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Books: Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I’d Known Earlier

Terry Kemple is a retired GP living in Bristol and has various roles promoting greater sustainability in general practice. He is a past President of the Royal College of General Practitioners. He is on Twitter: @TKemple

‘Collecting things benefits you only if you share it in joy with others. The opposite of this is hoarding.’

Kevin Kelly collects sage advice. These short observations contain insights from generations of lived lives. Those that stand the test of time survive as aphorisms, proverbs, maxims, adages, truisms, saws, sayings, epigrams, axioms, bromides, reflections, pearls of wisdom, and the like. Kelly edits them and adds some personal observations. His 21st century description is that they are like wisdom tweets.

‘The best way to learn anything is to try to teach what you know.’

“You can share some of your own wisdom tweets and pass them onto the next generation by adding them to the comment section after this piece.”

On his sixty-eighth birthday he gave his children 68 of these wisdoms tweets. They asked for more. He kept collecting and has published these 450 excellent bits of advice that he wished he had known when he was younger. If we find them useful then he suggests we share them with someone younger than ourselves. They cover all areas of life. Here are a sample:

  • ‘Five years from now you will wish you had started today.’
  • ‘Don’t worry how or where you begin. As long as you keep moving, your success will arrive far from where you start.’
  • ‘You are never too young to wonder “Why am I still doing this?” You need to have an excellent answer.’
  • ‘If you are not embarrassed by your past self, you have probably not grown up yet.’
  • ‘A proper apology consists of conveying the 3 Rs: regret (genuine empathy with the other), responsibility (not blaming someone else), and remedy (your willingness to fix it).’
  • ‘If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. Hang out with, and learn from people smarter than yourself.’
  • ‘In all things — except love — start with the exit strategy. Prepare for the ending. Almost anything is easier to get into than out of.’
  • ‘The greatest teacher is called “doing”.’
  • ‘Half the skill of being educated is learning what you can ignore.’
  • ‘In 100 years, a lot of what we take to be true now will be proved to be wrong. A good question to ask yourself today is “What might I be wrong about?”
  • ‘Don’t reserve your kindest praise for a person until their eulogy. Tell them while they are alive when it makes a difference to them. Write it in a letter they can keep.’
  • ‘Be a good ancestor. Do something a future generation will thank you for.’
  • ‘Advice like these are not laws. They are like hats. If one doesn’t fit, try another.’

You can share some of your own wisdom tweets and pass them onto the next generation by adding them to the comment section after this piece.

For example:

  • It does not matter how long it takes. The important thing is to start.
  • You may not remember what someone says but you will always remember how they made you feel.
  • Life starts again when the dog dies and the children leave home.

Featured book: Kevin Kelly, Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I’d Known Earlier, Bantam Press, 2023, HB, 224pp, £20.29, 978-0593654521.

Featured photo by Dominik Schröder on Unsplash.

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