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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What is the main message of Tuesdays With Morrie?

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The main message of Tuesdays With Morrie is how to intentionally live each day in order to construct a life that has great purpose and fulfillment.

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When Mitch Albom learns that his beloved former teacher Morrie is dying, he decides to spend intentional time with him through his final days. During his visits, Morrie shares heartfelt messages about what he has learned about life. These chats are particularly meaningful because Morrie realizes that he has little time left on earth.

All of Morrie's lessons in his discussions with Mitch contribute to one overarching message: intentionally live each day to construct a truly meaningful life.

Morrie shares with Mitch that working solely to achieve status is pointless:

Mitch, if you're trying to show off for people at the top, forget it. They will look down at you anyhow. And if you're trying to show off for people at the bottom, forget it. They will only envy you. Status will get you nowhere.

Instead, he encourages Mitch—and therefore all of the readers of Albom's book—to focus on relationships with close friends and family. In his final days, Morrie still cultivates these relationships, drawing people to him even when his disease means that his body is failing him. In fact, Morrie believes that people should "devote [themselves] to loving others," not to serving their own desires and goals. He believes that developing a true sense of purpose is found in serving others and in having goals outside your own. Morrie also understands the burden in carrying around a load of regret, and he urges Mitch not to fall victim to this mental trap:

It’s not just other people we need to forgive. … We also need to forgive ourselves … for all the things we didn’t do. All the things we should have done. You can’t get stuck on the regrets of what should have happened.

Even in his final days, Morrie finds the courage to laugh and enjoy whatever time that remains. His final days are not filled with resentment but with love.

Morrie's guidelines for living the best possible life are particularly poignant because he realizes that he has few opportunities left to share all he has learned. Morrie demonstrates what he believes is the most important thing in life: "How to give out love and how to let it come in." In doing so, he provides a path for others to live their own lives with a greater sense of meaningful purpose.

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What is the lesson learned from the ninth Tuesday in the book Tuesdays with Morrie?

As Morrie's health continues to deteriorate, the ninth Tuesday focuses on being present and giving people your attention. Morris teaches Albom the importance of reacting and listing to people.  Albom admits to taking a course with Morrie that dealt with being present and giving people your attention.  At the time, Albom thought it was a pointless lesson, but now he sees the importance and value in the lesson.  With his teacher's health failing, Albom focuses on Morrie instead of his own problems.  This is not only appreciated by Morrie, but shows Albom's growth and understanding.  As people run around busy without giving time to one another, Morrie explains the difference between being present and just having small talk.  Instead of being distracted, it's important to be there for people and truly listen to what they have to say to you.

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What does Tuesdays With Morrie teach us?

One of the main lessons of Tuesdays With Morrie is to appreciate life and to accept that death is inevitable.

Tuesdays With Morrie is ultimately about affirming life in spite of the reality of aging and death. Morrie is suffering from ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that will leave him totally dependent on other people for physical aid, but he still aspires to face his circumstances with a compassionate, almost Buddhist acceptance. Morrie's condition so degenerates that he can no longer use the bathroom on his own or feed himself, but he still feels life is worth living and hopes to impart this to Mitch, his pupil from many years ago.

According to Morrie, it is instead the youth-obsessed, modern mainstream culture which is to be pitied and then rejected. Morrie believes that in deifying the young and shunning the end of life, modern people have become more shallow and spiritually imprisoned. In its own way, worshipping youth is a rejection of life since life includes death. To cling to impermanent things such as youth, beauty, and success is a recipe for misery, and so Morrie emphasizes the need to transcend such desires and find meaning through appreciating life as it is and in fostering friendships with other people.

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