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15 Life Lectures From Grandpa

15 Life Lectures From Grandpa

My grandfather was born one year and one week after Oreo cookies came into existence, and he lived to celebrate 100 years March 13, 2013, meeting his only great granddaughter, my daughter Meredith Violet, and holding his youngest of four grandchildren, my son Russell Rain. Though he lived in Florida during much of the time I was growing up in New Jersey, he visited about once every year or two. My family drove to Florida to celebrate my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary around 1995 or 1996. I learned most of what would be considered life lectures not from his words but from my Grandpa’s actions.

Life Lectures From Grandpa: show don’t tell

Of the times I talked with my grandfather, I remember more about how he showed me to live than what he said. “Children should be seen and not heard” was a popular phrase for his generation, but he showed us more by listening to us.

1. Eat well

I remember laughing when my grandfather picked flowers and assorted berries from the yard of our suburban New Jersey home in the early ’90s, if not the late ’80s. He put the plant life in a bowl after washing it. I believe we ate violets, but his action inspired me to look to nature for sustainability.

lemonade-stand

    Ellen Eldridge, age 5 or 6, with her brother and grandfather. Grandmother is at the door, checking on supplies for the lemonade

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    2. Be entrepreneurial

    Grandpa encouraged my brother and me to start a lemonade stand as kids. Though the business is a cliche like tea parties and playing princess, I don’t think either of us kids would have thought to start our own business without someone’s lead. We likely sold little, but the actions that day spoke louder than words and I’ve gone on to start more business ideas including a fanzine in high school.

    3. Keep exercising

    My grandfather still mowed his own lawn at age 90 with a push mower. Not the electrical kind either. When visiting him and my grandmother, we grandchildren felt amazed that they not only got into the swimming pool still but also my grandfather dove in from the diving board. Staying active kept my grandparents healthy.

    4. Value your roots and family history

    Grandfather and my father, who was the eldest child of four, took an interest in tracing the family’s lineage and building charts of our ancestors. Valuing your family means taking care of them while they’re young as much as it means never forgetting the ones who’ve come before you.

    5. Do what you say you will do

    The value of following through came by way of life lectures from Grandpa in that he always did what he said he would do. From making salad to waking up early and making the bed, he did what he said he would do.

    6. Earn your way in life

    As much as my brother, sister, cousins and I loved getting coveted quarters from Grandpa, he insisted we earn them by pulling weeds or studying to make good grades. The life lectures from Grandpa of earning money were continued by my father, who insisted we complete chores for an allowance.

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    7. Save money

    Even more important though perhaps a lost lesson, saving money was a life lesson Grandpa and my father tried to instill from a young age. The importance of making conscious purchases and not frivolously wasting money dawned on me toward the end of my twenties rather than at the beginning, but Grandpa tried.

    8. Honor your country

    Many of the people my age and younger have grandparents and parents who served in the military. My Grandpa gave me a large seashell that I believe he told me came from the beach at Normandy. He never spoke much about war, but knowing he served proudly in the Navy encouraged me to later join the Army Reserves.

    9. Treat other people as you would have them treat you

    My Grandfather first taught me the Golden Rule. This was one life lecture he never had to show me. I took his word for it that the kind thing to do is treat people the way you want to be treated.

    10. Don’t stay in a job you don’t like

    My grandpa never ran from responsibility, but he made sure to encourage my father and his other children to follow their hearts. My father became a mechanical engineer. I know as much as I knew to follow through with the lemonade stand idea that doing what you like is the key to never feeling like you’re working.

    11. Always be honest

    By never lying to me or anyone else I’m aware of, my husband’s father, who is now 78, taught my husband to never lie. The strength of doing what you say inspires integrity.

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    12. Don’t judge people based on age

    Not my grandfather, but a nontraditional student over the age of 70 taught me not to judge others based on their age. Universities and colleges allow people over a certain age (62 in Georgia, where I am enrolled) to attend tuition free. The man who has showed up and worked twice as hard as traditional students proved one of life’s most important lessons is to educate yourself.

     

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      13. Family first

      I interviewed briefly a woman who had just turned 100. She reminded me of my grandfather, as he had just died a few months before his 101 birthday. I asked the woman what her favorite memories were and she just said family meant everything to her. It made me happy to know I decided to travel more than four hours with a screaming 3-month-old son and moody 2-year-old daughter so they could meet their great grandfather on his 100th birthday.

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      14. Plan but don’t spend all your time planning

      One of my Grandpa’s and now one of my favorite quotes is “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

      Planning and making strategic choices are crucial to learning from mistakes, but with great risk comes great reward. Live a little and enjoy spontaneity when possible and appropriate.

      15. Rely on no one but yourself and love everyone

      My Grandfather taught me and everyone in our family by example. He stayed active and supported my Grandmother until she passed away around age 92. After she was gone, my Grandpa remained in his own home until the end of his life, at age 100. While he had a caretaker who came to the house, my Grandpa took care of himself until the very last few years. I know he accepted a ride to the store once a week to buy food, and he cooked for himself well into his nineties. His self-reliance kept him independent, but he remained loving and welcoming to everyone who came to visit. I believe the love and family surrounding him at his 100th birthday gave him the satisfaction and courage to move into the next lesson, the afterlife.

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      Last Updated on December 3, 2019

      10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

      10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

      There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

      Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

      1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

      Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

      There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

      Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

      2. Pace Yourself

      Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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      Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

      Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

      3. You Can’t Please Everyone

      “I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

      You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

      Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

      4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

      Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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      We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

      Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

      5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

      “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

      No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

      We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

      6. It’s Not All About You

      You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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      It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

      7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

      No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

      We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

      Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

      8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

      That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

      Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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      Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

      9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

      Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

      The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

      10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

      We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

      When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

      Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

      This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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      Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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