16 Lessons From the School of Life


Advice, truths, and insight from those who have lived before us

The real truths in life are sometimes discovered only after we’ve taken a lot of wrong turns or spent too much time pursuing the transitory and superficial.

Regrettably, these revelations usually arrive too late, their promise and caution appearing after we’ve compromised our health or family relationships.

Thankfully, we don’t have to personally experience all of life’s hardships and disappointments to gain the perspective and wisdom that comes from living a long life. Instead, our previous generations can be an excellent source of suggestions to help us get the most from our lives, while avoiding the majority of pitfalls.

Here are 16 real-life lessons shared by those who have celebrated their eightieth birthdays — and beyond.

  1. You either control your attitude or it controls you.
  2. Regardless of what the latest relationship guru says, passion in a good marriage doesn’t have to fade.
  3. Heroes are people who find themselves in impossible circumstances, and still have the presence of mind to take action and do what they believe is best.
  4. Money is one way — but not the best way — of keeping score.
  5. My partner and I can do anything or nothing, and have the best time.
  6. Sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you’re down will be the ones to help you get back up.
  7. We never truly appreciate our parents while they are alive.
  8. Maturity has more to do with experience and what’s been learned from it, than with how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.
  9. Families don’t have to be biological — people you aren’t related to can take care of you, love you, and give you a real sense of belonging.
  10. Sometimes you have to forgive yourself.
  11. No matter how terrible the loss in your life, the world doesn’t stop for your grief.
  12. Our circumstances not only influence our actions, they reveal who we are.
  13. Our friends change, and over the years we may change our friends.
  14. Two people can look at the exact same thing, and see something totally different.
  15. Credentials on the wall tell little about the person who earned them.
  16. The people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which everyone has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which everyone has some. — Charles Dickens”

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