Secrets About Life Every Woman Should Know

Ten Principles for Total Emotional and Spiritual Fulfillment


By Barbara De Angelis

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In Secrets About Life Every Woman Should Know, Barbara De Angelis, one of the nation’s premier relationships experts, turns her attention to the most important relationship a woman could ever have: the one with herself.

In this remarkable blend of timeless wisdom and practical advice, De Angelis presents ten profound secrets for creating the kind of true freedom we all seek — the freedom that comes from knowing how to stop sabotaging our happiness, how to tap into an inner state of confidence, clarity, and peace, and ultimately how to protect that state from life’s many ups and downs.

Whether you’re longing for more calm in a too-busy life, searching for the inner confidence and self-esteem you’ve been lacking to manifest your dreams, or seeking more emotional stability and deeper spiritual discovery, these secrets will guide you on the next phase of your own very personal journey toward wholeness.



The most auspicious moment of your life is when you make the commitment to know the Truth, a commitment so firm there is no turning back.


Imagine a life in which you woke up every morning excited about the day ahead and certain that, when you went to sleep at night, you would be able to say, "This was a great day!"…

Imagine knowing that no matter what challenges you faced in your relationships, your work, or your family, you would always remain centered, calm, and clear…

Imagine having a source of confidence and wisdom inside yourself that you could count on to be a constant wellspring of strength and inspiration…

Imagine what it would be like if you knew exactly what you needed to do to make each and every moment of your life one of great happiness, great contentment, and great peace…

The experiences I describe here aren't simply impossible dreams—they are possible, very attainable realities. They paint a picture of a life that, perhaps, has only existed as a dream you're sure could never come true. But it can. I wrote this book to help you create that kind of life for yourself, a life that feels like it is working, like it makes sense, and, most importantly, a life in which you are living and loving as the powerful, fulfilled person you've always wanted to be.

This book is about something every one of us seeks in our heart—true freedom, inner freedom, the kind that saints and mystics have written about throughout the ages. This kind of freedom is not the freedom to acquire more of what you can eventually lose, or to experience more of what will eventually change, or to do more of what will eventually not matter. Instead, it's the freedom that comes from knowing how to discover your own state of joy and contentment and protect it from all of life's ups and downs. It's the freedom that comes from knowing how to build a center of emotional and spiritual self-reliance on the inside, a center that will allow you to live every day with greater joy, greater strength, and greater peace. Most of all, it's the freedom that comes from finding a source of security and happiness inside yourself, happiness that nothing and no one can ever take away from you.

Ever since I can remember, I have been a seeker of this inner freedom. I've been on a conscious and committed journey trying to discover the truths about life that would help me make sense of my existence and get the most out of my time here on earth. At the age of eighteen, I found my first spiritual guide and since then, I've had the privilege of studying with many great and revered teachers and immersing myself in the knowledge and practices of the world's most ancient spiritual traditions.

Secrets About Life Every Woman Should Know contains the most important lessons about life that I have learned during my own profoundly transformative emotional and spiritual odyssey of the last thirty years. And even though the information in this book has been growing patiently and persistently inside of me for all this time, I couldn't have written it ten years ago, five years ago, even two years ago. Like a soup that you know still needs to simmer just a little bit more, this book needed these last twenty-four months of my life to add the final flavor. Now it's ready, and it is my privilege and great joy to be able to offer it to you.

All of us spend our lives searching, consciously or unconsciously, for lasting fulfillment. We make hundreds of decisions every day, from what to eat for breakfast to what CD to listen to in the car to how hard to work on a project to whom we fall in love with, based on what we think will make us happier, what will create a greater sense of security, what will provide us with more of the things we tell ourselves we need to feel successful and complete. Most of these decisions are an attempt to master, or at least cope with, the outer world. This is where we put our energies—trying to get what we want and keep everything under control.

In spite of our best efforts, in spite of how hard we try to get everything to turn out the way we want it to, a strange things happens: our hopes and dreams keep bumping into reality. We have a picture of how we always thought our lives should be, but if we are really honest with ourselves, we have to admit that our lives look very different from that picture. And so we suffer, because what is happening is different from what we think should be happening, because we are feeling something different from what we think we should be feeling. Reality lets us down, not just once, but over and over again.

