Read an Excerpt
The Complete Life's Little Instruction Book
By H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
All rights reserved.
1. Compliment three people every day.
2. Have a dog.
3. Watch a sunrise at least once a year.
4. Remember other people's birthdays.
5. Overtip breakfast waitresses.
6. Have a firm handshake.
7. Hug children after you discipline them.
8. Look people in the eye.
9. Say "thank you" a lot.
10. Say "please" a lot.
11. Learn to play a musical instrument.
12. Sing in the shower.
13. Use the good silver.
14. Buy great books, even if you never read them.
15. Learn to make great chili.
16. Plant flowers every spring.
17. Own a great sound system.
18. Be the first to say, "Hello."
19. Live beneath your means.
20. Drive inexpensive cars, but own the best house you can afford.
21. Be forgiving of yourself and others.
22. Learn three clean jokes.
23. Wear polished shoes.
24. Floss your teeth.
25. Drink champagne for no reason at all.
26. Ask for a raise when you feel you've earned it.
27. If in a fight, hit first and hit hard.
28. Return all the things you borrow.
29. Teach some kind of class.
30. Be a student in some kind of class.
31. Never buy a house without a fireplace.
32. Buy whatever kids are selling on card tables in their front yard.
33. Once in your life own a convertible.
34. Plant a tree on your birthday.
35. Donate two pints of blood every year.
36. Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.
37. Learn to identify the music of Chopin, Mozart, and Beethoven.
38. Make new friends but cherish the old ones.
39. Keep secrets.
40. Take lots of snapshots.
41. Never refuse homemade brownies.
42. Don't postpone joy.
43. Write "thank you" notes promptly.
44. Show respect for teachers.
45. Show respect for police officers and firefighters.
46. Show respect for military personnel.
47. Don't waste time learning the "tricks of the trade." Instead, learn the trade.
48. Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen every day.
49. Keep a tight rein on your temper.
50. Buy vegetables from truck farmers who advertise with hand-lettered signs.
51. Put the cap back on the toothpaste.
52. Take out the garbage without being told.
53. Avoid overexposure to the sun.
55. Surprise loved ones with little unexpected gifts.
56. Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life.
57. Never mention being on a diet.
58. Make the best of bad situations.
59. Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.
60. Support a high school band.
61. Admit your mistakes.
62. Ask someone to pick up your mail and daily paper when you're out of town. Those are the first two things potential burglars look for.
63. Use your wit to amuse, not abuse.
64. Remember that all news is biased.
65. Take a photography course.
66. Be brave. Even if you're not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.
67. Let people pull in front of you when you're stopped in traffic.
68. Always accept an outstretched hand.
69. Demand excellence and be willing to pay for it.
71. Give to charity all the clothes you haven't worn during the past three years.
72. Learn to make something beautiful with your hands.
73. Never forget your anniversary.
74. Eat prunes.
75. Ride a bike.
76. Choose a charity in your community and support it generously with your time and money.
77. Don't take good health for granted.
78. When someone wants to hire you, even if it's for a job you have little interest in, talk to them. Never close the door on an opportunity until you've had a chance to hear the offer in person.
79. Don't mess with drugs, and don't associate with those who do.
80. Slow dance.
81. Steer clear of restaurants with strolling musicians.
82. Avoid sarcastic remarks.
83. Forget the Joneses.
84. When you want to teach a lesson, tell a story.
85. Even if you're financially well-to-do, have your children earn and pay for all their automobile insurance.
86. Even if you're financially well-to-do, have your children earn and pay part of their college tuition.
87. In business and in family relationships, remember that the most important thing is trust.
88. Don't smoke.
89. Refill ice cube trays.
90. Don't let anyone ever see you tipsy.
91. Become knowledgeable about antiques, oriental rugs, and contemporary art.
92. Recycle old newspapers, bottles, and cans.
93. Never invest more in the stock market than you can afford to lose.
94. Make it a habit to do nice things for people who'll never find it out.
95. Attend class reunions.
96. Always have something beautiful in sight, even if it's just a daisy in a jelly glass.
97. Think big thoughts, but relish small pleasures.
98. Lend only those books you never care to see again.
99. Never start a business with someone who has more troubles than you.
100. Read the Bill of Rights.
101. Learn how to read a financial report.
102. Tell your kids often how terrific they are and that you trust them.
103. Never cheat.
104. Use credit cards only for convenience, never for credit.
105. Treat yourself to a massage on your birthday.
106. Take a brisk thirty-minute walk every day.
107. When dining with clients or business associates, never order more than one cocktail or one glass of wine. If no one else is drinking, don't drink at all.
