The Real Secret is a different kind of self help. We debunk the empty promises of so many books and DVDs and bring you a simple, sensible approach to real life fulfillment. We don't believe you can achieve happiness, or anything else, by simply wishing for, thinking about or visualising it. Our book - and this blog - takes only the best of what really works and turns it into a positive, practical 12-step programme that will enable you to take control of your life and raise your happiness levels.

* Learn Happiness Habits from Positive Psychology * Tame your Fear with Cutting Edge Neuroscience * Control your Time and Money like an Entrepreneur * Build Better Relationships through one Tested Technique

The Real Secret is simple, sensible, scientifically supported self help
by Lucy McCarraher & Annabel Shaw


Beware celebrity science fiction

Campaign group Sense about Science (SAS) publishes its latest list of celebrity science offenders. This is the latest event in a wave of criticism of pseudo-scientific fads - is this the new zeitgeist?


What More Is There To Say About The Weather?

"When all is said and done, the weather and love are the two elements about which one can never be sure."
Alice Hoffman, 'Here on Earth'

"Barometer, n.: An ingenious instrument which indicates what kind of weather we are having."
Ambrose Bierce (1842 - 1914), The Devil's Dictionary

"Time for the weather report. It's cold out folks. Bonecrushing cold. The kind of cold which will wrench the spirit out of a young man, or forge it into steel."

Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, Northern Exposure, Lost and Found, 1992


"Weather forecast for tonight: dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning."

George Carlin (1937 - 2008)

"Isn't it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?"
Kelvin Throop III

"Don't knock the weather. If it didn't change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn't start a conversation."
Kin Hubbard (1868 - 1930)

"No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die the size of your funeral will still pretty much depend on the weather. "

Michael Pritchard

"Money is the opposite of the weather. Nobody talks about it, but everybody does something about it. "
Rebecca Johnson, Vogue

Managing Stress Over The Festive Season

Handling your own stress and stressful situations which present during every festive season, requires communication between ALL family members.   Lack of this essential communication is one of the biggest reasons why relationships within families, hit tricky patches which can sully the entire holiday. 
Everyone has their own take on how Christmas should be.   If we just stop and think about the fact that family life is a blend, a merging of different individual family backgrounds with all the complexities, nuances, expectations and traditions this brings, it is not difficult to see how easily things can go wrong and how this can create enormous stress on a day when all we really want to achieve is happiness and enjoyment for all.

How many of us actually take time to discuss what each of us expects Christmas to be like. For example:   how many presents should children receive?   What time of the day do they open the presents and do they open them all at once?   Who is responsible for what in the kitchen?   Who is fetching elderly relatives?   While one of us is cooking, does the other one look after the children AND play host to guests?   In fact, what is the routine for the day? .....

Read the rest of this piece on Peace Of Mind Blog


More Scientific Support for The Real Secret Programme

This article from NPR supports Step 6 of The Real Secret - "Mind Stretching":

"There are plenty of ways to relieve stress — exercise, a long soak in a hot bath, or even a massage. But believe it or not, something you're doing right now, probably without even thinking about it, is a proven stress reliever: breathing.

"As it turns out, deep breathing is not only relaxing, it's been scientifically proven to affect the heart, the brain, digestion, the immune system — and maybe even the expression of genes.

"Mladen Golubic, a physician in the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Integrative Medicine, says that breathing can have a profound impact on our physiology and our health.

"You can influence asthma; you can influence chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; you can influence heart failure," Golubic says. "There are studies that show that people who practice breathing exercises and have those conditions — they benefit."

"He's talking about modern science, but these techniques are not new. In India, breath work called pranayama is a regular part of yoga practice. Yoga practitioners have used pranayama, which literally means control of the life force, as a tool for affecting both the mind and body for thousands of years.

"Take A Breath
"Judi Bar teaches yoga to patients with chronic diseases at the Cleveland Clinic. Bar uses yoga and modifications of traditional yoga breathing exercises as a way to help them manage their pain and disease....

Read the rest of this article on


Whack Around The Head

Whack Around the Head: Purpose Passion and Power at Work Right Now!

Whack around the head - Purpose, Passion and Power at work right now by Sharon Eden, is due to come out in early January, but you can order it on Amazon now.

I started reading this book with my objective, coaching head on: what could I learn from it to add to my own toolkit; what insights into other people's lives would I gain? And then it came - the eponymous whack around the head, and forcefully reminded me that I too need to stay in touch with my own purpose, passion and power; regain the balance of ethos, pathos and logos which Sharon Eden appropriately updates from Aristotle.

