Not long after I did the ‘7 habits of highly effective people’ course, I read ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’. It was perfect timing because I was totally in the zone of simplifying then enriching my life.
And that’s what the book is all about. Investing less in material things and investing more in relationships and experiences.
The book is a true story about Morrie Schwartz, an inspirational teacher and mentor who touched the lives of all his students. In particular he had a big impact on Mitch Albom. But then they lost touch. Mitch became a well known sports journalist and a pretty materialistic person. Sixteen years later, Mitch heard through the grapevine that Morrie had Lou Gehrig’s disease (Motor Neurone Disease). He went back to visit Morrie and was reminded how witty and wise his professor was. He was also impressed with the joy Morrie took in living. One Tuesday turned into another and Mitch started to record their conversations, which became the basis for the book.
I took two key things out of the story.
First, Morrie reminded Mitch that life is too short to spend time doing things you don’t want to do or to be with people who don’t bring you joy. He said “”You have to find what’s good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now.” That message reiterated what I’d just learnt when I did the 7 habits course too. And it lead me to end two relationships that were not bringing me any joy. One was with someone who’d been in my life since I was a kid and the other was with a girl at work.
Both friendships seemed really one sided. It was always about the other person and neither of those girls were really positive people. I would often come away from time with each of them feeling drained. In particular, my child hood friend never seemed to care about what I was up to and I realised at one point that she had only asked me one question about my life in a 12 month period. I was just an ear for her to talk into. So I basically stopped contacting her and the same with the girl at work too.
Now I have more time to spend with people who are filled with positive energy and who bring something good to my life. It’s refreshing to be with people who fill your soul up each and every time you see them.
The second lesson for me was a reminder that physical objects and materialism brings you fleeting happiness. Morrie said to Mitch “Don’t cling to things, because everything is impermanent. You can’t substitute material things for love or for gentleness or for tenderness or for a sense of comradeship”.
I’m the first to admit that I like nice things (not necessarily expensive things, just nice things). But really, I just want to live a simple life. I don’t want a lot of stuff. Not just because it’s unnecessary, but because it’s bad for the environment and adds clutter to your life too.
When I’m 80 and I look back at my life the way Morrie did, I hope I can say it was filled with fabulous times, not fabulous things.
So lovely friends, what book has really spoken to you?
Here are some of my favourite quotes from the book that Mitch attributed to Morrie
“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
“The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.”
“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”
“…there are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage: If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike.”
“In the beginning of life, when we were infants, we need others to survive, right? And at the end of life, when you get like me, you need others to survive, right? But here’s the secret: in between, we need others as well.”