"I know that I'm dying, so here's what I want to tell my children."
-Randy Pausch, Computer Science professor at Carnegie-Mellon-
By now I'm sure you have all heard of Randy Pausch. He's the 47 year old beloved Carnegie-Mellon professor who was asked to give a "last lecture" last September after he learned he had pancreatic cancer and only months to live.
Dr. Pausch is a handsome young-at-heart favorite professor and his "last lecture" has circled the internet since September. His new book was excerpted in the April 6, 2008 Parade Magazine & he was featured on a recent Diane Sawyer TV special.
I first heard about Randy through Tara Parker-Pope's Well column in the New York Times, last September. To read her column & get a link to Randy's last lecture, click here.
Because he knows he only has months left to share with his three young children, who are now 1, 3, & 6, he has written a book for them. It's a collection of the life lessons he won't have a chance to teach them himself.
In Parade Magazine, he lists his top 7 lessons he leaves behind for his children. For a link to the Parade article and the lecture, click here.
- Always have fun
- Dream Big
- Ask for what you want
- Dare to take a risk
- Look for the best in everybody. If you wait long enough, people will surprise & impress you.
- Make time for what matters
- Let kids be themselves
It would be hard to add to Randy's Seven, and I by no means want to take anything away from his list. Everyone's list is always going to be different, anyway. Last Monday morning, 4/7/08 in her Well column, Tara Parker-Pope presented a contest called "What Kids Need to Know". She asked readers to submit the best advice they ever received from their parents, or the best advice they would give to their kids. As of today there are over 450 posts. To see all the posts click here. The winners will be announced the week of April 14, 2008. The winners were announced on Thursday, April 17. Here's the link: Best Advice in the "Things Kids Need to Know" contest.
I'm a big fan of the "BEST ADVICE YOU EVER GOT" kind of advice. The posts to Tara's column are a treasure trove of the best-of-the-best wisdom from a vast cross-section of just-regular-folks. I've saved the entire column so I can get inspired whenever I choose. Believe me, I can only keep 3 bits of advice in my head at one time, so this will take me a lifetime to digest. I even made my own contribution, #26.
I picked out the best for me, when there were only about 250 of them. All of us will be inspired by something different. Here are my top picks in the order they were submitted:
**If anyone makes the journey over to the WELL post, please return & share what comments you liked best that I didn't include. Just click on the "comments" at the end of this post. It's really tiny! It's fine to just include the number if you don't want to "cut & paste".**
The single best piece of advice I ever got (from an aunt) and one I’ve passed along to others is “If you fake an emotion long enough you start to feel it.” It’s helped people through rocky points in their marriages, through difficult job situations, through the adjustment periods in new parenting etc. Its corollary is “act as if” and you can change a situation (as if your relationship is happy, as if you feel competent, etc.)
— Posted by Reba
Be with good people.
--Posted by Karen
no matter what, be open to new ideas.
surround yourself with people who are willing to discuss, even argue, a different position; it will either open your eyes to a whole new way of thinking or it will solidify your views on life.
in the words of John Wooden: “once you’re through learning, you’re through”
— Posted by Chris
My father told me right before I got married, “you can be right, or you can be happy”. And trust me, it’s the best advice I ever got.
— Posted by Joshua
“Activity and sadness are incompatible.”
I think this was a quote my mother heard somewhere. It has served me well, over and over, throughout my life.
— Posted by Michele
But the primary lesson I learned from my Mom –“There has to be a solution” — is one that I will always hold on to.
-Posted by Julia Schopick-
Some of my top picks to pass on:
1. Before you get angry, stop a moment and ask yourself if what the person (spouse, friend, sibling) just said/yelled at you is something you have said to yourself. If so? Do not react, remove yourself from the situation and reflect.
You cannot change anyone, but miracles happen when you change yourself.
2. Listen to your spouse. Shut up and listen, every day, for at least a half hour a day. Ask pertinent questions. Remember the answers. Keep notes if necessary. Your children depend on your relationship with your spouse. Make sure your marital relationship is solid and your kids will be fine. (For men: if your wife is looking miserable, ask her to tell you what’s wrong and keep asking until she spills her guts. WHATEVER it was, it will no longer make her miserable because she has talked about it with you. This is the magic key to making women happy. Flowers are always nice too!
