Share Your Lessons

The Legacy Project is devoted to collecting and sharing elder wisdom, and we’d love to hear from you. Please share your lesson in 100-200 words in the comment box below. Feel free to share your own wisdom, or advice that an elder shared with you. 

364 thoughts on “Share Your Lessons

  1. When I asked my grandmother if there was any advice that you would give to younger people, she answered simply saying “keep your priorities in order and stay focused”. To many, especially a young generation of college kids, this advice may seem too simplistic. But it isn’t. Many young adults are surrounded by distractions and temptations every day. Speaking from a young person’s perspective who is in the demographic, many are prone to just caving into those temptations because on the surface it may seem fun or good, but it can end up hurting in the long run. If we take the take to seriously cut out those peer pressures and keep our priorities in order and stay focused, achieving our goals will be a lot easier. I know, it seems so simple. But I have a proposition for all the college kids who are constant faced with temptation. The next time you are faced with a predicament where you know it’s going to involve peer pressure, think to yourself “is it really worth it”? If every young person, in college or not, does this, our society will be a lot more productive and the young will flourish.

  2. I asked my 81-year old grandmother for advice as we go through the aging process. She recommends taking advantage of every opportunity you come across. She said that she would do parts of her life over again because looking back, there were times where she chose to stay in her comfort zone rather than branch out and take a risk.

  3. The advice I recieved was to be myself becuase people are going to like me for who I am. I need to always need be a good worker and save my money. And to always ask questions.

  4. Recently, I interviewed Frank Gabriel Campos, professor of trumpet at Ithaca College. Frank gave a lot of advice in this interview, and a lot of that advice alluded to being happy. He said that if we are doing something we do not enjoy for several hours each day, then that is far too much, and we need to ask ourselves why are we still doing this? We should have jobs and lives that make us happy and excited for each day of work. On the same token, when we are pursuing a goal, we need to imagine ourselves succeeding. By doing this, we are paving a road of success for ourselves. No matter where you are in life, it is not to late to start doing something you love to do.

  5. My grandmother is 83 years old and she told me to never limit myself. At a time when women were ony expected to go to school, get married, and then have kids, my grandmother went to college at UCONN, had two independent teaching jobs and married someone her parents didn’t approve of. She told me to “go after my dreams”, “never say i can’t”, and “explore everything that you’re interested in and don’t limit yourself.”

  6. I wrote a paper about my mother, who is 67, and here is just a short quote from her:
    “In my mind I am still young, but my body doesn’t agree. I guess I am lucky in that I am not taking any prescribed medications. Things start to fall apart and sometimes you feel like you are outside observing all these things happening to you. I’m surprised at how older people can be treated as “Invisible” to younger people. It seems like once you get past 50, or maybe even sooner, the world doesn’t recognize your opinion anymore. I’ve heard that this happens when you get older, but I didn’t really believe it. When you see commercials on TV or ads in magazines, they are definitely geared toward the young. Of course, because the advertisers can sway the minds of young people, but by my age, we have already made up our minds about what we want/need/ or subscribe to, so, we aren’t a target population. Except, we are helping the booming orthopedic business! The good part about growing older is that you worry less about what others think about you, or, how to impress others. You can finally be yourself. You have to approach old age with a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at yourself.”

  7. Slow down and enjoy life. Before you know it, it will all just be memories because everyone tries to grow up too fast and move on to the next stage in their life. In the meantime, always be kind to others. It will come full circle one day, and you will be happy you treated everyone kindly when that time does come.

  8. Finally when I asked him to impart some advice to the younger generations he said to
    not take things so seriously and get stressed out about the small stuff, because chances are 5
    years from now you won't even remember what was bothering you so much in the first place. He
    also said to make sure the person you want to marry is someone you really love because
    divorce is no fun.

  9. When I asked my 88 year old great uncle for his advice for young people, he told me never to give up and that there is always more to learn. He went on to tell me about the benefits of continuing education and having hobbies as you age. He continued this theme in telling me to take ownership of my knowledge and mind and to never stop using it. As an older adult, he just began learning to play the piano and violin, and I saw this as an example of his advice to continue learning and creating hobbies.

