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Words of Wisdom from a Dying Man

Books have the power to change our lives. One such book, “Tuesdays with Morrie”, by Mitch Albom, should be mandatory reading. It’s that good.

Morrie Schwartz, an elderly college professor dying from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), meets with his former student, Mitch Albom, every Tuesday during the final months of his life. During their meetings at his home, Morrie’s body is withering away and he suffers immensely, but he finds time to share his most valuable insights about life.

Morrie’s insights about life are so valuable they are worth memorializing and ingraining in our minds. Here’s my attempt.

Living a Life of Service

“You don’t need the latest sports car, you don’t need the biggest house. The truth is, you don’t get satisfaction from those things…They think the next car, the next house, the next job. Then they find those things are empty too, and they keep running.”

You know what really gives your satisfaction?  Offering others what you have to give…giving to other people is what makes me feel alive. Not my car or my house.

Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning…Giving to other people is what makes me feel alive. Not my car or my house.”

The Existence of God

“This is too harmonious, grand, and overwhelming a universe to believe that it’s all an accident.”

The Power of a Positive Mindset

“I give myself a good cry if I need it. But then I concentrate on all the good things I still in my life. On the people who are coming to see me. On the stories I’m going to hear.

It’s only horrible if you see it that way. It’s horrible to watch my body slowly wilt away to nothing. But it’s also wonderful because of all the time I get to say good-bye. Not everyone is so lucky.

I don’t allow myself any more self-pity than that. A little each morning, a few tears, and that’s all.”

Living for the Moment

“Most of us all walk around as if we’re sleepwalking. We really don’t experience the world fully, because we’re half-asleep, doing things we automatically think we have to do.

There’s a better approach. To know you’re going to die, and to be prepared for it at any time. That’s better. That way you can actually be more involved in your life when you’re living.

[When facing death], you strip away all that stuff and you focus on the essentials. When you realize you are going to die, you see everything much differently.

Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

Your Greatest Possession

“The fact is, there is no foundation, no secure ground, which people may stand today if it isn’t the family…If you don’t have the support and love and caring and concern that you get from a family, you don’t have much at all.

There is no experience like having children. That’s all. There’s no substitute for it. If you want the experience of having complete responsibility for another human being, and to learn how to love and bond in the deepest way, then you should have children.

Love is so supremely important…Love each other or perish.”

Being Fully Present and Mindful

“When Morrie was with you, he was really with you. He looked you straight in the eye, and he listened as if you were the only person in the world.

I believe in being fully present. That means you should be within the person you’re with. When I’m talking to you know, I try to keep focused only on what is going on between us. I am not thinking about something we said last week.”

Rules for Marriage

“There are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage: If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble.

And the biggest one of those values? Your belief in the importance of marriage.

He ended the subject by quoting the poem he believed in like a prayer: ‘Love each other or perish.’”

Be Your Own Man/Woman

“The big things—how we think, what we value—those you must choose yourself. You can’t let anyone—or any society—determine those for you.

It’s the same for women not being thin enough, or men not being rich enough. It’s just what our culture would have you believe. Don’t believe it…You have to work at creating your own culture.”

Stretching to Reach Your Potential

“Look, no matter where you live, the biggest defect we human beings have is our shortsightedness. We don’t see what we could be. 

We should be looking at our potential, stretching ourselves into everything we can become.”

Common Traits of All Humans

“The problem is that we don’t believe we are much alike as we are…If we saw each other as more alike, we might be very eager to join in one big human family in this world, and to care about that family the way we care about our own.

We all have the same beginning—birth—and we all have the same end—death. So how different can we be?”

Sharing Your Feelings

“Living means I can be responsive to the other person. It means I can show my emotions and my feelings. Talk to them. Feel with them…Tears are okay.

If you hold back on the emotions—if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them—you’re too busy being afraid You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails.

Turn the faucet. Wash yourself with emotion. It won’t hurt you. I will only help.”

Forgive Others and Yourself

“It not just other people we need to forgive. We also need to forgive ourselves. Yes. For all the things we didn’t do. All the things we should have done. You can’t get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened.

Make peace. You need to make peace with yourself and everyone around you.

Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Don’t wait. Not everyone gets the time I’m getting. Not everyone is as lucky.”

The Meaning of Love

“In business, people negotiate to win. They negotiate to get what they want. Love is different.

Love is when you are as concerned about someone else’s situation as you are about your own.”

The Value of Age

“The young are not wise. They have very little understanding about life. As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed at twenty-two, you’d always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two.

Aging is not just decay, it’s growth…it’s the positive that you understand you’re going to die, and that you live a better life because of it.”

“Death Ends a Life, Not a Relationship”

“As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there.  All the memories are still there. You live on—in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.

Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone…Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

After I’m dead, you talk. And I’ll listen.”

Image by Birgit Böllinger from Pixabay 

Leave a comment below telling me what surprised, inspired or taught you the most (I personally respond to every comment). And if you disagree with my take on running a personal injury law firm, or have a specific, actionable tip, I’d love to hear from you.