The Science of Getting Rich (1910) by Wallace D. Wattles is a self-help guide for people who want money. An early text in the New Thought canon, the book outlines a supposedly foolproof method for getting rich. Much like The Secret (2006), a book that popularized similar ideas almost a century later, The Science of Getting Rich describes a method that can be boiled down to three essential steps: ask, believe, and receive. The method must be followed precisely in order to work.
First, it’s important to understand that the world consists of a miraculous, formless substance from which valuable, tangible things emerge. Valuable materials like gold, for instance, aren’t a finite resource. The formless substance can produce gold at any time, meaning that everyone potentially has access to its infinite riches.
The medium through which humans can interact with the formless substance is thought. When a person thinks about something, that thought begins to take shape in the formless substance. People who think about poverty all the time are therefore doomed to generate more poverty. People who think about money, however, will generate riches. The first step in getting rich, then, is to ask the formless substance for money, or for something valuable, like a house. People with stronger, more vividly imagined thoughts have a better chance of imprinting upon the formless substance. People who don’t bother to daydream in detail only make a vague impression on the formless substance, which means they’re less likely to succeed.
The second necessary step in getting rich is to believe that it will happen as a matter of course. The universe is fundamentally beneficent; it wishes to give people whatever they desire. It is rooting for everyone to succeed. But success doesn’t always happen immediately. People who want to get rich must maintain their belief that it will happen regardless of the challenges they face along the way. Challenges are only temporary setbacks. But those who stop believing they will reach their goal along the way doom themselves to failure.
A nice benefit of the certainty that comes with using the science of getting rich is that it erases the need for competition. The competitive impulse is repulsive to the formless substance, which doesn’t respond well to negativity. Rather, the formless substance is more compelled to assist people who create. It never seeks to steal resources from other people. The energy that creative people put out into the universe attracts riches, which then manifest in their life. An unexpected job opportunity may arise. An incredible gift may fall into a person’s lap. There’s no way to predict the exact form that the formless substance will choose to take.
After the intention to get rich is completely envisioned and fully believed, the last step is to receive its bounties. To receive the gift the formless substance has to offer, it’s necessary to take action by living and working at the highest possible level. Whatever job one may have, it’s crucial to perform it well. Even the smallest tasks should be fulfilled at the highest level of ability. Excellence is another quality that puts individuals on the same positive wavelength as the formless substance.
Wealth isn’t off-limits to anyone, no matter how unlikely getting rich might seem. Everyone in the world has the potential to amass wealth if they follow these steps precisely.
- Everyone has the ability to get rich.
- The pursuit of money is virtuous and essential to a good life.
- The universe is infinitely abundant.
- There’s never any need to compete with other people.
- Thoughts shape what happens in the material world.
- A thankful attitude attracts the favor of the universe.
- The science of getting rich requires a shift in mindset, not a shift in circumstances.
- Requests made of the universe should be as specific as possible.
- Getting rich requires hard work and willpower.
Key Insight References
[#1: Ch. II; #2: Ch. I; #3: Ch. III and Ch. VI; #4: Ch. V; #5: Ch. IV; #6: Ch. VII; #7: Ch. IX and Ch. XII; #8: Chapter VIII; #9: Ch. IX]
Key Insight 1
Everyone has the ability to get rich.
Anyone can make money. Indeed, everyone who follows the science of getting rich will inevitably find wealth. Affluence is a matter of method, not identity or means.
Despite the fact that money is readily available to everyone, people fall back on excuses to explain why others succeed where they fail. Poor people might blame their situation on socio-economic background, current finances, geographical location, or home environment. There is no such thing as class oppression. Opportunity doesn’t require talent or access to capital. Sheer belief in one’s own ability to get rich is all anyone needs. A rich person and a poor one may have the same type of upbringing, financial habits, and even occupations, but these factors don’t matter, either; it is only people’s beliefs that cause their material differences.
