Thoughts on "The Science of Getting Rich" (Book by Wallace Wattles)

The Science of Getting Rich, a book written in 1910 by Wallace Wattles, is one of the big influences for the Law of Attraction movement. It preceded Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich (1937), and was credited as one of the inspirations for Rhonda Byrne’s popular movie The Secret (2006).

Since the book is in the public domain, you can read the full book for free here or listen to the full audiobook on youtube here

This book has some very inspirational concepts (which I summarize below).  However, the title itself, and the way the book starts, is hubristic and misleading. I’ll offer my thoughts on that, below my summary of its principles.

Let me share the good nuggets first, so you can see why it’s such a popular book:
Anyone can get rich

It doesn’t matter what your background is, or how much money you have access to, or what profession you choose, you can can get rich, by aligning your actions to the principles of success.

These days, there’s widespread knowledge of privilege (e.g. white, male, and other in-born traits) and this book, written in 1910, is completely ignorant of this dynamic. Just like shorter people have a hard time succeeding in basketball, certain people do have greater burdens when it comes to making money in our society.

Still, the principle remains: if anyone with a similar background to you has succeeded financially, then the potential exists for you to do that too. It starts with a belief that it is absolutely possible for you. With that optimism, you’ll see opportunities that previously were invisible to you. You’ll find the motivation and strength that was previously suppressed by your subconscious. That’s what belief does.

Creative potential is everywhere

According to this book, there is a formless, invisible substance that is intelligent and creative, and it permeates all the empty space in the universe. This creative “substance” is therefore available to any human being, including you. Anyone can tap into that creativity, anytime, to produce new or better business ideas, or find better solutions to problems.

This potential of creativity is literally everywhere, no matter your situation, challenges, problems, and so-called limitations. If you believe this formless creative substance (potential) is as abundant (or even more so) than the very oxygen you breathe, then you’ll realize that any time of day or night, any moment in your life, you can tap into great business ideas and solutions that are just what you need to move towards your success.

It’s about an abundance mindset. Believe that creativity, and your potential, are unlimited.

Beware of believing in current appearances

Idealism and optimism are what create innovative businesses and solve seemingly intractable problems.

However, it is easy for any of us to fall into believing in current appearances. We mistakenly think that our current situation is solid and unchangeable. We forget that change is happening all the time. And we don’t realize how much influence we have over those changes.  

Believe in that your vision is absolutely possible, and be aware of falling into the belief that current circumstances are stable. Everything always changes, and you can always influence the circumstances of your life -- more than you realize.

Go with trends

Remembering that your income arises from other people’s spending, try to offer products/services that are in demand... and that seem to have an increasing market.

We are so lucky in modern times to have Google Trends as a free tool to easily do this kind of research.

Work in your natural talents

This is common sense, but worth repeating: Offer services/products based on skills that you’re naturally better at.

Spend time on a useful skill 
where you have an extraordinary amount of passion, which means you’ll be more than willing to put in the time and effort to create an outstanding service or product. 

Visualize what you want

A hundred years before The Secret, and three decades before Think and Grow Rich, this book promoted the idea of clearly visualizing your end goal.

What kind of business do you want? Think about it, and see it in as much detail as you can.

Spend leisure hours turning it over until you memorize all detail

The more often you think about your vision, and mentally work out every detail (of course, writing down things so you don’t forget!), the more likely you are to see opportunities where they were once invisible to you, to take action, and to manifest your vision.

Give others more value than you charge them

Another major concept popularized by this book is the idea that in business, we should be giving the customer more value than they pay for.

The customer should feel like our service or product is such a good deal. The benefits we offer them should seem to them like a bargain, compared to what they paid.

Whatever price we charge, whether that's low or high, does the customer feel like it was an excellent value? The more they do, the more they'll naturally spread the word. The best kind of marketing is natural word-of-mouth marketing.

From competitive to creative mind

This is my favorite concept from the book: 

We can reframe any kind of competition as a creative and collaborative endeavor, and therefore, see more opportunities and benefits for everyone.

For example, instead of fearing a competitor, we can start to wonder, with a creative mindset, how the success of that business can benefit the industry as a whole. And how we might even be able to collaborate with that business to expand the market, instead of fighting for the scraps.