At some point in our lives, usually by the time we reach our thirties or forties, we face the difficult realization that no matter what we acquire or achieve, we can't completely control what happens on the outside. This conclusion often fills our hearts with a deep sensation of emotional and spiritual uneasiness, and haunts our minds with challenging and perhaps disturbing questions: What is the purpose of my life? What am I supposed to be doing here? Why is it so difficult for me to experience true happiness, true inner peace?

Have you ever seen one of those circus acts where someone has ten or twelve china plates spinning on top of thin sticks? The performer comes out and starts a few plates spinning and then adds a few more and a few more, until, hopefully, all his plates are spinning at once. At least, that's the idea. We all know what happens—just when he has the plates at one end of the table spinning right, a plate at the other end starts to wobble, so he runs down and gets it going faster. Suddenly, two plates in the middle look like they are about to topple off, and as soon as he sets them right, two others in separate spots are on the verge of crashing down. Back and forth he frantically races, the audience laughing with delight and cheering him on if he gets all of his plates to spin properly without disaster.

Why do we find this feat so fascinating? Why do we shriek with a kind of perverse delight when a plate drops? Because this display mirrors our own lives perfectly. The truth is, most of us live just like this. We have all these "plates"—our relationship plate, our work plate, our family plate, our money plate, our health plate, and so many others—and our goal is to keep them all spinning at once. You know what you did first this morning when you woke up? You mentally checked your plates!! "O.K., the relationship plate… well, things with my husband are pretty good. How about the kids plate? Hmm… a little shaky…. Jennifer is having trouble in school, but it's not that bad yet. Let me look at this work plate. OH NO! It's wobbling pretty badly—I am really behind on that project at the office, and look down there at the money plate… Oh gosh, our credit card bills are way too high this month, that plate's about to crash…"

And so you spend the rest of the day running around trying to get the shaky plates stabilized, and hoping that too many plates don't start to fall at once. Your idea of a "good day" is when all of your plates are spinning, no mishaps. And a bad day? Well, we all know what that's like: it seems like some devious, invisible hand is knocking one plate after another off the sticks, and no matter how hard you try, you just can't keep them up in the air where they belong.

This is the battle you face each day, the battle for control of your life. You have your picture of how things "should" be, how your relationship "should" feel, how much money you "should" be earning, how your kids "should" behave, how people "should" treat you fairly, how it all "should" turn out. And when something happens that doesn't fit this picture, which it inevitably does, you feel like something is going "wrong"; you feel out of control. One of your plates has dropped. You may have been happy ten minutes before, but suddenly you're angry, or frightened, or depressed. You have lost your state of equanimity.

Like most people, I spent much of my life collecting what I thought were beautiful "plates"—the perfect career, the perfect relationship, the perfect home—then trying desperately to keep them all spinning, and praying none of them would crash to the floor. And of course I failed, because as we'll see later on, part of the purpose of life is for those plates to fall, and for us to learn the lessons that inevitably come when we are staring at the pieces of our egos scattered all over the ground. For me, each time a plate toppled over, I would feel as if somehow I'd done something wrong, and my inner state of peace and contentment would be shaken. "If only I can get all my plates to stay up," I would tell myself, "then I would finally be happy."

It was my own fervent spiritual search for the truth that ultimately led me to a series of profound realizations. For over twenty years, I'd been teaching and writing about how to create loving relationships with the people in your life. There are emotional principles, I would explain, that make love work or not work, and if you take the time to learn about these principles, you will be able to experience more intimacy, more connection, more fulfillment. Eventually, I reached an even deeper level of understanding: the most important relationship I have, that we all have, is with life itself. I had patterns of relating to life—accepting it or resisting it, surrendering to it or misunderstanding it, approaching it courageously or approaching it fearfully, paying attention or ignoring its messages, being grateful for it or not appreciating its gifts—just as I had patterns in my human relationships. How I chose to interpret events that happened to me, the attitude I brought to each day when I woke up in the morning, the way I responded to difficulty, how much I listened to what my life was trying to tell me, all these habits were determining the quality of my relationship with life. And my relationship with life was affecting my relationship with everything else. It all started inside of me.

I knew the principles that made relationships work. I knew the principles that made communication work between two people. So what were the principles that could make my relationship with life work?

