It's easy to be cynical these days. So many institutions, governmental and religious, seem to be under fire for one thing or another. The problems facing our society can sometimes seem overwhelming. We're constantly reminded that we're in the late '90s, rapidly approaching a new millennium. We would all have to have our heads in the sand not to notice how dramatically the world has changed. Just take a look at healthcare and all the change that has swept the industry.
Sure, the times may have changed, but I don't think people have changed all that much. I'm convinced most people still believe in basic decency and still follow the golden rule. They care very much about their fellow man and try, often heroically, to do the right thing every day. That truly is the American way and has been ever since this great nation of ours was founded. And I don't think it's hard to find evidence to support my beliefs.
Recently I was sent a handsomely bound copy of The Complete Life's Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown Jr. If you aren't familiar with Brown's work, you've really missed something. The author is as wholesome and American as apple pie and the Pledge of Allegiance. Judging by the sales of his tiny volumes since 1991, people are hungry for his simple ideas to make life better for themselves and others. Brown has written other books besides the Life's Little Instruction Book series. Something like 20 books bear his name, titles such as P.S. I Love You, Life's Little Treasure Book on Wisdom and The Little Book of Christmas Joys, to name a few. They're all worth your time, but it's the Life's Little Instruction Books that are my favorites. Before Brown's son, Adam, went off to college, Brown would jot down little pieces of advice he felt his son should have. Later they were published by Nashville-based Rutledge Hill Press in Life's Little Instruction Book Volume I. Volumes II and III were subsequently published as Adam became older. Together, the three volumes-totaling 1,560 pieces of fatherly advice-have sold more than 10 million copies. They were on the New York Times bestseller list for more than two years, including more than a year at the No. 1 spot. Yes, readers definitely reacted to the common-sense philosophies espoused in Brown's works.
What kind of advice does he offer? I can't do it justice here, but consider a few of my favorites, such as No. 93 in Volume I: "Make it a habit to do nice things for people who'll never find out." How about No. 103: "Think big thoughts, but relish small pleasures." Or No. 171: "Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts." And No. 205: "Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life-and-death matters, nothing is as important as it first seems." Volume II contains advice like No. 699: "Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have, or sleep all you want." And No. 868: "Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risks." Volume III offers even more gems. There's No. 1,200: "Remember that you can miss a lot of good things in life by having the wrong attitude." And No. 1,314: "Remember that life's most treasured moments often come unannounced."
If you need a few doses of practical, wholesome advice, I recommend Brown's instructions. Take them to heart and they just might put a few things into perspective.
No. 1,451: "Savor every day,"
Charles S. Lauer