I don’t have a lot of patience for most self-help books, but two books moved me profoundly — Gifts of Imperfection written by Brene Brown Ph.D – University of Houston research professor. Dr. Brown has over the past few years rocketed in popularity because of her groundbreaking work in the areas of vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame. At the root of most conflicts, whether personal or professional, you’ll usually find a miscommunication. Sometimes the most damaging miscommunications are the ones that don’t involve any communication at all. Want to be happy? “Stop trying to be perfect.”
In 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice From the Wisest Americans. The author, Karl Pillemer, PhD, a gerontologist at Cornell, asked over a thousand Americans in their 70s, 80s, 90s, and100s to share advice on marriage, child rearing, work, and overall happiness that they wish someone had given them when they were younger. As I read it, I kept thinking of my Mother, who would have turned 87 in December. She taught me about family, loyalty, and love – and how to dress with style. Here are some of my favorite lessons from the book:
Act now as if you’ll need your body for a hundred years. The author points out, “It’s not dying you should worry about — it’s chronic disease.” Don’t tell yourself, “I’m going to die anyway” as an excuse for bad health habits. If you don’t make the right health choices now, you may be sentencing yourself to years, or decades of suffering from chronic illnesses that will limit your ability to socialize, travel, and enjoy daily life.
The secret to a long, happy marriage: Choose your partner carefully, and marry your best friend. As one 90-year-old gentleman put it, “Romance and love are not the same… Love develops slowly in marriage and continues to do so throughout its life. First there is intense physical attraction. Then there is joy of sharing similar activities and interests.” After the fireworks dim, you should still look forward to being with your partner, relaxing together, sharing common interests, and talking to him or her, just as you would your close friends.
Say it now. Many of those interviewed said that they deeply regretted leaving things unsaid. So if you have something to say to someone, tell the person before it’s too late. One 72-year-old man said, “If you have a grudge against someone, why not make it right? There may not be another opportunity.”
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