illustration of author Mitch Albom sitting next to Morrie Schwartz, who is lying in a bed

Tuesdays With Morrie

by Mitch Albom

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In Tuesdays With Morrie, why does Morrie emphasize the importance of "putting back what we take" and being fully present?

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For Morrie, one of the secrets to having a life that is full of meaning and is happy and productive is the ability to give back from what one extracts from life and also to be focused on the present as fully as possible. He argues that these are two of the key ways that allow humans to avoid having a life that is, at the end of the day, meaningless in terms of its focus and goal. Note what he argues:

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 into 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.

Putting back what one takes is therefore important in terms of our relationships with others. Humans create meaning, Morrie argues, when they are involved in relationships with those around them and in the community of which they are a part. Humans can only do this when they are fully "in the present," not thinking about the past or worrying or planning for the future, but enjoying each moment as it comes so that they can fully focus on the relationships they are developing. Morrie, in short, believes that putting back from what humans have taken and living in the present are important because through these two strategies it is possible to add meaning to a life that may fall into the all too common trap of being meaningless and obssessed with the pursuit of things that do not really matter.

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