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Aphorisms_On_Wisdom

Introduction

In 2013 I completed a new translation from the Spanish into English of Baltasar Gracian's classic book of advice The Art Of Worldly Wisdom. This has always been one of my favorite books, but I was never entirely satisfied with the available translations, so that is why I decided to do my own translation. While I was doing it, however, it occurred to me that there were some of Gracian's 300 aphorisms that could quite reasonably be left out because they didn't any longer seem particularly important or relevant, and also some just essentially repeat what he has said in some other aphorism. There were also some things that he didn't say which I felt he would have said if he were writing his book today. So I decided to do a modern version of his book of aphorisms. This is one of the drafts of it.


500 Aphorisms On Wisdom

A lot of situations have a clever side and a stupid side. Make sure you are on the clever side in any situation. For example, watching television is stupid, but working in television is not. Playing computer games is a waste of time, but building up a company that creates and sells computer games is a clever thing to do. Get yourself on the clever, productive, active, profitable side - the side on which all the worthwhile benefits accrue.

Accept favors so graciously that the person granting you the favor wishes they had granted you a greater one and looks forward to granting you more in the future.

Accept full responsibility for your life. Things will happen to you that you have not caused, but you are still responsible for how you react to what happens to you. You might not be able to control other people but you can control how you deal with them. Be responsible for your thoughts, feelings, words, behavior and actions. Success comes from taking responsibility for making the greatest impact on the lives of the greatest number of people. The more you want from life, the more people you must become responsible for serving, satisfying, influencing or controlling. This is an unavoidable part of being successful.

Achieve financial independence. This should be your first goal in life. Often it's not the love of money that makes people do bad things but rather the lack of money. First make sure you are not poor. Get positive cash flow. Get other people's money. Get as much of it as possible passing through your hands and then keep hold of as much of that money for yourself as you reasonably can. Avoid debt. Get enough unearned income to be able to live without working, then you can work because you want to, not because you have to. Money should be coming to you even while you sleep. Wealth gives you freedom and choices. With wealth you can be where you want to be, have what you want to have, do what you want to do and be with the people you want to be with. In other words, you can live the way you want to live. Money lets you to be the person you really are. Get rich by making money, not by saving money. Losers think about how they can spend less. Winners think about how they can make more money. Although money isn't everything, everything involves money. Some people insist that it is more important to have good health than to have money, but they seem to fail to realize that life doesn't involve choosing between having one or the other. Whether your health is good or bad, it is better to have money than not to have it.

Act on the basis of facts, not opinions or guesses.

Be diligent and intelligent. Diligence promptly makes happen what intelligence has decided should be done, but it does so without haste. Hurry is the failing of fools. They don't know what they should be doing and they set to work without preparation. Haste will never get them where they want to go because they are always heading in the wrong direction. The wise, on the other hand, are more likely to fail from being too cautious and thinking too long.

Action ends doubt - for better or worse.

Activity is not the same as achievement. The world is full of busy fools. It is the results you achieve that count, not the efforts you make. Do not expend more energy than is necessary to achieve the results you want.

Adapt your behavior to the company you are in. People like to be with people who are like themselves, who share their values and characteristics and who generally fit in comfortably with them. It can even be a good idea to adapt your mood to your companions' moods, being genial or serious as appropriate. Be learned with the learned and saintly with the saintly. What it might be a good idea to say to one person, it can be a bad idea to say to another. Different people are suited to different styles of conversation. Follow the lead of the most important people around you. This is especially worthwhile, and even necessary, if you depend on those people in some way. It requires subtlety to change yourself in this way without it being noticed.

Adapt yourself to the world rather than try to adapt it you. Many people complain about life and say that if it were different, they could be successful. Make yourself different if you want to be successful.

Aim not so much for perfection but to do the best that you can do.

Behave with good grace whatever the circumstances. If you have to disagree with someone, at least do it in an agreeable way.

All people would be tyrants if they could. Only fear prevents them from being nasty to other people. Watch out for people who aren't constrained by fear or who believe they are in a situation where they have the power to behave as they wish.

All that counts with any ideas you have is, if you put them into effect, do they lead to you getting the results you want?

You can control your mind, and your mind can control your body. Ultimately that is all you have to work with, but it is enough for you to get all that you want from life. When you realize that everything about your existence stems from what you do with your mind, life becomes much simpler and easier to understand and control.

Always be selling something, even if it is only yourself. People who think they can live without selling something forget that they must at the very least sell themselves in one way or another to other people in order to get what they want and need.

Always be working to a plan. You should plan out your whole life. A goal without a plan behind it is just a wish. Even with a plan it will remain just a wish if you do not put the plan into effect. Plan what you will do and then do what you have planned. Be prepared to alter a plan if it is necessary to achieve your goals. Ideas are worth nothing until made manifest in some physical, material form. To accomplish great things you must plan well and then act well. Reject any plan that cannot be summarized clearly, accurately and succinctly. Plan for opportunities that may come your way and plan for problems that may beset you. Always know exactly what you want, be thinking about how to get it, and be actively trying to get it. Always know why you're doing what you're doing.

Appear open, but be secretive, especially with information about yourself and about your goals and intentions. Only disclose something if you have no choice or if it helps you get what you want.

Approach new things cautiously. Anything new can be inconsequential, an opportunity, or a danger, so be prepared to ignore, to flee or to seize any advantages a new situation offers and to exploit them to the fullest. Life-changing events often happen unexpectedly, so be prepared for anything, either good or bad. Trouble cannot be avoided entirely but you should take steps to protect yourself from the consequences of sudden disaster and mishap.

Arouse no exaggerated expectations when you enter into a new situation. Don't give other people cause to have high expectations of you. This way you will not disappoint people if you only perform adequately, and you will surprise them if you perform well.

If you want to manipulate people, it helps to arouse strong emotions in them. For example, a classic trick of politicians is to frighten the populace with an imaginary threat from a supposed enemy, and then say to the people that they can get rid of the threat if the people give up some of their rights and freedoms and do as the politicians tell them. Strong emotions drive out rational thought and put people in a state where they can be induced to do what they would not otherwise do.

Arrange your life so that you can, if you choose, be independent, self-contained and self-sufficient. Be such that you are beholden to no one and need depend on no one other than yourself and you can get by entirely on your own resources.

If you can't manage 'the middle way', asceticism is better than indulgence. It clears your mind, frees up your time, and allows you to focus on achieving your goals.

Ask for what you want. It's surprising how often this direct approach, made to the right person at the right time in the right way, will get you what you want. There is no need to ask for what you can take or do anyway. Ask timidly and you invite a refusal.

Assume that all people are bad or would be prepared to do something bad if they thought it necessary or in their own best interests, so long as they thought they could get away with it. If you think like this you will not be surprised when people do turn out to be bad, or you will be pleasantly surprised when they turn out to be good.

Even if you are immoral or amoral, you should appear to have the morals that society expects of, or forces on, its citizens. If you are going to be unconventional, you should dress, behave and speak as conventionally as possible when in public. If you are going to be bad, look good. The worse you are, the more respectable you should appear.

Attempt easy tasks as if they were difficult, and difficult ones as if they were easy. It is easy to slip up if we believe something will present us with no problems, and it is easy to be deterred by tasks that seem daunting, so we must adopt the right approach to achieve our ends. For a thing not to be done, it is only necessary to imagine that we have already accomplished it. Big undertakings should not be brooded over in case we should feel overwhelmed by the difficulties that lie ahead of us. Do difficult tasks first, then the easy tasks. Once you have accomplished the first difficult task, you will not hesitate or worry about tackling the remaining tasks. The same applies to disagreeable duties. Get the first unpleasant act out of the way and it will make the others seem not nearly so bad to do.

Avoid affectation. The more capable you are, and the greater your integrity, the less need there is for any affectation. Be as natural as you can be. The natural is always more pleasing than the artificial. A person who affects to have certain qualities is likely to be suspected of not having them.

Avoid alcohol yourself, but give it to other people if you want to hear the truth or you want the other person to be easier to manipulate. Alcohol makes people honest but at the wrong time and with the wrong people. It impairs their judgment and reduces their inhibitions. It is a treacherous friend against whom you should be on your guard. All excess is wrong but drunkenness is particularly bad. Drunkenness is a sort of voluntary madness. Drugs too should of course be avoided, but unlike alcohol they should be avoided entirely.

Avoid becoming disliked. There is no occasion to seek dislike because it comes anyway of its own accord. There will always be some people who dislike you no matter how well you behave. Pay respect to others if you want others to respect you. In practice it doesn't matter if people dislike you or disapprove of you so long as they can't connect with you either to tell you their opinion of you or to harm or hurt you in any way or cause you to suffer some loss.

Avoid competing. You do not want to run the risk of not winning. Competition brings out the worst in people and your competitors may wage a dishonorable war against you, doing things against you that would be better not done, and disclosing things that you would prefer to keep covered up. Abuse and belittling are natural acts on the part of rivals. Why open yourself up to such treatment? If you do come out on top, you may have made enemies who will seek revenge against you. Also if possible avoid debating and arguing over anything important. Debates are often won by the loudest voice, not by the best argument. Shouted nonsense can drown out quiet reason. You may have right on your side but you may still lose. Seek out situations where you can impose your views and your will without opposition or discussion. If you are sure you have a competitive advantage, then perhaps you can compete. Avoid any form of conflict unless it is the only way you will have a chance of getting what you want.

Avoid being over-familiar with anyone or letting anyone be over-familiar with you. Familiarity diminishes respect and encourages impudence. To be over-familiar with superiors is dangerous and may cause you to be put in your place or to be banished. If you allow inferiors to be over-familiar with you, you open the door to insolence. They will imagine that you are acknowledging that they are your equal.

Don't fantasize. Don't indulge in make-believe. Avoid what is not real. Keep your imagination under control. For some people it always shows them what can go wrong if they act, for others it promises easy success and happiness. The imagination should only be used to create possible courses of action and to role-play in your mind what could happen if you took those courses of action. It is not a realm you should dwell in. Live in the real world.

Avoid the outpourings of the media. What the media feeds people is at best irrelevant and at worst false and misleading. Don't allow others to pour words and sounds and images into your mind. Don't voluntarily pour such things into your mind by constantly listening to music or watching television or films or playing games or spending hours on the internet. Focus on getting meaningful, worthwhile things flowing into your life, and productive activity flowing out from you to other people, connecting you with them in a positive, mutually beneficial way.

Generally, avoid putting anything in writing unless you absolutely have to.

Avoid situations and actions that could give you something to worry about. Worrying is a pointless activity anyway. In a bad or difficult situation the only sensible thing to do is to think about what options are open to you to improve the situation, then choose the best one and put it into effect.

Avoid the faults of your nation. There is not a nation even among the most civilized that has not some faults peculiar to itself. If you can correct such national failings in yourself, or even just hide them, you will get credit for being unique among the people of your country. There are also family failings, and failings associated with particular jobs and with being a particular age. If all these faults come together, you have an absolute monster. Recognize all such failings and get rid of them.

Avoid victories over your superiors. All victories breed hate, but a victory over one of your superiors is foolish and possibly fatal. People dislike having people trying to be superior to them, and to try to be superior to your superiors is to ask to be punished. If you have unavoidable advantages, such as good looks or intelligence, play them down so that they are not too obvious. Adopt careless attire, feign ignorance on occasions. Your superiors may allow you to help them, but they don't want you to excel them. Any advice you tender them should appear as if you are reminding them of something they have forgotten rather than telling them something they have been unable to work out for themselves. Generally, don't offer help or advice unless asked.

Exclude from your life everything and everyone that doesn't make a positive contribution to it or that isn't a necessary part of it. Definitely get rid of anyone and anything that has a negative impact on your life or is holding you back from developing and progressing.

Be a solid person, a person of substance. Do not be lightweight and insignificant, forever altering with changing times and circumstances. Be what you appear to be.

Be able to forget. This is more a matter of luck than of ability, but you can train your mind to leave the past alone. Unfortunately nothing seems to fix a thing so firmly in the memory as the wish to forget it. The things we remember best are the things that would be best forgotten. Memory can be unruly, leaving us in the lurch when we need it most, and recalling painful things while forgetting pleasurable things. Memory can make existence either heaven or hell. Better that you should forget and smile than that you should remember and be sad. A bad memory is as good as a clear conscience, although of course the safest way to have a clear conscience is to do nothing that one would not wish to remember or to have known by other people.

Be able to stomach big slices of luck - either good or bad. This shows that you have a great capacity for coping with life. Big slices of luck do not embarrass a person who can cope with still bigger ones. Don't let success go to your head or failure get you down. Recognize when things are going in your favor and when they are not. There is much chance and luck in life. When things are not going in your favor, withdraw or temporarily cease what you are doing and wait for the situation to change. When fortune favors you, push on wholeheartedly and make the most of all opportunities presented to you.

Be an order-giver, not an order-taker. Make things happen, don't just let things happen to you.

Be as attractive as possible in looks, manners, words and deeds. Mix with other attractive people. Have an occupation and status such that people want to be connected to you. Behave in such a way that people feel goodwill towards you.

Be aware that people's principles go out of the window when there is something of value at stake. Be prepared for bad and out-of-character behavior.

Generally when people say, “I'm doing this as a matter of principle,” principle is the last thing they're concerned about. They are more likely to be after some personal gain or out to get revenge and retribution for some personal loss or some slight that they perceive themselves to have suffered.

Be consistent, dependable and considerate with your friends but be unpredictable with your enemies. Give them no warning as to what you will do next. Disassociate yourself from any friends who associate with your enemies.

Be cultured. It is culture that raises us above the beasts and the lower types of people. Know about elegant and sophisticated things. Be refined in looks, words, deeds and in your tastes. Taste can be cultivated and improved in the same way that the intellect is improved - by associating with people who are above one's current level.

Be cynical in your thoughts but not in your speech. Cynics are generally right in their views, but because many people have a naïvely benign and optimistic view of life, such people resent those who do not share their delusions. They do not want to be disillusioned and to face up to the way life really is. Don't trouble them. Leave them to their fantasies.

Be daring but be prudent. Be bold. Plan carefully. Then act vigorously, pushing on until you have achieved your goals. Don't vacillate. People will often make way for the person who boldly pushes past them, and the world stands aside to let those people pass who seem to know where they are going. If you don't feel confident, force yourself to pretend to be confident until your confidence catches up with what you are doing and who you have become. Two essential steps to becoming successful are not only to want to be successful but also to believe that you can be successful. Often a confident person with less ability achieves more in life than a more able person with less confidence can achieve. In order to win, you must expect to win. You must believe that you can and will get what you want. Expect little, or expect to lose, and you will get just what you expect. Belief and confidence are paramount.

Be diplomatic. A diplomat can make a 'no' sound like a 'yes', and a refusal seems to hold out the hope of being offered something better in the future. You should refuse immediately what you intend to deny anyway, unless by holding back the refusal you aim to keep your supplicant in a state of hope that will force them to behave in a way that pleases you. Diplomacy combines politeness and charm with social adroitness and businesslike negotiation. Blunt truths cause more harm than well-chosen falsehoods, so white lies must be told when the occasion demands, and a little inaccuracy can sometimes save a lot of explanation.

Be enthusiastic in the things you do. If you do not feel enthusiastic, why are you doing them? Be fully absorbed in what you are doing. Do only one thing at a time. Focus all your attention on it, complete it, and then move on to the next task that needs doing.

Be genial and congenial. Affability, within reason, is disarming. But do not be too friendly or familiar, and do not be undignified. There are occasions when a witty remark can get you out of an awkward situation. Some things must be taken as a jest even if they are meant in earnest. When you have to refuse something, often the politest way is to change the topic of conversation. Sometimes it can prove the highest understanding to seem not to understand. To be calm and unruffled under provocation or when in an awkward situation is attractive and reassuring to others. Never show embarrassment or annoyance. Cope good-naturedly with everything life brings your way. Have a sense of humor. If you don't, you put yourself at the mercy of those who do. Be careful when trying to be amusing, however. There is usually both truth and malice in humor, and neither will necessarily be appreciated by the person you are talking to. Don't always be trying to make people laugh, or be laughing yourself, otherwise you may be written off as a joker and someone who is not to be taken seriously. Laughter is generally vulgar. An amused smile is usually sufficient.

Be in sympathy with the people you want to be like. Like the things they like. Try to do the things they do and speak and behave the way they speak and behave. Share their opinions. Eventually you will come to think like them. Then you will be one of them.

Be in the places and with the people that help you to become as successful as possible in terms of achievement, status and happiness.

Be like a swan, seeming to be effortlessly superior, but keeping out of sight all the activity and hard work that enables you to appear so superior. If you cannot always be superior to others, you can at least try to be superior to your former self.

Be more careful not to miss once than to hit your target a hundred times. This is especially so in serious matters that have serious consequences. It is better to do nothing than to make a mistake. Our good deeds and correct actions may go unreported, but an error or misdeed is likely to be talked about immediately and incessantly. And if our mistake causes us harm or loss, we suffer doubly. So have no careless days. Fate likes to try to catch us unawares. Therefore our intelligence, prudence, courage, and even our looks, must always be ready to be tried.

Be organized, with your thoughts, your actions, your possessions, with your whole life. Being organized shows that you are thinking about and controlling your life. If you let your life be disorganized you will waste your time coping with chaos instead of getting on with doing the things that are important. Even when major changes are taking place in your life, you should still preserve order in it.

Be part of the controlling minority. A minority lead the majority by the nose, gathering to itself money, power and status. Most of life's worthwhile advantages accrue to those in this minority, so aim to be a member of it, not of the dominated majority.

Be patient and work diligently while you wait for and seek out opportunities.

Be prepared to change your mind and your actions if it is necessary or it will improve your chances of getting what you want. To change your life you must change your actions, and to change your actions you must change your thoughts.

Be resolute. Be determined. Bad execution of your designs does less harm than irresolution in forming them and then doing all you can to implement them. Be firm of purpose and clear about exactly what it is you are trying to achieve. Quantify your goals so you can tell if you are achieving them. Good ideas are common but what is uncommon are people who can put their ideas into effect. Of course there will be difficulties, but you have to find a way to deal with them. Wise people have clear judgment and a determination that makes them ideal candidates for being successful and holding the highest positions in life. Their intelligence tells them where to insert the thin end of the wedge and their resolve enables them to drive it home. They complete tasks quickly and as soon as they have done one thing they move on to the next.

Always be working on achieving some goal. Be focused on achieving it. Unless it becomes obvious and certain that you have chosen a goal that for you is unattainable, refuse to give up on it. If you have to abandon a goal, choose your next goal, but only after greater research, thought and self-knowledge than you exercised previously. Then immediately start working to attain your new goal. Most people aren't successful for the simple reason that they never attempt to become successful. Make the effort. But while trying to get what you want, enjoy to the full what you currently have. Don't be so focused on your future that you forget to enjoy the present. Having goals helps you to overcome present problems. To succeed in anything you must want it very much and you must be prepared to pay the price necessary to obtain it. The more you want, the more sacrifices you must make. Action is the key to all success. To be successful on a significant scale, take positive, massive, purposeful action.

Be reticent in speaking. Be cautious with what you say. Your words reveal much about you to other people, including your attitudes, abilities, intentions and resources. They allow people to form a judgment about you and perhaps even to plan how to manipulate you or sabotage you. So avoid talking about yourself. Don't risk giving away potentially useful or damaging information. Let other people talk. You may learn something to your advantage. A good conversationalist is one who lets the other person do most of the talking. Fools talk because they have to say something whereas the wise talk because they have something worth hearing. The wise can say a great deal in a few words. If we say little it is easy to add more later, but having said too much it is impossible to withdraw our words. Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words and in the plainest possible language.

Be ruthless. If you really want something, do absolutely whatever is necessary to get it. If you can not get it the way you want, get it the way you can.

Be selectively accessible. You don't want the people who don't interest you to be able to reach you, but you need to have a clear way for the people you regard as desirable to be able to get you. But do not be unsociable. A certain amount of general mixing with others is sometimes necessary to find the people you want from amongst the people you don't want. With those you have selected as being of potential interest and use, you should be pleasant, friendly and accessible.

Be slow to swop old friends and lovers for new ones. Be sure that you are not making a change for the worse. Once you have abandoned someone you are unlikely to be able to get them back, at least not on the same terms. If you are certain that you can replace the current people in your life with better people, get on and do it.

Be faultless, or at least appear to be so. Make it seem as if you have no weaknesses or failings, and that you have never done anything seriously wrong. This is more a matter of concealing things than really being impeccable. Do not talk about your weaknesses and failings. It enables enemies and rivals to discover how they can hurt or manipulate you. Weakness is more likely to invite ill-treatment from others than their compassion. Reputation depends more on what is hidden than on reality. It is unwise to expose one's failings even to a friend.

The first unavoidable step towards self-improvement is to recognize our failings. We see our own faults in others and dislike them, so that shows us how dislikeable our faults must appear to other people. It is as important to remove our weaknesses as to improve our strengths. One slight defect amongst any number of good qualities can be enough to render us completely undesirable in the eyes of others.

Be able to understand when people are hinting to you what you should or shouldn't do. Some people speak subtly, and therefore your understanding must be equally subtle.

Be trustworthy. Be honorable. There are whole nations inclined to false dealing. With some, treachery has always to be feared, with others it is breach of promise, with others it is deceit. But such bad behavior should rather be a warning to us than an example. However, neither an unconsidered promise nor a mistaken resolution should be regarded as binding if they would lead to you seeming foolish or suffering unacceptable consequences. Act only with honorable people. You can trust them and they you. Their honor is the best surety of their behavior even if there should be misunderstandings, for they always act with a regard to maintaining their reputation. It is better to have a dispute with honorable people than to have a victory over dishonorable characters. Never contend with someone who has nothing to lose. The other person enters into conflict with you without any anxiety. Having nothing, they fear no loss. They can therefore resort to all kinds of bad behavior and dirty tricks. Don't expose your good reputation to such risks. If you do risk your honor and reputation, do it only when you are involved with someone who has honor and reputation at least equal to yours and that is equally at risk in the situation. In matters where secrecy is vital, arrange that silence is to everyone's mutual advantage and that disclosure of what should be kept secret would be equally damaging to you all.

Be wary about giving or receiving advice. To seek advice does not lessen your greatness or argue incapacity, but you must be careful from whom you take advice. Only take advice from people who have achieved what you want to achieve or who have experienced what you are experiencing. A failure cannot give you advice on how to be successful (although they can perhaps give you advice on what not to do if you don't want to be a failure). Opinions are worthless if they aren't based on knowledge and experience. There is little point in discussing something with someone who has no practical knowledge of the subject under discussion. Generally don't give other people advice. Advice is usually unwanted, ignored or rejected. If you give advice and it is acted on and it fails to produce the desired results, you will be disliked. If it produces the desired results, you are unlikely to get gratitude, just resentment for your good sense.

Be wary of doing good for people. If you grant favors and then at some point cease granting those favors, you will not get gratitude for your past kindness, you will merely be disliked for no longer being generous. What is called gratitude is often just the hope of getting more benefits in the future.

Be wary of the opinions of so-called experts. Ten experts may have ten different opinions on a matter. They can't all be right, and indeed they may all be wrong.

Aim to be the person you want to be and to live the life you want to live. It's easy to say but difficult to do, but it’s the goal to aim for.

Be without emotion. Be rational. Never take decisions or take action when you are in the grip of passion. Wisdom reveals itself by firmness of mind and mastery of emotion. Wise people are not affected by transient and low impulses. There is no higher rule than that over oneself and over one's impulses. This is the way to avoid mistakes and scandals, and it there should be some mishap it is the shortest way of regaining a previously good reputation. What rational thinking and sensible behavior has spent a long time building up, passion can destroy in a moment. Keep away from anything that could in any way be regarded as scandalous.

Be, then do, then have. Sort yourself out as a person first. Then do the things that a person of that sort normally does. Then you will find that into your life will come the people and possessions that a person like you deserves.

Bearing a grudge only hurts you, not the person against whom you hold the grudge. It is worse than pointless. It is counter-productive.

Before committing yourself to a course of action, test how well it will be received and how likely you are to succeed in achieving your aims. Don't just rush into a new situation. Enter with caution, observation and deliberation. Be on the lookout for danger as well as for opportunity. It is better to find out early on whether things are likely to turn out as well as you hope and expect, or whether you should stop or even withdraw. By doing so you not only avoid failure but you avoid being seen to set off along an unwise path. This approach should be applied to all things - to relationships, work, business, everything. Dip a toe into the water to test it. Don't just jump in and hope everything will be alright.

Before you ask, “Can it be done?” ask, “Is it worth doing?”

Only do more than is required of you in your work if you believe it will lead your superiors to promote you to a higher position. Be aware, however, that they might just keep you where you are but expect your better-than-required work performance to become the new norm for your job, in which case you will have increased your workload without gaining any compensating benefits.

Before you enter a situation, plan your exit. In business, work, relationships, indeed any serious situation, you should make sure you have at least one acceptable way of getting out, and preferably you should have several different advantageous ways of getting out.

Behave as if you are the person you want to be until you grow into being that person. Believe that you are already that person. See yourself in your own mind behaving and living as you would if you had already achieved your goals. See yourself taking the steps that you need to take to achieve all the goals you want to achieve.

Being subtly humorous with another person is a good way of testing how bright they are and what sort of personality they have. Do they spot your humor or don't they? If they do, how do they respond? Response to humor can reveal much about another person.

If you become successful it will give you more freedom to express your opinions and have them listened to and considered seriously by other people.

Being with the public is pointless. You should aim only to be with people you want to be with. You should know who you want to be with and why you want to be with them. The public are people that you haven’t selected, so why would you want to be with them? Of course you can’t avoid them completely but you can at least minimize the amount of contact you have with them. Behave civilly but have a certain coolness and keep a certain distance. Use your time and concentrate your attention on finding and forming relationships with those people who are appropriate for you in terms of their attractiveness and usefulness. Ignore everyone else.

Better to be a living, healthy coward than a dead or crippled hero.

Better to be entirely ignorant of a matter than only to half know it or to understand it wrongly.

Better to be envied than ignored.

Better to get faint praise from the elite than to receive the rapturous applause of the masses. If you find yourself being praised by the wrong sort of people, you are doing something wrong. Only the praise of the good, the wise and the successful is worth having.

Better to get rid of a problem completely than to try to solve it.

Beware of entering high office if there was a great predecessor in the position before you. Ideally you should surpass your predecessor, and if you are later succeeded by someone new, it is good if your successor is such that it causes people to wish that you were still in office.

Beware of promises. Avoid making them. Avoid asking for. Don't depend on them being fulfilled. Say that you will try to do something or that it is your intention to do something, and that is all. Don't rely on other people's promises. Some people promise the earth but it turns out they deliver only wind. Those who promise much are not to be believed. The smallest actual good is better than the most magnificent promise of what never comes to be. If you make a promise you are binding yourself unnecessarily, and quite possibly it will be to your great inconvenience or even disadvantage.

The wise person and the fool may do the same thing. The difference lies in the time that they that thing. The one does it at the right time, the other at the wrong time. The wise person sees at once what must be done sooner or later and so does it willingly straightaway. The fool sees it too late and does it too late. Circumstances change whether you like it or not, so you must take the initiative and change things so you have a chance to make them the way you want rather than wait and have changes forced upon you that may not suit you or be too your liking.

Care about your own world, not the whole world. Don’t concern yourself with what doesn’t concern you. Mind your own business and get on with being what you are meant to be. All you really need to concern yourself with is what you are doing now and what you will do in the future. This isn’t as selfish as it sounds because to have a good life you must naturally do things for and with other people, and these things should be pleasant, interesting, profitable and mutually beneficial. Therefore your thoughts about your own actions will necessarily take other people into account. This approach then turns out to be quite the opposite of being selfish. Resist having opinions about things that are irrelevant to your life. The only opinions you really need to have are those concerning your own behavior, anything to do with your work, and what sort of life you want and how you can get it. There is no real need to have opinions on anything else. Your opinions should be based on knowledge and reasoning. Don't acquire useless knowledge. Make sure you don't need help yourself before you start thinking about helping others. Get your own life sorted out before you indulge in the vanity of trying to solve the world’s problems.

Don't let others impose themselves and their demands on you against your will, when you have the power to say no to them, and when it is in no way in your interest to let them make a particular imposition on you. Likewise don't waste the time of your friends and of other people you have some sort of relationship with. Do not make unnecessary requests of them, or trouble them with troubles that you should be resolving yourself.

Wisdom largely consists of eliminating nonessentials and focusing on essentials.

Turn a blind eye to things that it's in no way to your advantage to notice.

Nothing is of any consequence if it doesn't, and won't, produce some material impact on you or your life.

Change the way you look at and approach the things you want until the things you want start to want you.

You need character and understanding. If you have one without the other you will get only halfway to success and happiness.

Choose someone who is the sort of person you want to be, then emulate them. It is impractical and not sensible to try to imitate them exactly because you can never make all the circumstances of your life the same as theirs, and because you have your own character you must necessarily differ somewhat in how you do the things they do. You should never idolize anyone, but to use them as a role model to emulate is a very constructive thing to do. You need to know exactly what sort of person you want to be. You should achieve similar results to your role model. Never feel envy. It shows a mean spirit. Generous spirits are spurred on by seeing people who have achieved what they themselves want to achieve. Try to mix with the sort of people you want to be like. Whoever you mix with, some of their qualities will rub off on you. Therefore you need to mix with people whose qualities you want to have. With time you will naturally tend to become like them. Surround yourself with people who are going to encourage and enable you to improve and develop. Cultivate relationships with those who can teach you. If you don’t yet know any successful people whom you can emulate, start by looking at the unsuccessful people around you and do the exact opposite of what they do. Similarly, if you are not currently getting what you want from life, try doing the exact opposite of what you are now doing. Generally avoid doing what the mass of people do. Remember it is better to be alone than in bad company.

Choose well. Life is a game of choices. Those who choose best succeed most. Recognize the options open to you and put into effect the one that is the best or the least bad. Choices, decisions, actions, consequences - these are the things you have to get right to be successful and happy.

Select your friends carefully. All the people in your life should be there for a good reason. Don't let people into your life without knowing what benefits you want from them and what you will have to do for them in return. This applies even to family members. If you weren't related to them, would you want them in your life? If not, don't let them in. Keep them out. The worst people to have in your life are those who have the same failings and problems as yourself. Relationships should not be regarded as permanent. They are worthwhile only for as long as they are worthwhile. When they cease to be so, they should be allowed to fade out. It is prudent, however, to keep the door open for relationships to be resumed in case circumstances, or people, should change.

Clever young people set about making their fortune and advancing socially while their less smart friends are still doing childish things. It is never too soon in life to start getting on with what matters in adult life. Do as many things as you can while you are young because when you are older you may not have the opportunity, energy, ability or inclination to do them. Your mind and your body grow and then decay together, so therefore as early in life as you can, when your abilities are growing rather than declining, you should aim both to establish yourself financially and socially sufficiently well to carry you through the rest of your life, and to do the things that you will not be able to do when older.

Confidence rarely returns to a mind it has departed from, so avoid situations, events and actions that might result in such severe shame or failure that you could lose your confidence forever.

Make meaningful, beneficial connections with worthwhile people. As the old saying has it, it's not what you know, it's who you know that gets you on in life. Connect as an equal, not as an inferior, at least in terms of friendship if not in terms of status or wealth, with the highest status, richest, most talented, most successful, most useful people you can, and connect with as many of such people as you can.

Consider carefully, then act. Do not be impulsive. Take calculated risks. Before you act, calculate risks and opportunities, costs and benefits, upside and downside. Always limit the downside risk as much as possible and make the upside potential as unlimited as possible. Whatever is the worst that can possibly happen, it should be acceptable to you. You want potential gains that are significant. Any potential losses should be bearable. Plan for the possible, not just the probable. Make sure all possible consequences of your action are acceptable to you, then go ahead and act.

Control your life, or other people will control it for you. To achieve this it is essential to have absolute self-control and self-discipline. Without these things you can achieve nothing, except by chance. You must conquer yourself before you can conquer others. There is no greater victory than to be victorious over yourself. Willpower is the first and greatest power. All other power you may have will be derived from having, steely, determined, unyielding willpower. Govern yourself if you don't want to be governed either by others or by your own uncontrolled thoughts and emotions.

Be independent, self-reliant, and able to depend on your own resources.

Create a feeling of obligation towards you in other people. You can do this bestowing on them fine deeds, but also sometimes just by bestowing on them fine words

Create something that will outlast you. The nearest we can get to being immortal is to create things that live on after we have gone. To be a creator, be it of children, businesses, social groups, artistic works, buildings, or indeed anything that can endure beyond our own lifespan is perhaps the most important and wonderful thing we can do in life.

If you criticize, you merely invite criticism back in return. Don't criticize something you don't have the power to change, and if you have the power to change something you don't like, don't criticize it, change it.

Cut your losses when you are in a losing situation. Face up to what is happening and stop doing what you're doing.

Debt destroys. The lender possesses the debtor. And if you lend money to someone, they become your secret enemy, reluctantly paying you back, or breaking off their relationship with you so they don't have to pay you back. Don't borrow, don't lend, and make sure everyone understands that this is your unvarying stance.

Demand a great deal from life, and as you get more and more, go on to demand yet more. Don't become complacent when you have some success. Instead let success spur you on to take on even greater challenges and achieve even greater things. Set a goal, achieve it, set another goal, and never stop. It is our goals that motivate us. If you are pursuing the right goals, difficulties should not discourage you, but instead they should spur you on and strengthen your determination to succeed.

Destroy the evidence. Folly consists not in committing folly, but in not hiding it when it has been committed. This applies to anything about you that you wouldn't be happy for other people to know about. If you find yourself doing something you shouldn't, stop before you get found out. The only real crime is getting caught and punished. Be on the lookout for any mistakes you might be making. If you are the first one to spot that you are making a mistake, you have a chance to hide it or correct it before anyone else notices it, and so you can keep your reputation intact.

Discover your vocation. You should have an ability that you passionately want to use to benefit other people as well as yourself. You continue with your vocation even if you didn’t get money for doing it or you didn't need money (but you will of course get money for doing it). You will even enjoy the problems and drudgery involved in it. You have to get pleasure from your work if you are to succeed in it. It is through your work that you display your abilities to the world. Your vocation gives your life meaning and purpose. It will see you through bad times as well as good times. Work ceaselessly and tirelessly to become outstanding in your vocation. Do not be tempted to stray from it into any other sort of work. To accomplish a lot in one sphere of activity you must exclude almost everything else from your life. Your work should give you everything you want and need from life. It allows you to be the person you were born to be. Ideally your vocation should be highly visible and well respected. It should fill you with energy and enthusiasm. It should totally absorb your mind. You should be reluctant to break from it, but if you have to, you should be eager to start it again. Problems do not deter you. Instead you see them as interesting challenges. Time should fly when you are doing the work you love. However, sometimes the price you have to pay for pursuing a particular calling is to have to learn about and participate in its ugly side. Dishonesty and immorality often lie behind the attractive façade of a seemingly desirable vocation. You may have to participate in such things if you want to be accepted and be successful. Ideally in your work you will be free to decide what you will do and when and where you will do it. Avoid being employed to do fixed tasks at fixed times at a fixed place for a fixed amount of money. You want to have as much autonomy and freedom in your work as possible, and to have as much scope and potential in it as possible.

Divide and conquer! This is the rule when wishing to manipulate or defeat people if they have banded together against you. Set one faction against another. Distract different members of the group with different things. Separate the ringleaders and make it difficult for them to be together.

Do, but also be seen doing. Things do not pass for what they are but for what they seem. The world is governed more by appearances than realities, so what you appear to do can be at least as important as what you actually do. It can be as useful to seem to know something and be believed to know it as actually to know it. What is not seen is as if it did not exist. Many things are other than they seem, but most people are taken in by appearances, so make sure that what you do is seen and that it looks to others the way you want them to believe it is.

Do everything and anything you want to do so long as the price you will pay for doing it, or for failing in it, or for your doing it becoming known about by others, is acceptable to you.

Do good a little at a time and often. One should never give so much that there is no possibility of the beneficiary being able to make some suitable return of favors to you, for if they realize that this is the case, they may decide it is better to break off their relationship with you completely rather than feel as if they owe you some unpayable debt or that they are inferior to you. It is good to be able to give what costs little yet is much desired and appreciated by the recipient.

Do not aim to please everyone. You only need to please those who can either please you, or who have the power to do something that will displease you if you do not please them.

Do not be a hypocrite. Even in politics blatant hypocrisy is despised and criticized. In more honest circles you will be condemned, criticized and possibly cast into the wilderness as soon as your hypocrisy is detected.

Do not be a slave to first impressions. A first impression may be right, it may be wrong, so always be ready to reconsider it as more information and evidence becomes available. It is as dangerous to be the slave of initial impressions as to be the slave of your passions.

Do not get too deeply attached to anyone or anything. Make the most of relationships and possessions while you have them, but be prepared for the time to come when you do not have what you have now. There is no reason to be attached to the country or place of your birth, or to your family. Anything that is yours other than by your own choice (homeland, upbringing, relatives, etc.) should be looked at dispassionately, and if you find that it is something you would not voluntarily choose, or you can see there is something better available to you, you should abandon it and distance yourself from it. Everything about your life should be deliberately and carefully chosen by you.

Do not be totally dependent on any one person. All things end eventually, so have various people available that you can turn to for benefits and support.

Don't contradict those who contradict you. They may be contradicting you out of cunning or sheer vulgarity. The latter may get you may be unpleasant but the former may get you into danger. By not responding, you avoid both unpleasantness and danger. Yet you yourself can use contradiction first to probe others and annoy them into revealing their true thoughts, passions, motives and intentions.

Do not explain too much. Most people do not value highly anything that they understand fully, but they will be somewhat in awe of what they do not comprehend. You should sell knowledge dearly. What is not understood is usually overrated. If you wish others to have a high opinion of you, you have to appear wiser and more competent than the average person. Let there be a little mystery about your success. Sometimes you must elaborate a little if you are to be sufficiently understood to achieve your purposes.

Do not follow up one folly with another. Some people having made one blunder then through obstinacy or an unwillingness to accept they have been foolish persist in their stupidity and commit more blunders. The initial error, which may have been ignored or forgiven, then becomes an unpardonable string of foolish actions. One should never act from obstinacy.

Do not give in to every impulse. Stop to think. Make sure you view things rationally and dispassionately. Consider how to act or react, and then do what you have decided is most sensible and most advantageous for you.

Do not always go with the last speaker. There are people whose opinions are constantly changing to what they have most recently heard other people express. They might as well have no mind of their own. Such people never achieve anything worthwhile or enduring because they are constantly vacillating in their thoughts, goals and action. They never fix long enough on a particular destination to be able to get there or even to determine what route to take.

Do not have the characteristics of a fool, such as being vain, presumptuous, egotistical, untrustworthy, capricious, obstinate, fanciful, theatrical or paradoxical. Fools are unaware how much other people dislike and deride such qualities. Indeed fools imagine they are admired for their unusual views and behavior.

Do not hold your views too firmly. Every fool is fully convinced they are right, and everyone absolutely convinced they will never need to change is a fool. Often the more faulty a person's judgment, the more firmly they hold on to it and assert it. Even you feel quite certain about something, it is alright to yield if others assert something different. Your reasons for holding your view may be recognized, along with your politeness in conceding a point in order to keep the conversation pleasant. If not, you have lost nothing because you can still hold your original view. By appearing to agree with the other person, you may in fact find there is something worthwhile in their opinion that leads you to amend your own opinion on the matter under discussion. Constancy and steadfastness should be for the will, not for your thoughts. Your views should change as you learn, understand and experience more.

Do not make mountains out of molehills. Some people take everything in earnest and turn it either into a dispute or into something they talk ceaselessly about to others. Troublesome things must not be taken too seriously if possible. There is no need to take to heart that which you can let harmlessly pass you by. Much that would have become serious has become nothing by being left alone, but what might have been nothing has become of grave consequence because of being made much of. At the outset matters can be settled easily, but later this may be impossible. Often a remedy causes a disease. It is not the least of life's golden rules to leave alone that which is best left alone.

Do a good judge of people's characters. Being mistaken when assessing people's true natures is the most serious and yet also the easiest error to make. Look behind the exterior to see the reality within. A knowledge of other people's natures is the second most important knowledge after knowledge of yourself.

Do not wait for the perfect time and the perfect circumstances before you start something. Start now. And don't wait for inspiration. Work and purposeful action cause inspiration to appear.

Do not wait until you are a sinking sun. Leave things before they leave you. Retire when you are at your peak. This way you will be remembered, revered and missed. Do not wait to be pushed out. Turn your back on others before they turn their backs on you.

Do nothing without getting something you want in return, be it now or in the future, even if it is only satisfaction.

Do pleasant things yourself, have unpleasant things done by other people. By the first course you gain goodwill, by the other you avoid dislike. Good people take more pleasure in doing a favor than in receiving one. It shows their generous natures and their power to bestow benefits. As one cannot easily cause pain to another without suffering some pain oneself, either from sympathy or from remorse, it is better to arrange for others to inflict any unavoidable or necessary pain. The resentment of the wounded person is then directed - indeed misdirected - towards the person you have used to carry out your instructions. As life works by means of rewards and punishment, you should endeavor to grant the first yourself and inflict the other through others. It is useful when in high office to have someone against whom the discontent, dislike, resentment and criticism of the people can be directed. People when hurt by others can be like a beaten dog that turns and bites the stick with which it is being beaten rather than the individual who is employing the stick to inflict the beating.

Don’t bother being judgmental about other people unless you are considering having a working or personal relationship with them. There is no point having opinions about other people with whom you are not going to be involved. Do, however, be judgmental about yourself so that you can constantly develop your strengths and good points and deal with your weaknesses and failings.

Don't be brittle in your relationships or in conversation. Some things must be tolerated or ignored. Don't take offence easily, or contradict or try to retaliate. Turn a blind eye and a deaf ear when necessary. Don't break, or allow the other person to break, a connection that you regard as worthwhile.

Don't be common -not in taste, not in your thoughts, not in your behavior, deeds, work or friends. If you find you are no different from the mass of people, or that they accept you as one of them and you fit in easily with them, you should be very concerned. You need to make some big changes. Commonplace people usually think they aren't ordinary. They generally think there is at least one thing special about themselves that makes them different from the crowd, but they are wrong. You should be uncommon, but only in ways that are admired and respected. Don't be eccentric, either as an affectation or from carelessness. This is the last resort of people who have failed to make their mark in life. Eccentrics are either laughed at or loathed.

Don't be optimistic or pessimistic, be realistic. However, pessimism, so long as it doesn't deter you from acting, at least allows you to feel satisfied if you are proven right and pleased if you are proven wrong. It has been said that optimism is what precedes experience and cynicism is what follows it. If your views are correct, it doesn't matter whether people call you a pessimist or a realist.

Don't be pedantic. State your views calmly, concisely and accurately, and don't be concerned if people don't agree with you.

Don't begin life with what should end it. What foolish people do early in their lives makes the remainder of their lives unhappy and unsuccessful. Start life wisely if you want to finish it well. Work to establish yourself first, and then when you have financial security and a reputation you can think about pleasure and amusement.

Don't begrudge other people their success and good fortune. Instead do your best to make your circumstances be like theirs.

Don't blame your circumstances for your lack of success. Make the best of them whatever they are like, then look to see how you can maneuver yourself into better circumstances. If you cannot see an existing, more desirable situation you can get into, you will have to try to create better circumstances for yourself using whatever means and opportunities you have available to you.

Deal with the causes of the symptoms, not with the symptoms. Find remedies for curable faults rather than focusing on the faults themselves. Grasp the substance, not the shadow, especially in important matters.

Just because you yourself fear you would fail if you attempted a particular thing, don't assert, to yourself or others, that it is impossible. While unsuccessful people are maintaining that things can't be done, successful people are getting on and doing those very same things.

Don't fear failure. Do your best to avoid failing, of course, and try to ensure it is bearable if it does happen, but you must attempt to get what you want. Even successful people fail more often than they succeed. If you want to succeed more, you need to be prepared to fail more too. Learn from your failures and move on.

The only thing you should love is your work. Romantic love is really just sexual, social, financial and material bargaining. As circumstances change, the bargain changes or comes to an end. To love things seems somehow to be rather sad and misguided, but it at least has the advantage of being less troublesome than loving people.

Don't fight other people's wars. This applies literally and in terms of getting involved in other people's work and personal affairs. Politicians would send you to kill and be killed not for your personal benefit but to suit their own agenda. With friends, relatives and colleagues, don't get involved in their problems and disputes - unless, that is, you can see some way of securing some benefit or advantage for yourself

Don't give money to people who have got into trouble by mismanaging money. It will only be wasted or misused. Some people need to learn the hard way how to handle money - by not having any.

Don't have a companion who puts you in the shade. You will always play second fiddle to their first fiddle. If you get any consideration or respect from others it will only be what is left over from what has been bestowed on your companion. Don't let yourself be eclipsed by another. You should be like the sun, outshining all others. When you are on the way to fortune you must of course associate with the eminent who will necessarily initially outshine you, but time and your own improvement will change this. The people you mix with indicate to others what sort of person you are.

Don't let situations reach a breaking point. Deal with problematic issues before they become irreversible and terminal. To let them go beyond the stage where they can be satisfactorily resolved runs the risk of you suffering unnecessary harm or loss. You may also make enemies. Everyone can become an enemy while few are suited to be our friends. Few can do us good but almost anyone can do us harm. It is sometimes better to halt or retreat than press on.

Don't order people to do anything that you don't have the power to force them to do if they are unwilling. A firm request is the most that we can usually make of other people.

Write books rather than read them. Never read a book to the end simply because you've begun it. If it wasn't worth starting, at least don't waste your time in finishing it. Reading is no substitute for real life. It is largely a waste of time, as is television, the internet, films, social media, indeed all media in general. Getting information and entertainment from the media is a sad substitute for living and experiencing activities with other people. Also what the media tell you may well be untrue and is almost certainly irrelevant and useless. Get out and be with people. Learn what you need to learn directly, face to face. Instead of being engrossed in the media, do something good and noteworthy enough for the media to be engrossed in you. Don't watch other people doing things. Do things yourself. Be a person whom other people watch. The minds of the masses are filled not with their own thoughts but with what has been pumped into their brains by the media. Ordinary people are excessively preoccupied by experiencing life remotely and at second hand, and by filling their heads with other people's words, images and sounds. They allow media content to influence and even control what they think and do. They let a lot of pointless stuff enter their minds, and their thinking becomes clouded and they get distracted from focusing on achieving the things they should be achieving. All you should have in your mind are the thoughts and intentions that will lead you to act in such a way that you get the life you want.

Don't reveal to others all the secrets of your success. You give away your power if you do so. By keeping back key secrets you keep other people admiring and respecting you. Secrets should remain just that - secret. If you do reveal secrets, let different secrets be revealed to different people. That way you limit the harm that any one person can do to you. Don't share other people's secrets, and especially don't share the secrets of your superiors. Once your actions come to light, you risk retaliation or abandonment by the person you have betrayed. To know a secret about someone is to make them beholden to you, frightened that you will reveal their secret to others. Tell a secret about yourself to others and you make yourself beholden to them. Better then neither to tell secrets nor to listen to them.

Don't reveal to others your intentions or the goals you are trying to achieve. You might hope that others will help you, but it is more likely they will sabotage you. At best they will do nothing, either through lack of ability or inclination. The exception to this rule is if you have a partner or partners who are striving to achieve the same thing as you, that it is something you can all achieve together, and that success will be achieved more quickly and more easily with you all working together than with you working independently. They will aid you and in return you will have to aid them. This can continue until you all achieve your personal goals. If, however, the situation arises where some of you can succeed only by having some of the others fail, then at that point you must look after your own interests and forget any ideas of friendship, loyalty or gratitude.

Don't stake everything on a single roll of the dice. Success can never be guaranteed, so you need to keep back some resources so that you can make further attempts if this one fails. This applies also to not staking your reputation on the outcome of one venture.

Don't focus your thoughts on what you don't have. Instead make the most of what you have while you work to get what you want.

Don't try to impress fools. What are you doing among fools anyway? The only way to gauge how wise and competent you are is by being among wise, competent people. Then you will soon see how well you match up to their standards. If you can impress them, that is indeed a worthwhile achievement.

Don't try your hand at many things. Instead concentrate on doing just one thing very well. To be successful you only need to be good at one thing, so find the one thing at which you are outstanding, or at least at which you are most competent, and do it until you become successful.

Earn your position in life through merit and work, not through dishonesty, subterfuge or deceit. Find and take your rightful place in the world.

You have to earn respect. Although you might be able to impose your authority on others, you cannot make them respect you. You have to deserve respect.

Education for the masses is intended to limit their expectations, train them to conform, and to shape them to fit into the positions in society that the top people want them to go into. Don't let this happen to yourself or your children. Decide for yourself what life you are going to lead, learn what you need to know to achieve it and set about achieving it.

Either you must suffer the pain of disciplining yourself sufficiently to get what you want or you will suffer the pain of regretting that you did not discipline yourself enough to get what you wanted.

Emotions as such are irrelevant until they manifest themselves in some action. The same applies to words. Only actions and physical, material things count. Because reasoning often works slowly and uncertainly while emotions arise instantaneously and often uncontrollably, it is generally best to try to play on people's emotions if you want to influence or manipulate them, rather than to try to appeal to reason. Don't allow your own emotions to influence and confuse your ability to think and act rationally.

Be in the best relationships you can right now but be on the lookout for other people with whom you might be able to enter into more advantageous relationships.

Eradicate, suppress or conceal your weaknesses. That is the best order. Some people say you should focus on your weak points to make them less bad, but it is probably more important to develop your strong points, for it is your strong points that will enable you to achieve everything significant that you are going to achieve in life. Of course try to minimize your weaknesses and lessen the negative impact they have on your life, but even if you had no weaknesses at all, if you had no strengths, you would still not achieve anything, so that is why strengths seem to be more important than weaknesses. A weakness really only becomes important if it prevents your strengths from enabling you to get on in life and be successful.

Even great people are only human. From a distance they seem greater than they really are. If you know as many important and successful people as you can and become as closely involved with them as you can, you will lose that feeling of awe which you might otherwise have and which stops you from viewing such people objectively.

Even the natural needs to be improved with the help of the artificial. The raw material of your character, no matter how good it may be, can always be improved by some development, refinement or adornment. These means help to cure what is bad and improve what is good. Culture, refinement and sophistication are desirable so long as they are not taken too far so that they create an entirely unnatural creature. The best sort of artifice seems to be entirely natural.

Every day you should see if there is something new you can do or if there is something you can stop doing.

Every day reassess everything about the way you live. Reassess what you really want and look closely at the steps you are taking to get it to see if you should be doing something different.

Always one is either growing or decaying, improving or worsening, advancing or retreating, living more or living less. Recognize when the tide of life has turned in the wrong direction and do something about it.

Everyone you connect with should be developing, progressing and moving upwards so that you increase your chances of being drawn upwards with them. Avoid people, places and organizations that are in decline. Get out of a declining nation. Don't work in a declining industry or organization. Don't associate with fading political parties. Don't be a member of stagnant or dwindling social groups. Avoid people whose best days are behind them.

Everything counts if it's in large enough amounts. Everything, whether good or bad, takes on some significance once it passes a certain threshold. With good things, identify where the threshold is and then try to pass it. With bad things, identify where the threshold is and make sure you don't reach it.

Except for friends, family, loved ones and work partners, it seems that often the best way to get on in life is to use, outsmart, deceive, beat or turn your back on other people.

Except with money, you should prize quality more than quantity.

Exclude, remove and simplify. Ask yourself, “Do I need this thing, person or activity in my life?” If you would be better off without it, get rid of it.

Expect people to kick you when you're down. That is, after all, the easiest and safest time for them to do it.

Exploit weakness and avoid fighting against other people's strengths. If you want to manipulate or defeat someone, what weakness do they have? An obsession? An addiction? A fear? A need? Find it and exploit it.

Faint praise can be as effective as, but more subtle than, open criticism.

Fame and high status are pointless if you don't also get wealth.

An advantage of fame or high status can be that they allow you to meet other top people. If you do not know well-known people it means that either you yourself are not well known or you have not achieved much or become significant in any way. Seek fame if you want to, but avoid notoriety at all costs. Try to know the great people of your age.

Find the good in a thing at once. There is some consolation to be found in all things. Many people have such faulty vision that amid a thousand excellences they will fix their gaze upon the single defect there. Rather amid a thousand defects you should be able to take pleasure and gain advantage from the single excellence there.

Make sure you finish well. It's where you finish that matters, not where you start. Some regard it as enough to be involved in the game and they attach little importance to winning, yet really it is only the end result that matters. Only winners get rewarded and remembered. Do whatever is necessary to win. Occasionally this may even necessitate breaking the rules. Aim to keep improving as you progress through life. Sometimes it is no blessing to be favored by fortune early on in life. Enter life by the gate of pleasure and you will leave by the gate of sorrow. See that things end well.

First you see in your own mind the life you want and then you work to make your vision become real.

Fools do what they are told it is customary and conventional to do while the wise calculate for themselves what it is possible, acceptable and in their best interests to do.

Fools stare in amazement, but the wise try to spot where the deception is.

Fools work for clever people. Poor people do what the rich don't want to do.

Gain the goodwill of people who might be able to assist you in some way. This way you lay up a store of potential benefactors and benefits for the future.

Generally you reap what you sow. You get the life that you deserve. To get more from life, do more for other people. To get a better life, do better things for other people.

If you act as if you were always being watched, you will not be able to go far wrong in life. Do only what you would be happy to have the world know about and you will have little to fear.

Get noticed by the right people (those who can help you get what you want) for the right reasons (the reasons that will make them think it's in their interest to be associated with you and advance their interests by advancing yours). Put yourself where you can be seen by such people. Put on a show that will appeal to them and impress them. Some people make a big spectacle with little material, and they make a whole exhibition if they have a lot of material to work with. Choose your moment carefully. A seemingly careless display of excellence is the best sort of performance. It is a fine subtlety not to display all your excellences at once, but instead to grant glances of more and more as time goes on. Each of your acts should hold out the promise of greater things to follow. Your audience's applause for one performance should only die away in expectation of the next.

Get used to the failings of the people it is necessary for you to be with. This is advisable if they depend on you but it is essential if you depend on them. Tolerate their failings. Never tolerate your own, however. Correct them.

You should get wiser as you get older. People generally do not get wiser with age, and young fools grow up to become old fools. An old wise person is quite likely to have been a young wise person.

Give yourself rewards and treats. The former are bigger and are what you give yourself when you achieve some goal. The latter are smaller and are what you give yourself regardless of what is happening or not happening in your life. They are just to encourage you to stay positive and keep working to make your dreams come true.

Go armed to protect yourself against discourtesy, perfidy, presumption, and all other kinds of folly. The best thing is to avoid coming up against such behavior, but you should always be prepared to have it inflicted on you. Feigned misunderstanding can be of great value in such cases. Otherwise self-controlled politeness is often the only way out of such difficulties.

Good people can be made to do bad things either by offering them enough money or material benefits or by making them believe that it is their duty or it is a necessity or both to do the bad things in question.

Governments are essentially mafias that have legalized themselves, and you should either be part of your government, or connect with it in some way, so that you can extract as much financial and material benefit from it as possible, or you should keep out of reach of its reach and grasp as much as you can.

Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people.

Great people tend to be great in one respect only and then they are often deficient in many other respects.

Great success usually involves some sort of excess. It is only in your work that such excess may be acceptable.

Hard work is an important ingredient of success, but as much as possible you should try to get other people to work hard to help you be successful.

Have a good reputation. Take care of your character, then your reputation will take care of itself. A reputation is much easier kept than recovered. It takes time and many good deeds to acquire a reputation, but only a moment and one misdeed to lose it.

Have a bit of the business-person about you. Life is a practical game, and you need to make it a profitable one. People who are intellectually very wise can often be very unwise in financial matters, and they can be easily deceived. They may know out-of-the-way things, but they do not know the ordinary things of life which are much more essential. Since they do not know the very first thing they should know, and what lesser minds understand all too well, they are sometimes considered naïve and laughable by people who would otherwise be mentally their inferiors. Therefore a truly wise person always has something of the market trader about them - certainly at least enough to prevent them being taken advantage of. Be skilful at ordinary daily life. If this is not the highest skill, it is certainly the first and most necessary one. To know how to live well is the best and most important knowledge to have.

Have charm. It can help you get what you want, and do so by giving less for it than you would otherwise have to give, and it generally smoothes all interactions with others. Make sure, however, that in being charming you don't appear to be insincere (even if you actually are), or that you don't claim to be more than you really are. Don't claim to have done what you haven't. You will surely be found out sooner or later and punished accordingly. Charm, a sense of humor, and deceit lubricate life wonderfully. Charm is a cheap currency to pay with but it is a worthless currency to accept. Don't be taken in by it yourself. A person of great charm is probably a deceiver who is keeping their true motives and intentions hidden. Charm is what you use to stroke people with until they say yes to what you want. Be amusing, be interesting, be amused, be interested - to a large extent that is what charm is.

Have discernment, discretion and discrimination. Discernment is the ability to tell the difference between things and to see which is good or bad, better or worse. Discretion not only means behaving in a way that doesn't cause offense or reveal information that shouldn't be revealed, but also having the ability to choose what should be done in a particular situation, ideally after you have used your powers of discernment. Discrimination tends to be viewed negatively these days because of the meaning it has of being unjustly prejudiced against certain types of people, but here it is meant in the sense of recognizing and understanding the differences between one thing and another with the implication that you then choose the better and reject the worse and act on that choice.

Have few wants, but let the ones you have be such that they make a positive contribution to your life and to the lives of others.

Have useful knowledge and have the courage to use it.

If you don't know everything you need to know, know those who do. Have access to all the knowledge that is essential for you to be successful.

Minimum possessions, maximum money. There really is no point in having more possessions than you need to be happy and have a satisfying life. Possessions can often be liabilities rather than assets. The things you own can end up owning you, making demands on your time and money. Most of the luxuries and many of the comforts and conveniences of life are actually hindrances to living the fullest and most interesting life you possibly can. See the things you have not just in terms of what they cost you financially but also in terms of the amount of 'life' you have to sacrifice to get and keep those things. Get rid of possessions that make no positive contribution to your life. Perhaps aim to have friends whose possessions you can enjoy. Consider renting rather than buying. This can give you the freedom to change or move on from something you when you no longer want or need it. You can even apply this approach to people.

Have more than one of everything that is essential for you to have a happy and successful life. These are things like sources of income, investments, friends that your other friends don't know about, places to live. Then if you suffer a loss in one area of your life you have some alternative to fall back on while you look for a replacement for what you have lost. So life continues pleasantly and securely in a stable fashion. Even with your personal qualities and abilities, and your knowledge, you should keep something in reserve. Always have something to resort to.

Have nothing to do with occupations of ill-repute.

Have patience and persistence. If you cannot win through ability, luck or connections, you might win simply by not giving up. Some people give up just as they are about to win. Persevere.

Always have presence of mind. Be fully aware of what is going on. Always be ready to react quickly and cleverly both to the unexpected as well as the expected.

Have realistic, objective views of yourself, your circumstances, what you are doing and how well you are doing it. This is especially important early in life because young people tend to have a high and fanciful opinion of themselves without there being any grounds for such an opinion. Indeed often in life, the more ordinary the person, the more remarkable they fancy themselves to be. Failures fill their heads with imagined successes that never come to be. They think they have qualities and abilities that are really woefully absent. But even to such people disillusion must come eventually, and a time arrives when they can no longer deny the truth. The best way to see yourself as you are is to listen to what others say about you when they do not know you are listening.

You can hope for the best but you should plan and prepare for the worst.

Be skilled in the art of conversation. You must either lose or gain by how well you do at it. You must produce a spontaneous display of the qualities of your mind and your personality. You must hint at what you can offer and what you desire. You must know not only what it is right to say but also what should be left unsaid.

Have your own ideas. Be creative. Come up with new ways of getting what you want and achieving worthwhile things.

Having the right to do something does not mean that doing it is right. Think through the possible and likely consequences of insisting on doing something you have the right to do.

If one attempt to attain a goal doesn’t work, try again, and again, but before you then try again, stop to figure out where you're going wrong. After several failed attempts, you need either to find another route to your goal or you need to find another goal. When there is no hope of winning, or when you are involved in a conflict where you clearly have no hope of coming out on top, you should retreat or you should surrender on the best terms possible.

If people are subservient to you because they believe you have power over them, you should occasionally exercise and display that power so that people know their beliefs and fears are justified.

If the conversation becomes scandalous, complaining, vulgar, or descends into intrigue, change the topic or walk away.

If we feel envy rather than pleasure when a friend of ours succeeds, and pleasure rather than sympathy when they fail, perhaps our friendship is not genuine.

If you cannot convince people, confuse them. If they are still not in favor of your views, they at least might not remember clearly why they were originally so against you.

If you come from a bad family, get as far away from it, and from the place of your upbringing, and from your childhood friends, as you can and do it as soon as you can. In such circumstances your family and friends are likely to be the people who will most hold you back from getting on in life.

The less money you have, the cleverer and more inventive you will have to be.

If you don't know a fool when you see one, you are one yourself. If you can't recognize them, how can you avoid getting involved with them? Get involved with a fool and there will be two fools. Allowing a fool into your life is the same as allowing in an enemy. Fools are dangerous. They cannot help themselves so how can they help you? The only good thing about fools is that they can act as warnings, showing you clearly what you should not do. The wise can learn from fools, but fools learn nothing from the wise. They only learn from other fools.

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude towards it.

If you have a lust for money, status and power, hide it behind a feigned idealism and the pretence of caring only about serving others.

If you have a problem, make it someone else’s. If possible, anything negative and unwanted should be passed on to other people so that they have to deal with it, not you. Keep only good things for yourself.

If you have an advantage in a situation, push it and extract the maximum benefit from it. Attain the best result you can. Some people start things and never finish. If the undertaking is good, why not finish it? If it is bad, why start it?

If you have influential friends who can help you and protect you, only ask them for favors and assistance when you have used up all other sources of aid elsewhere. If you ask such people for assistance when you are not in dire need, you may find that when you really need help you have exhausted their generosity and nothing more will be forthcoming.

If you have to justify your actions to other people you are probably doing something wrong. Do something different.

If you know that you would lie if you were in the other person's place, you should expect them to be lying to you.

If you have all the winning cards, then you can insist that everyone, including yourself, plays fair and according to the rules.

If you know you will never get something you want, pretend that you don't want it and that you never wanted it. Likewise if you have no choice but to do something, give the impression that you've chosen to do it.

If you have to do something unpleasant to other people, do it efficiently and effectively.

If you really want to be as free as possible, have as few liabilities and commitments and as much unearned income as possible.

If you think you're never foolish in any way at all, you are almost certainly a fool. Fools always think they are wise. They think there is nothing they need to learn. Wise people, however, know their wisdom will never be complete, and that there are always improvements to be made in knowledge, thoughts, emotions, manners, speech, behavior and deeds. Really ignorant people are ignorant of their ignorance. They never learn because they think they already know what in fact they don't know. Such people have no doubts and no uncertainties. They think they have arrived when actually they have never even set off. To be absolutely certain about something one must either know everything or nothing about it.

If you try to live entirely for yourself you will find a time will come when you need help or company and there will be no one there to turn to. Yet it is also wrong to belong entirely to other people, in your work or your social life, devoting all your time and efforts to them, for then you are no more than other people's slave.

If you want to ascend the ladder to greatness, it is better to start half way up rather than at the bottom. Many vocations, professions or careers can and should be entered above the very lowest levels, either by getting certain qualifications, by getting into the right places, or by knowing the right people. Give yourself every advantage possible to reduce the time and distance you have to travel to become successful. At the bottom there are very few opportunities and it is difficult to get noticed by the people who can lift you up.

If you want to do good, firstly do good things for yourself, then do specific good things for specific other people. If you attempt to be broadly charitable, giving your time and money to what are vaguely called 'good causes' you will not know what, if anything, your generosity is actually achieving. When poor people are charitable they give to existing charities. When rich people want to appear charitable they create their own charities, but they do this to avoid paying tax and so that their families can keep control of their money.

Go to where life is good. When times are bad in any place, bad people take control. When that happens, even good people start to behave badly, either on the instructions of their bad overlords or with their tacit or implicit permission. Therefore avoid bad places if you wish to be with good people, be good yourself, and live safely and well.

If you wouldn't write it, sign it and publish it, don't say it.

If you’re going to play, play games that have real, significant consequences. Otherwise what you're doing is just pointlessly wasting time. Worthwhile 'games' are things like business, politics, social climbing and relationships.

If you’ve just heard about where the smart people are and what they are doing, they've probably already moved on and are doing something else.

If you're not comfortable with people challenging your ideas, even you must suspect your ideas are indefensible. Religious people, with their unsupported and unsupportable ideas, are prime examples of this.

If you're trying to get someone to do something that you know they don't really want to do, try moving them unnoticed step by unnoticed step nearer to doing what you want until they’ve done it before they even realize it.

Ignore people who urge you to take action in a situation in which they themselves have nothing at stake.

Ignore your own opinions about yourself. Instead get the opinions of intelligent, worldly people who know you. If you don't know such people, try to look at yourself objectively as if you were a disinterested observer. Examine your looks, behavior, speech, possessions, work, relationships, family, friends, achievements, pastimes, everything. Judge yourself in an impartial way, but as if you were a helpful, well-wisher. Suggest changes and improvements you should make. Then set about implementing those changes and improvements.

Immoral is bad, amoral is not bad. Both may get you disliked by the critical, righteous majority, but being amoral may make it easier for you to get on in life and be successful. Being too moral can hold you back if you are amongst more pragmatic people.

Impudence and stupidity go together.

In business, if you can’t see the profit before you do the deal, don't do the deal.

In everything, if you know little, play safe. To take risks where you know little is to seek ruin. Skilled and knowledgeable people may do what they want because they know what they are doing. Watch them and learn from them until you know enough to play the game well and safely.

In prosperity prepare for adversity. In prosperity, favors are cheap and friends are many, but adversity costs dear and has few helpers, so build up a reserve of friendly people who will wish to help you when you are in need because you helped them when things were going well for you. In safe times prepare for danger, and in orderly times prepare for chaos.

In your work it is better to be feared than loved but in personal relationships it is better to be loved than feared. In both cases you should be feared and loved with respect rather than with passion. A little fear keeps people well-behaved. If you could only be feared or loved, it is generally safer to be feared. People are more ready to hurt or offend someone who wishes to be loved than someone of whom they are afraid.

Indifference is an excellent, calming attitude that makes most things in life tolerable and allows you to glide serenely and dispassionately through life, untroubled by upset and emotion.

It can be easier to manipulate a mass of people than one person. If you can move a few leading figures in the crowd in the direction you want, the rest will usually follow. Most people dislike, or indeed cannot, think for themselves, preferring to be told and shown what to think by someone they find credible.

It helps to despise a little that which you most desire. This allows you to be dispassionate and objective in your pursuit of what you are after.

You are fortunate if you were born to command. Such natural superiority means you do not have to get on by artful trickery. Instead people recognize your inborn power of rule and are naturally inclined to obey and follow you. By the esteem that born leaders inspire in others, they are able to hold the hearts and minds of their followers. They can make more happen with a small gesture than a lesser person can make happen with a long speech.

It is best for a wise person not to seem wise, firstly so that others will not feel inferior, but also so that other people will not be on their guard, sensing that they are in danger of being maneuvered or outwitted.

Don't write if you have nothing worthwhile to say. Write only after you have lived and got some experience.

You can learn as well through success and prosperity as you can through failure and hardship, and the former is definitely pleasanter than the latter.

It is easier to stay out of a situation than to get yourself out of it once you are in it.

It is no good having some ability if you don't apply it. Success requires both ability and application. Mediocrity obtains more with application than superiority does without it. A person with talent who fails to apply it will at best be a mediocrity and may even be a failure. Even the highest posts in life sometimes require only application rather than talent. If you cannot be a big fish in a big pond, be a big fish in a small pond. You can get further with little ability but in the right place with the right people than you can get with great ability but in the wrong place with the wrong people.

Always be seeking opportunities. Always be prepared for them to appear unexpectedly. The more you look for opportunities, the more of them you will find. Clever people make more opportunities than they find. Put yourself in the place and amongst the people where there are likely to be the greatest number of the sort of opportunities you are looking for. When an opportunity comes near you, seize it. Never let an opportunity pass you by. It is unlikely ever to come again. Opportunities multiply as they are seized. Often they come disguised as problems. Solve the problem, and the rewards of the hidden opportunity will be yours. Try to turn every situation to your advantage. Even try to turn every disaster into an opportunity. Nothing is so bad that a wise person cannot find some good in it.

It is not just what you do that matters but also the way it is done and the way it appears to others. It is not enough just to get what you want by any means. It should be achieved in the best way possible, and it should appear to others to have been done properly and well. Fine actions carried out with a fine demeanor make the best impression.

It is not what is happening to you but rather your attitude to what is happening to you and how you react to it that matters.

It's too late to be thinking about someone when they're dead. The time to think about people is when they are alive and you are actively involved with them. Having feelings and thoughts about the dead is pointless.

Jealousy and envy are pointless except to the extent that they make you realize that you feel inadequate in some way. Change yourself and your life until you no longer feel these negative emotions. Avoid comparing yourself to others. Judge yourself according to the standards and parameters you have decided to set for yourself and according to how well you are achieving your goals.

Join in the game as far as decency permits. Don't posture and pose and be a bore. Don't be aloof and stand-offish. And don't be prudish, for others will take this as a sign that you disapprove of them and how they choose to enjoy themselves. But do not go beyond the bounds of decency and decorum. If you make a fool of yourself in public, it shows you may not be discreet in private and in important matters. One day of public silliness can ruin a reputation that it has taken you a lifetime to acquire.

Join the right clubs. Join the right societies. Work for the right organizations. Go to the right schools. Go to the right universities. Live in the right places. Socialize with the right people.

Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you have sown.

Keep away from people with problems. A person who tells you about their problems is hoping you will share their misfortune with them or that you will do something to help them in some way. Don't get involved. If you try to help the drowning you only endanger yourself. Yet if you yourself have problems you should seek out others to share your troubles with and to help you with advice and practical assistance. If you find a problem has no solution, then you must learn to live with it. What cannot be cured must be endured.

Keep looking for the people you want and who want you.

You can't start trying to get what you want until you have first decided exactly it is.

Know how to use sarcasm to provoke people into revealing more than they otherwise would. Don't use sarcasm just to be malicious or entertaining. If in doubt, avoid using it altogether. Other ways to get people to reveal more than they should is to contradict them or to express doubt about what they say. This annoys them into explaining more so that eventually they may reveal what you want to know. Generally the way to manipulate others is to arouse their emotions. This makes them less rational and therefore puts them in a state where you have a greater possibility of getting them to do what they otherwise wouldn't. To persuade people, again appeal to their emotions. No matter how rational and logical your argument might be, if you do not arouse other people's emotions you will have great difficulty influencing them in the way you wish. Rather than try to persuade people that they are wrong and you are right, agree that they are right about the matter when looked at from their point of view, and then show them that there is another point of view - yours - from which the matter can also be rightly seen. Life is largely about playing with other people’s minds. The tools you use to affect what is going on in other people's minds are your words, your appearance and your actions.

Know that when others are interested in you it is likely to be because they hope to further their own interests. Be on your guard when someone says they have your interests at heart. Try to find out what their real, selfish intentions and motives are.

Know the difference between an asset and a liability. Some people regard anything that has monetary value as an asset. Other people think that an asset is something that not only has monetary value but also puts regular, spendable cash income in their pocket. If something costs you money to keep, in cash terms it is a liability.

Know when to ignore things and to leave things alone. Both in public and private affairs, passions can get aroused. At such times it is best to retire and keep out of the way until the situation has calmed down. If you try to calm things down yourself you may just make matters worse.

Know your main failing. Many people are attached to their greatest weakness and indulge it instead of working to defeat it. Indeed they think their glaring defect makes them interesting and attractive in the eyes of others, not realizing that really they are disliked and disapproved of for having it. Get rid of your one major failing and your life will improve dramatically.

Know your strongest point, your chief ability. Cultivate it. Develop. Give it free rein. Let it be highly visible to others. Everyone could excel in some way if they only knew their strong point. But many fight against or ignore their natural aptitude, and so they attain superiority in nothing. Time reveals to them too late the gift they should have used but didn't.

Know Yourself. Many people think they are one person when in fact they are someone completely different. Know your character, your capacity for coping with things, your talents, inclinations, competences, inabilities, capabilities, weaknesses and failings. How good is your judgment? How assertive are you? How dominant? Are you extrovert or introvert? How determined are you to achieve your ambitions? All this and much more you need to know. Test yourself continually to find out the truth about yourself. If you don't know what material you've got to work with, you won't know what you can and should make of it.

Knowledge is not the same as wisdom. Learning things does not necessarily make you wiser. Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge in the right way to produce desirable results. There is no point learning things that you cannot use. Concentrate on becoming wiser rather than just on acquiring more knowledge. There's rarely anything to be gained from knowing what's going on beyond the horizons of your own existence. To be able to learn, you must occasionally be prepared to feel inadequate and suffer blows to your self-esteem. Vain and self-important people, especially if elderly, cannot do this, and so they do not learn. A stupid person is stupid forever, but a person who merely lacks knowledge has the potential to learn what they need to know.

Largely ignore other people’s words. Instead note their actions. It is their actions and not their words that reveal what feelings, thoughts and intentions they really have in their minds. When people use abstract words such as love, adore, respect, loyalty, and such like, ignore these completely. All that counts is what they are physically trying to get, or to do, or to get you to do.

Lead, follow, or get out of other people's way.

Learn from your mistakes and failures and move on from them. They are stepping stones to success. Failure doesn't mean that you don't make mistakes. It means you're not learning from them. You must first recognize your mistakes, then you can pay whatever price is necessary for making them, undo them if possible, or at least make the resulting situation as good as it can possibly be, and then learn from them so as not to make them again. Hopefully in future, in similar circumstances, you will do the right thing or a better thing. People who cannot acknowledge their mistakes even after they have become aware of them will be doomed to repeat them and will never be able to learn what it is right or better for them to do. Their pride and arrogance will prevent this. Mistakes are unavoidable. If you don't make mistakes it means you're not tackling big enough problems. That in itself is one very big mistake for anyone who wants to get on in life. Even better than learning from your own mistakes, however, is to learn from the mistakes of others. Learn to see in another's calamity the situations and actions that you should avoid.

Learn a little about many things in order to be interesting, and learn everything about one thing in order to be successful.

Be able to enjoy being alone. The key to this is to be occupied with some work or with practicing some activity that you will later do with other people.

Leave off hungry. Surfeit of pleasure is both debilitating and addictive. Stopping one step before you are fully satisfied shows self-discipline and leaves you with something to desire for next time. Desire is a great motivator and instigator of action.

Let other people be groundbreakers. Let them bring novelties and changes to society. You can then follow at a discreet distance, looking for opportunities that might be being thrown up by the changes they are bringing about.

Let people see that it is in their interests to promote your interests.

Let there be a purpose to everything you do.

Let your achievements be solid and lasting. Whatever is accomplished in a hurry will be quickly undone. Build well on solid foundations if you want your achievements to last.

Let your conversation be pleasant, without coarseness, indecency or vulgarity, witty without affectation, free-flowing without impudence or over-familiarity, learned without conceitedness, and novel without falsehood.

Let your interior be at least as impressive as your exterior. That is to say, let your personal qualities be up to who you present yourself to be. There some people who are all façade with little substance behind their grand frontage, like a shabby cottage that has had the portico of a palace stuck on the front of it. Even in conversation such people reveal their shallowness. You need to be the opposite of such people, and when looking at others you need to be able to discern what lies behind the appearance they present to the world.

Let your judgment be sound. It should be both right and reliable. Some are born wise. With others, their reason ripens with age and experience. Have nothing to do with anything that is not prudent. This is especially important for those who hold high office or who have great responsibility in some way.

Life is about power, and in particular the power to make physical things happen. Get power. Beware of other people who have it. The people with the most power decide what is right and wrong in life.

Day-to-day life is mostly about economics and psychology. Master these and you have the potential to master your life and other people's.

Live for today whilst planning and preparing for the future. You are what you are today because of what you thought and did in the past, and you will be what you will be in the future because of what you think and do today.

Live now! Some people are always intending to start living in the future, but for them the future never arrives and their lives disappear in mundane routine and unrealized dreams.

Learn what you can from anything that has happened very recently, then move on from it and put it out of your mind. To look back once is acceptable, but more than that shows an inability to accept what has happened and get on with your life.

Live like a poor person who has lots of money. Seemingly paradoxical, this means live simply but be as active as a rich person.

Make no mistake that life is ultimately a physical game. It is about having the power to make physical things happen and then using that power as and when you need or want. Political power comes down to having physical power over the people you govern and over your enemies. On an individual level, power means the ability to make physical things happen in your life, but really the most important power you can have is to be able to control your mind and body. Clever people trick fools with words, images and sounds - intangible nothings - and push or pull them into doing what is wanted. Don't be taken in by anything that is not physical. Being able to swop the intangible for the tangible is what separates the clever minority from the stupid majority.

Make sure you can tell the difference between lucky success and clever success. To be lucky but to mistakenly believe that it was your own cleverness that brought you your success is to invite future misfortune when your misguided belief in your own ability leads you out of your depth. Those who mistake their good luck for personal merit are bound for disaster.

Make sure you do not hurt anyone in such a way that they will forever be looking for an opportunity to take their revenge on you. Any conflicts and differences should be such that, once over, they are over for good. If you must hurt someone, do it soon, quickly and well. If an injury has to be done to someone it should be so severe that they will be unable to avenge themselves against you afterwards.

Generosity, like candor, should be tempered by moderation if it is not to lead to ruin.

Recognize, understand and use cause and effect. Nothing would seem to be simpler. Yet the world is full of people who fail to get what they want because they do not do that which will get them what they want, and still they are baffled as to why they are unsuccessful.

Make sure your enjoyment of present pleasures doesn't jeopardize your ability to enjoy future ones. Moderation in one's pleasures is important. The pursuit of pleasure can cause a lot of problems, pain and misery, and can undo a lifetime's hard work and destroy a hard-won reputation.

Make the things you want pursue you, rather than you pursuing them. Often what you go after will run away from you when you try to seize it directly, but turn away and feign disinterest and you may well find that what you desire will come chasing after you.

Make use of absence to make yourself more esteemed or valued. Just as long-accustomed presence can sometimes diminish fame, so absence can sometimes increase it. But do not be away so long that you are forgotten. A person is sometimes better regarded and of more use when they are absent than when they are present.

Make use of your enemies. Wise people get more use from their enemies than fools get from their friends. An enemy's ill-will can be directed so as to produce desirable results. The wise also turn ill-will into a mirror that reveals their faults to them better than the kindly opinions of a friend could ever. Then, becoming aware of their faults, they set about removing or improving them. One has to be very insignificant not to have enemies or critics.

Make use of your friends. This requires discretion. Some are useful when far off, some when near. Some are no good at conversation but excellent as correspondents. Friends are for use at least as much as for pleasure. Be aware, however, that friends are thieves of time. Contact with them should be controlled and limited.

Master your antipathies. We often allow ourselves to take a dislike to people that we need to get on with. Good sense masters this feeling. It especially harms us if we dislike our superiors or those people who are essential to our getting on in the world.

Mix with your superiors for advancement and your inferiors for pleasure. Nothing so fortifies a friendship as a belief on the part of one friend that they are superior to the other. The reason to be with people who are superior to you is to gain useful knowledge, material benefits and advancement from them. To be with inferiors - so long as they are still respectable and likeable - gives one a feeling of superiority that is usually most pleasing. Some people say that you will get most pleasure in the company of your equals and most profit in the company of your superiors, but if you are the best person in the company you keep you will grow worse.

Money, power, influence, connections - they are all means to an end, not ends in themselves. They make it possible for you to bring about whatever it is you want to bring about.

More government means less liberty. Be in government when it is big, pervasive and dominant, or live where there is little government and have nothing to do with it.

Many obstacles melt away if you boldly tackle them head on instead of being deterred by them.

Most people don't know why they are doing what they are doing. Always be asking yourself the questions, “Why am I doing what I am doing?” and, “Why am I pursuing the goals I am pursuing?”

Don't believe what is presented to you as fact. Keep an open mind about it until you have made some investigations yourself to try to verify or disprove it.

Most things are relative, few things are absolute. Wealth, happiness, power, status - in many things we view ourselves relative to other people or relative to how we were at some point in the past or relative to how we hope we will be at some point in the future. How we value things depends upon what we compare them against. This even applies to our own worth as a person.

Never guide an enemy to what they have to do to hurt or defeat you.

Never actively take revenge. The best revenge over an enemy or a rival is to be successful and to live well. The only thing you should do with someone who has antagonized you is ignore them and leave them alone. Any form of active revenge runs the risk of provoking an even greater reaction against yourself. There could be censure and humiliation too if your actions become generally known and they are disapproved of. To think about revenge and how you have been hurt or slighted is merely to keep your wounds open.

Avoid the unlucky. Choose to be with the lucky. Bad luck is often the result of folly and it is unwise to get involved with the foolish. Foolishness is contagious. Fortunately wisdom and good fortune can also be passed on from one person to another.

Never be embarrassed. Even in embarrassing situations you should not show that you are ill at ease. Be self-possessed at all times. Never do anything to embarrass either yourself or others.

Never be idle. Always be doing something worthwhile and purposeful. Always try to be active not passive.

Never buy what you do not want simply because it is cheap. If you don't need or want something, you don't or need it at any price.

Never confess a wrongdoing unless you are absolutely certain that the other person already knows and has evidence to prove what you are being accused of. Much wrong-doing causes less harm than its useless confession does.

Never exaggerate. It shows the narrowness of your knowledge, experience and taste. And how can you describe truly remarkable things if you have used up all your superlatives on the mundane? Exaggeration is a form of lying, and like all lying it takes away the credibility of the person who practices it.

Don't expect, or ask, anyone to do what it isn't at least to some extent in their own self-interest to do.

Never let things be seen half-finished. It takes the mystery and impressiveness away from what you are presenting to others. Until a thing is finished and ready to be seen it should be regarded as nothing

Never let yourself be provoked. If you do, you are simply allowing another person to control and dictate your behavior. Remain in control yourself and thereby remain in control of the situation.

Never set to work at anything if you have any doubts as to its prudence. Such a suspicion in your own mind almost certainty means it will be viewed badly by others. If resolutions that have been approved unopposed by one's own internal arbiter often do not turn out well, what chance of success is there for a venture entered into supported by doubting reason and vacillating commitment? The rule is - “When in doubt, don't!”

Never take things against the grain, no matter how annoying they may be. Fools show their annoyance immediately but wise people overlook insults and impudence and other forms of bad behavior. The best way to deal with such things is simply to ignore them. Pretend not to hear an insult rather than react to it or try to avenge it, and if you can't ignore it, laugh at it. If you can't laugh at it, it's probably deserved.

Many things cause pain which would cause pleasure if you regarded their advantages. There is a favorable and an unfavorable side to everything. Cleverness consists in finding out what is favorable. The same thing looks quite different in another light. Look at everything in the best possible light. This approach helps you cope with life's vicissitudes.

No “what if’s”, no “if only’s”. All regrets are pointless. To try to alter the past in your imagination is silly. What has happened has happened and what is happening is happening and that is an end of the matter.

No one belongs entirely to us, and we should belong entirely to no one. Neither friendship nor the most intimate relationship is sufficient to create a permanent, unbreakable bond, or to remove all need for a person to retain at least some degree of individuality and independence. Trust no one entirely, and do not give anyone your full confidence. Always keep some resources hidden in reserve and keep your most important secrets to yourself.

Nothing ever really happens by chance. We do not always know enough to understand the causes of what is happening and why it is happening, but if we could discover the chain of causes that led up to it we would see that it was inevitable.

Really the only things you do that are of any significance are those that impact somehow on other people and their lives.

Once a relationship has been broken by some treachery or other bad behavior on the part of one person in the relationship it can never go back to being the way it was. In such a case it is usually best if possible not to have any further involvement with the other person, If this is not possible, there should be a civil coolness and minimal contact and involvement.

Once you reach a certain level in life and become a public figure to any extent, you will be on the receiving end of criticism. This will be regardless of what you do. Ignore it.

Once you’ve decided what you want, stop thinking about it and just concentrate on doing the things you need to do for and with other people that you have calculated will enable you to achieve your goals.

Once you've overcome the problem of not having enough money you can use your money to solve other problems you have and to solve problems for other people.

One good mentor is worth more than a thousand good books. The best way to learn is by doing. The next best way is by talking to people who are doing or have done what you want to do. The worst way is by reading books. As well as seeking mentors you should seek sponsors who will pay to put your ideas into effect. People whose knowledge comes only from books really know nothing.

Positive words and positive actions. Avoid negativity, in word and deed. Your speech and actions should be designed to achieve some positive end.

Complaining about a situation is pointless. Do something about it if you can, don't complain about it if you can't. To complain about the people who have power over your life is equally pointless. Either become part of the institutions that are above you so that you can change them from within, or accept the rules they lay down for you and work within them.

Other people are always improving and developing, so if you don't keep improving and developing, when you come up against them, they will beat you.

Your attitude towards others largely determines their attitude toward you.

Pardon one offense and you merely encourage many more. Punish the first offense to prevent others.

Paying people with medals, trophies, awards and certificates is much cheaper than giving them anything of real value, like money.

No one acts altruistically. There always lies some self-interest behind what appears to be altruistic behavior. You need to work out what it is if you are to understand the other person's motives and mindset. People do good from bad motives. For example, doing religious work for money, being paid to advertise and endorse products that the promoter has no interest or belief in, being on the board of trustees of a charity so as to acquire status and make useful social connections - these are examples of doing good but doing it from base motives.

Practice your vocation all the time. You should always be practicing the art or the skill involved in your work so that you keep improving. The person who practices more can become more successful than a person with greater talent who practices less.

Present a clear image and identity to the world. Choose your clothes deliberately so that they are distinctive, even if in a subtle way. Do the same with your manners, your speech, your behavior, even your personality. This can extends to other areas of your life such as your vocation, family, friends, possessions, pastimes, and so on. Everything should go towards creating the clear-cut, well defined, distinctive image you want to present to the world so that you are easily recognizable and identifiable.

Pretend to be feeling a particular emotion if it helps you get what you want, such as anger to intimidate and dominate other people, or love for getting sex.

Prioritize. Not everything is of equal importance. Don't waste your time with trivial and menial activities. Don't focus on what is insignificant and irrelevant. Focus on the big, important goals you want to achieve and busy yourself doing what is necessary to achieve them. Leave the small stuff for later on, or, better still, for someone else to do.

Get other people to do what you don't want to do. The best way to achieve this is to make sure they benefit from helping you. Delegate everything other than pleasure, profit and your vocation.

Put yourself where the important decisions are made. Mix with the people who have the power to make important decisions and to implement them.

Question everything. Especially question every aspect of your own life regularly and frequently. What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Should you be doing it, given the goals you are trying to achieve? Question everything about life in general. Don't take anything at face value. Don't go with the crowd. Disbelieve before you have good reason to believe. Don't assume anything. Find out the 'what', the 'why' and the 'how' of every situation if you can. The reality is often different from the appearance, and the truth is often different from what people would have you believe it to be.

Eliminate negative self-talk and negative self-images. As soon as you become aware of them, replace them with wholly positive mental material about yourself.

Recognize other people's faults no matter how highly placed those people may be. Some people become blind to the failings of famous or important people. They see the failings but choose to ignore them. You should see failings in whomever they may exist and then distance yourself from such people or take precautions not to become involved in their vices. Wealth, fame and status cloak failings that would be noticed immediately in lesser people and loudly condemned.

Recognize that not only does everyone not wish you well, but some people wish you ill, while the vast majority of people are completely indifferent about you.

Recognize that there are no natural laws or natural rights in human affairs, there are simply the rights and obligations, rewards and penalties, that are decided on by the top people and imposed on the rest of society. The top people are able to do this because they have the power - the money, manpower and weapons - to enforce their decisions.

Recognize when things are ripe and enjoy them then. This applies especially to people. Someone worth being involved with yesterday might not be worth being involved with today. Someone not worth being involved with today might be worth being involved with tomorrow. Get people and things when they are at their best. Walk away from them and/or replace them when they begin to decline.

Don't be average. Don't be mediocre. Don't be ordinary. Be exceptional in at least one way, and let that be in a good way.

Relationships should only continue as long as they seem worthwhile to both, or all, parties concerned. Relationships can and often do end when the balance of power changes, when external circumstances change, when what one party needs changes, or what one party is able to provide changes. Relationships should really be regarded as being like business deals where there is an exchange of benefits with an acceptance of the associated costs of getting those benefits. All sides should feel that the positives outweigh the negatives in any relationship.

Only get into religion if you can get some material advantage out of it. Otherwise leave it alone. Religion is a human-made artifice designed to allow a small number of clever people to exploit and subjugate a large number of fools. It is false and evil. These characteristics are perhaps best illustrated by television evangelism, where every broadcast ends with a plea for you to 'donate' money for something that is being sold, and the 'murder and suicide religions' where the practitioners advocate death and injury as a way of illustrating an imaginary god's wonderfulness. If religion's consequences weren't sometimes so terrible it would be laughable.

Renew your brilliance if you become aware it is fading. Ability grows old and declines, and so does fame. When the audience is accustomed to it, their admiration weakens. A new mediocrity often eclipses the highest excellence that has fallen from its pinnacle. Try therefore for your good qualities to be born again - talent, genius, boldness, application, fortune, all things. Display attention-grabbing novelties. Rise again like the sun on a new day. Change too the scene on which you shine so that your loss may be felt in the old places where you used to triumph. The novelty of your powers in the new place will win you fresh applause. They say a person's character changes every seven years. Renew yourself and your life at each such interval. Change for the better. Become nobler and more sophisticated. Acquire a new excellence. Become more perfect. Don't allow yourself to become taken for granted.

Respect yourself if you would have others respect you. Never lose your self-respect. Never put yourself down in front of others. Nobody holds a good opinion of people who have a low opinion of themselves, and often we are taken at our own valuation, at least initially. To be respected, be respectable. However, do not be pompous or stand on ceremony or act superior because of your position or status. It is a sign of weakness and small-mindedness for a person in authority to insist that all their petty privileges be acknowledged.

Select and reject. You cannot have everything. You must choose what you want in your life, what you do not want, what you want but cannot have, and what you want but should not have because it will somehow disadvantage you in getting something else that is more important.

Sell a thing for as much as a buyer will pay for it, not for what you think it is worth. The value of a thing is dictated not by the seller but by how much potential buyers will bid the price up to.

Share rather than give. This way you keep what you have whilst still allowing other people to benefit from it. Once you have given something away you no longer have it either to give or to share.

Be mature. Be serious. Have gravitas. There should be weight and substance to your character and your demeanor. Aim somehow to be more than other people.

Small vices lead to bigger vices. At the first sign that you are habitually indulging in a small vice, make yourself stop. It is a lot easier to do it early on than to try to stop later when the vice might have developed into something uncontrollable. Vices can creep into our lives disguised as virtues. They are sweet and pleasurable in the beginning but bitter in the end. Vices are often attempts to fill some personal dissatisfaction or emptiness. Better to find out what the underlying problem is and deal with it rather than lay another problem over the top of it. Replace vices with positive, constructive action that benefits you and other people and that fully occupies your time and attention.

Small-minded people get worked up about little things. Bigger-minded people notice the small things but they don't get concerned by them. They're too busy dealing with the big, important things.

Simple people think that the only way to make more money is by working harder and working longer hours. Smart people make more money by working less. They use other individuals and organizations, and sometimes technology, to increase their income.

Sometimes it is appropriate to seem to get into a temper. It makes clear your strength of feeling on a matter, and hints at the strength you could use if you were to act on your feelings. Of course you should never actually lose your temper because you should never lose control of yourself in any way. It should only be an act.

Some things in life are just numbers games. The more you do and the more people you do it with, the more you get and the more successful you become. Socializing, dating and selling might be seen as examples.

Sometimes the direct route will get you to where you want to go, but sometimes you will have to take an indirect route. So long as you get to where you want to go, it doesn't really matter what route you take.

Sometimes the only way to get what you want is to trick other people. One way to deceive people is with promises that you have no intention of keeping, or that you don't even have the ability to keep. Deceive people by what you omit to say to them rather than by lying to them. Let the big print offer people what they want and the small print prevent them from getting it. You yourself should always be on your guard against falsehood, deception and misrepresentation.

Often your selfish goals have to be attained as a by-product of pursuing and attaining more admirable, generous, selfless goals. Pursue goals that involve serving other people in some way and you may get the wealth, fame or whatever else it is that you crave.

Sometimes you're just in the wrong place at the wrong time and nothing can save you.

Specialize, focus, eliminate and do less but to greater effect so that you achieve more.

Start now! Many of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we didn't spend half our time wishing for those things. Start taking action now to get what you want. It won't come to you. To achieve nothing and be nothing it is only necessary to do nothing. Stop talking, start doing.

Stroke the front for sex and the back for sleep.

Success and failure can be equally disastrous. Success can lead people to rest on their laurels and cease striving, while failure can so dispirit people that they also cease striving. Every success should merely be a stepping stone to taking on a greater challenge. Every failure should be seen as a lesson teaching you how to avoid similar failure in the future and suggesting to you other ways to try to be successful.

Success sometimes comes from stumbling by chance upon a formula that happens to be a winning one. If this happens to you, make the most of it. It could give you everything you need and want in life for the whole of your life. It doesn't matter how you achieve success so long as you achieve it.

Success usually comes slowly and is long anticipated while disaster strikes quickly and unexpectedly. Work hard and continuously and relentlessly to be successful but always be on the lookout for impending disaster.

Successful people think about what they want and what they love while unsuccessful people think about what they don't want and don't like.

Tell the truth, but not the whole truth. If it is necessary to deceive, do it by being honest, but keep back some essential information that would reveal to your audience the entire picture. The world is full of deception and you need to master the art if you are to get on and to stay safe. Even in the best circumstances and in the best company it can be a mistake to tell the whole truth. Circumstances and people change, and then what you have revealed may be used against you. Don't tell other people what you really think of them. Yet don't lie. To be caught out telling even a single lie can destroy a reputation for integrity that it has taken you a lifetime to acquire. Refusing to comment or even speak is the nearest one should get to telling a lie. Tell one and you may have to invent another twenty to support it. If for some reason you find that lying is unavoidable, make the smallest amount of lying bring you the most benefit. Lying if you don't have a good memory is fatal.

The best time to deal with a problem is before it has arisen. Look ahead, see possible problems that are looming on the horizon and take steps to get rid of them before they can develop further and get to you.

The best way to get other people's approval is not to need it and to make sure they know you don't need it.

Business is the best way to get rich but also the best way to lose everything. Tread cautiously. It is a treacherous game full of pitfalls for the unwary. If you are putting more of your own money into the business than you are taking other people's money out of it, you have got it wrong.

Generally the ways of becoming successful are to go into business or be a creator or to be a performer. Becoming a politician falls into the last category.

The best way to show people they are doing wrong is by doing right yourself. Setting people a good example is the best way of teaching them to be good.

The best way to increase your chances of winning is to be the one who sets the rules for the game in hand. The person with the most power is usually the one who sets the rules, and usually the one who wins.

The easiest, simplest and quickest way to get what you want is to buy it. This applies to people as well as to things. Often life is very simple - either what you want is available and you can afford it, or it isn't or you can't.

The fear of something is often worse than the feared thing itself. Put fear out of your mind and get on with doing what you know it is necessary for you to do if you are to have a good life and be successful.

The lower the class, the more gestures and facial expressions, so make sure you restrain your gestures and facial expressions.

The most important work you can do is to work on your own mind. Your mind determines your behavior and actions, and they determine what your life will be like. Get your mind right and your life will be right.

The people who do things do not always get the credit for it. Getting the credit for some deed that people appreciate, admire and respect is more important than being the one who actually does the deed. Get the credit for the work that other people do.

The wise act promptly and effectively to get what they want. Once all life's worthwhile things have been seized by the top people, the people lower down are lucky if they get the leftovers or what was unwanted. Be one of the quick, clever people.

The worse a person you are in terms of looks, character and behavior, the more successful you will need to be for worthwhile people to accept you or even to tolerate you. If you want to be wanted, become more successful, improve your personal qualities, or, better still, do both.

There are times when it is better to lose than to win. Sometimes a winner has to shoulder some social or financial burden, or accept some responsibility or agree to give up some of their time as the price they have to pay for being number one, yet the runner-up may get a perfectly acceptable reward or settlement without having to commit to do anything further. In such cases you may find it more attractive to come second rather than first.

There are two routes to the top of a pyramid - either get to the top of an existing pyramid or create your own pyramid beneath you, with you at the top of it. It doesn't matter which approach you take, and indeed you may find that you have no choice but to create your own pyramid.

There are two types of failure - trying and failing to get what you want, and not even trying to get what you want.

There is often a way you can profit from other people's misfortune. Look for it. Exploit them and their situation. Put more benevolently, help them in a way that benefits you. Examples might be the way that people in debt are charged money to have their debts restructured or reduced, or the way homeless people can buy magazines to sell on the street, thereby not only making money for themselves but also making the magazine producer rich.

There could be many ways of achieving your ideal life. Try to discover or create as many routes to your chosen destination as you can. Then if one route doesn't get you there, you have other routes you can try.

Think and act like the person you want to be until you actually become that person.

Think big. You have to think anyway, so you might as well think big. It doesn’t take any more effort than thinking small. It’s even arguable that big achievements are easier to attain than small ones because with big tasks you have to get help from other people, whereas with small tasks you are quite likely to end up doing everything yourself. The best approach to large goals is to break them down into smaller, more easily achieved sub-goals. Many things that cannot be accomplished when tackled all at once will become achievable when tackled little by little. When you achieve one goal, set yourself a higher one and immediately start trying to achieve it. There should always be something worthwhile and significant that you are trying to achieve.

Think carefully before deciding to head down a particular path in life. Some people thoughtlessly set off in a particular direction, for example in terms of choosing a career, or settling down with someone, or living somewhere, and are then surprised to find that they don’t like the life they have got for themselves. Making the wrong choices not only wastes your time and resources but sometimes it can also be extremely difficult or even impossible to change paths and get on to the right one. You find that it is too late. With some things you have to make the right choice first time, and you may have to do it early in life. So give important matters profound consideration before deciding what to do.

Think with the few but speak with the many. The masses may be wrong and far from clever but it is prudent to appear to be in accord with them, if only because you are outnumbered by them. To dissent from their views is regarded as a form of criticism, and you will be seen to regard yourself as superior to them. Of course you should be superior to them, but you should keep this hidden as far as personal matters are concerned, revealing it only in your work. Amongst your own sort of people you can act more naturally and openly.

Think carefully, then choose carefully, then act carefully but effectively. Think about the options available to you that will enable you to achieve what you want to achieve, then choose the best one out of those options, then put that choice into effect.

To be an artist you need not only to master your art but also to master the art of selling. You must make potential buyers consider that something essentially useless and probably almost worthless in terms of materials used is actually worth paying for. The value of a work of art is mostly a matter of belief and opinion rather than of any intrinsic value. Art is business.

To be a good artist you should be creative and inventive and be able to show familiar things in a new light and from a new perspective so that people can see and understand them better or in a new way.

To become a parent you should ideally be in a stable relationship with the person who will be the other parent and be able to live happily with them for long enough to raise a family. You should have a suitable family home and an adequate, stable, dependable income. It is good to have friends who will be excellent role models for your child or children. Examples are more effective and beneficial than lessons or criticism. In effect you are starting to influence your children before they are born by putting in place the best possible circumstances for them to be born into. They should be taught good habits. Their education should aim to lead them to think in ways such that in adult life they behave well, positively and successfully. It isn't necessary to be emotionally attached to your children to be a good parent. It is how you bring them up that matters, not how you feel about them. Your aim should be to get them in a fit condition to leave you and live independently, happily and successfully.

To control people, or at least have maximum influence over them, make them depend on you, especially for the roof over their heads and for money. Money is the best tool for controlling and manipulating people, but their emotional needs and weaknesses can also be exploited.

To have a false friend is often worse than having a declared enemy. The latter you know is against you, so you can prepare and act accordingly, but you think the former is on your side when secretly they are plotting and working against you, so you take no protective measures against their treachery. Always be checking your friends to ascertain just how friendly towards you they really are. Better still, no matter how good they seem, give them no information and no unrestricted freedom of access to you and your possessions that they could use to harm you. Trust the friends of today as if they will be your enemies tomorrow. But leave the door of reconciliation open for your enemies. People who are developing and progressing tend to outgrow their old friendships as they acquire newer, better friends.

