For the past twenty years, I have shared one of my favorite guides, Life’s Little Instruction Book, as part of my New Year’s Eve celebration.  The book is made up of tips and advice that help one lead a fuller, happier life.  Some of my favorites include, “resist the temptation to buy a boat” and “compliment three people a day.”  Traditionally, each person I am celebrating with adds a tip to the end of the book.  One year, my brother-in-law added, “conserve water, shower with a friend.”  Unfortunately, this year, I am out of town and left the book at home.  I know I will miss nostalgically flipping through on New Year’s Eve and reading the entries added by family and friends.  I decided to start a new list in hopes of others adding their favorites so I can reflect on them this New Year’s Eve.  Here are my 10 tips to a happier 2012:

1.      Enjoy the food you eat, worry less about getting fatter

2.      Make an effort to stop cursing, for words do really matter

3.      Volunteer once a month for a charity close to your heart

4.      Have dinner as a family, once a week is a really good start

5.      Speak of others as though they can hear the words that you say

6.      When having a conversation with a friend, put your cell phone away

7.      Decrease your usage of microwaves, it robs the vitamins from your food

8.      Wake up every morning with the hope of putting someone in a good mood

9.      Eliminate one hour a week of TV, internet or your favorite vice

10.    Don’t buy water in bottles; to save the earth it’s a small price

In case you are wondering why the tips are in prose, my alter ego is “jill - the poem lady” and I tend to think in rhyme.  Happy New Year and I look forward to reading your tips.

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Comment by Kimberly K. Comeau on April 18, 2012 at 7:48am

I'd like to add one:  Learn something new every day.  That "learn something" can be as small as learning someone's favorite color, or hearing a new childhood story from a stranger or spouse, or as useful as learning a new embroidery stitch or the most efficient way to sort mail.  Whatever you learn, it's amazing how enriching those bits of knowledge become.

Comment by Jill Starishevsky on February 4, 2012 at 7:56pm


Finally found the time to read your post on Judging Others.  Written from the heart and I enjoyed it.  Thank you for sharing it.


Comment by Jessica Vealitzek on January 30, 2012 at 8:10pm

Oops, Jill - I should have made clear I meant the #5 of your addendum--When in doubt, pee. Ha! I'm sure you were confused by my dog comment.

Comment by Jill Starishevsky on January 30, 2012 at 8:03am


Regarding number 5, it originated years ago when this woman I know first started to date the man who became her husband. She was a chatty lady and enjoyed the time she spent gossiping with girlfriends.  Her new boyfriend didn't like gossip.  He thought it was petty and hurtful.  She, wanting to become someone her boyfriend was proud of, embraced that mentality and decided to refrain from gossip.  But the question remained, how was she to know what entailed gossip.  She created a definition which would define the parameters of her new behavior.  She would only say things about others who were not present, if she would be able to say them in their presence.  Not a tough rule to live by, don't you think?


Comment by Joyce Showalter Rivera on January 29, 2012 at 10:07pm

I just love this sort of thing!  I think number one and number five are my favorites.  This might seem weird but it might be fun to  choose a day to focus on each of our senses... maybe one a day, Monday through Friday.  Somewhere along the way, I quite using my sense of smell... crazy but I did.    Makes me wonder how muted all my other senses are.

Comment by Jessica Vealitzek on January 11, 2012 at 5:53pm

I'd love to know how #5 originated. Does it refer to first dates? Does it only apply to dogs?

Comment by Jill Starishevsky on January 11, 2012 at 12:38pm

I am home now and found the book.  Thought I would share some of the entries added over the years.

1. Avoid theme restaurants.

2. Never buy reusable ice.

3. Do something adventurous at least once a week.

4. Tell people they are doing a great job.

5. When in doubt, pee.

Comment by Michele Tracy Berger on January 7, 2012 at 11:24am

Hi Jill,

Great tips--all meant to make us more mindful. I love #6 and #8. Thanks for sharing these tips!

Comment by Donna Lawrence on January 7, 2012 at 9:14am

Thanks, Jill! And thank you all for your contributions to this! I'll add to this, be thankful every day. Even when things get really challenging, it helps me to focus my thoughts for a moment on what I am thankful for. Whether it is a list or just one thing I'm thankful for, it gives me a lightness and mindfulness.

Comment by Kate Deeks on January 5, 2012 at 4:19pm

Eliminate hour of TV- love it.


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