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Arts & Culture

Listener Life Advice At Age 50

DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, HOST:

As you may already know, NPR is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. And to celebrate, we've been asking listeners to share the lessons they've learned in a half-century of life. Hundreds answered the call.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

ELIZABETH GRAMALL: OK. So my name is Elizabeth Gramall (ph). I'm almost 56 years old.

BILL TAMPLIN: My name is Bill Tamplin.

TONY JONES: Tony Jones (ph).

KARL COLON: Karl Colon.

KRISTI THOMPSON: Kristi Thompson. I live in Lisbon, Portugal.

KURTZLEBEN: One of our listeners, Sonia Bovio, wanted to share an epiphany she had in recent years.

SONIA BOVIO: I don't have to win to be happy. I don't have to be the best always. I don't have to be right always. And I would say it's definitely late 40s, early 50s when that finally hit me.

KURTZLEBEN: It's a lesson that came to her from the internet of all places, while engaging in one of her favorite pastimes - looking at cat pictures.

BOVIO: I've been a Tumblr user for a while, and it's always been kind of my happy place. And I just have a few accounts that I follow on Tumblr. And I'd go there, and I'd just be like, thank heavens, just cats.

KURTZLEBEN: But then time went on. And as so often happens, social media lead Bovio to compare herself or, rather, her cat to others.

BOVIO: It was just one of those things where I would find myself questioning if I should like another person's cat photo or not because I felt like my own cat hadn't been liked enough. And I was like - where is that coming from? Why am I even considering not liking somebody else's cat out of a sense of my cat not being liked enough? So I just had to kind of pause and go - what's going on in my head there? And then I realized it was this competitive nature that I was raised with.

KURTZLEBEN: And when she realized that, it put things into perspective. She wanted to stop relying on competitiveness for validation.

BOVIO: Honestly, I stepped away from my career. I went back to school. And a lot of things changed in my mind. It was - there's a different way to approach life. You don't have to be the one who's best always.

KURTZLEBEN: Now, Bovio is working towards her Ph.D., and she teaches public relations. As an educator, she tries to let her students know that it's not all about competition.

BOVIO: Every semester I introduce my lectures with a slide from Mr. Rogers saying, nice, just be nice. If you're going to go into this world of agency and corporate realities, you don't have to be mean. I've had so many people be mean to me in the workplace, so it's just about letting them see they can be nice and still succeed. And they can be honest and still succeed. And that's tough. I mean, I teach PR students, so I need to kind of drill this into them. Be nice.

KURTZLEBEN: That was Sonia Bovio in Phoenix, Ariz., sharing her life advice. And we'd like to give a special thank you to all of our listeners who submitted life advice over the last few weeks. Thank you so much. We appreciate it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.