The Real Experts Talk

This is a repost from The New York Times. Its a really great article summarizing the findings based on research about aging. It covers many broad topics like aging, marriage, parenting, regrets and happiness and gives nougats of advice that are really simple to follow. Great article coming up:

By Jane E Brody

At 17, I wrote a speech titled, “When You Come to the End of Your Days, Will You Be Able to Write Your Own Epitaph?” It reflected the approach to life I adopted after my mother’s untimely death from cancer at age 49. I chose to live each day as if it could be my last — but with a watchful eye on the future in case it wasn’t.

My goal was, and still is, to die without regrets.

For more than 50 years, this course has served me well, including my decision to become a science journalist instead of pursuing what had promised to be a more lucrative and prestigious, but probably less enjoyable, career as a biochemist. I find joy each day in mundane things too often overlooked: sunrises and sunsets, an insect on a flower, crows chasing a hawk, a majestic tree, a child at play, an act of kindness toward a stranger.

Eventually, most of us learn valuable lessons about how to conduct a successful and satisfying life. But for far too many people, the learning comes too late to help them avoid painful mistakes and decades of wasted time and effort.

In recent years, for example, many talented young people have denied their true passions, choosing instead to pursue careers that promise fast and big monetary gains. High rates of divorce speak to an impulsiveness to marry and a tenuous commitment to vows of “till death do us part.”

Parents undermine children’s self-confidence and self-esteem by punishing them physically or pushing them down paths, both academic and athletic, that they are ill equipped to follow. And myriad prescriptions forantidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs reflect a widespread tendency to sweat the small stuff, a failure to recognize time-honored sources of happiness, and a reliance on material acquisitions that provide only temporary pleasure.

Enter an invaluable source of help, if anyone is willing to listen while there is still time to take corrective action. It is a new book called “30 Lessons for Living” (Hudson Street Press) that offers practical advice from more than 1,000 older Americans from different economic, educational and occupational strata who were interviewed as part of the ongoing Cornell Legacy Project.

Its author, Karl Pillemer, a professor of human development at the College of Human Ecology at Cornell and a gerontologist at the Weill Cornell Medical College, calls his subjects “the experts,” and their advice is based on what they did right and wrong in their long lives. Many of the interviews can be viewed at legacyproject.human.cornell.edu.

Here is a summary of their most salient thoughts.

ON MARRIAGE A satisfying marriage that lasts a lifetime is more likely to result when partners are fundamentally similar and share the same basic values and goals. Although romantic love initially brings most couples together, what keeps them together is an abiding friendship, an ability to communicate, a willingness to give and take, and a commitment to the institution of marriage as well as to each other.

An 89-year-old woman who was glad she stayed in her marriage even though her young husband’s behavior was adversely affected by his military service said, “Too many young people now are giving up too early, too soon.”

ON CAREERS Not one person in a thousand said that happiness accrued from working as hard as you can to make money to buy whatever you want. Rather, the near-universal view was summed up by an 83-year-old former athlete who worked for decades as an athletic coach and recruiter: “The most important thing is to be involved in a profession that you absolutely love, and that you look forward to going to work to every day.”

Although it can take a while to land that ideal job, you should not give up looking for one that makes you happy. Meanwhile, if you’re stuck in a bad job, try to make the most of it until you can move on. And keep in mind that a promotion may be flattering and lucrative but not worth it if it takes you away from what you most enjoy doing.

For the rest of the article, click on this link or the picture:  The New York Times

Hope you liked it!

Bump!

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2 responses to “The Real Experts Talk

  1. I like this piece that you have shared and i would also like to share a small extract from “Tuesday with Morrie” by Mitch Albom. I guess Morrie still speaks to us through his book, reminding us that are truely the most important things in our life in the short time we walk on earth.

    In year 2012, I have a simple resolution and that is to forgive and to let go. Let go of set backs, of yesterdays, of anger, of sadness, of people who pisses us off before. I think letting go is such a simple thing. But it will really make me a happier person with a lighter heart.

    Cheers and Happy New Year!
    Kaye

    “We’ve got a sort of brainwashing going on in our country, Morrie sighed. Do you know how they brainwash people? They repeat something over and over. And that’s what we do in this country. Owning things is good. More money is good. More property is good. More commercialism is good. More is good. More is good. We repeat it–and have it repeated to us–over and over until nobody bothers to even think otherwise. The average person is so fogged up by all of this, he has no perspective on what’s really important anymore.

    Wherever I went in my life, I met people wanting to gobble up something new. Gobble up a new car. Gobble up a new piece of property. Gobble up the latest toy. And then they wanted to tell you about it. ‘Guess what I got? Guess what I got?’

    You know how I interpreted that? These were people so hungry for love that they were accepting substitutes. They were embracing material things and expecting a sort of hug back. But it never works. You can’t substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship.

    Money is not a substitute for tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness. I can tell you, as I’m sitting here dying, when you most need it, neither money nor power will give you the feeling you’re looking for, no matter how much of them you have.”
    ― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

    • That is one of my favorite books of all time. I have read it 3 times and each time just brings more insights to me and different learnings. Thank you so much for sharing and reminding us of Morrie (:

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