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Pearls of Wisdom from Older Adults

by Virginia Fidler
granddads pearls of wisdom

With age comes experience and with experience comes wisdom. Although teenagers think they know it all, it is only with age and years of losses, gains, trials, errors, successes and failures of life that we gain pearls of wisdom.

What are pearls of wisdom?

“Pearls of wisdom” is a metaphor comparing pearls with wisdom as both are so valuable. The first recorded comparison of pearls to wisdom can be found in the Old Testament of the Bible in the Book of Job, “No mention shall be made of coral or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies.”

A pearl of wisdom is a small, concise piece of advice or observation. These wise words are not rambling but are small and compact like a pearl.

Sometimes the saying, “pearl of wisdom” may be used in a sarcastic way to describe a boring, banal, or obvious remark. For example saying, “Thanks for that pearl of wisdom,” when someone has said something silly.

Life Advice from Seniors

In this article we will not be using the phrase in a sarcastic way but will rather be using it to describe the many wise pieces of advice that older adults, with plenty of experience, have to offer.

Love Advice

To understand love we need to experience it. We need to experience a broken heart, a happy relationship, trials, fights, romance, and loss to truly understand what is important and what is not. Older adults can offer a fountain of advice and wisdom in this regard.

When Lydia Sohn, from CNBC, asked a 90-year-old man if he wished he had accomplished more in his life he replied, “No, I wish I had loved more.”

  • Pick a partner your friends and family like. When choosing a partner allow the people who know you best to guide you. If they don’t like the way your partner is treating you, he/she is probably wrong for you. Look at how your partner treats others. This can also give you a good idea of what kind of person they really are.
  • Love is action. If you love someone, you show them rather than only tell them.
  • Jealousy destroys relationships. Trust your significant other, because who else are you supposed to trust.
  • “It is better to leave behind two months or two years of your life than to spend most of the rest of your life in a bad relationship.” Olivind H. Solheim
mother giving advice to daughter

Marriage Advice

Who better to get marriage advice from than couples who have stood the test of time and remain married into their twilight years?

  • “NEVER (fight) physically! Agree that it’s okay to disagree and fight for what really matters. Learn to bend, not break.” – Zelmyra and Herbert Fisher, both died at age of 105 after being married for 86 years.
  • Remember to be friends. – Fishers
  • Respect each other. “Respect, support, and communicate with each other. Be faithful, honest and true. Love each other with ALL your heart. – Fishers
  • “Goodwill and willingness to bend – and to shut up every once in a while.” – Meryl Streep. She and sculptor Don Gummer have been married for over 40 years.
  • The most important person in your life is the person who agreed to share their life with you. Treat them as such.

Advice on Friendship

I read this quote a while back and, although a little dark, it rings true. “A good friend will help you move. A true friend will help you move a body.”

  • A true friend will come running if you call them at 2 AM. Everyone else is just an acquaintance.
  • “Develop relationships. They will last you a lifetime of friendships, give you trips together and adventures you never dreamed of. Most importantly, they will offer love and support when you need it.” Fred, Seasons High River

Health Advice

My husband’s grandfather lived to the age of 98. When we asked him how he managed to stay so young and fit he would show us his breathing exercises which he carried out at least 3 times a day. A few deep inhales followed by aggressive but slow exhales. He claimed they got him through the war too.

When interviewed, most seniors stressed the importance of looking after your health. Some said had they known they would live so long they would have taken better care of themselves. Common trends were eating healthily, getting enough sleep, staying active, and exercising. Some ideas were a little less orthodox.

  • “Exercise, to me, is totally unnecessary. I think it’s mostly overrated. – 100-year-old doctor who was still running his own practice.
  • “The use of vitamins? Forget it. And I don’t encourage going to a lot of doctors, either.” – 100-year-old doctor.
  • “Fall in love, get married. Sex is to be encouraged.” – 100-year-old doctor.
  • Knees are important. Cherish them. – Electronicat
  • Take care of your health. It’s the best thing you own.
  • You might live a long life, or you might live a short one – who knows. But either way, trust me when I say that you’re going to wish you took better care of yourself in your youth.
  • Eat and exercise like you’re a diabetic heart patient with a stroke – so you never actually become one.
  • Floss regularly, dental problems are awful.
  • Respect your body. It’s both tough and perishable. You might have to live in it for 100 years or more. That long home stretch can be a bastard if you’ve been careless about your health and undisciplined about what you eat and drink and what physical risks you knowingly take. – Suzy McKee Charnas
  • The joints you damage today will get their revenge later. Even if you think they’ve recovered completely. TRUST ME!
father giving advice to son

Work Advice

The types of jobs may be changing and the way we carry them out may differ from 50 years ago. Technology has allowed more of us to work from home and travel less for work. Despite the changes, the fundamentals of work and careers, providing for a family and finding a balance remain the same.

