Wayne Dyer, the writer, philosopher and motivational speaker who encouraged millions of people to look at their lives in a new way, died this weekend at age 75. Over four decades, Dyer sought to motivate people to explore their passions and turn away from negativity.
Dyer died late Saturday in Maui, according to his publisher, Hay House.
“Wayne has left his body, passing away through the night,” Dyer’s family posted on his Facebook page. “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. We Love You Forever.”
Dyer’s career got a big boost in 1976, when he published Your Erroneous Zones, one of the best-selling books in U.S. history. Its subtitle summed up much of the philosopher’s career: “step-by-step advice for escaping the trap of negative thinking and taking control of your life.”
After that book became a runaway hit, Dyer went on to write more than 30 other books, from Your Sacred Self to The Power of Intention. He also helped support PBS, recording 10 specials that the public TV network often ran during pledge-drive season (a practice that sometimes led to debates about the religious component of Dyer’s message).
Many of his fans saw Dyer’s own life story — he grew up an orphan in Detroit — as proof of the power of his ideas. From that humble start, Dyer built a busy career as a writer and public speaker and also lectured at St. John’s University in New York.
Dyer’s work has reverberated widely. In one sign of his reach, R.J. Palacio, the author of 2013 sensation Wonder, told NPR that she borrowed an essential idea — to choose being kind over being right — from Dyer.
On his Facebook page, Dyer recently wrote what many are now seeing as a possible hint that his health was failing: “I have a suit in my closet with the pocket cut out. It’s a reminder to me that I won’t be taking anything with me. The last I wear won’t need any pockets.”
Tributes have poured forth from fans and others who were touched by Dyer’s message. His death was marked by entertainer Ellen DeGeneres, who noted that Dyer had officiated her wedding.
In another recent Facebook update, Dyer told a story that compared humans to oranges:
“It’s one of the great lessons of life. What comes out when life squeezes you? When someone hurts or offends you? If anger, pain and fear come out of you, it’s because that’s what’s inside. It doesn’t matter who does the squeezing — your mother, your brother, your children, your boss, the government. If someone says something about you that you don’t like, what comes out of you is what’s inside. And what’s inside is up to you, it’s your choice.”