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Life Lessons Learned from Tuesdays with Morrie

Mitch Albom and Morrie Schwartz. Tuesdays with Morrie. Image courtesy of geenamahler.wordpress.com

“The truth is, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”
― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

We had a long weekend here in the Philippines last week because of the Pope’s visit and my family and I went to the province to spend some time away from all the noise brought about by city life.  The kids enjoyed being with their cousins staying up late to watch horror movies and going to the mall for quick strolls.

Apart from keeping track of the Pope’s activities on television, I was busy finishing my e-book which you can now download by simply signing up (sorry for the cheap plug, I can’t resist it).  Once I’ve got the book uploaded, I was out of things to do.  I didn’t feel like wasting my time watching movies the whole day so I went to my list of personal development and business podcasts as well as the audiobooks I have collected in case the time comes when I’m bored but want to still be productive.

I noticed my daughter Kylie holding this little book wherever she goes.  She’s been reading it for the past few days and my curiosity can’t hold it any longer.

“What are you reading Kylie?” I asked.

“It’s for our book report Dad.  It’s called Tuesdays with Morrie.” she replied.

“Hmm, I’ve heard about that book before, that’s Mitch Albom’s right?” I asked.

“Yes, Dad.  Have you read it?” she asked as she paused her reading momentarily to give me a quick glance.

“I haven’t but is it any good?  What is it about?” I replied back.

“Yes it is, it’s about this reporter who interviewed his college professor who had ALS.” she said.

What I heard was enough for me to finally give this book a good read.  I am a personal development nut and from the sound of it, it seems like it’s one of those books where you will have a lot to take away after reading it.  My kind of thing so I started reading it immediately.

I didn’t expect to finish this book before our vacation ends because just like any of the previous ones I read, it usually took me around three days to a week to finish one.  I was surprised with how engaging and interesting this book was.  I couldn’t put it down!

I breezed through it for a day and a half and I now realize why this book was a New York Times best seller when it first came out in 1997.  Mitch Albom is a terrific story-teller and the wisdom of Morrie Schwartz is not only profound but also life-changing.  Below are some of the life lessons I learned from this book which, if you haven’t read, I recommend you get ASAP.

I should be thankful

Morrie Schwartz was diagnosed with ALS, a terminal neurological disease that cut his life short.  He battled the disease from his bed as his health  slowly deteriorated and it was at this time when he was interviewed by author Mitch Albom.  His battle was unbearable.  He was always in pain and his lungs were always on the brink of giving out.

I can somehow relate to what he went through because I saw this happen to my father too.  He didn’t have ALS but the symptoms were almost identical with what he had which was renal failure.  He was tied to a bed until his death, he slowly melted like a candle until his light ran out.  It’s not an easy sight to watch a loved one go through such ordeal and bad as it may be, there will be times when you would just wish them dead than die a slow, painful one.

What’s amazing with Morrie was that he dealt with life positively despite his condition. He didn’t wallow in misery and self-pity.  He instead, chose to live out his remaining days with a positive mindset.  He made the most out of the time he has left.  It made me look at my own life and ask, “what am I doing?”

We are far luckier than other people.  People who, like Morrie Schwarts, only have limited time remaining before his time finally runs out yet we, the healthy ones, choose to let adversity rule our lives.  We spend our days worrying, living in regret and counting the ways how life screwed us.  We should be thankful we’re alive.  Thankful that we get to eat thrice in a day.  Thankful that we have shelter and clothes.  Thankful that we’re living lives that goes without an expiration date.

Enjoy life’s simple pleasures

In one of the chapters in the book, Mitch Albom showed Morrie a newspaper article involving Ted Turner.  The media mogul and owner of CNN.  Turner, at that time,  has been bitching about his inability to acquire CBS to which Morrie replied:

“I don’t want my tombstone to read, I never owned a network.”

He further states that you cannot substitute money for love and that when you are in your deathbed like he was, money won’t give you the feeling you are looking for no matter how much you have.

While it’s true that we need money to buy our necessities, it is not, however, the source of true of happiness.  Can you imagine being a billionaire, on your deathbed with all the gadgets and all the luxury you have surrounding you but not a single loved one or family around to talk to and take care of you?  That absolutely sucks right?

Enjoy life’s simple pleasures.  Enjoy your time with the family, the smell of the morning breeze, the sunrise, the hugs and kisses from your wife and kids.  These are irreplaceable yet they won’t cost you a penny.

Treasure your loved ones

It was mentioned in the book that Mitch had a falling out with his brother who was sick at that time and living in Europe.  He was living a high-profile life as a sports writer who gets to rub elbows with athletes who were earning a fortune.  This high-profile lifestyle kept him busy with work and took his time away from enjoying life and spending time with loved ones.

At one point, Morrie told him to reach out to his brother and to make amends before it’s too late.  When Morrie died, Mitch did what he was told and was able to rekindle his strained relationship with his brother.

Sometimes our pride takes over our ability to forgive that we choose to live with a burden on our shoulders and it doesn’t have to be that way.  People fight, families have misunderstandings, lovers break up, spouses get divorced but it is not impossible to eliminate whatever bitterness resides within our hearts.  That sounds cheesy, I know, but it’s true!

I’ve had a falling out with my mom a couple of years back and that went on for three years.  We didn’t speak to each other during those times but it all had to come to an end at some point.  I can never take those three years back but I’m glad that everything’s okay now.

We are all living on borrowed time so don’t waste it living with bitterness inside you.  Reach out to a former friend or husband, put the past behind and start over before it’s too late.

Death is not something we should fear

Morrie Schwartz have already accepted where he was headed.  He knew he was going to die and this served as his motivation to live out his remaining days happy in the company of his family.  He wasn’t scared of dying.  What he was scared of was the fact that he won’t see his wife and kids anymore.  That he will be leaving them behind.

According to Morrie, death is a natural phenomenon.  It’s as natural as being born.  In the end, we’ll all die eventually that’s why while you still can, you have to make the most of the time you have here on earth.

I saw this in my dad when he got sick.  When we found out that his kidneys have failed and that he was to undergo dialysis everyday, we all cried.  We all knew that he won’t be with us for long but my dad’s behavior towards his impending demise truly amazed me.  Yes, he was sad but I’ll never forget the words he told me.

“I’m not afraid to die.  If it’s your time, it’s your time and you can’t do anything about it.”

How can he be this brave and calm in the face of death?  This was the question I kept asking myself.

The answer was simple.  It was because of his faith.  We’re a catholic family and my dad was, in a way, a preacher too, though part-time and I believe his relationship with Jesus Christ was what made him become the person he was.

Over to You

Are you living life the way you want to?  Are you living it to the fullest and making everything count?  I want to hear from you.  Share your story or leave a feedback or comment below.  Your ideas are very much welcome.


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Noel Rosos: Noel is a husband, father, author, performance coach and self-proclaimed FAILUROLOGIST who helps business owners and struggling individuals convert their failures into opportunities through inspiring blog posts, life-changing books and exceptional one-on-one coaching sessions