Mitch Albom, the author, writes about the lessons he received from his teacher, Morrie. Morrie gave these life lessons while struggling with a life-threatening disease — ALS. Mitch has compiled every lesson he received from his teacher in this one book.
“Study me in my slow and patient demise. Watch what happens to me. Learn with me,” Morrie tells him. When someone is on their deathbed, their view towards life can change; they can realize what is important and what is not. As Mitch says in the book, “Morrie would walk that final bridge between life and death, and narrate the trip.”
Here are the most powerful lessons I learned from the book.
1. Live every day as if it were your last
Morrie is happy that he has time to say goodbye to his loved ones thanks to his disease, which is slowly moving him closer to death. Morrie calls himself lucky; I am not sure if, under the circumstances he was in, I would call myself that. When I read his explanation to using this word, I understand what he means. He suggests doing what Buddhists do, which is: “Every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, ‘Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?'”
These simple words have a pool of information for each one of us. We must be ready to say goodbye to the world, any given day. How many of us can say that they are ready to die today? Of course, we may never be ready for death, but we must try to show our loved ones how much we care about them. We should not wait for a special occasion to express our love; we should make a habit of it. We should give our best to the world. Starting today, we should have a little bird on our shoulders too.
2. Remember to spend quality time with the family
Most of us have a tendency of taking our family for granted. If it is a Friday night, we start planning our outing with the friends. Sometimes, we have to be forced to spend time with our parents on holidays. Life is fun with friends and parties with them; however, the bond of love, which we share with our parents, is the ultimate one. Instead of keeping them at the bottom of our priority list, we must cherish and appreciate them whenever we get a chance.
3. Enjoy your emotions to the fullest
One should not hide from any emotion, rather one must experience each emotion entirely. If you love someone, love them with all you have; if you are sad, cry until you cannot cry anymore; so that when the same emotion hits you again, you know exactly what is going to happen. We hide ourselves from emotions because we are afraid to get hurt.
4. Money can never buy real happiness
Being a lover of luxurious things, I am still trying to absorb this idea. However, I agree with the explanation of Morrie. According to him: “If you’re trying to show off for people at the top, forget it. They will look down at you anyhow. And if you’re trying to show off for people at the bottom, forget it. They will only envy you. Status will get you nowhere. Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone.” We are blindly running behind money; we forget our kids, parents, relationships, and friends.
We are busy. We are always busy. Busy has become a word that is being used as an excuse all over the world. At the end of the day, money will only get us a good hospital bed to die in — and a good headstone. Is that what we are aiming for? Of course, money is important, but it is not more important than our family. One may argue that to take care of our family, we need money. That is true. However, if we do not have time to spare for our loving family, then I believe there is a problem with our plan.
5. Pay attention to the person you talk to
I wonder how many of us really listen while we talk! According to Morrie, it is really important to pay our utmost attention to the person you are conversing with. Imagine if this is the last conversation with your loved one, would you wish to let it go unheard?
6. Marry the person with the same values as you — and treat them well
As per Morrie, people should get to know about other people’s values and beliefs; marry the person who shares your values and beliefs. A life partner is a very important part of our life. In our time of need, friends may come and go, but our life partner will be with us. During sickness, they are the ones who take care of us. Therefore, they should be treated with love, care and respect. As Morrie quotes a famous saying: “Love each other or perish.”
7. Decide your own rules; do not let society steer your life
Morrie says that people are running behind things that do not — necessarily — matter to them. He says that we must believe in each other and ourselves. According to him: “Invest in the human family. Invest in people. Build a little community of those you love and who love you.” He mentions we should rely on our own instincts to decide our thought process and actions — and not society. In his own words: “I don’t mean you disregard every rule of your community… The little things, I can obey. But the big things — how we think, what we value — that you must choose yourself. You can’t let anyone — or any society — determine those for you.”
8. Forgive others, as well as yourself
We tend to hold grudges in life. Even if somebody apologizes, how many of us — truly — forgive the person? We may smile and accept, but there is a huge possibility that we do not forgive them. Forgiving another person not only releases a burden of one’s own heart, but also makes us a better person.