Excerpts: 30 Lessons for Living from the Wisest Americans

I first mentioned the Legacy Project in regard to some life changes that were happening at the time. Now that I've finished the book based on this project, here is more advice from the seniors in the book:

1. Stop using "I don't care how long I live" as an excuse for bad health habits: Behaviors like smoking, poor eating habits and inactivity are less likely to kill you than to sentence you to years or decades of chronic disease.

It's about quality of life, not length. This argument can be used in the opposite direction, but are unhealthy habits really worth decades of unhealth misery? Modern medicine can keep you alive, but it can't keep you young, functioning, and free of costly medicines and treatments.

2. Parents are often only as happy as their unhappiest child: This might be common knowledge held by parents and certainly has exceptions, but I'd never thought about it.

3. Don't hit your kids: The book claims that many elders regret physical punishment. I was sold on this point after reading the book, then I saw a very young child on a local trail trying to run into a busy road despite his father's verbal warnings. It made me reconsider. A spanking could save that child's life. After all, natural selection sounds good until it comes to your own child. Still considering my position.

Here are three repeat points from my first post on the book:

3.  Say “Yes” to Opportunities: When offered a new opportunity or challenge, you are much less likely to regret saying yes and more likely to regret turning it down. They suggest you take a risk and a leap of faith when opportunity knocks.

5. Travel More: Travel while you can, sacrificing other things if necessary to do so. Most people look back on their travel adventures (big and small) as highlights of their lives and regret not having traveled more. As one elder told me, “If you have to make a decision whether you want to remodel your kitchen or take a trip—well, I say, choose the trip!”

7. Time is of the essence: Live as though life is short—because it is. The point is not to be depressed by this knowledge but to act on it, making sure to do important things now. The older the respondent, the more likely they were to say that life goes by astonishingly quickly. Said one elder: “I wish I’d learned that in my thirties instead of in my sixties!”