This is part of our Rockstar Book Review series. Be sure to check out all previous books we’ve covered!
"The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die" by John Izzo
Who it’s for: Those who have a nagging feeling that you can get more out of life.
Readability: HIGH. This book is an easy read. At just over 150 pages, it’s very approachable. Not only that, it includes so many thoughts and quotes from wise and happy people that I dare you to put it down. What I liked about it: Almost everything. Rubber really hits the road starting on pg. 25, but the preamble is useful in understanding how the author chose the people included in this book and who contributed to isolating the five secrets we should all commit to memory. What I didn’t like about it: I would have loved to have more stories, more background around how those who lived a full and fulfilling life navigated through their decisions so that we could walk through their experiences as they reflect on them. (I also wish it didn’t have a “as seen on public television” message on the front, which seems to cheapen the message.) In fact, this book could have been a series similar to Chicken Soup for the Soul.
At Amazon for $14.83 || Free at the library :)
Thoughts and Advice From Those Among Us Who Have Lived "The Good Life"
In "The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die", author John Izzo offers us a distillation of interviews with over 200 people sixty years of age and older who were identified by others (and later verified by the author and his team) as having the wisdom that enables them to live a full and happy life. The first few chapters present the methodology behind the development of the five secrets, but chapters three through seven are the essence of the book. You may also appreciate the last section titled "The Secret to Life in One Sentence or Less". Izzo asked each of the 200 individuals to provide their answer and this section offers a compilation of the most salient answers. It's a great go-to section for anyone who wants a quick reminder of what matters most.
The Five Secrets
Here are the five secrets:
- Be true to your self
- Leave no regrets
- Become love
- Live in the moment
- Give more than you take
(Given the power of this book resides in the insights derived from over 200 interviews, I've included more quotes than usual for this review. Enjoy!)
#1. Be True to Your Self
The secret is to live with intention, to consistently and regularly ask three critical life questions:
- Am I following my heart and being true to my self?
- Is my life focused on the things that really matter to me?
- Am I being the person I want to be in the world? (pg. 27)
#2. Leave No Regrets
It became evident that at the end of our lives we will not regret risks we took that did not work out as we hoped. Not one person said they regretted having tried something and failed. Yet most people said they had not taken enough risks. (pg. 48)
#3. Become Love
[M]any people still often put material things before people, and in our busyness we forget to act with love toward those closest to us. (pg. 72)
#4. Live in the Moment
[H]appy people know that we are more in control of our minds than most people realize. (pg. 92)
#5. Give More Than You Take
When a generation or society becomes focused on the accumulation of more things and comfort rather than some greater sense of purpose, a society, like a person, loses its vitality. (pg. 110)
What's most powerful about the book is not just the lessons themselves, but the fact that the interviewees not only understand the lessons, they apply them quite intentionally in their own way. The lessons have become a habit in their day-to-day lives, including regularly making time for reflection on who they are and what they want out of life… and not just around the holidays. How can we not want to emulate their behavior?
The Bottom Line
I dare you to read this book and not be moved, or at least inspired.
If you're curious to read more on this book and how good money management can help us apply the five secrets more successfully, you may want to read this post. If you’d like some other introspective picks along the same lines, I’d suggest the following books: The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and the recently-published When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Coming Soon: John Izzo, it appears, is also releasing another related title in 2017: The Five Thieves of Happiness. I've already requested it and look forward to reading it. All book reviews include affiliate links to Amazon.com or other places they're sold. Thank you to all those who support our site by going through these links!