Print these out and share a thought per day with your child, perhaps at dinner or bedtime. Let it be a time of sharing and reflection.
1. Laugh with others, not at them. Even when people are really funny — clowns, for instance — laugh at them, of course, but always as a friend.
2. Why is it bad to tell lies? Because truth is powerful, but untruth has no power. Lies have only the strength of the human breath, but truth has the power of the wind. By telling lies, a person loses touch with that mightiness which is truth.
3. Never harm anyone. Each time anyone purposely hurts another living being, he also hurts himself. It’s like kicking a wall: You hurt your own foot. If, however, you can keep from even wanting to see others hurt, you’ll find that even strangers treat you as their friend.
4. Words spoken thoughtlessly have ruined many friendships. When you speak, choose words that will draw friends to you, not push them away or upset them. For words are like notes played on a trombone. To produce music, the notes you play must be well tuned.
5. If you want a person to do something, get him to want it, also. Don’t bounce on about how much you want it. If you want him to eat with you, talk about how good the food is, or how much you enjoy his company; don’t keep insisting on how hungry you are.
6. Anger wastes energy. Put the energy you’ve awakened by getting angry into improving, instead, what you think is wrong.
7. Speak the truth always. Be gentle, however, in your truthfulness. For truth is like a knife. It can inflict painful wounds, or be used to carve images that will help others, and inspire them.
8. Be kind to others; then even strangers will be kind to you.
9. Face the truth fearlessly, and accept it bravely. For truth always wins in the end.
10. Be always ready to say Yes: to others, and to Life itself. The wider you can open the doors of your mind, the brighter, happier, and more intelligent you’ll become.
11. Don’t be proud. Even your ability to walk, to breathe, and to think comes from the universe. It is not your own.
12. Whenever you hear people say, about a good idea, “It can’t be done,” ask yourself, “Why not?” If it’s a good thing, let no one tell you it’s impossible. Many people said that man would never land on the moon, but we landed there, didn’t we? What made it possible was that a few bold people told themselves, “It can be done!”
13. Respect age, but respect experience more. For it isn’t age that makes a person wise. Age simply means a person hasn’t died yet. Experience, and the openness to learn from that experience, are what give a person real understanding.
14. True courage is not blind stupidity. Stupidity is what it takes, for example, to jump off a diving board without first looking to see that there’s water in the pool. True courage means facing reality, and not wishing that inconvenient facts would somehow just disappear.
15. Don’t do a thing merely because your friends do it. Do it because you believe in it. Don’t be a dog, barking only because the other dogs in the neighborhood have started barking.
16. Behave in such a way that you feel right about yourself. Don’t leave it to others to feel right about you. People may smile at you approvingly, but often, then, they’ll walk away, and leave those smiles rusting like shovels in the rain.
17. Never fall back on the excuse, “But everybody’s doing it!” “Everybody” has no name. Seek the approval of true friends — those who really care about you, and who want your lasting happiness.
18. If you want others to look up to you, make sure, first, that they aren’t lying on their backs on the ground! Seek appreciation from those whose opinions you respect.
19. Cleverness doesn’t win in the end. Truth wins. Victories that are won by cleverness are like mist on a river, which disappears in the morning sunlight.
20. Life is more enjoyable when we like others than when we look down on them. The vulture flies high, but spends its time searching the ground for dead animals. Be like the hummingbird, which concentrates on brightly colored flowers and sweet fragrances.
21. Practice being happy; then everyone will seek your company.
22. The first step to victory is the thought, “I can succeed!” Cling to that belief as the water-skier clings to the rope that pulls him. There are no limits to the strength and intelligence you can develop, as a child of God.
23. Life is a bumpy parade of Ups and Downs, of successes and disappointments. Why bounce along on square wheels? Be like an eagle, soaring high above life’s hills and valleys. In your heart, be free!
24. Be cheerful always. No one will ever do your smiling for you.
25. Be energetic! Never tell yourself, “I am tired!” The more you accept that thought, the more exhausted you’ll become. But if you tell yourself, “I can do even more!” you’ll find that there are no limits to what you can accomplish.
26. When things happen to you, whether good or bad, stop for a moment; think what they mean. For there’s a purpose to life’s events, even if it’s only to teach you how to laugh more easily, or not to cry too hard.
27. When people ask you what you want to be when you grow up, tell them, “I want to be useful! I want to be happy and to make others happy. I want people to know that I’m their friend.”
28. Whatever you get back from life, whether laughter or tears, depends first of all on you: on how you look at things, and on how well you treat others. A river runs dry only if its water stops flowing at the source.
29. Life is like a mirror. When you feel gloomy, everything will look gloomy to you. When you feel happy, everything will look gay. People, too, are like mirrors to what you feel. If you want them to laugh with you, you be the one to laugh first. For if you frown, the chances are they’ll only frown right back.
30. Enjoy your victories, but then leave them behind you and walk on. If you enjoy them too long, you’ll only end up being their prisoner. Beyond every mountain climbed there’s another, higher one still waiting to be conquered.
31. Be good, but don’t be too good! Be serious, but not too serious! Have fun. Play. Enjoy life! The secret of living well is to live always with a happy heart.