LOS ANGELES (AP) — Wayne W. Dyer, who became the pied piper of the self-help movement with the 1976 publication of his runaway best-seller, “Your Erroneous Zones: Step-By-Step Advice for Escaping the Trap of Negative Thinking and Taking Control of Your Life,” has died at age 75.
Dyer, who published more than 40 books, including such best-selling titles as “I Can See Clearly Now” and “Pulling Your Own Strings,” died Sunday at his home in Hawaii. The cause was a heart attack, his publicist, Lindsay McGinty, told The Associated Press.
Although he had been diagnosed with leukemia, Dyer remained active until his death, recently lecturing in Australia and New Zealand.
“Wayne has left his body, passing away through the night. He always said he couldn’t wait for this next adventure to begin and had no fear of dying,” his family said in a statement posted on his Facebook page. “Our hearts are broken, but we smile to think of how much our scurvy elephant will enjoy the other side.”
The prolific author and avuncular public speaker counted such celebrities as Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra and fellow self-help- guru Tony Robbins among his friends, and tributes from them and others poured across the Internet.
“The world has lost an incredible man,” said Ellen DeGeneres, who posted a photo on Twitter of Dyer officiating at her wedding to Portia de Rossi.
Winfrey, who interviewed him often, said, “It was always a pleasure to talk to Dr. Wayne W. Dyer about life’s big questions.”
He was also a popular figure on public radio and television programs, and his website said 10 PBS specials he took part in over the years raised more than $250 million for public television.
A Detroit native, Dyer earned a doctorate in educational counseling from Michigan’s Wayne State University before going on to teach at St. John’s University in New York.
He would later say it was his teaching and work as a clinical psychologist that inspired him to write his first book, “Your Erroneous Zones,” in which he exhorted readers to believe in themselves, take chances and not be afraid to risk failure in pursuit of happiness.
He believed so strongly in its content that he drove across the country selling it out of the trunk of his car until it caught on and topped The New York Times best-seller list. To date it has sold 60 million copies, according to Hay House, making it one of the most popular books of all time.
Dozens more books followed, many of them also best-sellers. Among them were “Wishes Fulfilled,” ‘’Excuses Begone” and “The Sky’s the Limit.”
He also co-authored a handful of children’s books.
In more recent years, the focus of Dyer’s books shifted from what he called the practical psychology of self-improvement to more spiritual matters. Some early fans dismissed those later works as too “New Agey,” but Dyer believed strongly in their importance.
“My purpose is to help people look at themselves and begin to shift their concepts,” he said. “Remember, we are not our country, our race or religion. We are eternal spirits. Seeing ourselves as spiritual beings without label is a way to transform the world and reach a sacred place for all of humanity.”
Hay House said a public tribute is scheduled next month in New York, and McGinty said there will be a private memorial service for family members only.