This is not to say that everyone who attempts to get rich will face the same amount of adversity along the way. Certainly circumstances in life can make it easier, or more difficult, to amass wealth. It’s also important to be realistic; it would be very difficult for a person to get rich by selling bathing suits in Antarctica, for instance. So long as the work is reasonable, it will lead to riches even if the job seemingly has little to no upward mobility.
Key Insight 2
The pursuit of money is virtuous and essential to a good life.
A full and happy life requires ample funds. Financial freedom is a necessary prerequisite to the pursuit of thoughtful reflection, spiritual development, and intellectual achievement. Wealth is a means to an end, rather than a goal in and of itself. Money is just a foundation on which to build a well-crafted life.
Given the necessity of money, wanting it doesn’t make someone selfish or materialistic. No one can reach full personal potential without first being rich. Moreover, being rich puts people in the best possible position to help others. It’s noble to support family members, so they can live rounded, meaningful lives.
There’s no shame in being open with other people about questing for wealth. In fact, that’s part of being a good role model. Many people hold the mistaken belief that thrift and simple living are somehow high-minded activities. The opposite is true. Settling for a lifestyle of deprivation is failing to reach your own potential, which is a moral failure. Everyone has an obligation to develop their mind, body, and soul, and pursuing wealth is in service to that noble goal.
Key Insight 3
The universe is infinitely abundant.
Many people hold the mistaken belief that the world contains a limited amount of wealth. This is simply not the case. There is no limit to the riches that the world can produce. The raw material of which the universe is made is an inexhaustible resource. There’s no such thing as economic oppression because it’s impossible for individuals, interest groups, and institutions to withhold money from anyone else. Riches are available to everyone.
Since there’s no limit to available wealth, you can always afford to be generous to others, even if you’re not yet rich. There will always be more money so long as you believe you will receive it. In business transactions, the focus should be more on what you give than what you receive. Exceeding expectations makes people feel they are getting good value for their money.
When someone truly believes in the science of getting rich, it’s impossible to fail, at least over the long term. Any short-term failure is only in service of long-term success. It’s important not to become discouraged by failure, which is only a temporary setback. If you indulge in feeling sorry for yourself or begin to doubt the inevitability of your success, you will perpetuate a cycle of failure.
Key Insight 4
There’s never any need to compete with other people.
Success is not a zero-sum game. Your success will never cause another person to fail, just as another’s success cannot cause you to come to harm. There’s enough opportunity and resources in the world for everyone, which makes envy absurd. There’s no reason to feel jealous of what someone else has when you rest safe in the knowledge that the universe will provide whatever you wish.
The competitive mindset is not conducive to long-term success. One reason is that, if you were to take a job or money away from someone else, that would mean someone else, in turn, could take it from you. If you cheat or take money from someone else, whatever you gain will surely be fleeting. And even while you benefit from that gain in the short term, it will not feel satisfying or good.
When people become competitive, they feel anxious. Negative emotions don’t attract success and wealth. Anxious feelings aren’t in alignment with the spirit of the abundant universe. Creation, on the other hand, is a positive act that attracts money. It’s better to focus on what you want to create in the world than to worry about short-term gain.
Key Insight 5
Thoughts shape what happens in the material world.
The mind has incredible power to dictate reality. The way in which people think will control what happens in their life. For instance, a woman who worries incessantly about disease is likely to become diseased. A poor man who focuses on lack and hardship will remain poor. In sharp contrast, a poor man who focuses on his future riches will manifest those riches into reality. Put another way, you can think your way to riches.
The difficulty is that thinking yourself rich is often easier said than done. A poor family faced with the day-to-day realities of financial hardship may have trouble focusing thoughts on wealth and happiness. Moreover, they can’t just hope that they will become rich; they have to truly believe it, despite all the evidence to the contrary. The sheer power of sustained belief will, over time, manifest the money.
It may be tempting to wonder why thoughts shape reality, or how the process works. But it’s pointless to speculate. Getting rich is, in many ways, a matter of faith. Doubt is a form of self-destruction.