  10. One fascinating thing my grandmother told me before I finished the interview was her stance on pain medication. “You know, I take absolutely nothing for pain—you know I have a lot of arthritis, I’ve had arthritis since I was young— but I don’t take anything and its because i’m BUSY. When you’re busy you don’t think about your pains. Most of my pains occur when I get in bed when I have time to think.”
    This reminded me of how important it is to maintain a structured schedule. Stay busy you will find less pain in general!

  11. Recently, I interviewed 60 year old Jeanmarie Schields. She offered many different pieces of advices that touched on many aspects of life, but she thought there was one thing that was most important for people to hear. Her advice was that “even if you don’t agree with older people, listen to what they have to say…it may just be useful and relevant one day.” She believes it can bring validity to why some things are the way they are.

  12. I had the pleasure of talking to my Grandpa and he had some life advice to share! He said that he will always encourage those younger than him to get a good education and value the importance of schooling. He also said that even if you don’t get a college degree, at least get a trade that will keep you working (such as my cousin who is becoming an electrician). Finally, my Grandpa said to value good health and staying in good health while you’re younger. He says this will have a large impact on your health later in life.

  13. Take the time out to heal yourself letting go of the grief and guilt is the first step cause this will drain you. Unconditional love never should be misused to control you. Never accept the rude treatment and outrages demands. If you do this will place you in a world of rejection. You will become their enabler and you will pay deadly. What is wrong with requesting respect and love from our children now that should be unconditional. I loved to see when a grandmother or mother getting unconditional love from their younger family members it bring tears in my eyes. This what it should be all about we should never be looked as a entitlements care package.

    your children ,never be their enabler for sure you pay dearly. A good parents should be loved and respected. It seem that children think they have a entitlement. We as parent want our children to be desend human being who have morals.

  14. At nearly 60 with grown children and quickly-growing grandchildren it’s inevitable that you start thinking about how you are going to spend the final days of your earthly journey. I’ve been thinking about what truly makes me happy and decided that each day I would try to be a blessing to someone. My life has been blessed and it brings me joy to share my blessings with others. This is a pretty simple way of thinking but if I put it into practice my final years will be spent thinking of how to do kindnesses for others instead of worrying about what my tomorrows might bring. My sisters became widows in their early 60s and my mother is 91. I know they all have many sad days. If I can do something to help lift their sadness it makes me feel fulfilled. There are so many people who can use a blessing!

  15. I awoke this morning thinking of older women and men in my life. I arose and began to think of their names. Later I prepared a list of seven Q’s from your site to be used as a start to begin to know them better. My plan is to ask for an interview and with their approval include the answers in a document to be shared with others. Now, I’m thinking of a small gift to give to each participant. I must purchase your book. Thanks for the continued success of your project.

  16. When I asked my 80 year old grandma if she had any advice for younger people, she told me to make life fun and enjoy it. She said the way to do this was to not take yourself so seriously and to just roll with the punches. Bad times will pass. Sometimes, she told me, laughing, a banana split can be lunch.

  17. I asked how this individual has reacted to life’s most challenging, testing experiences, to which they replied, “things you would never ask for are often the greatest opportunities for personal growth”. I asked about the important lessons learned throughout life. This person believes life is largely measured by the strength of one’s interpersonal relationships, saying that unfortunately, we tend to take our relationships for granted, without putting in the regular effort to sustain them. Knowing this and understanding this now, this person says they would have invested more into their most meaningful relationships.

    They suggested spending time getting to know yourself and learning to love yourself. Age 62 came incredibly quickly, so this person emphasized consciously making the effort to live presently. They also emphasized the concept of “you get what you give”, and regarded themselves taking more than giving, particularly throughout their college years. Throughout the years, this individual realized that you only get the amount of time and effort that you put into something. Lastly, they noted the importance of not having too much self-interest. It’s important to find a balance.

