What is the key to successful living? Here, 5 secrets for leading a full and meaningful life

Studies have found that a person's outlook on life may not only improve longevity but quality of life. Optimists, in fact, are said to experience a higher level of both physical and mental functioning than their pessimist counterparts. And people who perceive themselves to be happy are less likely to become ill, researchers say.

So what is the key to successful living? Author John Izzo set out to answer that very question in his book The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die.

Named the best self-help book of 2008 by the Independent Publisher's Association, it is based on a five-hour Biography Channel TV series in which Dr. Izzo interviewed 230 people from age 60-106 asking them to reflect back on what they had learned about life.

Interviewees ranged from a town barber to CEOs, from aboriginal chiefs to Holocaust survivors. All were considered by others to be 'wise elder' and to have something important to teach about how to live well and be happy. Among them, Dr. Izzo says, they represent over 18,000 years of life experience.

We asked Dr. Izzo about what he learned from his research. In other words, what must we discover about life before we die?

NEXT: 5 secrets to lasting happiness

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Cynthia Ross Cravit