30 Lessons for Living: Tried & True Advice from the Wisest Americans: Ultra Condensed Cliff Notes #4

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Below are my personal notes of 30 Lessons of Living. These highlights were what I used to write my personal development book, Wiser Next Week, a condensation of many different self improvement books

In a Nutshell: More than one thousand extraordinary Americans share their stories and the wisdom they have gained on living, loving, and finding happiness.


    Lesson 1: marry Someone a Lot Like You

  • You’re much more likely to have a satisfying marriage for a lifetime when you and your spouse are fundamentally similar in core values
  • Arguments over trivial matters are derived from friction over underlying values
  • Begin by understanding what you value and what you believe in, only then can you understand what makes another person compatible. 
  • Marriages homogenous in economic background, religion and age tend to be more stable and happy
  • Unless you’re sure, don’t get married
  • You’ll have a greater success changing your own feelings and behaviors than in changing your partners

    Lesson 2: Friendship is as Important as Romantic Love

  • You have to be friends first and you have to be willing to work on it. 
  • First there is intense physical attraction, then there is joy in shard activities and interests
  • Passion transforms into a lifelong relationship

    Lesson 3: Don’t Keep Score

  • The only way to make a marriage work is to have both parties give 100% all the time
  • The attitude of both parties must be one of giving freely
  • Marriage is not a 50-50 situation
  • Avoid keeping score on who is getting more and who is getting less
  • Make the objective be that both partners have so much the other’s interests at heart that they pull together as one, lightening the load of life’s difficulties because of their unified effort. 
  • The key is working together
  • Ask “What can I do today to make her day a little happier?”
  • Both partners try to give more than they get out of the relationship

    Lesson 4: Talk to Each Other

  • Communication is preventative Maintenance
  • After a fight, move on
    • When having difficulty discussing something, go somewhere else
    • Find a way to blow off steam before engaging your partner
    • Teasing can be hurtful
    • Hear your spouse’s input

    Lesson 5: Don’t Just Commit to Your Partner- Commit to Marriage Itself

  • Keep the mindset of sharing good times and troubled times, that’s all part of and woven into one another’s lives. Don’t trade anything for it
  • Keep in mind that marriage is bigger than the immediate needs of each individual partner. 


    Lesson 1: Choose a Career for the Intrinsic Rewards, not the Financial Ones

  • Time well and enjoyably spent trumps money every time
  • Contributions to the community and meaningful relationships in the workplace lead to greater happiness than money and “stuff”
  • Work for the pleasure/fulfillment it gives
  • Enjoy what you do, else it’s a long day doing what you don’t like
  • Spending years doing what you don’t like is a recipe for regret

    Lesson 2: Don’t Give up Looking for a Job That Makes You Happy

  • The tragedy isn’t finding the wrong job, it’s staying there
  • Work in a field for a couple years, learn as much as you can, if you don’t like it, move on.
  • Be persistent in finding happiness

    Lesson 3: Make the Most of a Bad Job

  • If you can’t have the job you love, find something worthwhile about the one you have
  • Observe, learn, see what’s happening
  • If you think someone is a failure, use them as a case study of a bad example
  • You can learn from any job and be sure to take pride in what you do
  • Seek opportunities, accumulate knowledge

    Lesson 4: Emotional Intelligence Trumps Every Other Kind

  • Get along with others and develop interpersonal skills to succeed
  • Develop empathy, listening and problem solving skills
  • Remember that no matter what you do, you’ll always do it with other people
  • Maintain a healthy humility, be willing to learn from everyone at work, high or low
  • Always presume others are better than you

    Lesson 5: Everyone Needs Autonomy

  • Its what you do all day long that provides the most profound satisfaction in life
  • Both purpose and autonomy is needed in the workplace


    Lesson 1: It’s All about Time

  • Spend more time with your children, sacrifice to do it
  • They want you with them
  • Children don’t to spending time with their parents, it’s just that parents want to dictate the activities
  • It’s not the activity, its the shared time
  • Go along with the children’s interests and make them shared activities
  • Time shared in mundane activities beat special occasions, it also serves as a way to monitor kids for emerging problems such as who they associate with
  • Sacrificing to have shared time in their interests or discovering new interests will fill them with fondness and nostalgia in their adulthood

    Lesson 2: Its Normal to Have Favorites, but Never Show it

  • You’ll likely have one child you like above the rest, don’t obsess over it, accept it and never show it
  • Children’s perceived unequal treatment has long term detrimental effects on their relationships with one another
  • You’ll likely favor one child because they are similar to you in personality and/or values