108. Smile a lot. It costs nothing and is beyond price.
109. Know how to drive a stick shift.
110. Spread crunchy peanut butter on Pepperidge Farm Gingerman cookies for the perfect late-night snack.
111. Never use profanity.
112. Never argue with police officers, and address them as "officer."
113. Learn to identify local wildflowers, birds, and trees.
114. Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and car.
115. Respect your children's privacy. Knock before entering their room.
116. Install dead bolt locks on outside doors.
117. Don't buy expensive wine, luggage, or watches.
118. Consider writing a living will.
119. Put a lot of little marshmallows in your hot chocolate.
120. Learn CPR.
121. Resist the temptation to buy a boat.
122. Stop and read historical roadside markers.
123. Give yourself a year and read the Bible cover to cover.
124. Learn to listen. Opportunity sometimes knocks very softly.
125. Know how to change a tire.
126. Know how to tie a bow tie.
127. Wear audacious underwear under the most solemn business attire.
128. Remember people's names.
129. Introduce yourself to the manager where you bank. It's important that he or she knows you personally.
130. Learn the capitals of the states.
131. Visit Washington, D.C., and do the tourist bit.
132. Leave the toilet seat in the down position.
133. When someone is relating an important event that's happened to them, don't try to top them with a story of your own. Let them have the stage.
134. Have crooked teeth straightened.
135. Have dull-colored teeth whitened.
136. Keep your watch five minutes fast.
137. Learn Spanish. In a few years, more than thirty-five percent of all Americans will speak it as their first language.
138. When starting out, don't worry about not having enough money. Limited funds are a blessing, not a curse. Nothing encourages creative thinking in quite the same way.
139. Pay your bills on time.
140. Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all they have.
141. Don't buy cheap tools. Craftsman tools from Sears are among the best.
142. Give yourself an hour to cool off before responding to someone who has provoked you. If it involves something really important, give yourself overnight.
143. Join a slow-pitch softball league.
144. Keep a flashlight and extra batteries under the bed and in the glove box of your car.
145. Take someone bowling.
146. When playing games with children, let them win.
147. Turn off the television at dinner time.
148. Learn to handle a pistol and rifle safely.
149. Skip one meal a week and give what you would have spent to a street person.
150. Sing in a choir.
151. Get acquainted with a good lawyer, accountant, and plumber.
152. Fly Old Glory on the Fourth of July.
153. Stand at attention and put your hand over your heart when singing the national anthem.
154. Resist the temptation to put a cute message on your answering machine.
155. Have a will and tell your next-of-kin where it is.
156. Have regular medical and dental checkups.
157. Take time to smell the roses.
158. Be tough minded but tenderhearted.
159. Pray not for things, but for wisdom and courage.
160. Use seat belts.
161. Strive for excellence, not perfection.
162. Keep your desk and work area neat.
163. Take an overnight train trip and sleep in a Pullman.
164. Avoid negative people.
165. Resist telling people how something should be done. Instead, tell them what needs to be done. They will often surprise you with creative solutions.
166. Don't waste time responding to your critics.
167. Don't scrimp in order to leave money to your children.
168. Be original.
169. Be neat.
170. Never give up on what your really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.
171. Be punctual and insit on it in others.
172. Be suspicious of all politicians.
173. Encourage your children to have a part-time job after the age of sixteen.
174. Never take action when you're angry.
175. Read carefully anything that requires your signature. Remember the big print giveth and the small print taketh away.
176. Be kinder than necessary.
177. Give people a second chance, but not a third.
178. When you're proud of your children, let them know it.
179. Be your wife's best friend.
180. Do battle against prejudice and discrimination wherever you find it.
181. Wear out, don't rust out.
182. Be romantic.
183. Let people know what you stand for—and what you won't stand for.
184. Don't forget, a person's greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.
185. Never criticize the person who signs your payheck. If you are unhappy with your job, find another one .
186. Be insatiably curious. Ask "why" a lot.
187. Learn how to fix a leaky faucet and toilet.
188. Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
189. Measure people by the size of their hearts, not the size of their bank accounts.
190. Have good posture. Enter a room with purpose and confidence.
191. Observe the speed limit.
192. Drink low fat milk.
193. Use less salt.
194. Eat less red meat.
195. Don't worry that you can't give your kids the best of everything. Give them your very best.
196. Determine the quality of a neighborhood by the manners of the people living there.
197. Don't quit a job until you've lined up another.
198. Park at the back of the lot at shopping centers. The walk is good exercise.
199. Surprise a new neighbor with one of your favorite homemade dishes—and include the recipe.
200. Ask your boss who his or her heroes are.
201. Don't watch violent television shows, and don't buy the products that sponsor them.
202. Don't carry a grudge.
203. Show respect for all living things.
204. Return borrowed vehicles with the gas tank full.
205. Choose work that is in harmony with your values.
206. Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life-and-death matters, nothing is as important as it seems.
