Two hands opening a letter's wax seal

It was my junior year of high school, and I decided to begin a project where I would collect people’s answers to the question, “What is the best piece of advice you can give?” At first, I began with asking only relatives and friends, but as time went on, I decided to ask beyond my zip code.

I had always admired and respected Barbara Bush, and so I decided to send a letter down to Houston. All the while, I reminded myself to remain realistic and expect nothing in return as I had been recently turned down by Kate Middleton’s secretary, which was so kind that it didn’t feel like rejection.

A few weeks passed, and I forgot about the project entirely. When I reached my mailbox one afternoon, there was an envelope from Houston. I overlooked the return address and brought it inside carelessly, thinking it to be some sort of birthday card or update letter as the entirety of my dad’s side of the family lives in Houston.

When I reached the kitchen table, I began ripping the envelope open as my eyes met stationery that read, “Barbara Bush.” I was shocked. The former first lady had written me back her best pieces of life advice. More than that, she had taken time to handwrite the letter, which captured her kind character so evidently.

The former first lady had written me back her best pieces of life advice.

These are Barbara’s best pieces of advice that have hung on my wall and heart for the past five years. In hearing the news of the endlessly classy, witty and faithful former first lady’s passing back in 2018, I was filled with sorrow but so comforted to know I will always have her guiding words with me and decided I should not hold these words so tightly but share them with the rest of the world as well.

Thank you for your words of wisdom, Mrs. Bush. I’d like to hear the other 795 someday too.

Dear Brooke.

There are around 800 pieces of advice I could give you, but you already have some great advice.

1.  Most important maybe is to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

2. Never waste time holding a grudge. This is hard. To truly dislike someone—hate someone—only hurts the hater.

3. Never let a day go by without trying to help somebody—as small as a smile to a stranger, a hug, a nice phone call, reading to a child or giving unconditional love to a child or mentoring a child.

4. Don’t worry about things you can’t change.

5. Go 75% of the way in your relationships. I have been married to the world’s nicest, greatest man for 20 years so it is easy for me to say.

This is more than you wanted, just take what you want. Best wishes in your project!

Barbara Bush

A handwritten letter from former First Lady Barbara Bush

A handwritten letter from former First Lady Barbara Bush

What is the best life advice you have received? How did it impact you?

Image via Tony Li


  1. This was such a great post! Not only that, but it was such a great idea to reach out to wise people and seek out to learn from them. I feel like each of these hit me extremely hard, especially thinking that even though you think you know these lessons, that at her age she still thinks that these are her top 5 pieces of advice. xx

    Melina |

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