Acknowledgment I sincerely thank my friend Abdul Malik Rajan of Calgary For introducing this book to me
About the author JOHN IZZO, Ph.D., is the bestselling author of Second Innocence and host of the public television series the Five things You Must Discover Before You Die. Holding advanced degrees in religion and psychology, Izzo has spoken to over one million people in four continents about living more purposeful lives.
Background of the book There is no monopoly on wisdom To know the secret of “living well and dying happy”. To identify people who found meaning in life and listen to their stories. Asked 15000 people across USA and Canada to suggest names of wise elders in their lives. About 1000 names were suggested, after pre- interviews 235 people were shortlisted and interviewed.
Background of people interviewed Age: from 59 to 105 years Diverse group in terms of ethnicity, culture, religion, geography and professional status. Not famous but extraordinary people Town barbers, teachers, business owners, authors, homemakers, priests, poets, Holocaust survivors and aboriginal chiefs. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, and atheists.
Questions asked What we must discover about life before we die? What brought you the greatest happiness? What gave life meaning? What are your regrets? What matters and what turned out not to matter? What were the major crossroads? What do you wish you had learned sooner? What do you feel about dying? What do those who are nearer to the end of their lives have to teach us about living life?
Two fundamental truths We have limited and undefined amount of time We have unlimited number of choices of how to use our time Two things we want most: happiness and meaning. Happiness is about the moments of our lives, and meaning about our sense of connection.
Why talk to people over 60 Life is analogous to a trip experience. Those who have already taken the trip “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk”. Importance of elders in the family and the society.
1. Be true to your self “The greatest tragedy in life is to spend your whole life fishing only to discover that it was not fish you were after”. Henry David Thoreau Chose to live life awake Is your life missing the mark? Finding your destiny; listen to your inner voice. Following our hearts requires courage Sometimes the nature makes us listen (heart attack, accident, tragedy)
2. Leave no regrets “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone”. Harriet Beecher Stowe “I wish I had” Most people die with their music still within them. A life of no regret means risking more Living as if the time is short Regrets are best let go
Top 5 Regrets of the Dying 1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 2. I wish I didn't work so hard. 3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings. 4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 5. I wish I had let myself be happier
3. Become love The highest form of giving attention is to accept and love a person for who he/she is. Love is life. If you miss love, you miss life. At the end of our lives, when we only have a short time left, love is the only thing we will care about. It is a choice to be a loving person. Love your self Make love a priority Don’t love things more than people
Become love 14 negative comments against 1 positive Choosing to see others with kindness Do good if you can, but always do no harm By what we say and do we can either make someone’s day or ruin it. A lady at the funeral Example of a teacher who made difference in so many lives.
Become Love To the world you may be but one person But to one person you may be the world What a grand thing, to be loved What a grander thing still, to love (Victor Hugo) “Being deeply loved summons your strength. Loving deeply summons your courage” (Lao Tzu)
4. Live the moment When you are young, 60 years seems like an eternity. But after you have lived it, you realize it is but a moment. Choosing to be in every moment Every day is a gift Living as if it were your last sunset Every show is your last show The present moment is the only moment Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, but it always robs today of its joy.
5. Give more than you take Happy people are always givers, not takers. Nothing but joy (Reader’s Digest, December 2010, p 116) Keep what you need and share what is in excess. The great tasks of our life: find ourselves and lose ourselves Nature is the biggest selfless giver
Merging subject with object “Life in the ultimate analysis has taught me one enduring lesson. The subject should always disappear in the object. In our ordinary affections of one for another, in our daily work with hand or brain, most of us discover soon enough that any lasting satisfaction, any contentment that we can achieve, is the result of forgetting self, of merging subject with object in a harmony that is of body, mind and spirit.
Merging subject with object And in the highest realms of consciousness all who believe in a Higher Being are liberated from all the clogging and hampering bonds of the subjective self in prayer, in rapt meditation upon and in the face of the glorious radiance of eternity, in which all temporal and earthly consciousness is swallowed up and itself becomes the eternal.” (From Memoirs of Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah S.A.)
Putting secrets into practice Knowing is not enough, practice is important Natural learning: walking, mother tongue What we pay attention to grows Some rituals of life
Preparing to die well We prepare for many uncertain events but forget the most certain. With wisdom death becomes a part of daily mental landscape Integrate the awareness of death into life Those who live with wisdom are never afraid of death Wisdom comes when we go beyond competition, comparison, judgment, pride etc.
Conclusion It’s never too late to live the secrets The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today. (Chinese proverb) The secret of life in one sentence or less Interviewing your own wise elders (with questionnaire) List of interviewees
Life Life is a great and noble calling. Not a mean and grovelling thing to be shuffled through as best we can but a lofty and exalted destiny. (From Memoirs of His Highness Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan)