“50 Ways I Can Improve Myself” – Advice From 100+ Years Ago

November 5, 2007

I am currently reading Jeffrey Gitomer’s The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching! (Affiliate Link), which is due out next Tuesday. I hope to have my review posted next Monday.

While reading the book I came across a list titled “50 Ways I Can Improve Myself.” The list was taken from a publication called The Primer, which was the sales manual for The National Cash Register Company (NCR) back in the early 20th Century. I thought the list was worth sharing because aside from some dated word choices, the ideas are still relevant today.


1. Simple food, quality, quantity.
2. Regularity in eating and sleep.
3. Masticate (means chew your food); leave table hungry.
4. We are a part of all we have eaten.
5. Exercise, five minutes, three times daily.
6. Air — most important.
7. Sunlight, artificial light.
8. Water inside and outside.
9. Loose clothing.
10. Early to sleep; get plenty.


1. Think sanely.
2. Learn from mental superiors.
3. Learn to listen attentively.
4. Read best newspapers and books.
5. Improve the memory.
6. Concentrate.
7. Don’t worry unnecessarily.
8. Be systematic.
9. Weigh both sides.
10. Avoid inferior minds.


1. Right is right, wrong is wrong.
2. Be truthful.
3. Ignore precedent if wrong.
4. Seek elevating recreation.
5. Don’t deceive yourself.
6. Learn to say “no.”
7. Live up to your principles.
8. Avoid temptation.
9. Form good habits.
10. Have a constitution.


1. Increase my earnings.
2. Decrease unnecessary expense.
3. Save money, U.S. Postal Bank.
4. Money makes money.
5. Invest — don’t gamble.
6. Make family budget.
7. Hard work.
8. Study the business.
9. Pay cash for everything.
10. Increase credit balance.


1. Avoid bad associates.
2. Select helpful friends.
3. Think alone.
4. Learn to be happy alone.
5. Family best company.
6. Work out, alone, my problems.
7. Avoid so-called society.
8. Entertain economically.
9. Stand well with neighbors.
10. Do some welfare work.

20 responses to “50 Ways I Can Improve Myself” – Advice From 100+ Years Ago

  1. Excellent List(maybe some tweaking on the amount of exercise and sunlight point), but I love it. Simple and to the point.

  2. It’s amazing how time-tested some of these principles are. Intelligence works, no matter what century you’re in!

  3. This reminds me of Ben Franklin’s rules.

    I love the “have a constitution” point.

  4. I like “Work out, alone, my problems”. To many people today run to someone else (a friend, Therapist, etc…) to complain about their problems, instead of trying to work it out themselves.

  5. Great find JLP. I believe strongly in continuous, incremental improvement. This is a great list of actionable items. As John Dewey said, “The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.”

  6. “Pay cash for everything.” I love that! We’ve gone so far from that ideal with our debt-ridden society.

  7. Exercise that little, you might as well not waste all the time and effort to save for retirement, because you won’t make it that long.

  8. Don’t harp on the exercise. 5 minutes 3 times a day might well be better than 15 minutes 1 time a day. I am certain that I read a study in the last year or two that suggested that a small bit of vigorous exercise (like brisk stairs) a few times a day was better at keeping arteries clear of plaque than longer bouts less frequently.

  9. I wouldn’t fret about the 5 minutes of exercise three times a day. I’d bet that people who 100 years ago were considered sedentary would be considered active now!

  10. I think this list pretty much sums it all up. It
    ‘s amazing how priciples from 100+ years ago still apply today. Like not conforming to so-caled society. If the author of this list really knew the impact of society and how bad its influence has gotten…I think one more would be added for modern times: Throw out the TV or never get one in the first place!

  11. I agree 100% with all but the “work out, alone, my problems” .
    Tell a trusted person about the problem…not everyone of course and don’t just complain. This is very important because: Hearing another perspective is vital to understanding one’s own, explaining it to someone will help you understand the situation better and perhaps most important….if no one knows you have a problem, no one can help you. The final decision must be yours, but other people can be extremely useful in getting to the best decision. Include them!

  12. seed me mails.thank you.

  13. Dear
    It’s a amazing nd powerful methods which r told u in this site. Really i m very impressed from u only just by read. When i m going to implement on these methods i m sure i will be a new one/change myself.so thanks a lot for these amazing tips


  14. I think I will agree that we have to invest., not only by investing money. “Investing is something that you are planning and establishing good things wherein you will benefit in the future”. This is very important in the sense that, not all people has been given the opportunity to do it.

  15. yeah you have to invest in your future

  16. it is good to see if you have been overpaying on payment protection insurance or PPI you can claim this money back if you have been mis sold

  17. amazing list. I think that’s all i need to be successful

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