This book is aimed primarily at corporate employees, at any organisational level, and gives an inspiring account of how those who find themselves "living dead" can reawaken, or discover for the first time, what makes the job they do have meaning, excitement and energy. The style is punchy and idiosyncratic, with neat and easily do-able exercises, archetypal stories and coaching case studies sprinkled throughout. The author's evident purpose, passion and power forces the reader to look themselves in the eye and challenges them to break out of their self-constructed and restrictive box.

The tricks we all use to evade our powerful selves are revealed as mere schticks, gremlins and trances. By the end of this engaging and entertaining book, any reader should be sufficiently enthused to embrace their sword of change and ride off into a glorious sunset with Sir Lancelot.
If you know that life has more to offer than seems possible with your current work, this is the book for you. Not only does it encourage everyone to look ahead to more and better things, but to make the most of what they have now - and find fulfillment in carrying out even the most basic job with purpose, passion and power.




It is coming up to Christmas and Brighton is crowded. I live very close to the main shopping street so that every time I go out I meet a million frantic shoppers. They get in my way, they bump into me without apology; they eat, drink, and smoke, right there on (my!) street. I have to be careful not to get irritated or annoyed by this annual visitation because it doesn’t do me any good - the crowds don’t care how I feel; they just push past me. Irritated or not they don’t even notice me.

I am careful about getting irritated because I learnt early on not to wage war with the outside world on inconsequential things such as getting upset when things outside of my control go wrong or when people are rude, and, instead, I now turn my attention inward to myself. This simple shift of attention has changed how I experience my life. I am more content - and a whole lot more tolerant. My feelings are more precious to me now - not to be wasted on irritation and annoyance. I now keep my anger and frustration for more important things, like cruelty.

So how do I stop myself getting annoyed by everyday irritations? This is what I do:
  • When an irritating event occurs I stop and breathe
  • I pay attention to how I am feeling and what I am thinking. This allows me to recognise how my old habits work so that they now no longer control me. I am aware of myself.
  • I then think of the people I love the most and I pour this love onto my irritation much as you would put balm on a physical wound.
  • I repeat these steps every time I face a difficulty
There is a space of time between what irritates you and your response. Don’t waste your precious feelings getting irritated. Save them for what really matters
Posted by Annabel.



I had an important appointment today which meant taking the bus from the centre of Brighton. Normally this trip would take twenty minutes. It took me forty-five minutes there, and over an hour back. Why? Well today was the day that the government was voting on student fees and Brighton has been at the forefront of student protest. Most of our students were in London, but there remained a vocal small crowd left at home. These students were quite young - still at school probably - but they had managed to stop the traffic.

Sitting on the bus, surrounded by revolting students and outnumbered by policeman, a woman behind me complained loudly about the disruption these protests were causing to ordinary folk trying to get about their business. A man beside her agreed and replied that he thought the parents were to blame. "What?", said a woman with a young child on her lap, "how come it's always the parents fault?" And then a full scale discussion ensued. Very well mannered and no-one getting too hot under their collars. My contribution was just to say that I think it's important that we stand up for our beliefs - that we take a stand on issues that mean a lot to us. Another woman agreed whole heartedly. A man then said that " if these kids don't get educated then what hope for all of us?" Another said that he wished his children wanted to go to university " 'stead of lazing about 'specting me to do all the earning".

Everyone laughed.
It quite Brightoned up my day.



Looking back and wishing I’d done things differently is a tendency I have when I get a ‘blue’ day. Most of us will experience ‘blue’ days from time to time as we get older but they really are a waste of time and energy. They help no-one, least of all me.

For example, did I do all I could have done for my kids? I don’t know. I can beat myself up for hours on this one, especially at 3.00 am in the morning. What I do know is that I did the very best I could do at the time I was doing it, making decisions, coping with the situation then – not now, then. If I had my time over again would I do things differently? Yes, in some instances I would. But I didn’t. It’s in the past. Let it go.

