Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Things Elders Can Teach You

Things Elders Can Teach You By J.M

Our elders are the most valuable, but often most underrated source of insight. Having lived full lives, they have suffered the whole run of human experience. Many endured wars and devastation, and lived to tell about it. And yet many of us see them as burdens, promptly dispatching them to retirement homes.

But older folks can be great mentors if we let them be. Having committed a lifetime of mistakes, their wisdom can spare us many years of it. Your dad,mom, grandpa,grandma uncle, aunty,etc would be glad to disclose some of his/her hard-earned lessons.

I decided to ask a few of the cooler older men I know a bunch of questions. The following ones afforded the most interesting replies. Go ahead and use them yourself.

How does life improve with age?
While one may liken aging with decreased quality of life, older folks will tell you the opposite. With age comes experience and the amassed knowledge from making mistakes. Life is full of pitfalls, and mistakes await you at every corner. Knowing what was done wrong, they'll say, will help you do what's right.

You'll also learn that you'll develop a more solid view of the world and a steady philosophy on life. For instance, you'll learn that growing old means accepting death as a normal part of our existence.

How important is it to enjoy your line of work?
They'll likely tell you that this is the most important thing of all, as work is something you spend most of your life doing. Unfortunately, too many people realize this when it's too late to change careers, and spend their lives looking forward to retirement.

What is the ultimate accomplishment?
This is a good question to ask several people, as the answers can vary. But one answer they will have in common is satisfaction. Being utterly satisfied with your life and being able to say "I have enough" is, to many, the ultimate achievement.

If your relative says that children are the greatest thing, ask him if you should have them early on or in your 30s and 40s, after you've enjoyed your life. You may be surprised to hear that earlier is better, as you'll be more able to relate to children in your 20s than in your 40s.

Is it possible to ever be completely happy?Like advanced math and philosophy, there's no straight answer for this one, as many folks will say it depends on how you define happiness. For some, happiness is not wanting anymore, and the day you're content with what you have, you will be completely happy.

Which friends are you likely to keep all your life?
A very good question to ask, as it will help you see which of your current friendships are worth going out of your way to maintain. Those friends who are the most compatible with you, share your likes and dislikes, have similar goals and are willing to lend a hand when you need it most are the ones you'll want to keep. That said, very few of them will earn the title of "friend for life."

When should you follow your gut vs. your logic?
To some people, there may come a time where they don't see a difference between the two. Gut and logic are interconnected; one aids the other. But ask accomplished folks to choose one, and they'll go with gut. In the most stressful situations, when a quick decision is needed, your intuition is usually right.

What should the biggest priority be in life?
The answer, of course, will be what their biggest priority was. For someone looking back and wishing he knew then what he knows now this can be very interesting. Yet the answers you receive will likely have a common thread: to ensure a good quality of life for yourself and your family, which goes back to finding satisfaction.

How do you adapt to changes in society over the years?
With difficulty, it seems. The hardest part, you'll learn, is accepting change and shrugging off the differences you don't approve of. The world changes every day and no one can keep things static. So although you may long for the good old days, it'll be nothing more than bittersweet nostalgia.

Can a man/woman be faithful?
Question about being faithful are tough to ask, since whichever answer you get, it will likely be from experience. This is one of those questions better left for acquaintances, people whose families you don't know and who have lower stakes in answering.

What are essential qualities in a good wife/husband?
A good follow-up question to the previous one, it may indicate that if you marry a man/woman who's perfect for you, you won't have to cheat. The most common answers? Patience, love and understanding. If he/she has those, he/she can handle everything else.

Do you have any regrets?
How do you live with them?Everyone has regrets,but it's how you deal with them that counts. Being rational and objective, and accepting that you can't change the past is the ideal way, it seems. The same goes for forgiveness. If you want to live happily, you'll have to forgive everything, though you may not be able to forget them.

How do you get young people to respect their elders?
Just wait for them to grow, a wise man said. He also noted that young people will respect what deserves to be respected. Youth is a passage, but old age is permanent. Once they grow up, they'll grow out of their impertinence, and show respect where respect is due.

Of course, some may say that immediate punishment often does the trick, which is why it's good to ask several elders.

golden years

If you want to know how to live a fulfilling life, ask those who already went through it all, and who know exactly what not to do. Go ahead, ask them. They'll be impressed that you actually realize you don't know everything. You'll walk away with advice that will keep you out of more trouble than you can imagine.

oJan:: from my email inbox..

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