In the years that have passed between the advent of the Greatest Generation and the Millennials, many have begun to realize that regardless of the technological advances that we enjoy in the information age, there are plenty of things our grandparents and great-grandparents did better. Here are 15 lessons we can learn from the Greatest Generation.
15. Write letters
There is something so romantic, and so much more real in using a pen and paper to write your own words in your own handwriting. The excitement that comes with receiving a letter from a loved one and opening an envelope that doesn’t contain a bill or an advertisement makes it worth the time it takes to send it. To this day many members of the Greatest Generation retain the love letters sent between continents when boy and girl were both unsure of whether or not they would ever see one another again.
14. Keep your nose to the grindstone
Our grandparents generation spent decades working for one company. It was very likely that the first company who hired you would be the company you retired from. Work trends these days have people working for multiple employers throughout their careers, but the principle remains the same, hard work pays off.
13. Eat real food
Before the proliferation of fast-food, Americans were much thinner and healthier. Each meal was prepared from scratch, using real ingredients, not processed and preservative-filled substitutes. It’s not easy these days, when fast food and pre-packaged processed food is so much cheaper and more accessible than healthy whole foods.
12. Go outside
The Greatest Generation spent almost their entire youths outside playing and exploring in nature, it’s good for your body and it’s educational for the kids.
11. Stay together
It’s possible that this is one thing the new generation is actually taking their grandparents advice on. A 2014 article from the New York Times suggested that couples married in the 2000’s are staying married at a much higher rate than the previously believed 50 percent. Extrapolation of the data they collected suggested around 75 percent of these marriages may be til death do them part.
Reading is the best way that an adult can continue to learn new things. Our grandparents generation knew this and read constantly. It wasn’t uncommon for people to read the entire newspaper during breakfast. Reading is a great way to keep your mind sharp.
9. Behave with propriety
There’s something to be said for having respect for your fellow human beings. Members of the Greatest Generation showed respect for one another, said “How do you do?” and introduced themselves using their first and last names.
8. Spend (and save) wisely
Growing up during the Great Depression gave people a sense of what they could do without and how to wisely stretch a dollar. This is why your grandparents most likely still have the same house they first purchased as a young couple, and still have much of the same furniture and even some of the same appliances. They knew to repair things when they were broken, rather than purchasing new belongings every few years. This is why that generation went into retirement with very little debt.
7. Have face-to-face conversations
Studies have shown that we are having more interactions with each other and yet we are lonelier than ever before because we are physically isolated from one another. Break this cycle by taking a page from your grandma’s book and have real conversations, face-to-face. Whether it’s with family, an old friend, or a complete stranger, having a real conversation is good for you.
6. Eat dinner at home together
Our grandparents didn’t go out to eat unless they were courting or traveling, or if it was a special occasion. Not only is it cheaper to eat at home, it’s also healthier and good for family bonding.
5. Get civically involved
People today spend a lot of time debating one another’s political beliefs on Facebook, which only breeds contempt. Instead of being an internet activist, go get involved in your town. Take ownership of your community by joining a civic leadership organization or participating in a highway cleanup.
4. Go dancing
Our grandparents courted one another in the era of swing dancing. Back then men knew that one surefire way to a woman’s heart was to quite literally sweep her off her feet. I’ve got a tip for young men of today: it still works. Take your lady dancing, you won’t regret it.
3. Buy American
The men who fought Germany and Japan were not keen to run out and buy new Volkswagens and Mitsubishis when they came home, and they steadfastly maintained their commitment to buy American made products throughout their lives. This principle is not only loyal, it’s good for the American economy.
2. Take Responsibility
The Greatest Generation were brought up on the principles that you reap what you sow, and they didn’t try to pass the buck. Trying to find blame with everyone but ourselves has led us to the overly litigious society we live in today.
1. That which doesn't kill you, makes you stronger
The Greatest Generation are so called because of their incredible perseverance. They survived not only the austerity of the 1930’s, but also the bloodshed of the 1940’s, and they came through it to form families and live long lives. Whenever you experience hardship, think like your grandparents did, and carry on.