The Ten Secrets About Life

Secrets About Life Every Woman Should Know shares the answers I've discovered to these questions in the form of ten important principles, or secrets, about life. These basic, universal principles have been taught and written about for thousands of years in all of the great philosophical and spiritual traditions of the world. Why do I call these underlying principles of life "secrets"? The English word secret is a word that comes from the Latin secretus, which means "hidden." These ten secrets aren't mysterious or hard to comprehend, but they are ways of understanding life that have, indeed, been hidden from our awareness, and therefore whose wisdom we haven't had access to. And as long as this wisdom remains a secret to us, we cannot benefit from it, and we go on living our lives feeling as if something essential is missing, yet not quite knowing what that is.

When you don't have the information about how to make something work, that thing becomes a source of frustration to you. For instance, no matter how wonderful your car is, if you didn't know how to start it, how to get it to move forward or to turn, you wouldn't be able to drive anywhere. If you bought an expensive, highly advanced computer but never read the manual or had someone show you how to operate it, the computer would just sit there on your desk, completely useless. A musical instrument like a piano or a guitar or a violin is worthless by itself—unless you know how to make it produce the sounds you want and then, it's magic.

This same understanding applies to your life. Like the car or the computer or the piano, your life will work or not work depending on whether or not you learn about the underlying principles or secrets that make life work. When we discover these principles and put them into action, it's as if we have suddenly pushed all the correct keys on the computer, or figured out how to put the car into the right gear. Everything begins to run more smoothly. Everything, finally, begins to make sense.

Here are the ten principles or secrets about life that this book introduces:

Secrets About Life

1. Everything you need to be happy is inside of you.

2. The purpose of life is for you to grow into the best human being you can be.

3. Change is inevitable, so stop resisting and surrender to life's flow.

4. All obstacles are lessons in disguise—honor them and learn from them.

5. Your mind creates your experience of reality, so learn to make your mind your friend.

6. Fear will steal your aliveness—make your courage bigger than your fear.

7. You must love yourself before you can truly give love or receive love from anyone else.

8. All relationships are your mirrors and all people are your teachers.

9. True freedom comes from how you respond to life and not from what life does to you.

10. Whatever the question, love is the answer.

Understanding these ten secrets has radically transformed my own life and the lives of many people with whom I've shared them. What I found is that, if at any moment I am unhappy, if I am upset or not feeling centered, if I have lost my sense of inner contentment and safety, it's because I'm violating one of these ten principles. I'm sabotaging my own happiness. And on the other hand, when I remember these secrets and put their lessons into practice, I feel powerful. I feel peaceful. I feel free.

What's exciting about the ten secrets is the astonishing revelation that you already have everything you need right now to be happy. There is nothing wrong with you that needs to be fixed; there is nothing missing in you that you need to find and replace. You actually don't need to add anything to who you are, but rather, to get in touch with what you already have inside of you. That's why this isn't a book about self-improvement—it's about self-discovery.

This is the essential message of Secrets About Life: that true emotional security cannot be found in hoping that our plates will keep spinning correctly, or hoping the sea of our lives will remain calm and no big waves will come and capsize our boats. The security we seek, the protection we long for, comes from creating an inner anchor, an inner self-reliance, so that no matter what happens on the outside, we remain firmly connected to a source of unlimited strength and peace on the inside. No matter what happens, we do not drown.

When the vision of Reality comes,
the veil of ignorance is completely removed.
As long as we perceive things falsely,
our false perception distracts and makes us miserable.
When our false perception is corrected, misery ends also.


There are times in our lives when we really are ripe for growth. There are times when you are so ready to make a shift, that if you don't make it you become very uncomfortable. There are times when, if you stay where you are, you're going to suffer because you're not moving to where you need to be. If you're lucky, just when you start to feel you really do need to make a change, God, or the universe of Divine Intelligence, or whatever you want to call that greater power, places something in your path that is exactly what you need in order to take the next step. Maybe it's a person who inspires you to reevaluate yourself, or an experience that forces you to change, or a book that says just what you need to hear. These are magical moments when everything is in place, as if someone has arranged for you to see the picture of your life as it truly is, and suddenly the curtain goes up. And you look and you exclaim: "Oh, my gosh, I didn't see this before." The truth you see about yourself takes you to a new level of strength and power, a new depth of love and passion.

You're holding this book in your hands and reading these words because, whether you knew it or not, whether you expected it or not, this is one of those magical times for you. You are scheduled for a profound shift in your consciousness. Something wonderful is about to happen to you! Can't you feel it?

