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21 Life Lessons from a 74-Year Old

by Øivind H. Solheim 4 months ago in advice
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Prioritize yourself, focus on your physical and mental health, get enough rest and fill up the batteries

Blåhøa, Trollheimen. © Photo by Øivind H. Solheim

Nature can be a great place to get exercise, provide room for thought and reflection, and to recharge your batteries.



I feel privileged for being who I am, and where I am now.

I am happy to have good health and no serious illnesses.

Good mental and physical health is fundamental.

This does not come by itself.

I know that I can do a lot to feel good in my life. I can take care of my body through exercise and other physical activity. And I can take care of my mental health, among other things by being active both physically and mentally. I can pay attention to getting enough rest, and a good night's sleep!

Writing is a very good way for me to know that I am alive and doing well! Writing is also a good way to think, summarize my knowledge and remember what is important in life.

Here are my 21 tips and advice for a good life:

1. Know yourself. Know who you are

To know yourself well is a basis for a good living.

This is a knowledge and wisdom that comes little by little.

For some people, it's easy to know deeply who they are. For others, it can be a struggle over many years to find out. How can I find my true self? How can I find inner peace?

It's about being able to relax and to accept myself. Am I able to feel that I rest safely in myself?

It can be a long but also an educational process to get there. The goal could be to live with daily peace and calm, seeing yourself with acceptance and gratitude.

2. Focus on what you want: your goals

Think through where you are now and where you want to be tomorrow.

Spend a moment every morning to think about your life, and what you will achieve today.

Write some key words every morning in your notebook or journal. Write about today and tomorrow. Write about your goals, and your ideas on how to get there. Write about where you want to be tomorrow, emotionally, in your family relations. Write a few words of gratitude for people who are around.

In the morning, write your thoughts and ideas for your present writing project, if you have one. Listen to your inner voices and try to write down the essentials of your thinking.

3. Stick to your dreams, keep calm, hold steady course

Have you started an education, make sure that this is a goal you would like to reach. And very important - be sure to complete it!

I finished school in 1966. I had decided to study at the university. I traveled to the nearest university city and began a 7 year long study.

Then I applied for a job as a lecturer in Upper Secondary school. I worked there for about 40 years, first many years as a teacher, then many years as an administrator and leader of an adult education and training center.

4. Take care of your family

Your closest - parents, siblings, spouse, children - are your most important supporters.

Take very good care of them!

A good and healthy family relationship is crucial.

Remember, you get back according to what you invest!

Give and don't demand to receive in return!

5. Write!

Write a journal.

Write for yourself.

Write to take care of and remember.

Write to discover where you are now, and where you want to go.

Peace in mind and confidence in yourself is important to reach where you want to go, and to make changes to your life.

Write a journal for yourself and know that what you write will be read only by you. This gives you a good opportunity to put words on what you feel and experience. It can help you to come closer to yourself and to obtain an absolutely unique peace of mind.

6. Finish what you have begun!

Occasionally, it may happen that you understand that what you started is wrong for you. Then it's important to stop on time and not spend more energy and effort on it.

Otherwise it is good always to finish what you have begun. This means that you have a roadmap and a direction for your life journey.

You know where you are coming from, where you are right now, and you know where you're going.

7. Take care of close relationships and friendships.

The most important relationships and friendships are those which will give you an important return.

Know that friendships can be uncertain.

If you get good friends, take good care of them. Remember that friendships can be fragile relationships.

Things can quickly end.

Be strong. Look forwards for the best. Prepare your inner self for the worst.

Life will always be ups and downs.

Don't let this paralyze you. Rest safely in yourself.


8. You don't have to depend on others.

Being in love is not the same as loving someone.

Wrong choices in love can cost a lot.

Sometimes it is important to trust intuition. Sometimes you just have to take a chance. Then you will see, you will have an answer.

Trust your inner voice!

9. Remember that you're always a learner

Being a learner is a positive thing!

Every experience, every relationship, every victory and every defeat in life are events that add to your life experience.

You may feel doubt, you may feel torn between trust and doubt in the relationship .

In such cases try getting clarified early and take decisions to help you further.

Not every negative event must have a negative outcome.

It is better to leave behind two months or two years of your life than to spend most of the rest of your life in a bad relationship.

10. Hold out!

Everyone will sooner or later experience adversity and crises in life.

When you experience hard times, stand through the difficulties! Don't give up!

Again: After rain comes sun.

You will find that in adversity you are growing. In adversity you are getting stronger.

11. Be careful not to become deeply attached to someone who may not be good for you

The person you associate with should be one who is self-sufficient, who is safe on her or his own.

