Wayne Dyer, the prolific self-help guru and motivational speaker, has died, Dyer’s family has announced on Facebook.
“Wayne has left his body, passing away through the night,” read the post, shared more than 50,000 times Sunday evening. “He always said he couldn’t wait for this next adventure to begin and had no fear of dying. Our hearts are broken, but we smile to think of how much our scurvy elephant will enjoy the other side.”
Dyer, who announced in 2009 he had been diagnosed with lymphocytic leukemia, was 75.
Dyer was a psychotherapist and a professor before helming his own self-help empire, but perhaps the most important credential one can have when being in the business of inspiring people and instructing how to pick one’s self up by their bootstraps and to achieve is to have done just that themselves.
And the story of Wayne Walter Dyer was classic Dickensian.
Born in Detroit in 1940, Dyer grew up an orphan, an experience that molded a self-reliance as well as an aversion to self-pity.
“I grew up in the east side of Detroit in an area where there was very little, except for a lot of scarcity, poverty and hunger,” he said in a 2009 interview with Success magazine. “But I never woke up saying, ‘I’m an orphan again today, isn’t this terrible? Poor me,’ (…) there were a couple of very affluent neighborhoods nearby, but I never thought for one second that those people had more than I had. It just seemed that they got what they were entitled to, and if I really wanted those things, then I would have them, too.”
After a stint in the Navy, Dyer pursued an education in counseling, graduating with advanced degrees from Wayne State University. He was teaching at St. Johns University in New York in 1976 when he penned his first self-help book. His life would never be the same.
“Your Erroneous Zones: Step-by-Step Advice for Escaping the Trap of Negative Thinking and Taking Control of Your Life” brought him out of the classroom and the clinic and propelled him onto the speaker’s circuit, earning him millions on its way to becoming one of the best-selling books of all time.
The philosophies Dyer espoused throughout the more than 30 self-help books he authored generally centered around the notion that one has to has to think positive, happy beliefs in order to live a positive, happy life.
He stayed busy until the very end, doling out pithy nuggets of wisdom to his Twitter followers (‘chasing success is like trying to squeeze a handful of water. The tighter you squeeze, the less water you get.’) and maintaining a hectic speaking schedule.
Dyer, who lived in Maui, married three times and had eight children.