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"In my experience, the two things humans want most are to find happiness and to find meaning," Izzo writes. In this ready-made spiritual quest, the business consultant and ordained Presbyterian minister interviewed more than 200 people from ages 60 to 106. The answers they received led him and his team to the belief that there are five secrets to happiness. Izzo's interviewees were selected after relatives and friends submitted their names as wise people with something to teach. The list was narrowed from 1,000 names to a diverse group that includes men and women, Muslims and Christians, doctors, barbers, priests, and aboriginal people.
Throughout the book, Izzo presents each lesson with heartfelt responses and anecdotes from these wise elders to illustrate how living each lesson has made them fulfilled and unafraid of death. "Just be yourself" has been the advice of every parent since Polonius. Izzo found that the simple phrase, "be true to yourself," is the first secret. Seventy-two-year-old Elsa told the author, "In order to tell a person the secret to happiness, I would have to sit down with them, look them deeply in the eyes, find out who they are, find out what their dreams are." A college professor discussed with him the difference he sees every day between his students who are following their dreams and those who aren't. Izzo also explains that the word "sin" comes from an ancient Greek word related to archery that literally means "to miss the mark." He believes that to sin, in the original sense of the word, means to "miss the mark of what you intended your life to be." After "leave no regrets," "become love," and "live the moment," the book's final secret is "give more than you take." As George, a seventy-one-year-old physicist, put it, "sooner or later you realize that you are not going to take anything with you but you can leave something behind." Each chapter ends with questions that encourage readers to think about the way they are living their own lives, such as, "Did I make the world a better place this week in some small way?"
In a society where old age is often seen as weakness, The Five Secrets is a refreshing reminder that our elders have much to teach. Izzo writes, "Whenever I am going to take a trip, I choose hotels by using a website that taps into the experiences of hundreds of other travelers ... It occurred to me that one could apply this same method to discovering the secrets to living well and dying happy." How many pitfalls and heartaches could be avoided if we consulted with travelers who have taken the road before?-- Foreword Magazine, January/February 2008
Verdict: In the burgeoning world of self-help books, Izzo's "five secrets"--"be true to yourself," "leave no regrets," "become love," "live the moment," and "give more than you take"--aren't exactly secrets anymore. But his book takes off on the strength of his methodology of surveying "wide elders." Readers will want to know more about these interviewees and see the accompanying public television series to air widely in the spring of 2008. Highly recommended for all public libraries.
Background: Izzo, CEO of the consulting and training firm that bears his name, and his staff received recommendations from thousands of people regarding who they went to for advice and who they felt had found happiness and purpose in their lives. From the thousands of "wise elders," a diverse group of 235 North American people between the ages of 59 and 105 were selected for in-depth interviews about their lives and feelings. From these stories, Izzo culled the common themes that make up the "secrets" to happiness. In order to incorporate the secrets to happiness, he points out that each of us must discern what really matters to us and incorporate it into our lives; he suggests personal questions to ask ourselves to find our personal path to happiness, as well as weekly and daily reflections.-- Library Journal, December 4, 2008
A good book that refocusses your perspective on what Albert Einstein has said," Not all that counts can be counted and not all that can be counted counts"Published 18 days ago by Vijay Vanch
The author attempted to write on a topic which is of paramount importance. To do this task well is not easy as it requires truly deep insight. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Zvon Kleffs
For anyone interested in stopping to smell the roses. Life is short and the sooner you get that the sooner you can begin to live the life you were intended to live. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jill M. Kassim
I read this book as part of a book study discussion group. It was enlightening and created lots of good discussion. Read morePublished 5 months ago by M. Galloway
It is a good subject, although I don't agree 60 is old. We don't want to think about death, but it is a fact of life. This book would have been better if it had been edited better. Read morePublished 6 months ago by the boys
I bought this book for myself after I had heard about it on a PBS interview. After I read it, I bought copies for bothe of my children and my mother.Published 8 months ago by Cyndi F. White
I checked this book out of the public library and found so many points I was copying to my journal that I decided I needed to own this book so I could underline and write notes in... Read morePublished 11 months ago by James Smith
This is one of those rare books that contains good wisdom in it. It makes a point of recognizing the common thread of wisdom between all of the people interviewed, regardless of... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Edward Francis Jr.
A most helpful read for all ages - highly recommend this read for our youth of today. Words to live byPublished 14 months ago by carlsbad2