Martin Seligman, author of ‘Learned Optimism’, advocates, as I do, that we take responsibility for our own happiness. But that doesn’t mean that we have to take responsibility for absolutely everything that happens to us. The point of owning up to temporary failure is that we can change. We don’t see the failure as permanent – I am stupid. It’s all my fault. It won’t be – ever. If your son or daughter drops out of university, it’s easy to see that as a parental failure. I didn’t instill enough self-discipline in him or her. That’s nonsense. The reality will be that your student offspring was bored with the course and made his or her own decision to leave.
Be happy that whatever has happened in your life has brought you to where you are now, older, wiser, and more secure. If you made mistakes in the past, learn from them and move on.
Thank-you to Penny Young of Magnificent Ageing for this post : You can visit Penny's site at


The Real Secret on Kindle

We have lift off!

The first edition of THE REAL SECRET is out - on Amazon Kindle  .

I've just downloaded my copy and it's looking great. Cheaper than the hard copy will be (available in about a week) - at £7.28, it's all there, from the Praise for The Real Secret (most of which we posted below), through the Introduction, How The Real Secret Works and the 12 Steps.

Kindles are quite addictive; more so than books because of the new technology. You just want to keep pressing the "page turn" button, just because you can. Then when you're reading a real book, you keep pressing the right hand side and waiting for the text to move on. I've had to turn mine off to stop reading my own book, which I know pretty much off by heart, so why would I bother?

If you don't have a Kindle (and I'd thoroughly recommend you ask for one for Christmas - they are brilliant!), and you have to wait another week or so to order your hard copy of THE REAL SECRET (which looks great too, of course), you can go to the website in the meantime -; or follow us on Twitter - ; or "like" The Real Secret on Facebook .

If you do read THE REAL SECRET on Kindle, please do post a review on Amazon - and give us your comments here, too.

Back to the Kindle.
Cheers for now,

Let's Make Christmas Simple!

Every year when December arrives many of us start to feel excited about Christmas. Children especially. For adults the excitement of Christmas also means a lot of hard work needs to be done. Tree, cards, food, presents, clothes, parties; the list is endless and the cost is high. So too is the stress.

As the annual pressure intensifies we find ourselves bombarded with images and adverts that tell us how to make things even better this year! Magazines display fantastic Christmas feasts that only the most dedicated and talented chef could hope to aspire to. Children beg for bigger and more costly presents to compete with their friends, so that the 'wish' list is replaced all too frequently by the 'demand' list. The amount of pressure on parents can feel overwhelming.

And then, on the big day, the pressure is released. The Christmas family row is now traditional.

This year why not try to make things simpler? In the end, what everyone really wants is a day of fun and good food with minimal stress.

Lets start with the food because it's here that expectations just seem to rise and rise. No-one really cares if the turkey has been stuffed with a chicken, which has in turn been stuffed with a quail! No-one really cares that there are six different vegetables all with their own special sauce. Every year, it seems to me, the pressure just seems to intensify with Christmas meals getting ever more complex, costly, and time consuming. This year why not just say no to all the hype?Go back to catering basics. What's wrong with a good roast and a few favourite vegetables followed by a Christmas pudding? Forget all the complicated trimmings and all the sauces. If you really want that, then fine, but just forget it if you don't. Make the food simple, hot, and on-time. Everyone will thank you.

Now on to presents. With the credit crunch affecting most of us we really don't have the money to waste. So this year we need to put a brake on over-kill consumption. A great deal of what we buy for others is junk. We all know it is, but for some reason we just go ahead anyway. It is such a waste of money, not to mention the packaging and production costs.

This is how to do it. If aunts, uncles, siblings and grand-parents normally buy a present for your child perhaps you could ask if this year you could all club together to afford one very special present. That way every child gets something that they really want, that parents, on their own, could probably not afford. One good present is worth a million junk presents - and you'll be surprised how pleased the children will be. If you think that one special present isn't enough then why not wrap up essential items like socks and under-wear that you would be buying anyway. And under every tree there should always be a family game that even the youngest can join in on. See? That's another wrapped present already.

Nowadays, it seems that even the humble stocking has got to be filled with junk. Lets make a stand against rampant consumerism. All those plastics junk toys are not doing anyone any favours. They're junking up our world. Not to mention our children's expectations.

For adults there is a wonderful party game which involves each adult buying and receiving only one present. It's fantastic fun, and not to be confused with the 'secret present' that often we have to buy for work colleagues. This is how it goes.

Lets say there are five adults. Each adult is instructed to buy one present of say £30 (enough for a good present). The present must be suitable for any of the other adults. It can't be food and it can't be drink and it must be interesting.

