Is it better to learn about life through your own experience, or through advice from friends and family? Compare the advantages of these two options, and which would you prefer?

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Is it better to learn about life through your own experience, or through advice from friends and family? Compare the advantages of these two options, and which would you prefer? Use specific examples and reasons to explain your answer.

Family and friends certainly have much of value to say about life. One’s parents have been through the crises of childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood and can provide children with much-needed guidance. We may not always follow the advice parents offer, but it is usually worth considering regardless.

The same principle applies to friends’ advice. A level-headed friend can be a tremendous source of useful counsel. In his famous essay The Crack-up,” American author Scott Fitzgerald acknowledged his profound debt to a certain friend. Fitzgerald said that when facing a difficult situation, he asked himself what that particular man would do.

Of course, listening to the advice of parents and friends has risks and limitations. Our parents’ advice is based on their experiences years or even decades ago. That advice may no longer be useful, because society and its institutions have changed tremendously since then. In similar fashion, advice from friends should never be accepted uncritically, because it may be based on knowledge and experience very different from one’s own. Sometimes advice from friends, though well-meant, actually may be dangerous. Unless a friend is a professional financial advisor, for example, it is probably inadvisable to follow his or her advice on where to invest one’s money.

Nonetheless, advice from family and friends can be priceless, because it distills the hard-won experience of others into a few words and principles that can save a lot of time, effort, and difficulty. One’s own personal experience is certainly essential for learning, but others’ advice can help to make that experience much less painful and more productive.

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