As I approach the three-quarters-of-a-century mark, I have a few pieces of advice for my young and younger friends. All of us grandfathers do this from time to time, so I simply ask your indulgence as I pass on a few tidbits of insight.
Do most of your memorizing as young as you can: Key Bible verses, important and favorite sections from Shakespeare, lyrics of a few Jerome Kern or Oscar Hammerstein love songs, a passage or two from Jane Austen or George Eliot, and some poems …of Dylan Thomas, Christina Rossetti or Robert Frost.
Learn a musical instrument as early as possible and keep up your skills into adulthood, by which time you will always have them. This takes some time and money, but there are ways around the money if you are serious about learning to play well. If you’re older and have left the piano or violin behind, return to it as soon as you can so you can recover your former skills.
The first two suggestions above will have taught you self-discipline, but in addition develop courtesy, kindness and decorum. These will not only set you apart, but will give you confidence in social situations and will help you to live with a clear conscience. Avoid crudeness, profanity and careless behavior. These will lead to unhappiness and regret.
Steer clear of as much popular culture as you can, especially that part of popular culture that centers around sex, rebellion and self-destructive activities. Too much loud music will impair your hearing. Too much rebellion will make you hard and dogmatic. There is plenty of good in popular culture, so seek that out instead.
Write letters and cards by hand, and practice speaking in full sentences. Take a day a week away from all electronic devices, and remember to turn them off when you are with other family members, even if they don’t do the same. Hang out in the biography section of your local library and learn from the lives of others.
“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come, and the years draw to a close, when you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in life.'” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). If you make habits of the suggestions above, you will always live a full life, in spite of circumstances and setbacks. May God bless you as you choose to live your life in honor of Him.