Lessons for Living

Ever since watching Forks Over Knives (which Jedd blogged about here) I found a great blog by the “Healthy Librarian” called Happy Healthy Long Life. She’s another great resource for “simply intentional” because she reviews and writes about medical research behind lifestyle choices, like eating vegan. Super informative! Anyway, I really enjoyed one of her non-food-related posts recently, which was based on the Cornell Legacy Project. The Legacy Project is based on collecting practical advice for living from America’s elders. As I am still honing my New Year’s resolutions now that we’re a week into the New Year, reviewing advice from wise folks seemed like a good idea. Here is the Legacy Project video, and below are some of my favorite tips:

Lessons for a Happy Marriage

1.  Marry someone a lot like you.  Similarity in core values is the key to a happy marriage. And forget about changing someone after marriage. (My own side note: They don’t have to share your personality though!)

2.  Don’t keep score.  Don’t take the attitude that marriage must always be a fifty-fifty propostition;  you can’t get out exactly what you put in.  The key to success is having both partners try to give more than they get out of the relationship.

Lessons for a Successful & Fulfilling Career – Glad to Get Up in the Morning

1.  Choose a career for the intrinsic rewards, not the financial ones.  The biggest career mistake people make is selecting a profession based only on potential earnings.  A sense of purpose and passion for one’s work beats a bigger paycheck any day.

2.  Don’t give up on looking for a job that makes you happy.  According to the experts, persistence is the key to finding a job you love.  Don’t give up easily.

3.   Make the most of a bad job.  If you find yourself in a less-than-ideal work situation, don’t waste the experience;  many experts learned invaluable lessons from a bad job.

4.   Emotional intelligence trumps every other kind.  Develop your interpersonal skills if you want to succeed in the workplace. Even people in the most technical professions have their careers torpedoed if they lack emotional intelligence.

5.  Everyone needs autonomy.  Career satisfaction is often dependent on how much autonomy your have on the job.  Look for the freedom to make decisions and move in directions that interest you, without too much control from the top.

 Lessons for a Lifetime of Parenting

1.  It’s all about time.  Sacrifice if necessary to spend the maximum amount of time possible with your children.  You and your children need to be together in the flow of daily household life and not just during planned “quality time”.

2.   Take a lifelong view of relationships with children.  Parenthood goes on long after kids leave home, so make decisions when they are young that will lead to positive relationships in the second half of life.

 Lessons for Aging Fearlessly and Well

1.  Being old is much better than you think.  Don’t waste your time worrying about getting old.  It can be a time of opportunity, adventure, and growth.  See it as a quest, not an end.

2.  Act now like you will need your body for a hundred years.  Stop using “I don’t care how long I live” as an excuse for bad health habits.  Behaviors like smoking, poor eating habits, and inactivity are less likely to kill you than to sentence you to years or decades of chronic disease.  Think walkers, wheelchairs, nursing homes, incontinence, dementia, oxygen, social isolation, and years of dependence.

3.  Don’t worry about dying–the experts don’t.  Don’t spend a lot of time fretting about your own mortality.  What the experts recommend is careful planning and organization for the end of life.

4.  Stay connected.  Take seriously the threat of social isolation in middle age and beyond, and make conscious efforts beginning in middle age to stay connected through new learning opportunities and relationships.

5.  Plan ahead about where you will live (and your parents too).  Don’t let fears and prejudices deter you or your older relatives from considering a move to a senior living community.  Such a move often opens up opportunities for better living, rather than limiting them.

Lessons for Living a Life without Regrets

1.  Say yes to opportunies.  When offered a new opportunity or challenge, you are much less likely to regret saying yes and more likely to regret turning it down.

2.  Travel more.  Travel while you can, sacrificing other things if necessary to do so.  Most people look back on their travel adventures (big and small) as highlights of their lives and regret not having traveled more.

3. Have grace.  Go easy on yourself regarding the mistakes and bad choices you have made.  A person with no second thoughts about anything he or she has done is probably someone who hasn’t taken many chances in life–which is something worth regretting.  Forgive youself.  Be gentle with yourself.

 Lessons for Living Like an Expert – Choose Happiness

1.  Time is of the essence.  Live as though life is short–because it is.  The point is not to be depressed by this knowledge but to act on it, making sure to do important things now.

2.  Happiness is a choice, not a condition.  Happiness isn’t a condition that occurs when circumstances are perfect or nearly so.  Sooner of later you need to make a deliberate choice to be happy in spite of challenges and difficulties.

3.  Time spent worrying is time wasted.  Stop worrying.  Or at least cut down.  It’s a colossal waste of your precious lifetime.

4.  Think small.  When it comes to making the most of your life, think small.  Attune yourself to simple daily pleasures and learn to savor them now.

5.  Have faith.  A faith life promotes well-being, and being part of a religious community offers unique support during life crises.  But how and what you worship is up to you.

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