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More 12 ways to live a better life

Karl A. Pillemer, a Cornell gerontologist, used the wisdom of crowds — more than 1,000 Americans aged 65 and over — to glean material for his book “30 Lessons in Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.’’ Here are 12 of his tips.

Marry someone like you
Experts believe marriage is vastly more difficult with someone whose orientation and approach to life is different from yours. There are many ways partners can be similar, but the experts focus on one dimension in particular: similarity in core values.

Act as if you will need your body for 100 years
Don't worry about dying. Worry about chronic disease. . . . The smokers, overeaters and coach potatoes among us are too focused on the comforting thought that the worst that can happen is dropping dead one day . . . You need to change your lifestyle early in life, not to live longer, but to live better in your 70s, 80s and beyond.

Stay connected
Take advantage of learning opportunities. Set specific goals that will lead to greater connectedness. Plan ahead about where you will live (and where your parents will, too).

Be able to look everyone in the eye
To avoid later-life remorse, one word was repeated again and again: "Honesty.'' . . . With a consistency that surprised me, they advise us unconditionally to be honest, to have integrity, to be someone others can trust. . . . If not, we will regret it.

Say yes to opportunities
Embrace new challenges at every turn. Say yes as often as possible. . . . The greatest reward you can receive in your career is the opportunity to do more. . . . The experts who took a risk at a crucial juncture were those who looked back with the greatest satisfaction on their work lives.

Travel more
Travel while you have the time and the physical ability, and while you can have your favorite travel companion by your side. . . . It broadens horizons, helps find a focus, challenges in new ways. Said Donna Loflin, 78: "If you have to make a decision whether you want to remodel your kitchen or take a trip — I say, choose the trip! Material things, you can wait on those.''

Send flowers to the living
Hal Phipps, 81, was married for 55 years until his wife's death. "I regret that I didn't tell her how much I loved her as much as I should have. And I didn't really realize that until I lost her.'' Who knows why it is so hard, even in the closest relationships, to say what needs to be said until it is too late.

Share time with your children
It's your time that kids want, and they will look back on the hours you spend together with fondness and nostalgia. . . . What counts most are shared activities — time spent on hobbies, sports, camping, hunting, fishing . . . or in seeking out a new interest together.

With adult children, YOU often must compromise
It's usually the parent who pays a higher price if a rift occurs. Particularly acute is the potential distance or separation from grandchildren that can occur. . . . The experts tell us that rifts most often occur over matters that seem important at the time but are almost never worth the ultimate pain of separation.

Take advantage of the time you have
For people in their 70s and beyond, time is truly of the essence; it is the sea in which they swim . . . If we fail to "number our days,'' we risk waiting for things to happen instead of making them happen.

Find freedom
When the experts discuss their work lives, two themes go hand in hand: purpose (beyond earning a salary) and autonomy. Neither one can be found in every job, every time, but without them work can become a miserable burden.

Don't waste time worrying about growing old
Many experts described later life as embodying a serenity, a "lightness of being,'' a sense of calm and easiness in daily life that was both unexpected and somewhat difficult to describe. . . . They acknowledge that growing old is uncharted territory . . . but many experts described it with a sense of exploring a new land.

Now it's your turn...
What life lessons do you have for us? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Lifestyle Magazine: More 12 ways to live a better life
More 12 ways to live a better life
Lifestyle Magazine
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