“Life’s Little Instructions” – This is the title of one of my favourite books. This book was originally written by H. Jackson Brown. The Complete Life’s Little Instruction Book contains the 1,560 entries found in all three volumes of the New York Times Bestselling Life’s Little Instruction Book series.
This book like other books does not contain a story or a lot of text. It is a collection of one or two line sentences which originally were written as a gift from a father to a son, however its simplicity and practical advice is so appealing that it has been enjoyed by men and women of all ages. Even the lines on the cover page after the title reads…
Suggestions, Observations and Reminders on
How to Live a Happy and Rewarding Life.
I love reading and I first read this book during my college days. I was so inspired by its simplicity and relevance that I decided to gift one copy of this book to each of my friends as a parting gift towards the end of college. Though you may agree that it was a good idea but I was in college and had limited resources. I did not have enough money to buy a copy each for my friends.
To say that inspite of this shortcoming I was still determined would be an understatement. I wanted to share this treasure with my near and dear ones so badly that I decided to reproduce the whole text…manually.
I realised that it was not possible to write so many copies with hand so the other option would be to get it done on a computer. I am taking about the year 1998 in India and not many people would own a computer like today. I did not have one too.
But to my good fortune, one of my close friends Suyog Hebbar, who was pursuing Computer Science Engineering, had a desktop. And the icing on the cake was that he shared the apartment with me. So I discussed this idea with him and used his computer to key in the contents patiently. Slowly over a period of few days I was able to complete the typing, designed the cover page and saved it to a floppy disk for printing.
In those days mostly everyone used the dot-matrix printers. However I wanted a better print quality. So I decided to get one printed from the printing shop. I knew that Inkjet printing was very costly those days and as students we had limited funds for our monthly expenses. So all I could afford was one copy. Using this as the master copy I got multiple other copies xeroxed (photostat) and got them spiral bound and then gifted a copy to many of my friends with the hope that the gift would be valued not for its cost or beauty but for the content and underlying effort and feelings.
One such copy I also gave to my sister and she recently shared the cover page of the same with me which I am reproducing below.
After reading all this with patience you might be wondering what really is inside the covers of the book. So let me share a few of my favourite “Life Little Instructions” below. As you read these, pause for a moment before you move on to the next one.
Compliment three people every day.
Watch a sunrise at least once a year.
Remember other people’s birthdays.
Have a firm handshake.
Life is short.
Eat more pancakes and fewer rice cakes.
Sing in the shower.
Use the good silver.
Buy great books, even if you never read them.
Say “thank you” a lot.
Say “please” a lot.
Plant flowers every spring.
Be the first to say “hello.
Live beneath your means.
Drive inexpensive cars,
but own the best house you can afford.
Be forgiving of yourself and others.
Learn the rules.
Then Break Some.
Learn three clean jokes.
Wear polished shoes.
Ask for a raise when you feel you’ve earned it.
If in a fight,
hit first and hit hard.
Return all the things you borrow.
Teach some kind of class.
Be a student in some kind of class.
Plant a tree on your birthday.
Make new friends
but cherish the old ones.
Take lots of snapshots.
Never give up on anyone.
Miracles happen everyday.
Don’t waste time learning the “tricks of the trade.”
Instead, learn the trade.
Surprise loved ones with little unexpected gifts.
Stop blaming others.
Take responsibility for every area of your life.
Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think of you.
Use your wit to amuse, not abuse.
Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be.
No one can tell the difference.
Demand excellence and be willing to pay for it.
Don’t take good health for granted.
Someone will always be looking at you as an example of how to behave. Don’t disappoint.
Write “thank you” notes promptly.
If you haven’t read this book already, I strongly recommend you to try it. If you have read it long ago, you may gain some new insights by reviewing it again. Happy reading !