The Little Book of Life: A Few Life and Health Lessons I Have Learned So Far

Tuesday Jul 29 | BY |
| Comments (15)


Many years ago, when I was in my teens, my mom gifted me a little book called “The Little Book of Life.”

It was written by H. Jackson Brown, Jr., and was a collection of 511 pieces of advice written by a dad to his son. The book I got was a French translation.

Initially, I found most of the advice downright funny. My brother and I would spend time laughing at some of the seemingly weird one-liners found in the book, such as:

“Make sure that nobody ever sees you tipsy.”

“Once in your life, buy a convertible.”

“Never eat the last cookie.”

But over time, as I got older, I found a lot of truisms in the book, such as:

“When you meet someone for the first time, don’t ask immediately what he/she does for a living. Appreciate the company without needing to put a label on the person.”

“In business, never ask advice from a lawyer or an accountant. Their job is to find problems, not solutions.”

The other day, I was going through the book with a friend, and we were reading some of our favorite sayings to each other (for example, “Be brave. And if sometimes you’re not, pretend to be. Nobody will see the difference.”).

I had the idea to share my own list with people.

This is actually taken from a list that I’ve been keeping on my computer for over a decade! I keep adding new “life lessons” learned every time I learn them, sometimes at great personal expense.

Here are some of my favorites that I wanted to share with you. Many relate to health, finances, traveling, and life in general. Feel free to add your own in the comments!

Health and Life Lessons

Don’t hang out with negative people.

Leave your phone at home when going out. Free yourself from the “digital leash” from time to time.

Four days is the ideal amount of time to visit a place on a trip with multiple stops.

Never eat fried food.

Always bring more snacks than you think you will eat when traveling. You never know when you’ll get hungry.

In a smoothie bar: always ask for no ice in smoothies.

Never book anything the day after a trip. You’ll be recovering from jet lag and the fatigue of traveling.

Make sure that your teeth don’t touch each other during the day.

When you get hungry, you get angry. So keep a “hangry bag” in your car, filled with water, snack bars, etc.

If a big purchase tempts you, try renting or leasing instead. That way, you can experience it at a fraction of the buying cost. If you still want it after several months, then consider the purchase.

Always beware of sunshine between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Never go to a timeshare presentation, even if they offer you a freebie in exchange.

When you’re craving junk food: eat some fruit or make a green smoothie. See what happens next.

Don’t touch your face.

There is never enough time to do everything, but there’s always time to do the most important thing.

Exercise most days of the week to feel good. If you don’t have much time, 10 minutes of jogging is enough to keep the routine going.

Delay gratification. Ponder big decisions for a while. Let things set. Plan your responses. A new insight may come.

Make a list of things that make you really happy, and try to do these things more often.

When it’s hot outside and your body is not used to the temperature, go at 70% of your usual speed. Otherwise, you’ll burn yourself out.

Occupy your time with more things than TV or the Internet.

Always think twice before posting something on Facebook or Twitter.

At the start of the year, make a list of 50-100 goals. Review this list on a regular basis during the year.

Consider that you could live until the age of 95: plan for your future by saving and investing some of your income.

Learn to appreciate some of the classics that are part of humanity’s greatest gifts: Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Marcel Proust, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Van Gogh, Picasso, Da Vinci, and all of the great works.

Learn to type. You will save a lot of time. Learn DVORAK if you want to save yourself from carpal tunnel syndrome.

Consider that you could die of an accident or a disease before your time: don’t put away your dreams for too long. You never know if you’ll have time to live them.

Beware of friendly salesmen at stores. Never look like you’re eager to buy something, even if you are.

Starting something doesn’t always justify finishing it. Sometimes, it’s best to walk away and move on.

Only the time you spend in person with your loved ones is what matters the most. Phone, emails and Skype don’t have the same impact.

Realize that people you meet online will be very different in person than you imagine.

Don’t walk around with a backpack full of stuff. It’s bad for your back. Leave those bags to 20-year-old backpackers. Instead, get a proper piece of rolling luggage. Briggs-Riley is the best and will last you a lifetime.

Warren Buffet said the secret to success was to say NO. Learn to say NO to opportunities until they are right.

Find out what you shouldn’t be doing as opposed to just what you should be doing. Create your own “NOT to do list.”

Make a list of your favorite movies, recipes, books, places, etc.

Take more time to chew.

When you’re waiting at a red light and you’re the first in line, be careful when the light turns green. Wait a few seconds. There could always be someone going through the red light in the other direction.

Take a day off from your computer and smartphone once a week.

Send cards for people’s birthdays.

Never invest in something you don’t understand.

A yellow light means “slow down” rather than “speed up.” Are you really in a hurry?

Never trust someone who says “You can trust me.”

Use the program Evernote to store every digital document you want to keep for future review.

Do not use your email inbox as a form of “to-do list.” Always clear your emails down to zero. Keep your to-do list separately.

If you have trouble saying no, just say “I am not interested.” Imagine that you’re an old vinyl that’s skipping. Every time the person tries to convince you with more arguments, just keep saying the same thing. Eventually, they will give up.

Don’t read conspiracy theory blogs.

Start the day with a green smoothie. Go heavy on the greens.

