You probably know how much we love books here at The Joseph Group, and the classic “Tuesdays with Morrie” is one of the many books you can find on our office shelves. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Mitch Albom book about his conversations with his former university professor and its lessons hold up.
That retired professor, Morrie Schwartz, was dying of ALS. While sportswriter Mitch Albom had been close with Morrie while in school and promised he would stay in touch, he did not. A mid-1990s “Nightline” program featuring Morrie prompted Mitch to get back in touch. He started visiting Morrie every Tuesday, continuing until Morrie died. Mitch wanted to write a book to raise money to pay Morrie’s medical bills and “Tuesdays with Morrie” was born. Half of the royalties still go to Morrie’s family.
The book has sold more than 18 million copies, making it one of the top selling memoirs of all time. There’s a stage play that has been produced around the world, and there’s the 1999 movie starring Jack Lemmon as Morrie and Hank Azaria as Mitch.
Of the book’s success, Mitch says, “Well, I’ve learned that the appeal of ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ isn’t my writing. It’s the story of a younger person who’s a little lost and an older person who’s about to leave the world who says: ‘Let me tell you what I’ve learned.’ Almost everybody can find themselves in one of those two characters.”
With the ongoing success of the book, Mitch has become engaged in charitable work and has nine charitable organizations in Detroit and an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He says that is completely due to Morrie, “Morrie told me an aphorism about ‘Giving is living,’ because I watched him always helping other people while he was dying. And I said, ‘I don’t get it. You’re the one who they should be feeling sorry for.’ And he said, ‘Because that’s taking. And taking makes me feel like I’m dying and giving makes me feel like I’m living.’”
The book is full of amazing quotes and lessons, here are my top three:
On Living a Meaningful Life
- “So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning in your life is to devote yourself to loving others. Devote yourself to your community around you and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
On Doing Things Whole-heartedly
- “Do the kinds of things that come from the heart. When you do, you won’t be dissatisfied. You won’t be envious, and you won’t be longing for somebody else’s things. On the contrary, you’ll be overwhelmed with what comes back.”
On Living Your Life as If Each Day Is Your Last
- “Every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, ‘Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I the person I want to be?’”
The subtitle of “Tuesdays with Morrie” is “an old man, a young man, and life’s greatest lesson.” So what is the greatest lesson? According to Morrie, “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love and how to let it come in.” What an incredible lesson.
If you’ve never read the book, give it a try. It’s a short and easy, but very meaningful read. If you read it years ago, it might time to revisit – or loan your copy to a friend! Morrie’s lessons are as meaningful today as when he shared them.
Written by Michelle O’Brien, Manager of Marketing & Communications