“Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hang on too long.”
— Tuesdays With Morrie
If you haven’t yet read or watched Tuesdays With Morrie, you’re in for a treat. Mitch Albom’s classic tale of growing old and finding meaning in life is full of inspirational goodies for our souls. For those unfamiliar with this true story, it goes something like this: Morrie Shwartz was a sociology professor at the prestigious Brandeis University, where he motivated many lucky students, including author Mitch Albom. Upon graduation, Albom promised a teary-eyed Morrie that the two would stay in touch — a commitment that Albom, regrettably, failed to follow through on. Years later, he saw his old professor on television being interviewed by Ted Koppel. Along the way, Morrie had been diagnosed with ALS. But in his characteristic way, he’d been using the experience to delve deeper into the meaning of living and dying. It was then that Albom reconnected with Morrie to finally make good on his previous promise: he’d visit the old man at his home every Tuesday to receive lessons on the meaning of life. These life-changing sessions inspired Albom’s book, Tuesdays With Morrie, which shares Morrie’s philosophies for a meaningful life — teachings that we can all use to age better.
Find your purpose — and live it In the book, Morrie speaks with Albom about finding your true purpose, and echoes philosopher Alan Watt’s ideas on the subject: “So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” Instead of striving to consume more material goods, or fit into a stereotype, why not focus on things that really matter? When we shift our attention away from superficial activities and thoughts, we free up energy to concentrate on important areas of our life — such as our passions and significant relationships. When all is said and done, a fulfilling life is one where we live out our purpose. What can you do today to move forward with your passions?
Feel more, think less Western countries tend to value rational thinking over intuition: we analyze problems instead of feeling our way through them. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to a narrow-minded view of life, and reduced ability to form close relationships. As Morrie wisely explains: “Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them, too–even when you’re in the dark. Even when you’re falling.” It takes courage to trust others. Having faith in our intuition allows us to take bigger risks in relationships. When was the last time you made an intuitive, relationship-based choice?
Living, and dying, on our own terms
Other lessons that Morrie teaches Mitch over the course of their Tuesday sessions include being authentic, and relationship-building. Morrie encourages us to be ourselves, no holds barred: “Accept who you are; and revel in it.” He also invites us to devote ourselves to relationships with people who make us better. Do all of your current relationships help your personal growth?
Similarly, Morrie advises us to be more vulnerable. Like Dr. Brene Brown, he understands that living wholeheartedly requires us to expose our true feelings:
“If you hold back on the emotions — if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them — you can never get to being detached, 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. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your heard even, you experience them fully and completely.”
An opportunity for bonding
Reading or watching Tuesdays With Morrie with an aging loved one is the perfect activity to spark an open dialogue about enriching our lives at any age — and how to enter our final years with a positive attitude, while leaving an inspirational, lasting impression on the world.
Death ends a life, not a relationship. — Tuesdays With Morrie
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help with your decisions and offer guidance in gaining the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.