  • “Your job provides the means to do what’s really important in life, nothing more. Do the job but live for your family.” – wizard10000
  • “The right job is the job you love some days and can tolerate most days and still pays the bills. Almost nobody has a job they love every day.” – 83 year old man
  • “Take risks! We think in terms of black and white, the world is gray. It’s really hard to ‘lose everything’ unless you die. If you get fired there’s another job, if you go broke, you can rebuild. If you don’t take risks, (smart risks) you’ll look back and say, “I wish I had.” – Patsays1
  • Invest in a career that gives you a sense of purpose – not just money. Never go to a “free seminar” on investments, especially if they buy you a meal, unless you use earplugs to avoid listening to them and never buy what they are selling. They are superb salesmen and are there to try to sell you things and they are very good at making bad ideas look like good ideas. – Dennis J Frailey
  • Assume you’re going to live a looong time. Save untouchable money for retirement, regardless of what your company/union/government has set up. – Carol Johnson
  • Save for retirement when you are young. That is when you have the health and energy to make money. – Dennis J Frailey

Religious Advice

  • “I’m not saying you have to practice one religion or another, or not practice one religion or another… I’m just saying that you should figure out what you believe in and live it completely.” – 100-year-old woman.
daughter spending time with father

Family Advice

Lydia Sohn from Health and Wellness interviewed some adults over 90 years old and asked what they regretted most. Most of them said they regretted not cultivating closer relationships with their children, or not putting their children on the right path in life.

They regretted not spending enough time with the people they love.  Family is the most precious gift we have. We may fight like cats and dogs but in the end, blood is thick and we should always return to each other and support each other.

  • “My family is the only thing I care about anymore. Remember that.” – 83-year-old man
  • “Blood is thicker than water. Have kids if you can, they are worth the trouble. Protect your family, expect them to protect you.” – Patsays1
  • “When you have kids you will be time warping. Spend as much time with your children as you can. Turn off the TV, get away from the computer. You will never understand the impact you have on their lives. Make the most of it.” – ScreamWithMe

Pearls of Wisdom from People Who Have Lived a Long Time

  • “Take care of your health and your finances.” – demo7
  • “Books. Read them. All the cliché’s apply (sunblock, flossing, travel). But don’t stop reading books, lots and lots of books. Crappy ones, disturbing ones, difficult ones, fun ones. You can only live your one tiny life, but with books, you can live thousands more.
  • “Stuff is just stuff. Hoard time instead.” – davelog
  • “Either have a great partner, or don’t have one at all.” Patsays1
  • “Keep your word, even though most people will end up disappointing you with theirs.” Patsays1
  • Nobody ever dies wishing they had worked more.
  • Buy a plunger before you need a plunger.
  • “Lead your life so that when you look at the man in the mirror you can be proud.” Art, Seasons Old Encore.
  • We have one time on this earth. Don’t wake up and realize that you are 60 years old and haven’t done the things you dreamed about.
  • Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.
  • Don’t boast about your abilities. If they are good enough, people will do the talking for you.
  • The grass is always greener where you water it.
  • Don’t point out a problem unless you have a better solution.
  • Prioritize traveling! Experiences create the best memories. Stuff is perishable.
  • If you want to get as much as possible from life, focus on the little things. Find joy in the small moments and events that occur every day.
  • If you’re getting overwhelmed by life, just return to the immediate present moment and savour all that is beautiful and comforting. Take a deep breath, relax.
  • If you have a dream of being or doing something that seems impossible, try for it anyway. It will only become more impossible as you age and become responsible for more people.
  • “Get as much education as possible. Always strive to do the best with what you have.” Agnes, Seasons Dufferin Centre
  • “Love your age all the time, growing old is denied to many.” Jean, Seasons Lethbridge Gardens
  • “It ain’t over til it’s over.”
  • Own your actions. Own your failures. Own your successes.
  • Be nice, or at least honestly polite to strangers. – Carol Johnson
  • Don’t worry. If it’s outside your control there is no point in worrying. If it’s within your control deal with it. – Dudley Lusted
  • Remember… that there is no Someday on the calendar! – Phil Huhes
word wisdom on senior hands

Takeaways

What most older adults agreed on was that family and relationships were more important than things, that looking after your body, your health, your finances, and your friendships is important. Live each day fully and love more, laugh more, live more.

When asked what the secret to his longevity was, one 100-year-old man replied, “You gotta be… lucky for 100 years.” Maybe, despite all the wise words, the healthy lifestyle, the exercise and nutritious food, maybe, in the end, it just all comes down to luck.

Do you have pearls of wisdom that we didn’t include? Add them to the comments section.

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