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Lives Well Lived (2018)Lives Well Lived (2018)

When the film maker Sky Bergman's grandmother approached the age of a hundred, she decided to explore "the incredible wit and wisdom of people aged 75 to 100." And so she interviewed 40 very diverse people who had a collective 3,000 years of lived experiences to discover what makes for a life well-lived. What struck me most about almost all of the subjects was the horrible pains they had suffered — fleeing Hitler's Europe, the Japanese internment camps here in America, the war death of a husband, marriages cut short by illness, poverty during the Depression, etc. But through it all they persevered. "Never let yourself become a victim," said one person. Their stories also reminded me of David Brooks's distinction between seeking "resume virtues" versus "eulogy virtues." In a nice touch, Bergman gives the first and then the last cameos to her grandmother at her 103rd birthday party. For more on this inspiring topic, see Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth and Karen Dillon, How Will You Measure Your Life? (2012), Michael Kinsley, Old Age: A Beginner's Guide (2016), Wendy Lustbader, Life Gets Better; The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Older (2011), Karl Pillemer, 30 Lessons for Living; Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans (2011), Jonathan Rauch, The Happiness Curve; Why Life Gets Better After 50 (2018), Tal Ben-Shahar, Short Cuts to Happiness: Life-Changing Lessons from My Barber (2018), and the movie Happy (2011). I watched this film from the PBS website, where it aired in September 2021.

Dan Clendenin:

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