Wednesday, November 26, 2008

5 Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die

You have no idea where you will be this time next year – or 5 years from now. Sure, you may have ideas and visions, but some things are out of the boundaries of predictability. I’m sure many of us are finding that we are having to choose different paths or go in different directions with the recent world affairs taking place. So how to cope with this – how to learn to take that turn and still be happy with it.

‘Live everyday for what it is, don’t worry about what will happen, the next day will take care of itself, what will be will be, learn to accept and for the next day to happen’ - Unknown

This is a quote from a book I recently came across called The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die. The author, John Izzo, 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. After receiving over 1,000 nominations, he interviewed 200 plus people over the age of 60 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 secrets are inspiring and provide a good blueprint or roadmap, for all of us. Especially during times of volatility of where we are going and what the next step is for us – these ‘secrets’ (which really are not secrets at all, but basic life principles), when lived each and every day can bring us an internal happiness. Happiness and contentment that can not be taken away by events occurring outside of our control. The following is a brief synopsis of each secret:

1.Be True to Yourself. You must follow your heart and your dreams, not the dreams someone else has for you. This may mean making a radical change in your life, or simply making small adjustments. The key to continually examine your life is to make sure you are following your own true path.

Questions to ask yourself: Did this week or day feel like my kind or week/day? What would make tomorrow or next week feel more true to myself?

2.Leave No Regrets. Although all of the people whom Izzo interviewed had some regrets, people who had the fewest were the happiest. A common theme for happiness was that people don’t regret risks that failed; instead they regretted not having risked more.

Questions to ask yourself: Did I act on my convictions this week? How am I responding to the setbacks in my life right now? Am I stepping forward or retreating?

3.Become Love. The more you focus on acting with love, the more you will find happiness. This begins with choosing to love yourself and breaking away from thoughts that are self-defeating and self-critical. You must make loving relationships a priority in your life.

Questions to ask yourself: Did I make room for friends, family and relationships today or this week? Did I spread love and kindness in the world at each interaction?

4.Live the Moment. Living the moment means living your life now rather than simply planning it. “We must always live in the present moment, the only moment in which we have any power.”

Questions to ask yourself: Did I fully enjoy whatever I was doing this day/week? What am I grateful for right now?

5.Give More Than You Take. Each day you have the power to give without limit. Giving connects people to something larger than themselves – whether it’s a supreme being of the entire human experience and journey.

Questions to ask yourself: Did I make the world a better place this week in a small? Was I kind, generous, giving this week? How can I be more that way tomorrow?

Perhaps the most important message to take away from this is that it’s never too late to start leading a meaningful life. Age doesn’t matter. World affairs don’t matter. All you need is the knowledge and the will to change. Not only know the above, but live to it – so when you have to take a suddenly different path or life throws an unexpected twist down in front of you, you are better able to deal with it and adapt.

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