Lynn and Doug Nodland

Doug and Lynn Nodland

Do you know what “the strangest secret” is? Actually, it’s not really a secret. The "secret" has been talked about for thousands of years. Yet few people knowingly and consistently apply this “secret” in a way to benefit their lives. However, those that do are typically more successful than those who don’t.

Before we reveal this “secret” we are reminded of its principle each spring when we plant flowers. Because of what was going on in our lives this year, we were slower than usual in getting flowers planted in their containers outside. When we finally did take the time to plant, we noticed one container was full of weeds that were actively growing there. The seeds of weeds had evidently blown into this container and they were flourishing!

You may be asking, what does planting have to do with “the strangest secret”? Well, here’s the story. I (Doug) remember a time, growing up as a child on the farm, when my uncle, Jory, came from Chicago for a visit. Jory was a friend and colleague of a famous author and radio personality, Earl Nightingale. After dinner, Jory gathered the family together in the living room. He played a record, "The Strangest Secret," which had just been recorded by Earl Nightingale. The record became so popular that it sold over a million copies and was the first Gold Record for the spoken word. The thoughts in it are meaningful and still applicable today.

In the recording, Nightingale talked about how the human mind is like the soil. The soil returns whatever is planted in it. If you plant corn, it returns corn. If you plant weeds, it returns weeds. The same is true with the mind. You can choose whatever you want to plant in your mind. You can plant negative thoughts such as hate, unforgiveness and bitterness, or you can plant positive thoughts such as love, forgiveness and peace. The mind will return and grow what you plant in it.

This spring, we had neglected the soil in the container in our backyard. It wasn’t the soil’s fault that weeds were growing there; it was only returning what was planted there. It was up to us to be watchful, by pulling out what we didn’t want (the weeds) and planting what we did want (the flowers).

Our job was not done when we planted the flowers. We had to make sure they had access to the sun and received the right amount of water. Also, we have to be sure to pull out any weeds that start growing in the flowers.

Likewise, it is easy to let “weeds” (negative thoughts) grow in our minds if we’re not paying attention. The weed starts as a small seed. At first, it has small, shallow roots, and if not plucked out, it can become more deeply ingrained and tougher to remove. In fact, it produces the seeds for more weeds to grow.

This leads us to what Nightingale considered to be “the strangest secret”, (drum roll please) which is — “We become what we think about.” The Bible puts it another way, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” It is a universal law of truth, much like the law of gravity. It is a law, which if followed in a positive way, can lead to happier, more fulfilling lives. Norman Vincent Peale said, “If you think in negative terms, you will get negative results. If you think in positive terms, you will get positive results.”

We can’t help but think about the division that’s happening now in the world. How much of it has been caused by the “weeds” that have been allowed to grow in people’s minds, weeds that started as small thoughts. If those negative thoughts would have been plucked out when they were small, they would not have grown deeper roots, become ingrained and spread even more weeds.

We are reminded of the following saying:

"Watch your thoughts, for they become your words.

"Watch your words, for they become your actions.

"Watch your actions, for they become your habits.

"Watch your habits, for they become your character.

"Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny."

What about you? What seeds are you planting in your mind? Seeds of thoughts, whether positive or negative, greatly influence our life. We encourage you to plant carefully in the garden of the mind and to remember the strangest secret — we become what we think about!


Chanhassen residents, Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at More information and videos at



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