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Book Review: "Life's Little Instructions Book"

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Life's Little Instructions Book is a collection of 1,560 instructions by H. Jackson Brown Jr. They are on how to live a successful and purposeful life. H. Jackson Brown Jr. originally wrote the instructions for his college-bound son. I think he decided to publish them in a book after he figured out that he could make fame and fortune by doing so. Or maybe he just earnestly desired to inspire young people by sharing his wisdom with them in a book.

If H. Jackson Brown Jr.'s motive for publishing the instructions in a book was to inspire young people, then he succeeded with me because I was personally touched by most of the life instructions in the book when I read it in December 2015. So much was I touched by the instructions that I penned the ones that animated me most in my quotations book and then typed them on my Facebook wall in a series of ten posts. But I later deleted them from the Facebook wall because I didn't want to get into trouble for reproducing a lot of contents from the book without permission from the publisher.

However, I don't regret the effort I put in typing the instructions because it helped me drill them into every fibre of my being. Recently, I was impressed with myself that I could remember many pieces of advice from the book - more than three years since I last read the whole book.

The instructions in the H. Jackson Brown Jr.'s book encompass all the important areas of a human life such as thinking, reading, praying, living with integrity, having a successful marriage, bringing up children and interacting with our fellow human beings. Let me briefly share with you, my dear reader, on what the instructions say about those areas.

On thinking, H. Jackson Brown Jr. tells us that our minds can only hold one thought at a time; we should therefore make that thought a positive and a constructive one. He advises us to be positive and enthusiastic. And he seems to be aware of the toxic people in this world because he urges us to protect our enthusiasm from the negativity of others.

On reading, H. Jackson Brown Jr. beseeches us to read a lot and watch less TV. He adds that the more we know, the less we fear. And he advises us to re-read our favourite books and lend only those books we never care to see again. What I like about H. Jackson Brown Jr. is the way he exhorts us to include the Bible in our reading repertoire. I like that because I am a Christian.

On praying, H. Jackson Brown Jr. tells us to believe in the power of prayer. And he advises us to pray not only for things but also for wisdom and courage. As a Christian, I find that a sagacious advice which I have been implementing in my life over the last several months.

On living with integrity, H. Jackson Brown Jr. urges us to live such a life that when our children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think about us. He advises us never to compromise our integrity or work for people of questionable character.

On having a successful marriage, H. Jackson Brown Jr. cautions us never to marry someone in the hope that they'll change later. He advises us to marry only for love. And we should marry someone who loves music and one we enjoy talking to. He reminds us that a successful marriage depends on two things: (1) finding the right person and (2) being the right person. And he further adds that a successful marriage is like farming; we have to start over again every morning. Those are wonderful pieces of advice that can save us from the pitfalls of divorce and separation that some people find themselves in.

On bringing up children, H. Jackson Brown Jr. tells us to start saving for our children's education as soon as we get married. He extols us to be good role models for our children, to create in them a good self-image, to never compare them with their siblings and not make finishing everything on their plate an issue. "Good children are like good soup," says H. Jackson Brown Jr., "both are home-made."

On interacting with our fellow human beings, H. Jackson Brown. Jr tells us that 80% of the success in any job is based on our ability to deal with people. He exhorts us to be forgiving of ourselves and others as well as to never lose our anger or allow anyone to intimidate us.

All told, H. Jackson Brown Jr.'s Life's Little Instructions Book is a delightful read. I recommend it to all young people out there. And it will certainly be my gift to my children when they turn 18 if I ever get lucky to have kids. Adieu!

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RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story of mine on the review of H. Jackson Brown Jr.'s Life's Little Instructions Book, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometimes back on "Book Review: "Think Big"". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.

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Noticing the Little Things

With permission, I have extracted this picture-quote from a website called Meme. All rights reserved worldwide.


During my daily walks to my hometown of Kiserian, I sometimes meet friends who are too absent-minded to notice me. I don't really know what goes on in their minds that makes them absent-minded. Maybe they are usually just mulling over the problems in their lives or worrying about the future.

Two or three Sundays ago, I met a young man called Timo who was walking with his face looking down as if he was searching for a lost coin. I thought that was a pathetic way of walking but I didn't take him to task over it; I just greeted him and continued minding my own business.

As for me, I usually make an effort to walk with my chin up while wearing a cheerful face. I also try to notice the little things as I go about my walking. Today, let me tell you about some interesting writings I have observed over the last six years during my walks and travels.

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A couple of years ago, I met a neighbour called Likam who is tall and somehow huge. He was wearing a T-shirt that had these sentence printed on it, "I am not big; you are the one who is small." I found that writing on Likam's T-shirt so amusing that I mentioned it to his son a few weeks later.

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At another time a couple of years ago while I was heading back home from a walk, I spotted a tuktuk with the words "Air Force One" written at the top of its windshield. If you don't know, Air Force One is the jet that the President of the United States flies in. So you can imagine the kind of swagger the owner of the tuktuk was trying to project by calling it "Air Force One".

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A few months ago, I saw a young woman wearing a T-shirt that said, "I was not born in Africa; Africa was born in me." Going by that writing on her T-shirt, I suppose she must be proud of her African roots.

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At another time a few weeks ago, I saw a young man wearing a T-shirt that said, "Hey! I am good." And I thought that was a cool way of telling the world he was a nice guy.

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About three weeks ago as I was commuting to a place called Kasarani in Nairobi, I saw the following writing on the back of a bus: "Laugh at mine; yours will be resisted." That writing aptly captures what we should tell those who mock or belittle our efforts, doesn't it?

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Two or three days ago, I saw a young man wearing a pullover written "Satan" on it. Were it me wearing such a pullover, I would have been worried sick about people thinking I am a devil-worshipper. But the young man seemed indifferent to the image he could be projecting with such a pullover. Maybe he is just a little educated guy who bought the pullover to keep him warm.

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I have noted how frequently I meet people on the streets wearing sweaters and shirts with names of American cities, states and universities printed on them. Names such as Cleveland, Virginia and Harvard. And I don't understand why the obsession with names of places in America. Maybe it's because of the way America is idealized as the land of freedom, opportunity and prosperity.

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Not all writings I have observed during my walks and travels are hilarious or about American places. Some have been inspirational. Like a month or two ago, I saw a guy with a T-shirt that said, "Believe there is some good in the world."

Then a few weeks ago, I saw another guy wearing a T-shirt that said, "We rise by lifting others up." I found that writing educative and spot-on.

And then three weeks ago during that time I have told you I was commuting to Kasarani in Nairobi, I found myself in a bus with a sticker that had this quote printed on it: "In every desert of calamity, God has an oasis of comfort."

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