I must admit, I was hesitant to buy John Izzo’s book, The Five Thieves of Happiness. The last thing I wanted to read was another self-improvement book. Authors of such books rarely provide memorable philosophies or useable ideas – they’re almost always too idealistic or self-absorbed. That said, I’m glad I put my biases aside and read Izzo’s book; the guy is a sharp cookie with a spiritual, political, entrepreneurial, and worldly context. He has also spent the majority of his professional life learning about the science and philosophies behind happiness. He has delved very, very deep into the psychology behind happiness – going so far as to suggest that it is our “natural” state. According to Izzo, it is our external environment and internal thoughts (which come from the external environment) that can take us away from our natural happy state.
Since reading the book, I’ve recommended it several times – mainly to entrepreneurs because I think they struggle with the important challenges Izzo brings to the fore…
Entrepreneurs often pursue predictability (which I have written about here), but it’s not always in their best interest. They do it because they have a deep desire to know what may be coming next. They seek to control outcomes. However, volatility is what often creates life-changing opportunities. As entrepreneurs, we need not seek to control every outcome — it’s unhealthy, and a controlling mindset will limit your potential.
The Five Thieves of Happiness is a quick and easy ready loaded with valuable and practical takeaways. In part, I believe Izzo wrote it to help people outperform by learning to appreciate the unexpected and unpredictable.
Without ruining the book, there is one thief of happiness (of the five) that personally stuck out to me: the desire to control outcomes. It’s something I personally struggle with…
I think most, if not all, entrepreneurs suffer from this. We have a natural tendency to want things to work out to our liking, and thus seek ways (perhaps a bit obsessively) to make sure they do. It’s a natural urge, but it hurts us. In the book, Izzo explains that the consistent desire to control outcomes is a killer of happiness; thankfully, he sheds a bright light on how to solve this behavioral problem.
“Know that you cannot control the past or the future. When you feel pain about the past or worry about the future, accept that only the present moment is real and gently choose to come back into that moment.”
– John Izzo
Izzo doesn’t encourage us to be docile, lazy, or unambitious – he promotes the complete opposite. As a former pastor and current entrepreneur, he encourages ambition, discipline, and hard work. Uniquely, he drills home the importance of focusing on the effort itself instead of the effort’s outcome.
Measure yourself based on where you spend your energy. Don’t waste energy worrying about controlling a future outcome, or you’ll find it impossible to live in the present.
Living in the present is the place for happiness, creativity, and building lasting relationships — all things that are as vital in your personal life as they are in your entrepreneurial one.
“I choose to be in the present moment and to embrace whatever is. Happiness is not in the outcome I seek.”
– John Izzo
PS – Entrepreneurship is as much about mindset as it is about your actions. I can help with that. Subscribe to my newsletter below. Only my best content will land in your inbox.