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

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

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

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

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

Spend time on a useful skill

Visualize what you want

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

Give others more value than you charge them

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

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

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

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

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!

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…

“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?

“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?

“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.”

The 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.

Originally published at

Authentic Business Coach & Author of 4 Books including "Authentic Content Marketing" and "Joyful Productivity"