The Art of Aging HAPPY

Raeleen Mautner, Ph.D.

7 Tips for Living Well from the Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci

  1. Take notes on your life. Leonardo not only left us the gift of insight into his genius through his notebooks, but he developed his own intellectual, scientific, and artistic skills by writing down everything that came to mind. He started in his 30’s and unfortunately most of what he wrote has disappeared. What remains shows architectural drawings, practical military designs, memos, sketches, personal notes, and a developing philosophy of the world through simple observation, the basis of our scientific method today.. 
  2. Be curious about everything you observe
  3.  Diversify Your Interests.  Leonardo’s notebooks provide evidence in his interest in drawing , painting, sculpture, anatomy, optics, engineering, astronomy and more. In our short lifetime most of us tend to narrow our fields of learning. Charles Krauthammer, a political commentator and Pulitzer prize winning writer, attributes his great accomplishments (and their were many, not the least of which was his father’s advice to “learn everything” he could. It served him well. 
  4. Learn reality from nature. Leonardo unlike many of his illustrious contemporaries, did not have the luxury of a formal education. No one can refute his genius, however.  From the time he began to explore the countryside as a little boy, his love of nature taught him how to look scientifically and objectively a the world around him.  We spend the majority of our time indoors. We go from home to work, back to home or to indoor meetings and events. Make it a point to step out more into the outdoors.
  5. Develop Skills that will both help others and yourself. . When Leonardo wrote a letter to the  ruler of Milano seeking employment he promoted his skills in the order in which they would be most useful in that zeitgeist, starting with his military engineer capabilities. Many college students are misguided in taking courses that upon graduation will leave them with mountains of debt and no employable skills that would help pay back that debt. 
  6. Think for yourself. It was no secret that Leonardo was not able to read latin, and therefore, despite his efforts to teach himself the language that all men of letters and science used, his was a struggle. He reasoned that “experience” was even more important in bringing about wisdom. 
  7. Emulate the Masters. We might call it apprenticeship, a process that has been all but lost over the centuries. Leonardo advised young painters to first learn perspective, then proportions, then copy from a good master.
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