As we enter this new millennium, we are living in the midst of a very potent time ripe with opportunities for tremendous growth, tremendous awakening. It's as if a big wind is suddenly blowing through our lives, and that wind is the force of change, a benevolent, unstoppable force the purpose of which is to remove all those patterns and attitudes and old beliefs that are holding us back, and elevate all of us to a new, more expanded, and less fearful way of living. Have you noticed that wind beginning to blow on the inside and the outside of your own life? It has certainly been blowing strongly in mine, and I've also noticed this same process happening to almost everyone I know who is really sincere about becoming a more conscious human being. It's as if you have all the details of your life, your relationship, and your career all neatly and nicely stacked like an orderly pile of papers, and then, without warning, this huge breeze appears and blows all the papers up into the air. And you run around trying to pick up the flying papers and put them back where they belong, but the wind just keeps coming.

If you suspect that something has been stirring up your life, it has. It is the wind of change, the wind of grace. And if you listen carefully, you will hear it whispering to you: "It's time for more joy and less suffering; it's time for more freedom and less fear; it's time to remember who you really are."

This book is written in a woman's voice. It's not that these secrets about life aren't universal, or don't apply to men, for they do. But I wanted to offer this book as an invitation particularly to women, to my sisters in spirit, to invite you to share in the fruits of my own years of seeking and discovering. I believe that it is essential for us as women to teach each other, for when we honor the teacher in each other, we are then able to recognize the teacher in ourselves. I had so few female role models growing up, and my first guides, gurus, seminar leaders, mentors, and counselors were all men, which is the way it has been for so many of us. I feel honored that, in my work, I have been able to be a female guide for men and women alike, for I believe that something unique and magical comes through women when we teach others, and something is received that one cannot receive from a man—not something better, just something different. And yet, of course, this book is for men, too, and you will know just the ones with whom you need to share it…

Finally, Secrets About Life is a gift, not from me to you, but from you to yourself. You may believe you are reading this book because you think it might be interesting, or because a friend gave it to you, but I will tell you a secret: you are holding this book in your hand because it is time for you to receive a gift, a gift from God or whatever force of grace you believe in. Have you been asking for help in the silence of your own heart lately? Have you been praying for guidance? Have you been feeling you are ready to make a breakthrough? Perhaps the gift of information contained in these pages is what you're finally ready to hear. As the writer, I am just the person passing on the gift, as it was passed on to me. I invite you to read not only with an open mind, but with an open heart, and with the intention of receiving the messages that are meant just for you. Let the words penetrate deep into your being. Let them speak to your hungry spirit.

The great philosopher Plato once said that "the unexamined life is not worth living." The truth is, there's no greater gift you could give yourself than the time and the space to look within. There's no greater gift you could give to anybody else in your life—your partner, your children, your friends, your family, and even strangers. When you really look within, you will not be the same person when you bring your awareness back out again. Inside, there are such mysteries, there are such wonders, there is so much waiting to reveal itself to you. When you understand and work with these secrets, your ordinary moments can be filled with profound awakening and you can begin to live a life that gives you back all you hope for.

I invite you to walk with me and take the most important journey of all, the journey that will lead you back to the core of your self, the journey whose destination is an inner source of untouchable joy and contentment, the journey whose ultimate gift to you will be a state of true and lasting freedom. This kind of freedom is available to you right now, if you will only give yourself permission to experience it.

My dear one, are you ready to start living the kind of life you always knew was possible?

Offered with great love,



Everything You Need to Be Happy Is Inside of You

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.


Let me tell you a story whose origins are from ancient India about the search for happiness:

In the beginning, God created the universe and all the people in it so that everyone was aware of his or her true oneness with God, and the great love within themselves. These were the secrets of life, and, after all, God loved everyone, so why not give them the greatest gift He could think of? Then God sat back and watched the play of life with all of its dramas unfold.

But as He watched, He soon realized something was very wrong. Whenever a human being met with a challenge, or went through tough times, the person would say to himself, "This is awful. Why should I go through this? I am one with God, so I will just drop this human form and merge back into Him." And that is exactly what happened. One by one, each human would remember his true self, and be unwilling to play the game of life.

God was very disturbed by this dilemma. The purpose of life was for these beings to learn and grow, not to bail out when the going got rough. So He called an emergency meeting of all the divine beings.

"After much consideration," God began, "I have decided that we are going to have to hide the secret of life, the secret of happiness from these humans. If they remember it, they have no interest in living an earthly life."

"But where will we hide it?" one divine being asked.

