“The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die” (great article on living a fulfilling life)

A friend of mine posted this article on facebook and I found it very enlightening and am passing it on to you.

The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die
Author: John B Izzo, Ph.D.

What are the secrets to happiness and meaning? Why do some people find a
deep sense of purpose while they are here and die with few regrets
while others end their lives bitter and disappointed?

About two years ago I set out to answer that question by asking several thousand
people to identify the one person they knew who had lived a long life
and found true happiness. It seemed to me that each of us knows at
least one person who achieved true success. After receiving over 1,000
nominations, I interviewed 235 people from the age of 59-106 (who had
over 18,000 years of life experience) asking them to reflect back on
their lives:

What brought happiness? What gave meaning? What did they regret? What did they wish they had learned sooner? What did not
matter in the end?

These “wise elders” were an incredibly diverse group ranging from a town barber to CEO’s, from poets to native
chiefs, Holocaust survivors to war veterans, and represented all the
major religions and cultures of our society. My goal was not to
interview famous people but to identify ordinary people who had found
extraordinary happiness.What I discovered were five clear themes of
what it means to live a happy and meaningful life…the first secret I
learned from these interviews is:

1) Be true to yourself: Each one of us is on a unique human journey and the path to true happiness
is to be true to ourselves. This means knowing what brings us happiness
and focusing our life on what matters to us. It means reflecting on a
regular basis as to whether our life fits our soul.

In our daily lives it means knowing what brings us joy and ensuring that we fill our
life with the right elements. It also means following our unique
destiny…Being true to self often means drowning out other voices that
would ask us to live their dreams instead of ours. Ron, a gifted
chiropractor, told me the story of how he planned to become a medical
doctor but when he visited a chiropractor shortly before starting
medical school he discovered a profession that connected to his true
self. “Others told me I was crazy but I knew it was my path.” He told
me that to follow your heart you must have the “discipline to listen
and the courage to follow.” This means asking if the life we are living
is true to our deepest sense of self and it sometimes requires a step
of courage to follow our soul. Are you being true to yourself right now?

2) Leave No Regrets: It seems to me that what we fear most as we age is
not death, but rather to come to the end of our life feeling that we
never truly lived. The saddest words ever spoken at the end of life are
“I wish I had . . . ”
Tom, a native healer, told me that the great fear at the end of life is “the great incompleteness; that you did not
do what you came here to do.” One of the most interesting things I
discovered in talking to 235 wise people is that almost no one
regretted risks they took that did not work out and most said they
wished they had risked more…

3) Become Love: Not surprisingly, the greatest source of happiness for people and the largest place of
regret had to do with people. What I discovered is that those who made
people a priority in their lives and who developed deep personal
relationships found true happiness. Many of them told me that “things”
rarely brought true joy whereas family and friends brought lasting
happiness. One way to focus on relationships is to get intentional
goals for our personal relationships just like we do in our careers…

4) Live the Moment: One of the most common things people told me was how
fast life goes by and how important it is to enjoy each moment. One
woman told me “when you are young you think sixty years is an
incredibly long time but when you get there you realize it was only a
moment.”

Among the secrets they shared were how important it is to live in the present, to fully enjoy whatever experience you are
having (and not to wish you were somewhere else), and to live with
gratitude focusing on what you are grateful for rather than what you
don’t have…One woman told me: “You have to stop judging your life and
start living your life. Stop keeping score trying to decide if you are
winning. Instead live each day fully and stay in the moment.” Are you
living with gratitude right now, focusing on enjoying your life rather
than judging it?

5) Give More Than You Take: When I asked people what gave their life the greatest meaning, people told me again and
again that being of service and knowing that you made things better
because you were here was by far the greatest source of meaning. I
learned that whether in career or personal life, that it is what we
give not what we take that gives life meaning.
Many of them also reminded me that we have little control over what we get from the world
every day (whether people will love us, whether we will win the
lottery, etc.) but we have complete control over what we give to the
world (whether we choose to be kind, charitable, and to give to others).

These people reminded me that everything we take from the world dies with us,
but everything we give to the world gets recycled. A wise woman named
Susan told me that “when we are young we cry for ourselves but as we
age we learn to cry for the world.” Indeed all the spiritual traditions
remind us that true happiness comes from focusing on being of service
and in the process joy finds us. Are you focused on giving or getting
each day?

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Replies to This Discussion

I like those too!
I love this! Thank you for sharing it.
Empathy, for other people, animals, the planet.
Its ironic, as I read this, I saw things written that I have felt about myself and my life since I left the church. One thing that sticks out to me is being more honest and loving. I see things in me now, in those two things, that I did not have when I was in the church. I've also heard this from several others that have left the church. This in and of its self proves to me how wrong the church is.
This article echos a lot of what I have felt and learned since leaving the church too. I think there's a lot here that if followed by the majority of humans, we'd likely experience a lot more peace, harmony and love.
You had to be completely honest with yourself and others -- even when it was very hard -- in order to leave the church. Once you've summoned the courage to be that honest, you don't want to waste that by being dishonest in easy areas. At least, that's what I've felt.
I agree Micah, I'm more at peace and have tons more love and understanding for others.
I love this article. Thank you. It reminds me that everything we need we can find inside ourselves. I am learning that and it is liberating. I have more time to focus my time and attention on others.

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