30 Lessons for Living - Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans


“You are not responsible for all the things that happen to you, but you are completely in control of your attitude and your reactions to them.”

“Why in the world would I be unhappy? People here complain all the time, but not me. It’s my responsibility to be as happy as I can, right here, today.”

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. “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.”

“We will be held accountable for all the permitted pleasures we failed to enjoy.” I should enjoy my days and not become so absorbed with thrift.

They view worrying as a waste of time. We worry when there is actually nothing concrete to worry about. “If you’re going to be afraid of something, you really ought to know what it is. At least understand why. Identify it. ‘I’m afraid of X.’“ “Don’t believe that worrying will solve or help anything. It won’t. So stop it.”

Remember to take one day at a time.


Choosing a mate the most important decision a human being makes.

Marry someone a lot like you. The answer to “What’s the secret to a long, happy marriage?” was essentially “I married my best friend.” Entering into a marriage with the goal of changing one’s partner is a fool’s errand. “Think back to the playground when you were a kid. Your spouse should be that kid you wanted most to play with!”

“The only way you can make a marriage work is to have both parties give 100 percent all the time.” The most frequent source of “buyer’s remorse” in the experts’ marriages was finding that a spouse just couldn’t or wouldn’t communicate.

Focusing on the other person, even just for five minutes, will make a big difference to your relationship. Try it when you first wake up.

I really want to make this point about how fidelity is important to marriage. That’s what I’d do over if you could.


We all need to learn how to fight as fights are inevitable. What matters is how we handle them as they can degenerate into nasty teasing. If you are having trouble discussing something, get out of the house. Otherwise, find a way to blow off steam, and then engage with your partner. Engaging means that the other person listens and then repeats what was said until the first person agrees and says, “Yes, you got it right.”

At some point it is worth asking “Which one of us is this more important to?” Do not go to bed angry, instead establish that the issue is really “small stuff” and let it go. Most of all, never go to bed without saying “I love you.”


Choose a career for the intrinsic rewards, not the financial ones It’s a job that is outside of the profitmaking world, so there isn’t that kind of pressure and stress.” No one—not a single person out of a thousand—said that to be happy you should try to work as hard as you can to make money to buy the things you want. From somewhere around age twenty we begin forty or more years of working, for eight or more hours a day, fortyeight or more weeks each year. No financial reward, they tell us, can make up for the time lost on a boring, tedious job.

Don’t Give Up on Looking for a Job That Makes You Happy The most important thing you want to find out is who you are and what capabilities you have. if you can’t have the job you love, honey, find something worthwhile about the one you’re in.”

Emotional Intelligence Trumps Every Other Kind I haven’t walked a mile or lived a day in their shoes. one underlying principle behind their emphasis on interpersonal skills: maintaining a healthy humility. When I look around, the most devastating Achilles’ heel that I see people suffering from is that they take themselves too seriously.

Look for maximum autonomy in a job, and work as hard as necessary to secure it. When the experts discuss their work lives, two themes go hand in hand: purpose (beyond earning a salary) and autonomy. people in the most technical professions have their careers torpedoed if they lack emotional intelligence.

Everyone needs autonomy. If you can’t wake up in the morning and want to go to work, you’re in the wrong job. spending years in a job you dislike is a recipe for regret and a tragic mistake.

This betrayal made him all the more dedicated to honesty at work, and he found satisfaction—even, he says, joy—in treating others honestly:


Most of the time we spend as parents is not when kids are dependents in the family home but when they are adults. Abandon all thoughts of raising the “perfect child” or being the perfect parent, and do it as early as possible.

“You are only as happy as your unhappiest child.” love your children, to be careful about overindulging them (especially when it comes to consumer fads), and to firmly convey your moral and ethical values.

You will regret not spending enough time with your children. Suddenly and unexpectedly, however, they will decide to open up, and if you’re not there, Reich says, “you might as well be on the moon.”

I can remember riding home with the kids in the car and being so involved in my mind, going over what had happened during the day and what I should be doing the next day, that I didn’t hear those little voices and what they were sharing with one another and with me.

It’s more important to devote your time to whatever they’re interested in. Otherwise you’re going to lose them. They’ll become strangers. what counts the most are shared activities—time spent on hobbies, sports, camping, hunting.

Many parents have favourites but it is important to never show it. When children perceive that treatment of siblings in the family is unequal, they are more likely to have conduct problems, poorer mental health, and to engage in delinquent behaviors earlier. “She’s the pretty one, and she’s the smart one.”

disciplinary dead end that spoils the relationship, See the potential rift early and defuse it.

The years of raising young children and adolescents, roughly from age thirty to fifty, are frequently described as precisely that: a blur, a rush of activity so hectic that when it’s done the entire experience seems to have passed in an instant.


Act Now like You Will Need Your Body for a Hundred Years

Talking, touching, and relating to others is essential to our well-being. Every stage of life is good if you prepare for it. “Tell the truth and don’t cheat anybody.”


The Wisest Americans wished they had traveled more. Do as much traveling as possible while you are young. Make a list of the places you would like to see and the trips you want to take. Then match it up against the years you expect to able to travel comfortably.

if you have something to say to someone, do it before it’s too late. nearly all found the speed with which life passes to be breathtaking when viewed from the end—and

you don’t have fifty more years when you’re seventy. That’s the difference—limited time. And the main thing that results from that knowledge is gratitude.


There is no question that for a happy and meaningful life America’s elders almost universally endorse the lesson: have faith. younger people should have a faith, they should understand what life is about, who they are, how they fit into the universe, and figure out a creed to live by.” provides a source of community, and it offers unique help with coping in times of trouble. For some experts, a personal spirituality is all they feel they need. Jillian Pebley, church participation provides benefits that cannot be found elsewhere (or at least not easily). people who actually attend services tend to be happier. WE SHOULD LIVE A life where we pray and we can help people. Give prayer for everything. Most people are more likely to have a close friend of another race than one who is twenty years older or younger.

The Golden Rule

Expert: The Golden Rule. Often they would paraphrase it, offering versions like “Do to others what you want them to do to you,”

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