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'The Wisdom of Morrie' Offers Advice for Aging

Sociology professor and subject of the book and movie Tuesdays with Morrie, author Morrie Schwartz emphasizes the importance of prioritizing human connections over daily tasks in his new book, The Wisdom of Morrie – Living and Aging Creatively and Joyous (April 2023, Blackstone Publishing).

Morrie's son, editor Rob Schwartz recently spoke at The Longevity Book Club, which is part of the Stanford Center on Longevity, about his late father's book and sage advice tips for how to live "vibrantly" at any age.

As a posthumously published book, Morrie Schwartz's words are even more timely and relevant today with the new U.S. Surgeon General Advisory: Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.

Morrie urges everyone to make new friends, learn new things and join organizations to stay connected, especially as one ages.

Rob Schwartz found his late father's book in his desk after Morrie passed in November 1995 from ALS. Many see The Wisdom of Morrie as a prequel to Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom, because Morrie wrote it between 1988-1992 (at about ages 70-75) during retirement and prior to being diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehig's Disease).

When asked to describe Morrie's new book, Rob explained, "Dad wrote about the myth of ageism that once you get old, you can't do anything... He says you need to break out of the age-casting (preconceived notions of what an aging person is supposed to be) and do whatever you want to do... Morrie never thought of himself as an elderly person, but felt society viewed him that way."

When asked what Morrie recommends to "live vibrantly" while aging, Rob continued, "He suggests that you want to maintain, strengthen and create human connections... He's saying don't wait until the end of your life and you're on your deathbed. Make your connections with your friends and family stronger, share more things with them, share more love with them, and also create new relationships."

The Wisdom of Morrie highlights the author's Top Five insights for living a long and happy life, which include 1. Laughter, 2. Meditation, 3. Spiritual Connections, 4. Finding New Interests and 5. Strengthening Human Relationships.

"The story of this manuscript coming to fruition is a long one," explained Rob. "I was staying at home after traveling around Asia in the summer of 1989 and my father was writing this book. So I had a lot of time to talk with him about it.

"After he passed, I was going back and forth between Japan and the U.S. and one day, I was working on some journalistic pieces in his study. I pulled up a desk drawer and found the manuscript. I could hear his voice in every insightful idea in the book, and knew I had to publish it. As Tuesdays with Morrie had become a massive bestseller, I knew I would have the opportunity to do so."

There are differences in the two books, however.

"The ideas in Tuesdays with Morrie and The Wisdom of Morrie are similar at their base," said Rob. "The big difference is that Tuesdays with Morrie is a slim volume that is simply an introduction to my father's thought. It's wonderfully written by Mitch Albom, but generally just takes a few lines or few paragraphs of my father's ideas on very dense subjects.

"The Wisdom of Morrie is a deep dive into my father's thoughts and expands on many things he brings up in Mitch's book. My father writes at length on how to be happy, strategies for life, and what holds us back.

"He examines some of the harmful ideas society has about aging and how to dispel them. The Wisdom of Morrie is also full of stories, magazine articles, poetry and exposés meant to inspire people to be happier and live a more actualized life. The basis of both books is spreading joy.

"The Wisdom of Morrie is extremely relevant for the present age," said Rob. "We have an aging society and an aging world population. My father lays out many strategies and tips on how to live a more active, fulfilled and happy life at that stage of your development.

"He explains and presents how getting older can be the best time in your life, information that many people need right now. And more than that, Morrie expands on how the universality of the human experience, at any age, binds us all together and defines our human experience. We live in a very divided society and world. My father illustrates how this does not need to be the case. If we remember and celebrate the most basic and important things, like love, we can live in a more joyful and unified world.

"When my father wrote this book, he was aiming it at people who are getting older, let's say people over 55. He wants to dispel the myth that aging is somehow unpleasant.

"He lays out many strategies to make one's life more joyful, creative, and fulfilled. In addition, he convincingly shows that ageism is just ridiculous and misguided.

"Aging people can accomplish anything. I think everyone, no matter their age, can benefit from reading my dad's insights, strategies, and tips on living a happier, more creative life. Everyone can benefit from his ideas on how to live more effectively and purposefully. I hope everyone will be inspired by my dad's insights and vision of a more unified, joyous world, and put the ideas and strategies into practice."


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