A list of suggestions backed by a lifetime of wisdom Print
Youth Column
Written by Erick Rommel, Catholic News Service   
Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

Each of us has a set of life lessons. Some of these lessons make no sense and are nothing more than superstition, like the baseball pitcher who refuses to step on the chalk line between home plate and first base when walking to the dugout. Some people refuse to drink coffee or caffeinated soda after noon because they say it keeps them up at night, while others can have an espresso and go to sleep just fine.

Over the course of a lifetime, we incorporate different lessons into our lives. If we documented the most important of these, I wonder what they would tell us about the person we become later in life?

Andy Anderson doesn't have to ask that question. His great-granddaughter published a list of the 99-year-old's life lessons on the website Popsugar. He credits the list for his long and wonderful life.

The first lesson is one shared by many, "Always maintain a good sense of humor." He has two additional rules to help him find humor, "Try not to take yourself so seriously," and "Find something comical in every single situation."

Think about those lessons the next time you're having a fight. Instead of finding reasons to be angry, look for reasons to laugh. If you do, those arguments might be much shorter.

Another lesson is the result of his most important life decision. He says, "Love at first sight is not a fable." He would know. He met his wife on a Saturday and married her the following week. They were married 67 years.

I'm sure that long relationship led to two of his other lessons, "Love is not always easy; sometimes you have to work at it," and "Your family is the most precious thing you will ever have in life."

He also imparts advice for those with work woes: "Having a bad job is better than having no job at all." He says "never be too good to start at the bottom," then it's easier to "make sure you're doing what you love."

Not all of Andy's life lessons are as profound. Andy also advises others to drink orange juice and eat sausage daily. I would hope not at the same time. I also question Andy's fashion sense when he says, "Everyone has too many clothes. Wear what you have and quit buying more."

Because our lives are different, the lessons we learn are different as well. Heeding advice from a 99-year-old's experience, we might uncover new lessons that can help us in the future. To me, the most important takeaway from Andy's list is that his lessons don't focus on "stuff" (excluding sausage and orange juice).

They're not about having the most money or traveling to the most places. They're about making the most with what we have.

Or, as he puts it, "life is a gift you must unwrap. It's up to you to determine if what's inside will lead you to happiness or dismay. You have the power to make that decision for yourself."

I hope our decisions in life lead us to lessons that are as enlightened as Andy's. Life is too short for anything less.

Erick Rommel is head staff writer for The Catholic Spirit in the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J. His column is syndicated through Catholic News Service.


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