In my research on the oldest people in the world, I’ve discovered that some find old age a burden and wonder why their time has not yet come, while others want to stay on, god-willing, to enjoy more great years. We need only to look around us to find examples of people of both groups from among our own circle of family members and friends.
What separates one group from the other?
Thanks to John Izzo, we now have some answers. He invited 15,000 viewers of his TV show “The 5 things you must discover before you die” to nominate someone whom they know has lived a long life and has something important to teach us about living. From the 1000 names nominated, John interviewed 235 people, aged 60 to 106, to seek their wisdom.
Some of the questions John asked at the interviews:
~What has brought you the greatest sense of meaning and purpose in life?
~Why does it matter that you are alive?
~What brings you or has brought you the most happiness in life?
~Tell me one major ‘crossroad’ moment in your life, and the difference it made in how your life turned out.
~What do you wish you had learned sooner?
~How do you feel about your own mortality?
|Variations on the same theme|
Those interviewed came from diverse backgrounds in profession, religion, culture and status. Yet their answers revealed a commonality in the things that matter most to them. John has condensed their answers into these five secrets:
Be true to yourself.
Leave no regrets.
Live the moment.
Give more than you take.
The cynics among us will brush these ‘secrets’ aside and say “Everybody knows that! Nothing new there”. Maybe so, but it requires a gigantic leap of faith to get people to take action. Surely we all agree that mere knowledge is not enough. The key is to apply what we know.
Are we ready to do that?
(This article is an edited version of "The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die" first posted in SeniorsAloud in December 2008.)