Editor’s Note: Life’s Little Instructions

Today’s Machining World Archives October 2010 Volume 06 Issue 08

I am reminded of the power of words every time I read snippets of the little masterpiece H. Jackson Brown Jr. wrote two decades ago called Life’s Little Instruction Book.

I keep a 12” x 36” poster of an excerpt on a bathroom wall in my home to contemplate when the urge hits me. My wife’s students and visitors may also benefit from the humble wisdom.

Sing in the Shower. Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated. Watch a sunrise at least once a year. Leave the toilet seat in the down position. Never refuse homemade brownies. Strive for excellence, not perfection. Plant a tree on your birthday. Learn three clean jokes. Return borrowed vehicles with the gas tank full. Compliment three people every day. Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them. Leave everything a little better than you found it. Keep it simple. Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures. Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know. Floss your teeth. Ask for a raise when you feel you’ve earned it. Be forgiving of yourself and others. Overtip breakfast waitresses. Say “thank you” a lot. Say “please” a lot. Avoid negative people. Buy whatever kids are selling on card tables in their front yards. Wear polished shoes. Remember other people’s birthdays. Commit yourself to constant improvement. Carry jumper cables in your trunk. Have a firm handshake. Send lots of Valentine cards and sign them “Someone who thinks you’re terrific.” Look people in the eye. Be the first to say, “Hello.” Use the good silver. Return all things you borrow. Make new friends but cherish the old ones. Keep secrets. Sing in a choir. Plant flowers every spring. Have a dog. Always accept an outstretched hand. Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life. Wave at kids on school buses. Be there when people need you. Feed a stranger’s expired parking meter. Don’t expect life to be fair. Never underestimate the power of love. Drink champagne for no reason at all. Live your life as an exclamation, not an explanation. Don’t be afraid to say, “I made a mistake.” Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Compliment even small improvements. Keep your promises (no matter what). Marry only for love. Rekindle old friendships. Count your blessings. Call your mother.

I love the way Brown makes a big profound statement like “strive for excellence, not perfection” and then follows it with “plant a tree on your birthday” or “carry jumper cables in your trunk.”

The ending is always worthy of a wistful exhalation for me. “Call your mother.” I wish I could.

Lloyd Graff

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