  18. Recently, I interviewed Sam Weiss, an 82 year old man who lives in NYC. I asked him a variety of questions over the phone. The conversation lasted around 30 minuets. The questions pertained to how his life was and how it is now as an older adult. Sam has plenty of good advice to share. He believes that younger people should do whatever they feel like doing with their lives. They should be happy with their lives, and if they are to be successful, success will find them. Sam thinks it is useless to be worried about succeeding since it is not something one can force. I enjoyed my talk with Sam Weiss and I learned more about life perspective while conducting this interview.

  19. When asking my Grandmother what advice she would give to younger people, she said to always be kind and find a way to help people when they are in need. Since she went through a hard time as a young adult she also tells me to not sweat the small stuff because everyone has struggles that they can over come given time and hard work. Lastly, she gave the advice to always stay involved and be active within your community and people around you.

  20. My past high school history teacher was quick to tell me one thing about advice to the youth. He said, “save money and invest money because we are going to live longer than we think we are. Not only that, but time goes by so rapidly, it is almost surreal.” I thought about that and the entire talk that I had with him, and I was just amazed at how much I learn and have learned from him. We all just need to slow down, and live in the moment.

  21. My grandma talked to me about taking care of yourself when you’re young because injuries build up as you age and it gets harder to do so later on. Little things like taking a break from working to get up and get your blood flowing is easy and helpful.

  22. I wrote a paper on my Grandma and here is her advice:

    Make sure that you are active in your own way, try new things, and live your life to the fullest. She kept emphasizing the importance of getting surgeries and treatment if needed and to not put them off like she did. She also gave the advice to spend as much time with family and friends and cherish those moments because within a blink of an eye things can change. She thinks it is really great to learn and understand the aging process at a young age. She thinks that there is a benefit in general for everyone to know at least a little bit about aging because it helps understand people who are going through it as well as show respect, not be ageist and know what to expect later on in life.

  23. After interviewing my grandmother, I learned how important it is to not always follow the crowd and to really be true to yourself. She said that it takes courage and bravery to truly be yourself. She emphasized doing everything that you want to do in your life, while you have the time. Another thing that she stressed the importance of was finding something that you believe in and that you could turn to in a time of need. For her, this was her faith.

  24. Today I talked to my Grandma about her thoughts on aging and how her aging has gone. When I asked her for what advice she’d give young people she gave me a very unique response. Instead of cliche advice like, ‘Be grateful’ or ‘Live life to the fullest’, she simply told me, “Young people should pay attention to old people’s lives more.” She told me that if more young people payed attention to how aging went and how their relatives were aging then they could become better at aging. She says if you understand how aging works and how your family ages then you can figure out what to do and what not to do. You can start making choices about your health, finances, social life, etc, that will help you when you get older. When observing and talking to elders you can see the mistakes they made and also the good decisions they made. This information can be useful and you can make your older self ‘s life a lot better.

  25. You have a whole, big, long life ahead of you, and it’s going to be beautiful. It won’t always be easy, in fact it will mostly likely be very hard. But in the darkest times, remember that for each very horrible, scary moment, there is an equally beautiful and deeply joyous moment. And if you want to do something, go and do it. That is all it really takes.

  26. My grandma said that her main advice would be to educate yourself. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a basic four or six year college program, just whatever suits the individual. Society is getting more complex by the minute and if people are going to be able to function, raise a family, or whatever else is deemed necessary, education is needed.

  27. I spoke to my grandmother about the best and worst parts of aging and what life advice she chose to share. She said she encourages everybody to go to college an seek to get a degree. She also told me to take care of my teeth and floss! She also suggested to take life at my own pace and not follow what other people are doing. She reminded me to focus on my own happiness and not compare what I am doing in my life to other people. My gramma said the end of it all, you’re the one in control of your own life.

  28. Advice that my grandmother has for younger people is to not worry about things that cannot be controlled. Things will work out how they are supposed to and fall into place like they are meant to. She repeated the phrase “life takes care of itself” and I think this is something that is very important to remember. Being over-anxious about things will keep you from living your life and there is no sense in doing that about things you have no control over. This is something I always try to keep in mind. It is important to live your life the way you want to without worrying too much because life is short. I think younger people can learn a lot from older people and vice versa. It is necessary for people of all age categories to communicate and learn from one another.

