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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die

Most of us, if we think about it for a minute, will easily identify the one or two people we have encountered in our lifetimes who had very obviously discovered the meaning of life. Some of us may even have been lucky enough to have one of these wise elders as a parent or grandparent. But these wise men and women are everywhere, and others of us have been fortunate to have had them as teachers, ministers, co-workers or simply as friends.

John Izzo recognized that what all of these extraordinary people have in common is contentment with life and how they live it. Izzo, hoping to learn what the secret to such a successful life is, asked over 15,000 people in the U.S. and Canada to identify the wise elders in their own lives whom they believed had something to teach the rest of us. From the responses received, he and his colleagues identified 235 candidates between the ages of 60 and more than 100 and interviewed each of them in order to identify the secrets of life that had taken the 235 a lifetime to discover.

The result of those hundreds of interview-hours is The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die, a deceptively simple book that allows its readers to take advantage of the experiences of a lifetime now rather than having to work through them over the next decades on their own. The interviewers learned that the secrets to happiness are common and Izzo made the five that came up most often in the 235 interviews the basis for his book.

But knowing the five secrets to a happy life is only part of the equation and, for that reason, Izzo spends most of his time explaining how to actually put the secrets into practice so that their benefits may be felt and shared with others. And as I said earlier, this is a deceptively simple book. It has the potential to change the lives of those who read it, but no book has that power if it is simply read one time and put back on the shelf to be forgotten. The five secrets have to be worked at until they become habit enough to replace the less successful habits that need to be rejected if true happiness is to be found.

So what are the five secrets? Izzo devotes an entire chapter to each of the five and I do not want to oversimplify them, so I will mention only the one that I have decided to work on for now. It is the fourth secret: to “live the moment” by always being fully aware that the present moment is the only one we have and that there is little to be gained from regretting the past or worrying about the future. The present is the only moment a person can control or enjoy, so wasting it is a terrible mistake. Too many people plan to be happy someday, perhaps when they retire, but that day never seems to arrive for them because they are unable to live in the present even when it becomes the future for which they planned.

John Izzo wants you to have the wisdom of a wise elder right now. He wants you to be able to face death with the feeling that your life has been well lived and that you have made a difference, left your mark on the world. If you are ready for it, it is all here in The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die. The rest is up to you.

Rated at: 3.5

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