Each present is wrapped and a number from 1-5 is assigned to it by the host when it arrives. The numbers 1-5 are placed in a hat and the first person (usually the host) takes a number from the hat. They then open the correspondingly numbered present. The second person takes a number from the hat, but they now have a choice. They can either open the numbered present or steal the present of the host. As each further person picks out a number they have a greater choice because they can either open a new present or steal someone else's present. The person whose present has been stolen has another go. And so it goes on until all the presents are opened and every one has a present. When we played this present giving game last year our neighbours commented on the sound of laughter from what they thought was a full-scale party to which they had not been invited!

So there you have it - a few suggestions for making this Christmas more fun, less wasteful, less expensive, and less stressful - which is how it's meant to be, after all. Simple.


Still loving The Real Secret

“As someone who has been involved in the personal development industry for over 20 years I can honestly say this is one of the best and most dynamic books on personal growth that I have ever read. The steps recommended by Lucy and Annabel and the guidelines given are backed up by real nuts and bolts quality research, science, and experience. This book really gives you a comprehensive and detailed step-by-step blueprint that tells you and also shows you exactly what to do to achieve long-lasting success in your life. This book is so needed. I personally intend to recommend this to our tens of thousands of qualified coaches and student coaches worldwide. It really helps people to get a clear understanding of what success truly is and how to achieve that within your life.

Gerard O'Donovan, CEO and Founder - Noble Manhattan Coaching; President, International Institute of Coaching


And yet more praise for The Real Secret...

"The notion of choice and personal responsibility lies at the core of every journey to healing. As a psychodynamically trained therapist, I have run a practice for twenty years and have used many self help and personal growth books to support my client's therapeutic journeys. There is no panacea for happiness or success in life, however The Real Secret offers a structured approach to gaining healthy emotional habits – a form of CBT if you like – which is therapeutically sound. I agree with the common sense approaches which keep its readers safely grounded in the real world. 
Dot Palmer Fry BSc, RGN, RHV, BACPExecutive Coach, Management Consultant and Psychotherapist 

“This worthwhile book will guide you through changed thinking and behaviour patterns, helping you to acquire useful skills and powerful insights to improve the quality of your life, work and relationships. Amongst self help books, The Real Secret is low on jargon and high on useful information and techniques.  The strong format uses practical and psychological exercises which lead the way to greater autonomy, personal empowerment  and making the choices you need to achieve the outcome that you want.”
Jane Matheson MBACP (Accred), Cert. Couple Counselling (Relate)


More praise...

"Having written about mental health issues for many years, I find in The Real Secret a practical, positive programme that could be usefully implemented by almost anyone. Young or old, male or female, depressed or simply dissatisfied, The Real Secret's 12 Steps focus on key areas for building greater personal happiness. While I mistrust the way happiness has been adopted as a fashionable must-have in life, we naturally all want to feel as contented and at ease with ourselves and our lives as possible, and that is what this sensible, well-founded guide is offering."
Angela Neustatter, Journalist and Author of Talking About Myself series of young people’s books and This Is Our Time - an adult guide to the challenges of mid-life.

"The Real Secret is an accessible and readable popular book with a comprehensive bibliography that backs up its main points. The book debunks myths around 'thinking yourself well',  has a good simple chapter on improving relationships, including tips on empathic listening; some useful information and exercises on how to manage stress, anxiety (fight and flight effects) as well as some clear practical steps to aid setting achievable goals based on CBT principles.
Barbarette Mortimer, Psychotherapist, MBACP (Accred)

"The Real Secret is a self help book designed for individuals to achieve happiness in their lives. It is written in an easy to understand and methodical way where readers can work step by step through the habit forming exercises. It empowers the reader to make changes, at their own pace, through well known and new techniques to take control of their life.”
Jenny Sladen, Personal Development Coach, JRS Life Coaching


Praise for The Real Secret

“I read hundreds of self help books each year and most all say very much the same and make little impact on my life. But from the moment of reading the first few pages of The Real Secret I immediately knew this book was not in the same category. This is a book about doing. A work book that inspires you to do the work. I even tested out some of the exercises on myself and found myself making some immediate shifts. In these times of information overload it is not enough to have access to all this information. What makes a difference is when we apply what we know. This book is a great, easy to follow, self-directed guide to making lifelong, lasting changes. This will be one of those books I know I will be returning to year after year. Thank goodness we now know the secret of The Real Secret.”
Jackee Holder, Leadership & Management Coach, Writer & Inspirational Speaker

