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Life's Little Instruction Book.

Adam was leaving home for his freshman year in college. An important event for any family. But to H. Jackson Brown, Jr., it was more than that: "a memorable moment," he recalls. And he wanted to see his son off with more than a handshake.

Creative director of an advertising agency, Brown had written thousands of radio and television commercials, ads, speeches, and slide-show presentations. Thus his first thought was to write a long letter for Adam to open after closing the door to his room at the dorm.

"Insted," he says, "in a dime-store binder, I began setting down some of the things I had picked up along the way, things that had meant a lot to me." Before he finished, these "things"--observations and reminders on how to live a happy and rewarding life--totaled 511. Today, touched by the magic wand of instant success, that dime-store binder has topped the New York Times best-seller list as Life's Little Instruction Book. And no one is more amazed than its author.

"I have made my living for years sitting in front of a typewriter," Brown says. "But how to account for the popularity of this little book, I just don't know. One of the editors said he was sure only two days after shipping it that it would be a hit because of a call he got from a lady in New York City. She said she had been to a seminar and a woman had stood up and told of discovering a book they should all 'run not walk' to the nearest bookstore to buy."

A stockbroker phones to say he liked the book so much he was buying 60 copies to send to his clients.

The president and director of three banks in Kentucky bought over 2,000 copies to give his clients in preference to the country hams he usually sent.

One letter came from a couple having trouble deciding whether or not to adopt a girl without arms. In turning the pages of Life's Little Instruction Book in a bookstore, the husband had stopped at Instruction #158: "Pray not for things, but for wisdom and courage." It was all the couple needed to bring the little girl home.

But what about Adam? He phoned from his room after a few days to thank his dad for "one of the best gifts I have ever received." He said he was adapting to more and more of the instruction and finding them easy to do, "like calling Mother every day." He also said he was adding his own observations and reminders, which he would pass along to his own son some day.

If you have yet to run, not walk, to a bookstore for Life's Little Instruction Book, by the time you do, don't be surprised to fund beside it Live and Learn and Pass It On, Brown's latest work. Based on hundreds of interviews with people aged 5 to 95, it is a collection of their answers to the question, "What has life taught you?"

First, however, you'll want to know what life has taught H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Among the 511 entries, these two are his favorites: "Plant a Tree," and "Choose Your Life's Mate Carefully."

The Post was unable to cut it to two. In fact, we had trouble holding the number to 46. And here they are:

Drive inexpensive cars, but own the best house you can afford.

Be forgiving of yourself and others,

Learn three clean jokes.

Live so that when your children thinks of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.

Plant a tree on your birthday.

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.

Don't pospone joy.

Choose your life's mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90 percent of all your happiness or misery.

Always have something beautiful in sight, even if it's just a daisy in a jelly glass.

Take a brisk 30-minute walk each day.

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

Learn CPR.

Let people know what you stand for--and what you won't stand for.

Never criticize the person who signs your paycheck. If you are unhappy with your job, resign.

Think twice before burdening a friend with a secret.

When someone hugs you, let them be the first to let go.

Drink eight glasses of water every day.

Buy a bird feeder and hang it so that you can see it from your kitchen window.

Take good care of those you love.

Take family vacations whether you can afford them or not. The memories will be priceless.

Beware of the person who has nothing to lose.

When traveling, put a card in your wallet with your name, home phone, the phone number of a friend or close relative, important medical information, plus the phone number of the hotel or motel where you're staying.

Judge your success by the degree that you're enjoying peace, health, and love.

Plant flowers every spring.

Lie on your bank and look at the stars.

Let your representatives in Washington know how you feel. Call 202-225-3121 for the House and 202-224-3121 for the Senate. An operator will connect you to the right office.

Remember that a successful marriage depends on two things: (1) finding the right person and (2) being the right person.

When tempted to critize your parents, spouse, or children, bite your tongue.

Learn to disagree without being disagreeable.

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

Don't let anyone talk you out of pursuing what you know to be a great idea.

Keep a tight rein on your temper.

Every day look for some small way to improve your marriage.

Just to see how it feels, for the next 24 hours refrain from criticizing anybody or anything.

Never underestimate the power of a kind word or deed.

Let your children overhear you saying complimentary things about them to other adults.

Understand that happiness is not based on possessions, power, or prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.

When meeting someone you don't know well, extend your hand and give them your name. Never assume they remember you even if you've met them before.

Keep a note pad and pencil on your bedside table. Million-dollar ideas sometimes strike at 3 a.m.

Don't use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved.

When talking to the press, remember they always have the last word.

Give thanks before every meal.

Never discuss money with people who have much more or much less than you.

After you've worked hard to get what you want, take the time to enjoy it.

Become someone's here.

Marry only for love.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:excerpts
Author:Stoddard, Maynard Good
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Article Type:Excerpt
Date:Mar 1, 1992
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