H. Jackson Browne is an American author who spent a year on The New York Times Best-Seller List. He is most famous for his work, Life’s Little Instruction Book. Clearly, his area of expertise is advising readers how to have more quality lives which is the theme of my blog.
Browne wrote a list called “21 Suggestions For Living Wisely and Well.” This post will elaborate on how you can achieve twelve of them.
- Teach by example.
Recently, I’ve been teaching about the Chinese philosophy of Confucianism. Confucius stepped up in ancient times to tell the Chinese how to avoid stress, and “Teach By Example” was his answer. While my post is about how to achieve family happiness, Confucius applied this adage to the ruler. He explained that if the ruler is kind, the people will stop their hostile ways and be kind too. This is the gist of this step to achieving family harmony.
If you model good behavior for your children, they will behave in kind. I recently saw Into the Woods. The title of the big song from what was originally a play is Children Should Listen. Children do listen, and as my husband likes to say, “It’s too late to go back and unring the bell.”
If you don’t want your children to curse, don’t curse. If you don’t want your children to be hostile towards you or their siblings, model treating others with kindness. If you want your children to stay calm in a crisis, you should let them see that you do too.
The expression “Do as I say, not as I do,” does not fly.
- Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them.
There is no excuse not to tell someone you love them, and I made excuses for years. The biggest is that the person won’t say it back; we all fear rejection. When they didn’t say it back, it didn’t matter since at least they knew how I felt. When they did return my feelings, I was pleased but had no expectations that they would.
- Do something every day that maintains your good (mental) health.
When I was at my lowest, my mother used to give me two pieces of advice. The first was to take a bath. Are you even kidding me Mom? I’m coming to you for comfort, and that’s what you’ve got for me, a bath?! So, I would take the bath, and you know what? I actually felt better. I would use my favorite scented bath salts (which I still use to this day), and soak. I had quiet time which was calming.
The second piece of advice my mother gave me was to read a book. Not an obvious solution to chasing away the blues, but common sense says it’s a practical idea. Books take us away from our problems since we’re preoccupied with the characters’ lives. To quote a song from the movie Tangled, “Mother knows best.”
- Take family vacations.
Brown’s advice is to take the vacations whether you can afford them or not. The reason is
clear–it’s not about how elaborate the vacation is. It’s about making memories. I know people who had a better time on a low-budget vacation playing a board game with their children than in a luxury suite. Can I make up a phrase? It’s about the bonding not the bucks. (You may quote me.)
- Judge your success by the degree that you’re enjoying peace, health and love.
I once heard a saying that you can judge your success by the number of people who comes to your funeral. However, you don’t need to be dead to ascertain your success. I know I’ve done right by looking at the people I’m surrounded by, and I feel blessed.
- Be devoted to your spouse and dedicated to your children.
Based on personal experience, I’m advising in that order. Of course be a good parent; your children should be your priority. However, I didn’t invent the empty next syndrome. Kids grow up and leave. If you don’t want your spouse or partner to leave first, heed Browne’s advice in that order.
- Have courage when things go wrong.
This sounds like Browne’s first piece of advice, “Lead by example.” If you are strong, your children will learn to be couragous during adverse times. I’ve adopted an expression, “It’s just not meant to be.” It cheers me up when the tide doesn’t turn in my direction.
- Maintain a grateful heart.
Count your blessings. People say it becomes habit if when you wake up, you recite a list of what you are thankful for. Often, when our mood is down, we struggle to remember what we are grateful for. I wrote How to Find Gratitude about what helps me remember what I’m thankful for even when I’m blue.
- Discover the power of forgiveness.
I told a very principled man recently a quote I’d read on Pinterest. “Apologizing does not mean you’re wrong. It means you care about your happiness more than your ego.” How about this Pinterest quote: “Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness but because you deserve peace.” Enough said. I agree with Browne.
- Look for the good.
This goes further than counting your blessings. My husband advises me not just to look for good, but to surround myself with it. If I surround myself with upbeat people, I will be more likely to be upbeat myself. Why? Their aura? Their influence? Does it matter if you’re happier? No.
- Hope for the best.
“Hope for the best, but expect the worst,” is not an expression Browne made up. Trite cliché’s become cliché’s because they are true. If you expect the worst case scenario, you can never be disappointed.
- Don’t overlook life’s simple joys while searching for big ones.
My readers might know by now that I am NUTS for Broadway musicals. To quote the musical Pippin, “Simple joys have a simple noise that says, ‘Why not go ahead?” So… go ahead and enjoy the simple things in life. I have been accused of enjoying “cheap thrills”. I don’t think I’ve ever been so flattered.
In closing, I’ve referenced the musical Pippin in this blog post. If you haven’t seen the show which came out in both 1972 and 2013, Prince Pippin spends the two-hour course of the play looking for happiness. He wants to be extraordinary because he believes it will bring him joy. If he had read this blog post, 12 Priorities For Living a Happy Life, I could have saved him the trouble of searching.
If you are curious as to what Browne’s other nine suggestions are for happiness, here are his 21 Suggestions for Success.
Readers, are there any other suggestions you can think of for having a happy life? Are there any of Browne’s suggestions that have worked for you? Do you disagree with any of his suggestions? I look forward to your views.