    Lesson 3: Don’t Hit Your Kids

  • Be loving and respectful in your discipline

    Lesson 4: Avoid a Rift at All Costs

  • Poor relations with adult children lead to a feeling of incompleteness and become more acute near the end of life. 
  • A rift between parent and child likely involves betrayal, humiliation, anger or indifference
  • Solving and preventing conflicts with adult children
    • See the potential rift early and defuse it
    • Act immediately after the rift occurs. Remember that views of both parties harden quickly making it tougher to act
    • When all else fails, the parents compromise. Remember that the parent of an adult child needs the relationship more
  • The cause of the rift may seem important at the time, but they are almost never worth the pain of separation

    Lesson 5:Take a Lifelong View of Relationships with Children

  • When old age hits, children provide a sense of continuity, meaning, attachment and ultimately a sense of a greater purpose of life
  • There is a payoff beyond price for sacrificing, spending time and mending disagreements
  • There is no perfect child nor perfect parent. Mistakes will be made, accept it and move forward, 

Aging Fearlessly and Well

    Lesson 1: Being Old is Much Better Than You Think

  • Don’t waste time worrying about getting old
  • Each decade, each age, has opportunities that weren’t available in the previous time
  • Aging is opportunity, adventure and growth. It is a quest, not an end

    Lesson 2: Act Now like You Need Your Body for a 100 Years

  • Its not dying you should worry about, its chronic disease
  • Wrong health decisions lead to decades of suffering from chronic disease
  • Correct lifestyle decisions are not to live longer, but to live better in your 70’s, 80’s and beyond. 
  • You choose whether your last decades are healthy and productive or miserable

    Leeson 3: Don’t Worry about Dying

  • Plan for death, get your affairs in order to ease the burden from loved ones

    Lesson 4: Stay Connected

  • Greater involvement in social roles and in networks of social support promote health and happiness later in life
  • Take advantage of learning opportunities
  • Make a conscious goal to stay connected
  • Learn to be social, maintain old ties and build new ones

    Lesson 5: Plan Ahead on Where You’ll Live (your parents too)

  • Every stage of life is good if you plan for it. If you don’t, you’ll be overwhelmed
  • When you wait until it’s too late, somebody else has to make decisions for you, and you likely won’t be happy with it
  • Denial is our worst enemy, it leads to our failure to plan
  • Accept and Adapt aging, this leads to fulfillment instead of frustration

Living Without Regrets

    Lesson 1: Always Be Honest

  • Ultimately we must choose a path and live with the consequences
  • Deceit weighs on the conscious 

    Lesson 2: Say Yes to Opportunities

  • Take calculated Risks
  • The greatest reward receivable in your career is the opportunity to do more
  • You are more likely to regret turning down an opportunity then saying yes to it

    Lesson 3: Travel More

  • When your travel days are over, you’ll wish you took one more trip
  • Travel now, “stuff” comes second
  • Travel while you have the physical ability and while you can have your favorite companion by your side

    Lesson 4: Choose a Mate with Extreme Care

  • There are 3 major mistakes in choosing a spouse:
  1. Marrying out of passion ( Romeo and Juliet style)
  2. Commit out of desperation
  3. Marrying without clear choice or reason
  • During the romantic phase, people are on their best behavior and say what wants to be heard
  • Communication is key, it may save years of difficulty, determine compatibility over the long term

    Lesson 5. Say it Now

  • If you have something to say, do it before it’s too late
  • Conversation prevents regret
  • Remember that the only time you can share your deepest feelings is while people are still alive
  • After buying a pair of shoes, don’t look at the shoes in the next window
  • Mistakes will be made, lighten up and forgive yourself. 

Choose Happiness

    Lesson 1: Time is of the Essence

  • Each day should be taken as a gift and treated that way
  • “Carpe Diem” Harvest the day
  • Each day has an unharvested abundance of pleasure, enjoyment, love and beauty
  • If we fail to number our days, we risk waiting for things to happen instead of making things happen
  • Strive for happiness with what you have now, make it a daily habit

    Lesson 2: Happiness is a Choice, Not a Condition

  • Take responsibility for your own happiness throughout your life
  • Feelings of annoyance, fear and disappointment should be treated like weeds. Study the source, accept them and let them go
  • Adapt to life’s difficulties and never lose the joy of living life in spite of problems
  • The “happy if only” mentality is futile and bound for disappointment
  • Be “happy in spite of” instead, painful events are inevitable in the process of living

    Lesson 3: Time Spent Worrying is Time Wasted

  • Worrying makes no difference, it is a futile attempt to control the uncontrollable
  • When worrying, focus on taking things one day at a time
  • Instead of worrying, identify and plan for the subject of worry
  • Accept that there will always be things that are out of your control “Let it Be”
  • Increase time spent on concrete problem solving and eliminate time spent worrying 

    Lesson 4: Think Small

  • Pay attention and appreciate the little things as they form the daily basis of happiness 
  • Be grateful and appreciate what does on around you everyday
  • Learn to savor the simple daily pleasures

If these brief notes, peaked your interest in the 30 Lessons of Living , you can check it out on Amazon here.

And be sure to check out my book, Wiser Next Week.

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