Everybody needs sometimes to be comforted and supported, but the ability that a person has to give this should not be the only or the determining glue in the relationship!

Always remember:

Every human being is a universe, with her or his strengths and weaknesses. Both strength and weakness are normal parts of being a human.

12. Be aware that you can be abandoned

Know that you may be left by the person you have attached yourself to.

You may become alone once more. Being alone is normal, just like being in a relationship is.

Feeling alone is a normal feeling.

Being alone is not always negative.

By standing through difficult periods in life, you become stronger.

What does not kill you makes you stronger!

13. Start with exercise, go hiking!

Exercise at least 30 minutes daily, at least four days in a week.

Get yourself out of the house, walk or run in the streets, in the parks, along the roads.

Go trekking together with others.

Go to the gym/the training center.

Start biking/spinning and/or running.

Move your body! Every day!

14. Do not smoke tobacco

I started smoking when I was 16–17 years old. That was the dumbest thing I did for years.

I knew almost all the time I had this bad habit that it was stupid to smoke. I knew that smoking often leads to lung cancer and that lung cancer is a deadly disease.

I knew this very clearly at this time, at the end of the 1970s. In fact, I even wrote and published a novel about a young man who had cancer. My novel hero had to see death in the eye when he was just a little over 30 years old.

For me it was not easy to quit smoking.

When my first marriage came to an end, I had for a long time decided to stop smoking.

When I got married with the woman who now has been my wife for 35 years, I told myself that now is the right time to stop smoking.

I'm no longer a smoker. But it actually took almost 8 years of "party smoking" and incidents of hidden smoking before I finally managed to cut the smoke completely.

Tobacco is a dangerous addiction-creating poison!

15. Do not use drugs!

I have never tried narcotics.

I know people whose life has become ruined because of drugs addiction.

It is horrible to think about it. It's very sad. A waste life!

16. Stop drinking alcohol

If you ask my opinion - whether you are drinking daily or in the weekends, just stop it!

I realized after many years that it's not a good idea to drink two liters of beer or a bottle of wine or two every weekend. It is not good for the body. And it is not good for the mind either.

One day I did what I for a long time had known I had to do. I said stop to myself. I said that enough is enough and I stopped buying beer for the weekend. I let a few beers stand in the fridge, and I let the wine bottles rest in the wine cabinet.

It was so easy!

I did not feel need for beer or wine! After a few weeks the beer cans were still left in the fridge, and the wine bottles are in the closet waiting for a good occasion.

I experience that it is so good to be clear in the mind and to be able to think and write texts without a veil in front of the eye and inside my mind.

I buy a lot of bottled water and cans of non-alcoholic beer. Alcohol-free beer tastes at least as good as beer with alcohol.

Now I taste beer with alcohol rarely. Each time I can confirm what I have decided for. I know that I do not have an alcohol problem. It's so easy to go without alcohol!

When I from time to time have tried to taste beer with alcohol, my experience is without exception that it is not as good as non-alcoholic beer. I become blurred and unclear in mind and soul, a bit anesthetized and unconcentrated, and it's not a good feeling anymore.

The fact that I have stopped drinking beer in the weekends has also given me a better relationship with my wife and that is very important for living well in life.

17. Cultivate what matters to you

For my part, creative writing has for very long been my number one creative activity.

I write memos. I write notes, I write drafts. I enjoy creative writing, I love writing poems, articles and essays, short stories, and novels.

I never stop writing.

18. Think positive!

An old Norse Wisdom word says:

After rain comes the sun.

When I wake up and I feel down, I know that it is a passing state of mind.

I do not feel down for a long time.

I know that feeling down is a normal part of being human.

19. Show thankfulness!

When people give you something great, be grateful.

Be a giver too!

Give back to people who give you something valuable.

It can be friendship, helping to reach the goal you want to reach.

Always be grateful!

20. Be generous

Give from yourself.

Do not expect to get something in return.

When you receive from others, take it as a great gift.

21. Listen to music!

Music is one of the great love affairs of my life and I've been an avid music listener throughout my entire life Listening to music has since I was 14–15 given me much joy and pleasure.

Music can be used in many ways.

Up to you to explore the music!


What is a happy life?

Do you see other priorities? Write them down. Establish your own list, reduce or extend the list.


About the author

Øivind H. Solheim

Novel author, lifelong learner and nature photographer: Poetry, short stories, personal essays, articles and stories on nature, hiking, physical and mental health, living in relationships, love, and future. “Make Your Dream Be Your Future​”

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