There is unlimited opportunity - don’t have to rush

It doesn’t matter if you have ideas that you then see others take and manifest. Ideas are useless until they’re turned into action.

And since there is infinite potential and unlimited ideas, there will always be opportunity for you to turn ideas into action, which becomes value for others, and income for you.

Don't worry about opportunities passing you by. There is a limitless flow of opportunities, always. Just keep reminding yourself of the creative mindset and the infinite potential of the universe.

Deep gratitude for everything -- even failures

I’m glad this book emphasizes the importance of gratitude.

See everything that happens to you as being of benefit in some way. Even the failures: these give you a pause, and an opportunity, to reflect on how you can grow and be better.

Do what you can, not worrying about past or future

Finally, the book exhorts us to focus on the actions we can take now. Let go of any past mistakes or failures. They do not define you anymore. And don’t worry about the future and whether results will be "good".

Give your best energy to the actions you can do right now, to move forward in your life and work.

As you can see, there are wonderfully inspirational ideas conveyed through this book.

However, I also have to warn you about some deceptive and dangerous aspects of the book...

This is not an exact science!

I really don’t like the preface and first chapter. The author oversells and overhypes the ideas of the book.

The author writes that:

“Every man or woman who does [what this book teaches] will certainly get rich; for the science herein applied is an exact science, and failure is impossible.”

Selling it as a “science” really disrespects the field of science… and creates false expectations in people that it’s supposed to be clearcut and simple as basic math.

No, the path to success is not science... it's more of an art!

Just believe what I say; don’t question me...

The author writes:

“It is expected that the reader will take the fundamental statements [of this book] upon faith, just as he would take statements concerning a law of electrical action if they were promulgated by a Marconi or an Edison…”

Later in the book:

“Do not ask why [the ideas of this book] are true, nor speculate as to how they can be true; simply take them on trust. The science of getting rich begins with the absolute acceptance of this faith.”

In other words, don't question him. He’s setting himself up as your guru, and this book as your bible.

No. True knowledge of reality and life arises from being open-minded, and willing to question authority and to find out why things are the way they are. Anyone who tells you to believe them and not to question, is the very person who needs to be questioned.

The noblest of all studies?

The author writes:

“It is perfectly right that you should give your best attention to the Science of Getting Rich, for it is the noblest and most necessary of all studies. If you neglect this study, you are derelict in your duty to yourself, to God and humanity…”

So... the effort to get lots of money is more important than the study of living ethically, philosophy, art, science, and personal and spiritual growth?

In other words, chase money above all else.

This is in direct opposition to spiritual teachings that have guided humanity for thousand of years:

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." -- Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount

The Eight-Fold Path of Buddhism:
Proper Understanding
Proper Purpose
Proper Speech
Proper Effort
Proper Conduct
Proper Vocation
Proper Alertness or Mindfulness
Proper Meditation
...does not include Lots of Money.

You cannot fully spiritual nor expressed -- unless you are rich?

The author writes:

“To live fully in soul, man must have love; and love is denied expression by poverty. The man who has nothing to give cannot fill his place as a husband or father, as a citizen, or as a man. It is in the use of material things that a man finds full life for his body, develops his mind, and unfolds his soul. It is therefore of supreme importance to him that he should be rich.” 

T he saints, sages, artists, heroes, and revolutionaries who contributed to the progress of humanity -- many of them were not rich. 

No, you don’t need to be rich to deeply give, to unconditionally love, to fully grow the soul.

One of my favorite heroes is Peace Pilgrim, who traveled on foot across the United States more than 20 times, being an inspiration to everyone she met, bringing love and wisdom to thousands of people. And she didn't have a penny to her name.

No, you don’t have to be rich to be spiritually realized, to serve as a beacon of wisdom and love for humanity. I recommend her Audiobook which can be listened for free here: 
Peace Pilgrim Audiobook. It changed my life.

Despite these complaints, I do find The Science of Getting Rich to be a valuable book, for its promotion of the mindset of abundant creativity. Just skip the Preface and First Chapter, and give your attention to the principles in the rest of the book.