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Making a Living or Making a Life?

Excerpt from Daily Cures, Wisdom for Healthy Aging


A friend of mine has a quote from Winston Churchill on the signature line of his email. It reads, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” It is particularly appropriate because he is in the financial planning business! It struck a chord in me because, most of the early adult years of our lives, we are focused on making a living. From the practical point of view, we have mortgages to pay, children to put through school, retirement savings, and a million things to spend money on that are necessities. We certainly train our children to go to school, make good grades so they can develop a career, and make a living. And when they do, we are delighted! We model behavior that says making a living is the most important goal. Do we likewise train our children to make a life?


It is true that making a living and making a life is not the same. The quote gives us a simple way to differentiate between them. One of the beautiful parts of growing older is the opportunity to change gears and be released from the constant concerns of making a living. In my years of working with Seniors, and in my own experience, life teaches us over and over again that our existence is so much more than material things. What we can give, both financially and with our time, becomes the hallmark of our lives—the balance of gratification tips to the ability to be a giver. The irony of it is that in giving, we are the ones that receive the greatest pleasure and the greatest blessings. So aging becomes an avenue to pursue our life, not just a living. Not that we can’t operate in this wisdom earlier, but with age, it becomes so apparent. Life is a great gift, especially if you choose to give it to others.


“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

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