a Fathers Advice

A Father’s
Instructions for Life
Condensed from “Life’s Little Instruction Book”
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

(Readers Digest, September 1992, pp. 129-137)

YEARS AGO, I read that it was the responsibility of parents not to pave the road for their children, but to provide a road map. So, as my son, Adam, prepared to leave for college, I jotted down a few words of counsel and put them in a dime-store binder. After his mother and I had helped him move into his dorm, I presented him with the bound pages.
A few days later, Adam called me. “Dad,” he said, the book is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. I’m going to add to it and someday give it to my son.” Every once in a while life hands you a moment so precious, so overwhelming, that you almost glow. I had just experienced one.

Here are the words I gave him.

Compliment three people each day.
Watch a sunrise at least once a year:

Overtip breakfast waitresses.

Look people in the eye.

Say “thank you” a lot.

Say “please” a lot.

Live beneath your means.

Buy whatever kids are
selling on card tables in
their front yards.

Treat everyone you meet
as you want to be treated.

Donate two pints of
blood every year.

Make new friends but
cherish the old ones.

Keep secrets.

Don’t waste time learning
the “tricks of the trade.”
Instead, learn the trade.

Admit your mistakes.

Be brave. Even if you’re not,
pretend to be.
No one can tell the difference.

Choose a charity in your
community and support it
generously with your
time and money.

Read the Bill of Rights.

Use credit cards only for
convenience, never for credit.

Never cheat.

Give yourself a year and read
the Bible cover to cover.

Learn to listen. Opportunity
sometimes knocks very softly.

Never deprive someone of hope;
it might be all he or she has.

Pray not for things, but for
wisdom and courage.

Never take action when
you’re angry.

Have good posture.
Enter a room with purpose
and confidence.

Don’t discuss business in elevators.
You never know who
may overhear you.

Never pay for work before
it’s completed.

Be willing to lose a battle
in order to win the war.

Don’t gossip.

Beware of the person who
has nothing to lose.

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.
Don’t spread yourself too thin.
Learn to say no
politely and quickly.

Don’t expect life to be fair.

Never underestimate the
power of forgiveness.

Instead of using the word
problem, try substituting
the word opportunity.

Never walk out on
a quarrel with your wife.

Regarding furniture and clothes:
if you think you’ll be using them
five years or longer, buy the best
you can afford.

Be bold and courageous.
When you look back
on your fife, you’ll regret
the things, you didn’t do
more than the ones you did.

Forget committees. New, noble,
world-changing ideas always come
from one person working alone.

Street musicians are a treasure.
Stop for a moment and listen;
then leave a small donation.
When faced with a serious
health problem, get at least three
medical opinions.

Wage war against littering.

After encountering inferior
service, food or products,
bring it to the attention
of the person in charge.
Good managers will
appreciate knowing.

Don’t procrastinate.
Do what needs doing when
it needs to be done.

Get your priorities straight.
No one ever said on his deathbed,
“Gee, if I’d only spent more
time at the office.”

Don’t be afraid to say
“I don’t know.”

Don’t be afraid to say
“I’m sorry.”

Make a list of 25 things
you want to experience before
you die. Carry it in your
wallet and refer to it often.

Call your mother.

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