Advice From My 80-Year-Old Self

"It's easy to forget how wise we can be." —Susan O'Malley

What advice would your 80-year-old self give to your present-day self? That is precisely the question artist Susan O’Malley asked of more than a hundred ordinary people of all ages. Then, she transformed their responses—bits of advice, reminders, calls to action and words to live by—into vibrantly hued, visually arresting images. The result is a compendium of wisdom that proves you don’t need to be an octogenarian to think like one.

Sadly, the brainchild behind the project, artist Susan O’Malley, didn’t live to see it reach completion. O’Malley died unexpectedly in 2015, at only 38 years of age. Her friends, family and surrounding community have found comfort in her artwork, and the text-based images from Advice From My 80-Year-Old Self are one of the many legacies she leaves behind: extraordinarily optimistic reminders to live each day to the fullest.


Caroline, 71 years old

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Larry, 88 years old


Liz, 25 years old


Marcy, 82 years old


Jennifer, 7 years old


Laurie, 24 years old


Elaine, 71 years old


Ben, 55 years old


Larry, 88 years old


Carol, 44 years old


To learn more about Advice from My 80-Year-Old Self: Real Words of Wisdom from People Ages 7 to 88 by Susan O’Malley, click here, or purchase from Chronicle Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble or IndieBound. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Susan O’Malley Memorial Fund for the Arts.

All images are from: Advice from My 80-Year-Old Self: Real Words of Wisdom from People Ages 7 to 88 by Susan O’Malley, published by Chronicle Books, 2016.

About Abbe Wright

Abbe Wright

ABBE WRIGHT is the Editor of Read It Forward. As a kid, she used to get in trouble at summer camp for using a flashlight to read inside her sleeping bag after lights out, but these days, she lives in Brooklyn, where nobody minds if she stays up late reading. She has written for Glamour, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Cut and tweets about books (and The Bachelor) at @abbewright.