I’m a semi-regular viewer of the PBS Newshour. I especially enjoy that TV program when it offers up a serendipitous connection. A recent show did just that. It included an interview of Karl Pillemer, noted gerontologist, and Professor of Human Development at Cornell University.
The interview context was his new book, 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans. From interviews of close to 1,500 experts, elders of 65+, Pillemer created “a guide for younger people”. And what’s the biggest life lesson? Life is really, really short.
We have a lot to learn from those who have navigated a long life. A lot happens at the edges, and the edges of our life is no different. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know my interest in the many perspectives on aging, and how it relates to collaboration and creative resolutions.
I read Pillemer’s 30 Lessons. It is a book for everybody. And, yes it is written in a way that appeals to the young, too. The essence of what contributes to a rewarding life comes through, clearly.
Below is the PBS interview (6 minutes). Afterwards, I list out the 30 lessons. I’ll assume you get the message. If not, you may want to check out the book. Just saying.
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(The) 30 Lessons for Living
Lessons for a happy marriage
- marry someone a lot like you
- friendship is as important as romantic love
- don’t keep score
- talk to each other
- don’t just commit to your partner, commit to marriage itself
Lessons for a successful and fulfilling career
- choose a career for intrinsic rewards, not the financial ones
- don’t give up looking for a job that makes you happy
- make the most of a bad job
- emotional intelligence trumps every other kind
- everyone needs autonomy
Lessons for a lifetime of parenting
- it’s all about time
- it’s normal to have favourites, but never show it
- don’t hit your kids
- avoid a rift at all costs
- take a lifelong view of relationships with children
Lessons for aging fearlessly and well
- being old is much better than you think
- act now like you will need your body for a hundred years
- don’t worry about dying – the (elder) experts don’t
- stay connected
- plan ahead about where you will live (and your parents, too)
Lessons for living a life without regrets
- always be honest
- say yes to opportunities
- travel more
- choose a mate with extreme care
- say it now
Lessons for living like an expert
- time is of the essence
- happiness is a choice, not a condition
- time spent worrying is time wasted
- think small
- have faith
What advice from a wise elder has stuck with you, and shaped your view on life? Leave a comment.