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.

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


How the Happiness Habits Worked - The Results

Here is a summary of the results of our Happiness Habits Experiment. We think you'll agree, they show some pretty positive results for Happiness Habits being able to raise happiness levels, that they became habitual in many cases, that participants enjoyed them and are likely to carry on doing them. But - even when you know they work, it's hard to remember to keep doing them.


Happiness Habits raised happiness levels
Overall, carrying out daily Happiness Habits raised happiness levels for almost two thirds (62%) of respondents, with “Three Good Things” the most effective (65%), followed by “Smile” (58%) and “Fun To-Do Lists” (50%).

“You just can't feel too bad when you are smiling even if things seen awful, it changes you, I felt lighter.”

30% of respondents reported that all Habits combined affected their happiness levels, whilst 38% were not sure.

“Smiling and positive thoughts and keeping a record of the good stuff is a great habit - works for me :-)”

9 participants (24%) said that individual or the combined Habits did not affect their happiness levels.

“Doing the habits were natural for me but it is a great feeling to know that level of happiness can be changed for the better just knowing the keys.”

Happiness Habits were enjoyable
The vast majority of respondents (96%) found carrying out Happiness Habits enjoyable or quite enjoyable. “Smile” was the most enjoyed habit with 92% of those trialing it rating it as Enjoyable.

“Smiling more and consciously was particularly enjoyable. It had an immediate psychological and physiological benefit.”

"Spreading Happiness” was the second most enjoyed habit, rated Enjoyable by 81%.

“Doing something kind and helpful was wonderful. It made me very happy.”

96% of respondents who trialed “And Breathe…” rated it Enjoyable or Quite Enjoyable (in equal numbers).

“Breathing was very calming... It was very useful in stressful situations at work.”

Three is the happiest number of Habits
Comparing the number of habits respondents had chosen to work on with their opinions as to whether they would choose more or fewer Habits in another period, revealed that the majority felt that practising three Happiness Habits at a time was the optimum number to raise happiness levels.

Happiness Habits became habitual
The simpler interventions, in particular (such as smiling and affirmations), became embedded as habits for at least half of the respondents after three weeks of regular practice. Once more, “Simply Smile” scored highest, with 54% of respondents saying it had already become a Habit with them and the remaining 46% feeling it would do so in another three weeks. 50% of participants who practised “Three Good Things” and “Yes I Can” said these had become a habit with them. 40% felt “Yes I Can” may become a habit with further practice and 35% believed “Three Good Things” would become one. Over half of those who carried out “And Breathe”, “Fun To-Do Lists” and “Spreading Happiness” reported that these may become a habit for them in another three weeks. Only 9% of respondents across all Habits felt that some would never become habitual to them.

Simpler Habits were most popular
“Simply Smile” was the most popular Habit overall (for its simplicity, we suspect) followed by “And Breathe...” then “Three Good Things”. “Fun To-Do Lists” was the Habit fewest signed up to. No men opted to carry out “Yes I Can” – a habit of positive affirmations.

Remembering to do Happiness Habits
Many participants found it hard to remember to practise their Happiness Habits, even when it was clear to them that they worked to raise happiness levels. Whilst 42% of respondents found it Easy to remember to carry out some or all of their Happiness Habits, 22% found it Not Easy with the remaining 36% finding it only Fairly Easy.

The issue of remembering to practise (and therefore embed) Happiness Habits is crucial and may be more critical than our results suggest. Whilst 66 participants originally signed up to take part in the Experiment, only 37 completed and returned the survey. When reminded to return the questionnaire, several replied that they hadn’t remembered to do the Habits enough to be able to respond to the questions (despite the form stating that this was not a problem and would form part of the research findings), and did not do so.

“I forgot about the experiment so it didn’t really work for me. I do believe in spreading happiness so that came easily as did the smiling but the other parts just slipped my mind.”

Whilst 65% of respondents found remembering to “Smile” Very Easy, only 30% found remembering to “Breathe”, 25% “Three Good Things” (the hardest Habit to remember – although it was the Habit that made the most difference to respondents’ happiness levels) and “Fun To Do Lists” Easy. A few respondents said they had found ways of remembering to carry out their Happiness Habits:

“I used my diary to remind me of my three good things. Every day I would number 1, 2, 3, down but found myself going onto to no's 5, 6 and more sometimes. It gets a bit of a habit!”

“As for reminding myself, the list stays beside my bedside and I will continue using it every night. I’ve taken it on travels to other parts of the USA to continue the routine at night.”

Happiness Habits will continue and increase
Two thirds of respondents said they would definitely continue to practise their Happiness Habits and over half will adopt further Happiness Habits from the Experiment list or The Real Secret book.

“I firmly believe that making a conscious effort to become happier pays off. And this experiment has proved that, even if it has also proved that forming habits takes sustained effort.”

For the full results, download The Happiness Habits Report here

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