"Let's hide it at the top of the highest mountain on earth," someone suggested.

"No, that won't work," God replied, shaking His head. "Human beings are resourceful. They will find ways to climb up there and discover it."

"What about at the bottom of the ocean? They'll never go there," another offered.

"Oh, yes they will," God interjected. "They'll invent submarines. The bottom of the ocean won't do."

"I've got it!" said a divine being. "Let's hide the secret of happiness in outer space. Surely then it will be impossible for the humans to locate."

"But they will create spaceships and fly there," God sighed. "None of these suggestions will work. Still, there must be somewhere we can hide the secrets about true happiness."

"I know where you can hide it," a soft voice replied. God looked up and saw a young, female angelic being He hadn't noticed before.

"Yes, my dear?" God asked. "Where do you think we should hide the secret?"

"Hide it deep within the human heart. They'll never look for it there."

God smiled, for He knew He'd found the answer. And then He made it so. And that's the way it has been ever since.

All of us spend our time here on earth searching for happiness, longing to discover the secrets for living a fulfilled and peaceful life. From our very first moments of existence as an infant until the day we die, we are motivated by the search for what we believe will make us happy:

"I want to be fed… I want to be held… I want to crawl over and look in that cabinet… I want that toy… I want to go to the amusement park… I want to stay up and watch TV… I want to get on the cheerleading squad… I want those kids to like me… I want that guy to be my boyfriend… I want to go to the mall and buy that outfit… I want to get into a good college… I want to lose these extra ten pounds…"

"I want him to ask me to marry him… I want to have a fancy wedding… I want to find the perfect apartment… I want to find the perfect job… I want to get pregnant… I want my husband to be more intimate… I want to find a career that leaves me time for my children… I want to move into a bigger house… I want the kids to do well in school…"

"I want to have sex with my husband more often… I want the kids to go to college… I want my daughter to marry a nice boy… I want my son to stay in the family business… I want to take that trip to Europe we've always talked about… I want the kids to live close enough so we can visit the grandchildren often…"

"I want my husband to take better care of himself… I want to buy a condo in Florida for when we retire… I want to be well enough to attend my granddaughter's graduation… I want our investments to do well so I have enough money to live on if my husband passes away before me… I want to be able to have enough strength today to take a little walk… I want to see the ocean once more before I die…"

These are all lovely things to wish for. There is nothing wrong with these desires, or with the list you could write of what you believe would make you happy. But what happens inside of you when the things on your list don't come true? What happens in your heart when what you hope for in life doesn't happen?

You and I both know the answer to these questions: When we don't get what we want, we suffer. We feel disappointed, or angry, or hurt, or anxious, or insecure, or confused, or betrayed, and definitely not happy. We have our list of expectations about life, about love, and we decide we are happy or not from moment to moment based on how many of those expectations are being met and how many are not.

We go through this silent but deadly process of evaluating our happiness hundreds of times a day, perhaps dozens of times before we even leave the house in the morning. For instance:

Your alarm goes off and you are awakened from sleep. Another day has begun. So far, the day is neutral, neither a good day nor a bad day—just a blank slate. You open one eye to glance over at the window and see what the weather is like. It's raining. "Darn," you think. "Traffic is going to be terrible." This is your first thought of the day. You have already decided that you aren't happy about something—the weather has not met your expectations and thus has disappointed you.

You roll out of bed and shuffle into the kitchen for your morning cup of coffee. Then you notice that your husband forgot to turn the automatic coffee machine on the night before, so there's no coffee ready. You sigh with annoyance. Expectation number two has not been met. You hear the kids stirring in their rooms, then determine that they are squabbling over who will use the bathroom first. Sigh again, this time with more irritation.


On Sale
May 21, 2013
Page Count
368 pages
Hachette Books

Barbara De Angelis

About the Author

Barbara De Angelis, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized expert on human relations and the author of numerous bestsellers, including Real Moments, Chicken Soup for the Couple’s Soul, Are You The One for Me?, Secrets About Men Every Woman Should Know, and Secrets About Life Every Woman Should Know. She has hosted her own television show for CBS-TV, her own daily radio talk show in Los Angeles, and is one of America’s most sought-after speakers on personal development and relationships. Barbara’s award-winning television infomercial, Making Love Work, is the most successful relationship program of its kind, and her new special for PBS can be seen on hundreds of stations throughout the United States.

Learn more about this author