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8 Life Lessons From Bestseller “Tuesdays with Morrie”

Bite-sized life lessons from a dying professor to his former student.

Twenty years after graduating from college, Mitch Albom is a successful sports columnist. As luck would have it, he turns on his TV one night and sees that his former college professor Morrie Schwartz is on Nightline. He finds out that Morrie is dying.

When Mitch learns that Morrie’s gradual decline will ultimately lead to his death, he starts visiting his former professor every Tuesday for conversations that quickly become about life and living.

Fourteen visits later, Morrie dies and Mitch turns the lessons he learned into a bestselling book called Tuesdays With Morrie. Below are the words that struck a chord with me.

1. On culture

“The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if it doesn’t work, don’t buy it.”

According to Morrie, we all need to create “our own little subculture” where we choose for ourselves “the big things — how we thinkwhat we value.” In a world that constantly tells us we’re not good enough, defying cultural expectations and being intentional about creating the life we want for ourselves is essential.

2. On envy

“Do the kinds of things that come from the heart. When you do, you won’t be dissatisfied, you won’t be envious, you won’t be longing for somebody else’s things. On the contrary, you’ll be overwhelmed with what comes back.”

When it comes to doing things from the heart, writing is no exception. I remember reading about Jordan Bach’s writing process once and he shared that whenever he posts something just because he feels like he should, it backfires. On the other hand, every time he posts something that he feels is truly helpful (even if it might be something random), miracles happen.

And sure, there’s no way to really quantify this, but in a strange way, I’ve felt this too. To write -or live- authentically means to write -and live- from our hearts. I truly believe that this intention and energy is felt and recognized – in person, as well as on-screen.

3. On living a meaningful life

“Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

I’ve been thinking more and more about the idea of creating a community and the power of community in making ourselves feel at home, no matter where we are. If you live in a city like Paris as I do, a community doesn’t develop organically. It’s something that requires conscious effort and intention.

One fun way to start creating a community, according to The Little Book of Lykke’s author Meik Wiking, is to establish a book-lending cupboard in the stairway of your building. His little book is full of inspiring ways to create a community if you get a chance to read it.

4. On kindness (and my favorite sentence in the world)

“In light of this, my visits with Morrie felt like a cleansing rinse of human kindness.”

A cleansing rinse of human kindness…. Probably my favorite string of four words (and a preposition and an article) ever. They make my soul smile.

5. On dying

“Learn how to die and you learn how to live.”

Morrie says that it’s in the moments of dying that things start to clear up for us — what’s important and what’s not.

This quote reminded me of David Brooks’ amazing 5-minute Ted talk called “Should you live for your résumé ….or your eulogy.” If you have 5 minutes, I really recommend it.

6. On forgiveness

“It’s not just other people we need to forgive…We also need to forgive ourselves…for all the things we didn’t do. All the things we should have done. You can’t get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened.”

Self-compassion is a concept I’ve thought about a lot and one that I believe goes into the heart of what it means to live a happy, fulfilled life. On a personal level, I’m slowly learning how to be more of a self-lover and less of a perfectionist.

7. On love

“Love is when you are as concerned about someone else’s situation as you are about your own.”

There are many definitions of love, but this one is so simple and universal that I believe is one of the best definitions of love I’ve read.

8. And finally, on the most important thing

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love and how to let it come in.”

This last part, to let love come in, is just as important — if not even more so — than the first one. There is no giving love without first learning how to let it in and cultivate it within. And in a culture that constantly tells us we’re not good enough, loving oneself can be the hardest thing to learn, but one that is the most important, nonetheless.

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