. To drink green juice and hug more often.

Have enough gut bacteria to be regular.

Sweat less, feel better.

I was having a challenging moment. I felt stressed and needed something to listen to while I took a bath. Tub filled and ready to loosen the death grip of my muscles, I turned to TED Talks.

I’ll listen to TED Talks while working or when I can’t sleep. It’s a favorite pastime when I’m sick or immobilized for any particular reason. It’s what I listen to when I need both calm and inspiration.

Here’s what I chose:

As a professional communicator, inconsistent blogger, and occasional actor, I spend most of my life trying to speak so that people will listen.

Sometimes for personal gain, other times for entertainment, and most of the time for the benefit of others.

But what struck me most about this talk in particular was the idea of action versus intention.

As he notes, we all fall into bad habits of speech. Gossip, negativity, excuses and the like.

But do we ever really have the intent to do it?

Are there times when you just have to use, endure, and explore these “bad habits”?

His talk empowers us to make better choices with our speech and to fill the world with honesty, authenticity, integrity, and love. This isn’t just positive thinking – this is positive doing.

Sounds great, right? Sounds like you can handle it. Sounds like it’ll come easy. You just need to put your head in the right place.

Or not.

Mark Manson, a writer I really respect, talks about the power of positive thinking in his latest post, “The Staggering Bullshit of ‘The Secret’“.

His assessment is that in order to really be a human being, you can’t be ignorant to negativity. Your development as a person will be – and should be – a process that will cause you pain. It’ll make you stronger, more aware, and self-sufficient.

I tend to agree with him. I think this is where a lot of the self-help stuff out there falls short.

Sure, it’s great to fill the world with positivity, but you have to be able to deal with the shit stuff too.

I’m a firm believer in karma and that what you put into the universe comes back to you. I’m one of those people that dabbles in manifesting positive intentions. But I’m also guilty of excuses, gossip, and negativity.

And that’s okay. We probably we all are. We’re human.

The tips in the talk are great for filling the world with more good stuff. That’s all about doing and hey, we need action. We human beings are lazy bums most of the time.

But I think if you want to speak and be heard, you have to listen. Like, really listen. Garbage and bullshit and all.

That negativity? It might bother you to the point where you do something or start to feel something where before there was just pleasant numbness.

The excuses? They can remind you of your own responsibilities.

I guess what I’m trying to say with all this is that I think we should pair the positive action with realistic thinking. Use the tips to fill the world with better speech but be human enough to really listen, even if it’s the crappy stuff no one likes.

And do the vocal warm ups if you can.

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