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Book Review: Secrets of the SuperOptimist (2006)

We all know or have encountered at least one of them. The people who always see the glass as half full or, even more irritating, more than half full. The people with a bright outlook on life and the future. The people who always see the up side of things.

I used to hate them. But now, thanks to Secrets of the SuperOptimist, I do no longer. That’s because while they may be optimists, I am a SuperOptimist. My transformation shows that although Secrets of the SuperOptimist is a self-help book, it is unlike virtually any other self-help book you will read. The only way to understand why is to take you inside.

Undoubtedly you want to know what a SuperOptimist is and how to become one as soon as possible. The answers are simple. A SuperOptimist is someone “who has learned the mental discipline to reframe any situation into a favorable outcome,” according to W.R. Morton and Nathaniel Whitten, the “receptors” of the book. You can become a SuperOptimist simply by following the 116 “wisdom transmissions” it contains. Morton and Whitten, who now give their address as a hotel in Reykjavik, Iceland, lived on opposite sides of the United States when the secrets of SuperOptimism were communicated to them from the Collective Sentience of Intergalactic Energy via a presence known as The SuperOptimist.

The secrets help create the mental attitude and discipline to properly view all aspects of life. They address not only philosophy but everyday elements of life. Some are sartorial, such as Secret #37, which suggests “Remove shoes whenever possible,” because the fact the words soul and sole sound identical “is not a coincidence”). Similarly, Secret #23 tells us to “Own and wear a sarong,” in part because simply wearing a sarong “is a step closer to being on vacation.”

Some rules are dietary. For example, Secret #29 (“Make it a lungo”) mandates the consumption of caffeine. The reason is simple: “Many artists, writers, and inventors come up with their best ideas in the morning. Why? Because that’s when the caffeine takes hold.” Now while this rule may seem apparent to anyone who stops to think about it, The SuperOptimist urges we use it to change our lives.

Other rules involve physical activity. Secret #68 (“Assume the position”) urges assuming certain physical poses to expand our elasticity. Finding the proper SuperOptimist poses is not hard – “simply move your body around freely until you feel a sharp pain somewhere. The pain signals you are in one of the correct poses.”

Putting these secrets into practice is relatively easy compared to those that actually require us to learn and adopt a new mental approach toward life. For example, to reframe things as a favorable outcome, a SuperOptimist must refer to pain as a “sensation” by telling himself “it’s just part of the marvelous sensation of being alive.” (Secret #67.) Yet some of these techniques come to many far easier than expected. This is seen in some of the precepts that convinced me that if I wasn’t already on the road to SuperOptimism it wasn’t much of a personal detour to get there. They are listed in the order in which they appear in the book. The secret numbers are not in sequential order because, although the secrets appear in the order in which they were transmitted, they were randomly numbered at the outset.

  • Secret #92 – “Seek bad endings.” Although seemingly counterintuitive the transmission makes clear why this is beneficial. “All decisions lead you to increased self-knowledge, and tragic decisions can lead you there faster if you are willing to learn from them.” Besides, remember that for a SuperOptimist, pain is just a sensation.
  • Secret #45 – “Set no goals. Then marvel as you exceed them.” This insight is stunning in its simplicity and beauty. As SuperOptimism seeks to create more favorable outcomes, this rule allows us all to achieve “major SuperOptimism.” Merely putting it into effect means that, virtually overnight, “anything you do will seem like an accomplishment.” The book also suggests various exercises to help us achieve SuperOptimism and Exercise 11 seems particularly helpful here. It urges taking smaller and smaller steps toward accomplishing anything because each step can be a success. In fact, “taking no step at all may be the place you need to start.”
  • Secret #31 – “Caring may be hazardous to your health.” This secret really addresses both our physical and mental condition. After all, too much interest in and caring about things can produce tension and stress. By simply saying “I don’t care,” you can turn things around and produce a more favorable feeling for yourself.
  • Secret #63 – “There is no ‘Plan B’.” This is another rule the Collective Sentience undoubtedly has right. Having a Plan B is just “planning for failure” and “planning for failure, setbacks, or humbling defeat only activates fear.” Thus, we can make any situation feel more favorable by simply plowing ahead without regard for the consequences. This also seems to tie in handily to Rule #92 (“Seek bad endings”).

Although many of the revealed secrets seem to share common traits, not all are consistent with the others or the overall approach of the book. Morton and Whitten deal with this problem as any SuperOptimist would – the contradictions are something a true SuperOptimist will embrace as part of their journey. Likewise, those who study this work will suspect there are secrets the Collective Sentience instructed Morton and Whitten to not reveal. These may include how the 116 transmissions produced only 105 secrets or why the number of secrets and exercises exceed the number of transmissions.

Such questions and the fact some secrets are not as powerful or shrewd as others may reflect errors in the transmission, undercutting some of the value of Secrets of the SuperOptimist. Yet by introducing us to The SuperOptimist and the Collective Sentience, Morton and Whitten have produced a self-help work that displays the breadth, depth and validity of the vast majority of other self-help books.

Because its message is delivered to us through human hands, Secrets of the SuperOptimist is not perfect or the be-all and end-all of self-help literature. Still, it yields one resonating conclusion: SuperOptimists of the world, arise!


“More” is a technical term used by the SuperOptimist to define the combined problems of money, power, fame, good looks, family status, height, skill, 4.0 GPA, influence, and premium real estate location. All of these are potential impediments to achieving SuperOptimism.

W.R. Morton & Nathaniel Whitten, Secrets of the SuperOptimist

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1 comment to Book Review: Secrets of the SuperOptimist (2006)

  • Sounds like a great book, but I think I’ll have to start a little smaller. I’ll just repeat to myself things like, “I didn’t just drop a bowling ball on half my feet, I just didn’t drop a bowling ball on half my feet.” Hey, maybe I’m a natural at this. If I take smaller and smaller steps, like secret #45 says, I might be ready to read that book in a year or two. That’s not a goal, mind you, just a vague notion.