Questions for Your Own Circle of Experts
By JANE E. BRODY Published: January 9, 2012
If you have friends or relatives in the last third of their lives, Karl Pillemer, who heads the Cornell Legacy Project, suggests that you ask what their experiences, both positive and negative, have taught them about living effectively. Their answers may both enrich your understanding and appreciation of important elders in your life and improve your own chances of living successfully.
Interview questions like these 10 formed the basis of Dr. Pillemer’s book “30 Lessons on Living: Tried and True Advice From the Wisest Americans.”
1. What are some of the most important lessons you have learned over the course of your life?
If the person has trouble getting started, Dr. Pillimer suggested you pose this question: If a young person asked, “What have you learned in your years in this world?,” what would you tell him or her?
2. What kind of advice might you give to others about getting and staying married? What’s the secret of a long marriage?
What mistakes should young people avoid, and what advice would you have for a younger couple thinking of calling it quits?
3. What advice do you have about raising children? What mistakes should people avoid?
4. Do you have any advice about finding fulfilling work and how to succeed in a career?
5. Many people derive important lessons from difficult or stressful experiences. If this applies to you, can you give some examples?
6. Were there turning points in your life — key events or experiences — that changed its course and sent you in a different direction? What have you learned from the important choices or decisions you made?
7. What do you think you know now about living a happy and successful life that you didn’t know when you were 20?
8. What are the major values or principles you live by?
9. Have you learned any lessons about how to stay healthy?
10. What advice might you give to others about growing older?
[Jane E. Brody; New York Times]
A version of this list appeared in print on January 10, 2012, on page D7 of the New York edition with the headline: Related Articles.