  29. The advice I received from my grandmother is for younger adults to be compassionate and understanding to older people. If an older adult is struggling, it is okay to ask them if they need help because one day you will be that older adult and you might want someone to ask you for help. It is a simple gesture that can make a difference to someone’s day or even life. You should also never judge an older adult for actions that they cannot control due to aging. People face their own problems that they cannot control, and it is wrong to judge them for that.

  30. I interviewed my 65-year-old aunt who recently retired from her long career of being a nurse’s assistant. She told me one of the best lessons she has learned in life is compassion. Her advice was to enjoy life, to do the best you can in life, and to remember there are always others that need help so continue to have compassion. She said that as long as you remember those things, you can have a happy life.

  31. I recently talked to my 60 year old father about his life and advice he’d give to younger people. Being the simple man that he is, his overall advice he gave me was simple. His advice was to use your common sense, make sure to save your money, and to eat well. Of course he said more than just that, but that was how everything he said could be summed up as.

  32. When I asked my grandmother what advice she would give younger people like myself she said to appreciate education and intellectuals. She also said is to love your family because its the only one you have and they will always be there for you. Finally, she said to slow down sometimes and enjoy the little things like flowers and the moon because it’ll pass you by.

  33. My aunt told me to always put effort into work. Also, to be nice to people. Living a life of joy is only achievable if your own health and attitude are in shape.

  34. When I spoke to my grandmother recently, she gave me quick and simple, yet effective advice on how to enjoy life. She said “Be a good person, don’t break the law, be happy, and get a good education.” My grandma embarrassingly but proudly “brags” about me to her confidants frequently so I believe that I’ve followed most of what she thinks is important. A lot of what she seems to stress is being confident and having a sense of self-worth. It makes me think about how wonderful the opportunity to live a life is, and that it certainly shouldn’t be wasted. I hope that in the event that I have grandchildren of my own, I can pass down that advice along with more that I acquire with age.

  35. When I asked my grandmother for advice she would give to younger people, she quickly came up with four pieces: “Know your self, know others, know the world, and know your self.” She stressed that compassion and empathy are essential, but being in touch with the self is paramount. When I asked her to elaborate a bit she said “Find your own truth inside and live that truth on a daily basis. Live every day like it’s your last…actually live every day to its fullest honoring yourself along the way.” Overall, my grandmother’s lessons came down to having compassion for those around you as well as for yourself and allowing this compassion to guide your actions in life.

  36. Recently, I talked with my grandma about her entire life story, which was interesting to hear because I learned things about her that I never knew before even though we are related. I asked what she had learned during her life and what advice she would give to a young person. She simply said that you must stay focused on the goals that are meaningful to you until the end. Along with that, you should always be aware to monitor your health because once that is gone there is not much else to enjoy in life. She thinks that life is defined by the goals that you accomplished so you might as well continue to work on them in your old age. A specific example she gave is to be a good parent or mentor to children because they are your legacy and the future.

  37. When I asked my great aunt what she believed was good advice for people who are aging, she told me to make sure you stay fit and financially aware. After she had thought for a little longer, she continued to say that it is important to keep moving forward, because you cannot go back in time. She says whatever happens will happen, and you will learn to be okay with that. The best way to have a good life is to always be true to you and be as good of a person that you can be.

  38. My Grandma’s main piece of advice to the younger generation is to “find something you love to do and keep doing it.” She wants people to find that passion that when you do it, you can put everything out of your mind and relax, so when you have to go back to reality you feel refreshed. For my Grandma, that passion is music, but for some people, it may be cooking, sewing, or watching television. I think this is extremely important to consider. There are so many stressors around us in today’s world. We need to find something that allows us to be refreshed and a way to de-stress. She encouraged me to think positively when I am overwhelmed by the stressors of the world. My Grandma’s last piece of advice is to have faith. She trusts in a God who is in control and encourages others to do the same.

  39. When I asked my grandmother if she had any advice she would like to offer to younger people she said, “work hard in everything you do if you want to be successful because you are the only one who can control your own life”. She also said, “Enjoy your young years and don’t stress so much about your future because everything will fall into place”.