3. Rest. Sundays are good if only because other people may be doing the same thing. But any day is fine. Rest is essential to everything else you care about. Without rest, the fragility of your life will be front and center; with rest, you have a savings account of energy from which to draw to help out others. Make it religious in the sense you ALWAYS take rest at least once a week.
4. Create happy memories. With your friends, your spouse, your children. It is a creative act that requires attention and energy. Plan picnics, walks in the park, anything at all that is a surcease from the grind of life.
5. Have kids do the dishes and clean their rooms. They learn how to do chores, and peace reigns. (Also, either parent can supervise dishes.)
6. Never give your child a car.
7. Teach your kids how to bake bread. If you don’t know how, learn together. It costs pennies to make a loaf of bread. Bread dough can be used to make pizzas, again for a dollar or two. It can be the difference between starvation and survival in their future when there’s too much month to the end of the money. It is also soothing and fun. It is also a way to attract friends when they are older. No one can resist a loaf of freshly baked bread.
— Posted by Meg Tufano
I would pass on my Grandfather’s wisdom which he had up until he died at 97:
*meet each day with an open mind and heart.
*stay curious and you will gain new knowledge every day.
*if you don’t know,if you need help, ask!
*take regular nature walks.
*take care of yourself.
*respect yourself and others.
— Posted by Carolyn
As a child who worried about things like, what if I don’t know where the bathroom is at the beginning of the school year? Or what if I don’t have a friend at camp? My Dad would advise me “that we’ll cross that bridge when we reach it”. I find myself handing out this advice to my worrisome seven year old. Its really not worth our energy if we haven’t reached the bridge. I still try to follow this advice when I find myself consumed with one of my “what if?” worries.
— Posted by Juliet
1. Turn off the TV and the computer and get outside and blow the stink off yourself.
2. Write that thank-you note right now. I mean it.
3. Responsibility isn’t given; it’s taken.
4. Study at least one foreign language.
5. The world is a lot bigger than whatever it is you’re complaining about.
6. You can tell a lot about a person by how they treat people who aren’t of much use to them.
7. There is no limit or cap on good fortune in the world. So learn to be genuinely happy when good things happen for other people (whether you think they deserve it or not) and good fortune may happen for you (whether other people think you deserve it or not.)
8. Do not sell any of your old rock concert t-shirts on ebay until you are over 40. You’ll thank me later.
9. If you’re bored you’re probably boring.
10. Call your mother.
— Posted by emefem
Life isn’t fair.
But it is fascinating.
Enjoy the journey.
And keep learning.
— Posted by Shulamit Widawsky
Wisdom I would pass on:
***Be protective of your sleep***
Took me years to figure out that most of my psychological problems were due to sleep issues. I will definitely counsel my children about good sleep hygiene from a young age! Will also preach to them about avoiding caffeine!
— Posted by Jenny
my father, a physician, died last summer. i am also a physician and learned the essence of how to take care of people from him. “there but for the grace of god” was one of his many important teachings. you don’t need to be a physician to learn this. we are all vulnerable and we all need to treat each other kindly and with love. dad lived that every day of his life–i am doing my best to emulate him.
btw, i was in randy’s class in college although we didn’t know each other–i want to send my thoughts and energy to him.
— Posted by c bernstein
Tell your kids: Be a really good friend to the people you deeply care about. When they get in trouble, go out of your way to be there for them. Listen to their problems, stay all day and take care of them, take care of their kids, help them get some sleep, cook them some meals, tell them how much you love them and all the reasons why. You will never regret this.
-Posted by Ayana
After my son died, I felt the power of regret, and resolved to always act on my good and generous impulses. This is not always possible, but it is a good rule of life, which I have tried to teach to my children.
dont yell( be calm)
dont tell(be discrete and trustworthy)
be grateful as hell(humble and grateful)
have a good life
— Posted by dick bohanon
My father, who died of pancreatic cancer 18 years ago (shocking that the prognosis is not any better with the passing of almost two decades) told me two things that I have steered by:
1. You must always have hope.
2. Build your life around the things you are good at and enjoy doing.
— Posted by Jean Shields Fleming