207. Swing for the fence.
208. Attend high school art shows, and always buy something.
209. Give your best to your employer. It's one of the best investments you can make.
210. Take your dog to obedience school. You'll both learn a lot.
211. Don't allow the phone to interupt important moments. It's there for your convenience, not the caller's.
212. Don't waste time grieving over past mistakes. Learn from them and move on.
213. Commit yourself to constant self-improvement.
214. When complimented, a sincere "thank you" is the only response required.
215. Don't plan a long evening on a blind date. A lunch date is perfect. If things don't work out, both of you have wasted only an hour.
216. Don't discuss business in elevators or restrooms. You never know who may overhear you.
217. Have impeccable manners.
218. Be a good loser.
219. Be a good winner.
220. Never go grocery shopping when you're hungry. You'll buy too much.
221. Spend less time worrying who's right, and more time deciding what's right.
222. Praise in public.
223. Criticize in private.
224. Don't major in minor things.
225. Think twice before burdening a friend with a secret.
226. Never tell anyone they look tired or depressed.
227. When someone hugs you, let them be the first to let go.
228. Resist giving advice concerning matrimony, finances, or hair styles.
229. Never pay for work before it's completed.
230. Keep good company.
231. Keep a daily journal.
232. Keep your promises.
233. Teach your children the value of money and the importance of saving.
234. Be willing to lose a battle in order to win the war.
235. Don't be deceived by first impressions.
236. Avoid any church that has cushions on the pews and is considering building a gymnasium.
237. Seek out the good in people.
238. Don't encourage rude or inattentive service by tipping the standard amount.
239. Watch the movie It's a Wonderful Life every Christmas.
240. Respect tradition.
241. Never cut what can be untied.
242. Drink eight glasses of water every day.
243. Be cautious about lending money to a friend. You might lose both.
244. Never waste an opportunity to tell good employees how much they mean to the company.
245. Wave at children on school buses.
246. Be modest. A lot was accomplished before you were born.
247. Buy a bird feeder and hang it so that you can see it from your kitchen window.
248. Make a video of your parents' memories of how they met and their first years of marriage.
249. Show respect for others' time. Call whenever you're going to be more than five minutes late for an appointment.
250. Hire people smarter than you.
251. Learn to show cheerfulness, even when you don't feel like it.
252. Learn to show enthusiasm, even when you don't feel like it.
253. Take good care of those you love.
254. Keep it simple.
255. Never ask a lawyer or accountant for business advice. They are trained to find problems, not solutions.
256. Purchase gas from the neighborhood gas station even if it costs more. Next winter when it's six degrees and your car won't start, you'll be glad they know you.
257. Don't jaywalk.
258. When meeting someone for the first time, resist asking what they do for a living. Enjoy their company without attaching any labels.
259. Avoid like the plague any lawsuit.
260. Take family vacations whether you can afford them or not. The memories will be priceless.
261. Don't gossip.
262. Don't discuss salaries.
263. Don't nag.
264. Don't gamble.
265. Beware of the person who has nothing to lose.
266. Every day show your family how much you love them with your words, with your touch, and with your thoughtfulness.
267. Lie on your back and look at the stars.
268. Don't leave car keys in the ignition.
269. Don't whine.
270. Arrive at work early and stay beyond quitting time.
271. Leave everything a little better than you found it.
272. When facing a difficult task, act as though it is impossible to fail. If you're going after Moby Dick, take along the tartar sauce.
273. Change air conditioner filters every three months.
274. Cut out complimentary newspaper articles about people you know and mail the articles to them with notes of congratulations.
275. Never overstay your welcome.
276. Remember that overnight success usually takes about fifteen years.
277. Fill your gas tank when it falls below one-quarter full.
278. Don't expect money to bring you happiness.
279. Never snap your fingers to get someone's attention. It's rude.
280. No matter how dire the situation, keep your cool.
281. When paying cash, ask for a discount.
282. Find a good tailor.
283. Don't use a toothpick in public.
284. Never underestimate your power to change yourself.
285. Never overestimate your power to change others.
286. Promise big. Deliver big.
287. Practice empathy. Try to see things from other people's point of view.
Excerpted from The Complete Life's Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown Jr.. Copyright © 2007 H. Jackson Brown, Jr.. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.