  40. My grandma just turned 78, the advice she gave me was to Always be yourself, let your conscience be your guide, respect everyone and everything. I have lived my life by following this advice. She also told me to always do everything to my fullest capability and always respect others.

  41. When I spoke to my grandpa the advice he left with me was “be smart, be careful, and don’t be a follower, followers always get in trouble”. My grandpa lived his entire life taking chances and being a leader. This advice is very important to me because the decisions he made at my age seem like something I would never be able to do. But with this advice I know now not to be a follower and follow the unconscious rules around me but to take chances and work hard so that I can live the happy, successful like, as did my grandpa.

  42. After interviewing my 80 year old grandfather, I learned many pieces of advice from him. The one that stuck with me the most was to live life in the moment since life is short. As I get older I realize how true that is. I’m now 20 years old and I feel like my life is flying by. I finished two years of college already and am more than halfway done with my third year. I am trying my best to live in the moment and not take things for granted.

  43. I decided to ask my softball coach for life advice since she grew up during the Title IX movement. She simply said, “don’t ever become too complacent. You don’t understand how hard it was to get here today.” My coaches first time playing in an organized team sport was her sophomore year of high school. Now, she is a very successful Hall of Famer. I don’t even think about softball being a privilege because I grew up being allowed to play it. For my coach, she treats it like a blessing, something that I will start to do after hearing how lucky I am to be a female athlete in this era.

  44. I talked with my neighbor from my hometown, who is 81 years old. She told me that learning from mistakes are very important. She went through a lot in her life, as she worked hard to be a professor. Her husband died in the spring of 2015, so even recently she has had to deal with set backs and times of sadness. She said that what you do when you make a mistake tells a lot about your character. In life you can only get stronger too, by learning and failing. But when you fail it is important to get back up and achieve what you want to achieve

  45. I recently interviewed my father who is 63 years old and he gave me some advice that will with forever stick with me. In regards of searching for a profession he told me to find something that you like to do and do it very well. You may not be rewarded financially right away but with hard work and dedication the rewards will come.

  46. I asked my 87-year-old grandmother what her life advice would be for me and for younger generations and she said, “Never hold back because it’s important to take a chance every once in a while. Everything happens for a reason. As long as you are being responsible, you are more than able to have fun. And always remember, your happiness matters more than anybody else’s, so never be afraid to focus on yourself.” I was surprised by this response because my grandma has always been somewhat reserved, but after asking her for this advice, she opened up about the rebellious experiences she’s had. My grandma’s advice is extremely important to me and although it’s important to be safe and responsible, she has always made it a point that happiness is the first priority.

  47. When I asked my grandmother for advice for younger people she said not to rush into things and to take the time to learn about life. She also said that young people should travel and see the world as much as they can.

  48. When I recently spoke to one of my close family friends, she gave me the best advice I have ever received. At 73 years old, Mary Anne is still very active, living life to the fullest. She advised me to never stop doing what causes me to smile. We both share the love of horses and she thinks that keeping up with her passion, even currently being an elder, has made her life easier and more enjoyable. She told me that some of her friends and family did not make time for themselves, and it affected their lives negatively. When school and life causes stress to me, I will remember her advice, make time to do what I love, and spend time with my horses.

  49. I recently asked my grandmother what advice she would give to the younger generation. She said that she believes that it is important for younger people to continue to be respectful of everyone, regardless of age. In addition, she suggests that younger people should always stick to their dreams and never stop working towards achieving them that if people work hard enough, anything is possible. She emphasized how young people today have many more opportunities today due to the increase acceptance in society so that it is important to take advantage of those opportunities and really try and make a change in the world.

  50. When asking my grandmother what advice she would give to younger people, she stated,“If you get mad, get glad.” In essence this means that each person should make everyday count for good and do something good for others when possible. She mentions that if a person finds him or herself in some kind of problem, it is necessary to go to somebody who has authority and talk to them about the problem. I think that this is very powerful and influential advice for younger people because life is too short, and being happy is important. Mental health is a common struggle among college students, and it is necessary for people to seek help, so that they can feel better both internally and externally. Finally, my grandmother suggests getting a job that you love. This is because getting up each morning to go to work will not feel like a task, it will be something that you look forward to most days.

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