skyI was on the tube on my way home last night, when a rather scruffy gentleman in his 80’s sat opposite. We had a little friendly exchange about the football match that he obviously had been too. It got me thinking about how we make assumptions about older people and fail to see the person in front of us.

Recently I met a gentleman who is in his 70’s, just the type of older guy you walk past every day in the street and take no notice. But his story inspired me because he went on to tell me how he grew up in Hong Kong, went to school with Bruce Lee, traveled, his ups and his downs.

What struck me the most was how humble he was. There’s me, sort of star struck because growing up in the 70’s meant I was a massive Bruce Lee fan. The fact that my new friend could share his stories with such modesty, especially when he talked about training with Bruce Lee, was admirable. I know he won’t mind me sharing this picture of him in Hong Kong, at school with Bruce Lee.

Bruce Lee at School

Bruce Lee at School

In the recent years, the more I open my mind to actually seeing the person behind the face, the more I see that we all have something to learn from older people. After all they have a story to share, their stories are real and they are important live lessons.

Here are 5 things you can learn from older people:

  1. In the end your life is your story 

    We spend too much time living our lives according to other peoples expectations of us. When it comes down to it, we can and should only live life according to the expectations of ourselves.

  2. Being humble shows real strength of character 

    You have nothing to prove to anyone, you are comfortable being you with all the scars, history and pain. Life can teach you to become comfortable with who you are but why wait until then when you can be comfortable with who you are now?

  3. You are far more than what meets the eye

    You have a depth that only you can possibly know, even though many of us never take the time to really explore that depth. Age can force us to go deep inside, it makes us see how short life really is and reassess our outlook on life.

  4. Exactly that, life is too short to waste on living in the past 

    Waiting for the future and not appreciating just being alive. There is only one thing for sure, our lives are precious, the good, the bad and the ugly.

  5. We must love ourselves deeply before we can ever love anyone else. 

    More on this to come because it is a very important point – self love, self compassion and being true to ourselves.

Next time you have the opportunity to engage in a conversation with an elderly person, maybe you can try really listening and see what you can learn.