A while back, I read The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before Your Die by John Izzo. I believe it was recommended to me by a blog reader; but I cannot for the life of me find the recommendation, so sorry for not thanking you. In this book, Dr. John Izzo distills the critical and commonly held beliefs present in the several hundred interviews he (and his team) gave to hand-selected elders (those over the age of 60). The pool of interviewees was selected from the thousands of individuals that were suggested by everyday-people as being particularly wise or happy. These elders were then asked about their lives and their outlook; the answers they provided were then analyzed and resulted in five commonly held beliefs about what conditions create happiness, meaning, and fulfillment in life.
According to Izzo, the interviews with the elders contained many pearls of wisdom. However, if you want to get at the most commonly held, most powerful pieces of advice, he presents the following as the five secrets you must discover before you die:
- Be true to yourself.
- Leave no regrets.
- Become love.
- Live the moment.
- Give more than you take.
To be honest, we've probably heard all of these before in one form or another. A huge part of the book, however, doesn't just concentrate on the secrets - it concentrates on reflection. It's one thing to have a list of secrets; it another thing to actually put those secrets into action. Along with each "secret", Izzo provides a large number of questions that one can ask themselves each week as a means to think deeply about their life and how to steer it back in the right direction.
- Did this week or day feel like my kind of week or day?
- What would make tomorrow or next week feel more true?
- Was I the kind of person I want to be this week?
- In what ways do I want to be more like the person I want to be tomorrow?
- Am I following my heart right now?
- What would it mean for me to really follow my heart right now?
For me personally, the one secret that resonated most profoundly was that of:
As I stated in my Philosophy of Love blog post, this statement has lodged itself deeply within my mind. There's something so simple yet profound about what it is saying. In a way, it succinctly defines so much of what I've been thinking about lately and striving for in my life. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I look at it as simply being my "montra."
I've never had a tattoo before; but, I have to admit I'm unbelievably intrigued with the idea of getting this phrase tattooed on my hand. Something small and simply, just enough that I could see it every time that I look down. I think I'll explore some temporary tattoo options online (as a sanity check).
If I come away from this book with nothing more than this phrase stuck in my mind, I feel like the book will have been well worth the read. There are impediments and barriers all around us built to prevent love. In fact, in the book, Izzo explains that the average household has a 14:1 negative-to-positive statement ratio. This means that for every positive comment exchanged in a household, there are, on average, 14 negatives comments exchanged. This blows my mind!
Reading a book like this in not an exercise in the search for the "silver bullet." As I mentioned before, we've probably all heard secrets like the ones listed in the book. Reading a book like this is all about practice. Like prayer, reflection, or meditation, it is meant to constantly keep us in touch with those aspects of our life that are most meaningful. And for me, remembering to "become love" is never without value.