 “The Real Secret is a book that needed to be written. And well written it is. These days there is so much valuable and useful information out there for those seeking change.  But much of it is sensationalized and falls short of offering the practical planning and an implementation process that actually works. The Real Secret  does the sorting for you, is packed with genuinely tested and helpful advice and puts it into a practical 12 Step program that is easy to understand and easy to follow.  It should be on the ‘must read list’ for anyone genuinely seeking to transform their life.”   
Michael Lee MA. Founder of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, Author of Turn Stress Into Bliss

“This is a wonderful programme to bring you greater happiness and success in life. You can work through the 12 sections to make big changes, and use some of the brilliant tips to boost your confidence and self esteem. I’m recommending The Real Secret to all my clients."
Stephanie J Hale, Author of Millionaire Women, Millionaire You

"The Real Secret offers you simple ways to take control of your life and inject it with positive actions.”
Ceril Campbell, Lifestylist & Director of Discover The New You self-image and makeover workshops; Author of Discover The New You

"The Real Secret truly is just that, offering a practical, holistic approach to taking control of everything from your finances to your thoughts. A method which doesn’t just tell you what to do, but also shows you how to do it. This book can be used by both young people and adults alike, it is a must for those who want to make significant changes and those who just want to want to make a small shift. Its techniques allow you to see the possibilities you have within you, listen to yourself and feel positive about the changes you will surely make. I found myself wanting to skip forward to the next exercise, knowing that with each word I read my thoughts were becoming more and more positive as the need to read was becoming greater and greater! I would recommend this book to anyone. It will enhance and may change your life.”
Alison Campbell, Hypnotherapist (HypDip), NLP Practitioner and Coach

"A refreshing return to reality! Following their successful audio and eBook, A Simpler Life (, Lucy McCarraher and Annabel Shaw’s The Real Secret offers even more simple, sensible self help. I love the practical step by step approach! The Real Secret doesn’t offer you the universe, but it does explain in a very accessible way how to raise your levels of happiness and what to do when things get tough. An antidote to the claims made in many self-help books that anyone can have anything they want if only they wish hard enough, The Real Secret offers practical, real-life strategies to help you take control.”
Lorelei King, Actress and Publisher

"The Real Secret gives me a step by step blueprint towards achieving a happy, healthy life. I love the plain English approach backed up by techniques used by experts. It's well written, pacey and the exercises are easy to understand and complete. The programme design enables me to dip in and out of the chapters easily.  I will be recommending this book to all my clients".
Penelope Young, Author of Magnificent Ageing, Advocate and Coach 

“As a writer with a background in science, I believe it’s never been more vital that reality fights back in the self-help book arena. Your personal happiness is far too important to be left to dangerous fads that have no basis in fact. The authors clearly mix deep empathy and life experience with rigorous scientific research and theory. The result is a breakthrough approach to the damaging obstacles that most of us face at some point in our lives and is the only life-improving manual I know that can be read comfortably by the regular guy, as well as by women.”
James L Clarke FIDM FRSA

The Real Secret is a significant tool for anyone searching for personal development; a series of practical exercises and a passport to a future of your choosing. I recommend this modest but very powerful book to all my patients.”
Bernadette Dowling BSc, Medical Herbalist

If you've ever felt you could do with a friend with a no-nonsense, uncompromising approach, able to offer advice on how to successfully transform your 'stuckness' in life, this book is that friend. Though in our heart of hearts we know that nothing can trump hard work, effort and exercise, it's too easy to succumb to the allure of the many self-help manuals out there that offer quick fixes and magic bullets. Labouring under no such illusions, this book examines the real nitty-gritty of what lasting personal change is all about whilst offering practical suggestions that break down the tasks into do-able and achievable chunks. What's more, the advice and techniques are backed up by a wide range of credible sources. I happily recommend this book to all my clients.”
Carmen Harris, Energy Healer, TV script writer, Children's Author, Educational Mentor

“McCarraher and Shaw have created an elegant how-to guide that is both easily accessible and based in sound scientific research. This book is perfect for anyone who is new to the path of personal transformation, or who has struggled to implement the Law of Attraction in their life.”
LeeAnn Mallorie, Somatic Coach & Nia Technique Instructor

“This inspirational book takes us right back to basics. It reinforces the truth that our happiness lies within ourselves. The Habits of The Real Secret are simple, positive steps for achieving a rich and fulfilled life. An easy and enjoyable read, to be recommended to anyone who is ready to make changes to get more out of life.”
Judy Reeves, Stress Management Consultant

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