When you are manipulating, influencing or controlling people, they should not only not realize what you are doing but they should think that they are actually in control and that they are thinking and doing what they want.

To reach a goal you don't need to know every step you will have to take or the solutions to every problem you will encounter. All you need is have fixed in your mind all the time an absolutely clear picture of your goal.

Travelling is pointless if not done for some specific purpose. You should have a particular reason for going to any particular place. Travel doesn't necessarily broaden the mind. It can just give you a well-travelled small mind.

You may have to tread on the unsuccessful majority and keep them down as you climb your way up into the successful minority.

Trust no one, but rather than distrust people, try to arrange things so that no one can cause you significant harm, loss or inconvenience if they betray or disappoint you

Try to improve yourself and your life in some way every day. Be better in your work, in your character, in your social skills, in the sophistication and the excellence of your taste, in the clearness and focus of your thinking, in the strength of your willpower, in all things. Aim to be as complete and fully developed a person as you can be. By so doing you will be admitted into the company of the finest people, and even sought out by them.

Live and work at the limit of your present abilities and resources.

Generally you should use but not abuse people. Make use of them without taking advantage of them or mistreating them. Of course if you can only get what you want by doing something bad to some people, then so be it, but really you shouldn't get yourself into the sort of situation or have the sort of goals where such behavior is necessary.

Turn your thoughts outwards and focus them on other people and what you can do for and with them rather than inwards and focused on yourself. It is, after all, from other people that you are most likely to get all the things you want.

Understatement rather than exaggeration, calmness rather than excitement, and modesty rather than boastfulness - these are qualities that go towards making a person admirable and respectable.

Unless people have the power to have some material impact on your life, what they think of you is of no relevance and should be of no concern to you. Let such people think and talk of you as they please. They are insignificant.

Use cunning only as a last resort. It shows a lack of power and a lack of ability. It reveals that you can only get what you want by indirect and deceitful means. Conceal cunning, for it causes annoyance and arouses distrust. It may even cause people to seek revenge against you.

Use only enough of your power, ability and resources as is necessary to achieve what you want. Any more is a waste.

Use reason with the wise and use emotional arguments with everyone else.

Use technology only if it helps you get what you want. With the masses it merely occupies their time pointlessly and distracts them from what is important in life. Technology allows society's rulers to keep their subjects under surveillance. You should consider using technology to monitor people whose activities are important to you or who are somehow of some potential or actual significance to you. Technology should be used to help you work better and more efficiently and effectively. Technology doesn't alter the fundamental basics of life and the importance of having the right sort of connections with the right sort of people.

Use carrot and stick - that is, greed (or need) and fear - to get what you want from other people. Offer them something they want or threaten them with something they don't want. Induce a new fear or lessen or remove an existing one. Offer something new and desirable or threaten to reduce or take away some existing thing that is desired or is necessary. Otherwise you can simply take, steal or compel what you want, if you have the power.

Become an expert with words. Use them skillfully to get what you want. To please, you should use pleasing words. It is not just what you say but the way you say it that matters. Wise people deal in hot air while fools have to do life's physical work, so if you wish to avoid real work, be good at speaking. With words you can get money, power and status. With mere words you get things and you get people to do things. The right words delivered to the right people in the right way and at the right time and in the right place will get you everything you want and need in life. Your words have the power to make your life a heaven or a hell.

Put your subconscious mind to work to solve problems that your conscious mind cannot solve. Put your problems to your subconscious mind, stating them clearly and saying exactly what you are trying to achieve and what outcome you want, then leave it to work on them until it comes up with solutions and suggestions.

Walk, talk, dress, work and behave in such a way that others describe you in the most positive and flattering terms. Dress like a person who is going somewhere in life. Better still, dress like someone who has already arrived.

When you gain possession of something it seldom retains the same allure and appeal it had when you were pursuing it. That is why once you achieve a goal you are likely to feel compelled to set off in pursuit of a new one.

Whatever you habitually think yourself to be, that is what you are or will eventually be. So be careful what image of yourself you hold in your head. Rather than have an image of the way you may actually be now, have an image of yourself as you would ideally be.

When anything comes to an end, it is an opportunity to begin something new that could be even better.

When somebody you know dies, the knowledge that the same fate awaits you should spur you on to get on with living life to the full.

When someone doesn't agree with you, consider whether they may in fact be right, or whether you can at least learn something from them makes it sensible for you to modify your opinions.

When trying to please others, make sure you really know their likes and dislikes, otherwise you risk inadvertently displeasing them and instead of getting the reaction from them that you desire you may get an entirely different and totally unwanted reaction. Don't assume all people like the same things or that they like what you like. People's tastes differ. Investigate carefully what the other person's tastes are before trying to please them. Even if aiming to amuse or edify with your conversation you should be careful that you are not being boring or annoying. Pleasing others often involves some degree of deceit and dissembling, or at least suppressing or altering your normal speech and behavior.

If you unavoidably have to deal with others and you find it impossible to think and act without emotion, interpose a prudent, impartial person between you and them to act as an intermediary.

If you and other people start off equal in a competitive situation, you may give yourself a decisive advantage by being the one who makes the first move.

When you die you should leave your money, property and possessions to whoever will make the best use of it. This will not necessarily be family or friends. Don't feel you are under any obligation (subject to the laws of your country) to leave it to them.

When you feel down, stop thinking about yourself and instead think about what you can do for and with other people.

If you have to give other people choices, try to give them only ones such that you would be happy whichever of the choices they chose.

With the right sort of people, you can reward them something before they have done what you want so that they feel obliged to do what it is that you want. This ploy, however, does not work with the wrong sort of people who feel no sense of obligation.

With your work or business, employ the most talented people you can. Some people like to feel superior to everyone around them, and so they employ second-rate people, but astute people use the best people available so as to achieve the best results possible. Do the same. Set your people difficult tasks. Many people are keen to show how competent and skilful they are. This also enables them to develop and become even better. Never use incompetent people. Not only will their lack of ability prevent you from achieving what you are trying to achieve but such people invariably cause problems so you end up getting nowhere or going backwards instead of going forwards.

Try to work in the way that lawyers and doctors work as far as money is concerned. Regardless of the outcome of their work or whether they do it well or badly, they still get paid. Aim always to get paid any time you do any work.

Expect everyone you have any involvement with to be bad, incompetent or useless and then you won't feel disappointed when you are right or you'll be pleasantly surprised when you are wrong.

Sometimes it's worth confessing to having small faults - even imaginary ones - as a tactic to distract people from probing to find out if you have any major ones.

You can have all the belief in the world, but it is facts that count. No amount of belief can over-rule them. They do not stop being facts just because you try to ignore them or you fail to recognize them.

You cannot adopt politics as a profession and remain honest. Politics involves ignoring facts, hiding them, telling partial truths, and telling outright lies. Politics is self-interest masquerading as public service. Nothing politicians say should be believed because often what they say is untrue and you cannot spot with any certainty the occasions when they do happen to tell the truth. If you are a natural politician, at least one of your motives for getting into politics should be to use or steal your country's money and to make connections with people who will pay you to help bring about the political and legal changes that they want.

You cannot be free if you are a slave to your passions.

You cannot reason prejudices out of people. The prejudices didn't get in by reason and they won't be got out by reason. Leave prejudiced people alone.

It isn't owning things that's important, it's controlling things.

You have to ask the right questions of the right people if you are to get answers that will be useful to you.

You can create yourself as well as find yourself.

You have to decide for yourself what constitutes happiness for you. Then you have to decide how you will attain it. Domestic and financial security and sufficiency help, as does being diligently and passionately absorbed in your vocation. Having autonomy in your work and your life in general also helps, as does having good friends and perhaps having one special partner. Maintaining good health and being engaged in enjoyable social activities when not engaged in work are also desirable. Happiness depends more upon personality and attitude than circumstances. Don't interfere with other people's happiness if they are not interfering with yours, and don't sacrifice your own happiness for that of others.

It is good if your life involves the continuous and progressive realization of a worthy ideal. To have one big idea and goal that dominates your whole life gives you an unbeatable sense of purpose. To be obsessed with anything is normally bad, but if you are obsessed with benefitting other people and serving humanity in one specific way, that can be a marvelous thing.

Live within the rules laid down by the people at the top of your particular society. They have the power to take away your freedom and everything you own, and possibly even your life, so although you might not like their rules, you risk losing too much if you contravene them.

You need to feel some discontent if you are not to lose the motivation to do things and make things happen. Discontent acts as a spur urging you on to achieve more. Discontent may well be the cause of much trouble but it is also the cause of much progress.

You owe no allegiance to the country where you were born. You did not choose to be born there. You have not entered into any agreement to obey its laws. You have not agreed to give its government whatever money it might demand from you. Its politicians are not your friends. They don't care about you. They are following their own agenda. They are using you for their own purposes and as part of their own vision as to how other people should live. They would not hesitate to send you to be killed in pursuit of their own ideals. View your country's government as an enemy rather than a friend, and as something to be outsmarted rather than supported or obeyed. Keep what you can of your own, and get whatever assistance, money and material benefits from your country you can through its government. Look around the world to see what other nations and jurisdictions might better suit you and enable you to have a better life. If you find such a place ,go and there.

You should find out as soon as possible what you cannot do and what you do not want to do as well as what you can do and what you want to do.

You should not hold any views that you cannot explain and justify.

You will get what you want when you are ready to receive it and when you deserve it. Sometimes people get what they want without these conditions being met, but their good fortune does not last long because they are not fit to keep it. Develop your mind, character, speech, behavior, ability, social life, everything, so that you are a fit and proper person to have the life you want.

Quite often, to be successful you simply have to make the attempt.

Once you know what you want, you should put it out of your mind and set yourself goals involving doing things for and with other people, the achievement of which will naturally result in you getting what you want. So instead of saying, “I want this much money by the end of next year,” say, “I need to sell this amount of goods or services or do this amount of work by the end of next year.”

Your desire for success needs to be greater than your fear of failure.

Your habits make you what you are, so make sure your habits are appropriate for the sort of person you want to be. Excellence reveals itself in a person's habits. Calculate what you need to improve about yourself in order to get what you want and to be the person you want to be, and then set about adopting those improvements as habits. Just a little effort and some small changes can often reap great rewards. You may need to change your manners, speech, behavior, work, even your character, but whatever it is, you must make the necessary changes and maintain them until they become habitual and second nature to you. Remember that one bad habit can be enough to ruin your life, so get rid of all bad habits. Always be on the lookout for new bad habits forming. The best approach is first to decide what you will not do, then stop doing it. Then you can apply yourself to what you ought to do in order to become successful according to your definition. It has to be said, however, that although people's natural inclinations can often be hidden or temporarily overcome, they are seldom extinguished entirely, and they may rear up again at any time.

Your mind is like a magnet, drawing to you what your thoughts dwell on the most with the most passion and belief. This applies to negative things as well as to positive things, so if you think about what you don't want or about what you fear, that is what will come into your life. Therefore think only about what you desire and most want.

One person is as good as another so long as they have what you want and you can get it from them. Don't get emotionally attached to any individuals or groups. Only be attached to their usefulness in terms of the benefits and advantages they bring into your life.

When people are cynical about something, they might just be revealing what they don't have but really would like.

No matter how cynical you become, you can never be cynical enough to keep up with what people do and what they are really like.

Strangely, if you aim solely for success, you are unlikely to get it, but if you do what you love and believe in and what you passionately wish to be successful at it, you may well find that success will come to you of its own accord.

Learn to cope calmly and patiently with frustration and be unconcerned when you don't get your own way, merely adapting happily, positively and quickly to the situation.

If you fail, never say, “I did my best.” That just makes people realize you're even more incompetent than they first thought.

One definition of success is simply being able to live your life the way you want to live it.

Success has to be endured as well as enjoyed. It comes with obligations and penalties.

The greater you want your achievements to be, the more you must leverage your ideas and your actions. You must use other people to make a greater impact on the lives of a greater number of people. Rich, powerful, important well-connected individuals can help get your work out to more people, but governments, institutions, organizations and businesses are what have the potential to give you the massive leverage you want and require.

All collective bodies of people are controlled either by one person or by a handful of people. When you want to deal with governments, institutions, organizations, businesse and other collective bodies, really there is only one person or a handful of people that you should be aiming to connect with. The reins of power are in their hands, and they can grant or deny your wishes.

Success can never be guaranteed. That is why you must enjoy the process of pursuing it at least as much as you imagine you would enjoy success itself.

Don't imagine that money has to be earned. Governments create money as they please and take it from their citizens as they please and dispose of it as they please to whomever is currently pleasing them. Rub up against the people who have and control money and please them.

To get what you want you must have tunnel vision, and at the end of the tunnel you must see nothing except what you want.

There is no connection between how hard people work and their standard of living, and there is no connection between people's standard of living and their personal merit. The world simply doesn't work in that way. If you persist in thinking that things in life have to be earned or deserved, you will fail and become disillusioned.

Never act out of desperation. Recognize that when other people are desperate they may either be a danger to you, or they may be presenting you with an opportunity to get something you want, or both.

After you have self-control, the next step is to take responsibility for other people.

The stupidest advice you can give to a fool is, “Just be yourself.” However, it is at least a way of ensuring that they fail so that they are no competition for you.

It is rather fun to get away with living a long life filled with excess and success and then to tell young people that they shouldn't do any of the things you have done. Another great pleasure is to be rich and then to pretend to be a socialist or even a communist and assert that money isn't important and that, “We are all equal.” This hypocritical teasing will bring you great pleasure by causing huge annoyance to other people.

The problem with becoming wise is that it requires wisdom to recognize wisdom. Once you've recognized it you then have to understand it and absorb it so that it becomes ingrained and second nature. Really the only way to achieve this is to have wise friends who, for whatever reason, will teach you, and for you to be sufficiently ego-less to be able and willing to accept their teaching.

The future comes first to the smart and successful, and then the stupider, less successful people get to see and experience it.

You can fight nature but you will never beat it. Better to work with nature and be a natural animal, dressed in and concealed by human clothing woven from artifice, deception and sophistication.

Friendship is not necessary, but people are, and to connect with them and stay connected with them you must behave in a friendly way.

The only reason to have a partner or partners is that the combination adds up to more than the sum of the parts. Together you must be able to achieve significantly more than the total of what you could achieve separately.

It is possible for servants to be better than friends if you choose your servants by the same criteria you use to choose your friends. After all, your servants depend on you for income and accommodation, so they have an even greater incentive to remain connected to you and useful to you.

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