Excellent Advice for Living Book Summary - Excellent Advice for Living Book explained in key points
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Excellent Advice for Living summary

Kevin Kelly

Wisdom I Wish I'd Known Earlier

4.2 (524 ratings)
13 mins
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    Excellent Advice for Living
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    Excellent advice for relating

    Unless you choose a monastic existence tucked away on some remote mountain, you’ll spend a significant slice of time interacting with your fellow human beings. As a result, learning how to relate well with others can make your path to a better life much smoother. 

    When you first meet a stranger, let them know you’ll remember their name. Making someone feel seen and heard is one of the greatest – and cheapest – gifts you can bestow. A simple way to do this is to include their name in your reply after they’ve introduced themselves. You could frame this as, “Nice to meet you, John,” or, “Hi, Maria.” 

    Conversely, when meeting someone for a second or third time, be gracious and introduce yourself to them again. A straightforward “Hi Anna, Kevin Kelly” is often all that’s needed. 

    To be an exceptional conversationalist, focus on listening – to the subtext just as much as the words themselves. Talk less than you feel tempted to. That’s usually the right amount. 

    When you do speak, make sure that what you say checks three criteria: it’s true, necessary, and kind. Life will become lighter if you prioritize being considerate over being correct in your conversations with others. 

    Finally, while generosity is a great virtue to pour into your relations with others, stinginess is best when accepting engagements and making promises. Ultimately, people would prefer you didn’t commit in the first place than have you say yes initially, only to pull out at the last minute. You can provide a reason if you’d like, but remember that a polite “no” is a perfectly valid response in and of itself. 

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    What is Excellent Advice for Living about?

    Excellent Advice for Living (2023) is a collection of 450 aphorisms that will help you start living a better life. Covering everything from parenting and travel to survival and success, it invites you to pick and choose from a plentiful feast of bite-size wisdom. 

    Who should read Excellent Advice for Living?

    • Young people entering college or the workforce
    • Individuals starting – or looking to start – a family
    • Older folks seeking a shot of inspiration

    About the Author

    Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine, which he cofounded in 1993. Kelly’s previous books include The Inevitable and What Technology Wants. His writing has also been featured in the Economist, the New York Times, Science, Time, and the Wall Street Journal.

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