Key Insight 6
A thankful attitude attracts the favor of the universe.
Success requires the constant practice of gratitude, a feeling that helps individual consciousness align with the generous spirit of the universe. This thankful attitude should be a daily custom even before you begin to reap the rewards of being rich. Since wealth is an inevitability that follows belief in eventual riches, you may as well be thankful for what the universe will give you in advance.
A benefit of gratitude is that it wards off the pitfalls of feeling competitive with other people. Thankfulness focuses the mind on the generous nature of the universe, particularly the formless matter out of which the bounties of the world have been made. The formless matter responds to personal energy and thought patterns. It’s drawn to individuals who are content and thankful, and repelled by people who are entitled, negative, or skeptical.
People who don’t feel grateful towards the universe’s bounty, and particularly people who become fixated on lack in their lives instead of abundance, are setting themselves up for failure. Since thoughts impact material reality, feelings of distress only serve to create further distress. The same cyclical process can be turned to one’s advantage by maintaining a positive attitude.
Key Insight 7
The science of getting rich requires a shift in mindset, not a shift in circumstances.
Success is something you should seek today, not tomorrow. Many people mistakenly believe that getting rich requires some sort of big life change, like a new job or environment. More likely, the best place to start is wherever you are. Sheer willpower will bring about whatever changes are necessary to succeed.
For example, a woman who wants to get rich may worry that her current job has no opportunities for advancement. But it doesn’t matter. Instead of looking for a new job, she should train her attention on performing at a high level in her current role. A relentless focus on the present, instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, is the best possible way to pursue professional advancement.
For people who don’t like their current situation, it’s critical not to dwell on discontent, which tends to generate more discontent. Envisioning a positive goal is a much better use of time and energy.
People who are confident in their own professional advancement, even if no sign of it has yet appeared, are naturally compelling to others. Witnessing this confidence, others may be moved to offer the confident person a job or some other opportunity. In this way, believing in your own success makes it come to pass.
Key Insight 8
Requests made of the universe should be as specific as possible.
It’s important to think about what you want from the universe in a certain way. Everyone has vague dreams of wealth and success. To make yours stand out to the universe, the things you want should be as specific and as sharply imagined as possible. Instead of wishing for a big house, for instance, it’s better to imagine every room of that house down to the most minute detail. Instead of hoping for a great deal of money, it’s better to have a firm amount in mind. For a thought to have enough power to shape material reality, that thought must be strong and forceful. Vague ambition won’t suffice.
Asking the universe to grant a wish is a lot like other forms of communication. You wouldn’t go to a bar and just ask for a drink; it’s necessary to tell the bartender exactly what you want. Similarly, it’s not enough to tell a financial adviser that you want more money. It’s important to communicate your specific financial goals so they can find the best way to help you achieve them.
The act of maintaining a vivid fantasy of the life you want to lead is important not just so the universe knows how to grant your wish, but also because it’s a powerful motivational tool. The desire helps fuel concrete steps forward that make success more likely.
Key Insight 9
Getting rich requires hard work and willpower.
Getting rich requires more than just passive belief. The process demands engagement, ambition, and willingness to work hard. After broadcasting an intention to get rich out into the universe, it’s important to dedicate yourself to actually making it happen. The actions you take will reinforce the power of your mind to shape reality. The universe will bend itself to your will, but only if it sees that you are doing your part. You must remain confident in the inevitability of your wealth, and steadfast in its pursuit. After focusing on initial thoughts about getting wealthy, it’s not necessary to waste further time on hope or prayerful requests. Having certainty is enough.
An important principle with regard to willpower is that it’s a personal tool. It’s not appropriate to impose your will on other people. Getting rich doesn’t require bending other people’s actions to your desires. The only person who can make you rich is you, so you should pour all of your willpower into the effort. Your singular focus is a key component in this process. Letting your thoughts drift into the affairs of others is a distraction that can only sabotage your effort.