John Izzo, the author is the book “The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die” interviewed over 200 people, ages 60-106, each of whom was identified by friends and acquaintances as “the one person they knew who had found happiness and meaning.”
From town barbers to Holocaust survivors, from aboriginal chiefs to CEOs, these people had over 18,000 years of life experience between them.
He asked them questions like, what brought you the greatest joy? What do you wish you had learned sooner? What ultimately mattered and what didn’t?
Therefore, what are the secrets to finding happiness and living wisely? What really matters if we want to live a worthy human life?
These are the questions John seeks to answer, to discover the secret foundation of a fulfilling and purposeful life.
Don’t take them lightly, because they are a gift from those who have lived wisely to those of us who are still climbing the mountain.
Secret #1: Be true to yourself
How do we really live true to ourselves?
The secret is to live with intention, to consistently and regularly ask these three critical life questions:
- Am I following my heart and being true to myself?
- Is my life focused on the things that really matter to me?
- Am I being the person I want to be in the world?
Wisdom means reflecting more, asking again and again whether your life is going in the right direction, and making constant adjustments to move closer to the life you deserve to live.
What separates those who live well and die happy from most of us is that they continually asked themselves whether they were living the life they wanted to live and following their heart toward the answer.
The first secret is to follow your own rhythm – Be true to you, yourself, and live with purpose.
Be fearlessly authentic. Be the best version of you.
Secret #2: Leave no regrets
Regret is possibly the one thing we all fear the most.
We fear that we might look back on our lives and wish we had done things differently.
When we have lived life fully and done what we hoped to do, we can accept death with grace.
What we fear most is not having lived to the fullest extent possible, to come to the end of our life with our final words being “I wish I had.”
To leave no regrets, we must live with courage, moving toward what we want rather than away from what we fear.
Secret #3: Become loved
Love is a word with a great deal of baggage. It is necessary to make a distinction between the emotion of love and the choice to love.
Love is commonly perceived in our society as only an emotion.
However, the secret to a happy and purposeful life is to choose to be a loving person and to become loved.
How do we become loved?
First, love yourself.
Unless we fundamentally choose to see ourselves as worthy, we cannot find happiness.
The love of self is fundamental to being a spiritually human being.
For some of us, self-love may come naturally because our upbringing and early experiences gave us a deep sense of our own self-worth, but for others the love of the self comes with difficulty.
Second, make love a priority.
Choose to act with love toward those closest to us and to make loving relationships a priority in our lives.
Third, choose to see others with kindness.
Learn to become loved in all the encounters of our lives, to choose love and kindness as our way in the world.
When we give love away, it comes back to us in the form of happiness.
Secret #4: Live the moment
If life goes by quickly, then one of the secrets to happiness is to get more out of the time we have, to find a way that each moment and each day become great gifts.
At its simplest, live the moment means to be fully in every moment of our lives, to not judge our lives but to live fully.
We must not focus on the past or the future but experience each moment with gratitude and purpose.
We need to recognize that we have the power in each moment to choose contentment and happiness.
Living the moment does not simply mean to take each moment as it comes, it means something far more significant: Seeing each day as a great gift from God.
Living in the present means recognizing that we have no power over the past or the future, none at all.
The past has already occurred and is behind us.
Whatever happened, we have no power to change it.
Any regrets we had, and any joys, are forever frozen in time.
Focusing on the past, especially on regret, has the power only to rob the present moment of its happiness.
When we find ourselves in regret about the past we must tell ourselves that we have no power over it, none whatsoever.
Living the moment is easy to say but hard to do.
To practice living the moment means that we must train our minds to be present.
Let’s learn to seize the moment for everything else is uncertain.
Secret #5: Give more than you take
Happy people are always givers not takers.
They may not have been as selfless as Mother Teresa or Gandhi, but they discovered that “the more we give, the more we find happiness“.
One of the reasons that giving more than we take is one of the secrets to happiness and purpose is because we have a great deal of control over what we give.
Each day, we have the power to give without limit. We can choose kindness, to serve, to love, to be generous, and to leave the world better in some way.
When we give more than we take, we connect ourselves to a story bigger than ourselves. In doing so, happiness finds us.
Bonus #6: It’s never too late to live the secrets
It doesn’t matter how old you are. Instead, ask yourself: How can I embrace and live the five secrets more deeply?
The judging mind paralyzes us either by giving us a false sense of perfection or by giving us a deep sense of inadequacy.
Yes, we have lived the life we have lived. The best part is, now we have the opportunity to grow and live out our fullest potential that God has created us to be!
It is never too late to embrace the five secrets found in this book and to change the legacy of many years.
Even one year lived wisely can erase many years of regret.
Friends, stop judging the life you have lived and get on with the life you still may live.
Whatever mistakes you have made and no matter how many regrets may litter your past, plant a new tree today.
Let’s begin to live the secrets now or simply live them more deeply.
Here are some of my favourite sharing from the people who were interviewed:
If you are unhappy, get busy doing something for someone else. If you concentrate on yourself you will be unhappy, but if you focus on helping others you will find happiness. Happiness comes from serving and loving. – Juana Bordas
Learn to step out of the boat more. – Don
Never dwell on the negative in your life, bad things happen all the time, even in bad situations look for the good and you will find it. – Rufus Riggs
Always see the good in people, and you won’t get hurt because everybody has so much goodness in them. Don’t envy other people, because you have different gifts and blessings. – Eileen Lindesay
Get an education, find out who you are, where you came from and where you want to go, and don’t forget who you are. – Ralph Dick
Find something you love doing and make it your career. – Paul Hersey
Remember you are part of something larger than yourself. – Anthony Holland
Learn to love people, because if you do, it will carry you to all kinds of places – see the good in other people always. – John Boyd
Adapted from: The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die
By John B. Izzo