Crossing the Generation Gap: How Hearing the Stories of Your Elders Can Help You Live a Fuller Life


When your grandparents start telling stories about the good old days, do you pay attention? Too often in today’s society, younger people tend to disregard older generations and miss out on what they have to offer. Not convinced? These are just a few of the ways you’ll benefit from hearing the stories of your elders.
Gain wisdom.
This is probably the most obvious way learning from elders will enrich your life: you’ll get to hear their wisdom. These are people who have decades of experience living, struggling, succeeding, and navigating life. It’s safe to say they’ve probably picked up a thing or two along the way, and they’ll share it with you if you’ll let them.
Learn from history.
Not only will you benefit from the wisdom your elders can share, but you’ll also be able to learn more about the past. It’s one thing to read about historical events in a textbook. But it’s another (and much more effective) to hear a personal perspective from someone who lived through it.
Build a connection.
You’ll also build a stronger bond with someone you may not have connected with otherwise. Human connection is one of the most essential ingredients in a fulfilling life, and it happens naturally when you listen – truly listen – to another person’s stories.
Pass on their stories.
The more you learn, the more you’ll have to share. As you hear stories and gain wisdom from your elders, you’ll be able to pass it on to your own family or other people in your life, deepening your bonds with them. Plus, you’ll be preserving stories and knowledge that may otherwise have died out.
How to Seek Out the Stories of Elders
Talk to your relatives. This is probably the most obvious way to learn the wisdom of your elders, and it’s often dismissed. Make an effort to talk more with your grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and listen closely to their stories. Chat with older co-workers. Older co-workers also have a lot to offer, including decades of experience in your chosen field. Next time you’re making coffee or sitting at a team lunch, strike up a conversation about their experiences. Volunteer at an assisted-living facility. Of course, not everyone has older relatives or co-workers to talk to, but there are plenty of other ways to learn from your elders. One way to give back at the same time is by volunteering at an assisted-living facility, where you may be able to help host events, organize activities, or just provide companionship. Seek out older yoga teachers. The yoga practice is a perfect avenue for learning from elders. As you look for classes, workshops, or teacher trainings, seek out those taught by older teachers. They’ll be able to offer both a wealth of life experience and likely a long history of studying yoga. You’ll be sure to learn more than just asana. No matter who you end up talking to or learning from, try to keep an open mind and make a genuine effort to connect. You never know what you might learn or how it could impact your life.
About the Author
Jennifer Ambrose Jen is a freelance writer, blogger, and yoga teacher who left her office job in Boston to travel the world with her husband. She previously worked in international development and academic research, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda. Some of her biggest passions include promoting responsible and mindful travel and helping her students develop their personal yoga practice.