You can negotiate almost anything by asking this simple question: “Is this your best price?”

Take five years to become an “overnight success.” Nobody who really became successful at something did it without hard work.

Don’t check emails first thing in the morning, or before going to bed.

Persistence is the seed of abundance.

When making changes that can lead to positive results, such as exercising, know that it takes at least 6 weeks to feel the difference.

Give to a charity, but make sure the money is well invested.

Use your public library.

Encourage some of your local shops, even if it’s a bit more expensive than going to the mega-stores.

Use a credit card that earns points, as long as you pay back your balance on time – you will get at least one free trip per year.

Always write down your expenses, and keep a monthly budget.

Two nights is the perfect amount of time to stay over at a friend’s place. Three nights is the maximum. As the old German saying goes: “Guests are like fish: after three days, they start to stink.”

Always turn your tongue 20 times before talking politics or nutrition with someone with diverging views.

Discover your own city like a tourist. Borrow or buy the same guide books that tourists get when they visit your city or country.

Call your mom.

What are your own life and health lessons learned so far? Write them below!

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Never speak I’ll of those absent or you’ll lose those present.

  2. Yvonne says:

    “Never invest in something you don’t understand.” I wish I knew this one years ago!!

  3. goldie says:

    My wonderful father taught me this one…Treat others the way you want to be treated.

  4. Britt says:

    Focus on what you want to do, not on how you don’t like what others have done.

  5. Yvonne says:

    Something my father used to say “The thing that goes the farthest in making life worthwhile, that costs the least, that’s worth the most, is just a pleasant smile”. 🙂

  6. Good stuff Frederic. Life Lessons, otherwise known as wisdom.

  7. Steve says:

    The list posted was interesting but i really only understood, agree with and or appreciate maybe 6 of them. I think i’d love to know why some of them are on the list but maybe it’s best that i don’t. Yes, i’m certain i don’t want to know but yet i’m compelled to ask….don’t let your teeth touch all day long? When u get hungry you get angry??? Beware of sunshine???? Don’t touch your face?????? Don’t read conspiracy theory blogs??????? Use a credit card?????????? Turn your tongue 20 times??????????????????????????????????? lol Ok, so now that we established that many things on someones personal list might be only fitting for the person who wrote the list, here’s my list of perhaps more feasible and societally friendly things.

    Strongly consider how the word “perception” may be 1 of the top 3 words in language.

    Consider that conspiracy theorists (truthers) may have nothing but the very best of intentions for humanity and that if u refuse to consider that there are a group of elite who pull all the strings for their benefit, not yours, then u might be one of the sheeple.

    Consider that chemotherapy is mainly a money grab that kills as many cells as it treats and that if anyone was to tell you the truth you would already have heard about Chaga, soursop fruit, weed oil and other things the pill pushers don’t want u to know about.

    If you only see your child once a year or not very often it’s perfectly acceptable to email, phone or skype with them as much as u can within reason.

    Weed has been known to be a good anti-depressant and pain killer. No one ever died from it. In fact the human body has cannabinoids in it naturally which means it was once part of our diet.

    If u r a male and have a good job which u like and pays well you might want to consider living alone (meaning without a significant other) until family law sees males and females as equals or else u have a 50/50 chance of losing most of what u worked for and have a good chance of retiring early, travel, buying yourself nice things etc. If u can’t live alone wait 3 yrs before living together and even then take a trial run to see if she changes 3 days after you move in/marry. If marrying, get a prenup (male and female).

    Try not to go to bed angry because you’re hungry or for any reason.

    When tipping, consider that the cook normally only gets less that 25% the amount of tips that servers get.

    The equation for figuring out whether or not u are in a healthy and longlasting relationship is 3/5. If you have a minimum of 3 out of 5 good days with your partner as opposed to 3 or more bad days out of five then u are one of the few very fortunate ones. If you girl (or guy) is the type that believes her/his partner better give 4.5/5 good day or else it’s the dog house for u….they ARE the reason the divorce rate is so high. Be very very ware.

  8. kris says:

    Take time to journal or meditate, amazing the things you’ll learn about yourself.

  9. James Bosley says:

    Clean your tongue .. Your breath will thank you for it !

  10. Sukhpal says:

    The old English proverb is still true today:
    ‘The Family that Prays together Stays together’

  11. Bill says:

    My list:

    Don’t read lists.


  12. J says:

    When decisions present themselves, never be upset if you didn’t make the correct decision. Learn (and remember) the lesson and move on.

  13. ann says:

    i am not sure who said this or i would certainly give credit: “There is no greater wisdom than kindness”
    “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread” Mother Teresa,
    “You don’t know unless you have been there”
    LOVE Renegade Health!!!!!!!

  14. Laura says:

    Great list of advice, Frederic!

    Some of mine:

    When you meet a person behaving nastily, smile and treat them with extra kindness, they obviously need the love more than they know.
    Never lend money you can’t afford to give away.
    Don’t buy anything on credit and if you do, pay it off within 30 days.

  15. Masha says:

    Of all possible choices, always pick the kindest. Not the most promising, not the most rational, not the most Progressorist, and certainly not the most effective — the kindest!
    – Brothers Strugatsky (Waves Damp the Wind)

    Comments are closed for this post.