14 maxims for life

Today is my 85th birthday.  Here is what I’ve learned, such as it is, in 85 years.

  1. Happiness is being able to look back on your life with justified satisfaction.
  2. Never let your self-respect depend on anything (money, rank, reputation) that somebody else has the power to take away from you.
  3. Success is a product of effort, talent and luck.  The first factor is the only one you control, and the only one you deserve praise or blame for.
  4. Success isn’t everything.
  5. What you are is the product of your habits.  Your habits are the product of thousands of small decisions you probably don’t remember making.
  6. Nobody ever got in trouble by checking.
  7. There is no such thing as a stupid question.  Stupidity consists of not knowing and not asking.
  8. When you admit a mistake, you are telling the world you understand things better today than you did yesterday.
  9. Guilt is like everything else.  Some people have much, much more than they should, and those who need it most have none at all.
  10. Don’t compare yourself with others.  There will always be somebody who is better, or better off, than you, and somebody else who is worse, or worse off, than you.
  11. Don’t get upset about anything you don’t expect to remember 10 years from now.
  12. A survivalist tip: Make yourself useful and treat people well, so that, during the coming bad years, they will have a reason to keep you alive.
  13. Small kindnesses add up.
  14. Count your blessings. 

Some sayings of sages:

“A man, sir, must keep his friendships in constant repair.”  (Samuel Johnson)

“The virtue of the middle class is thrift.  The virtue of the working class is solidarity.”  (David Graeber)

“It is possible to ignore reality, but it is not possible to ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.”  (Atributed to Ayn Rand)


7 Responses to “14 maxims for life”

  1. Nikolai Vladivostok Says:

    Happy birthday. I’ll work on Number 11.


  2. ebersole@prodigy.net Says:

    Happy Birthday Phil! I’ll try to live by your maxims.


  3. silverapplequeen Says:

    Happy Birthday!


  4. davidgmarkham Says:

    Hi Phil:

    First, happy birthday! It has been such a blessing in so many ways that your were born and traveled us among us in this world. I feel very blessed that our lifetimes, yours and mine, have overlapped.

    Second, the 14 maxims are wonderful, sage, and remind me very much of the Stoic philosophy. The Stoics taught that the best lived life is a life of virtue and you have not only taught that but exemplified it for those of us who have cared to witness it.

    Third, it has been a blessing to witness a life well lived and shared with fellow human beings. Thank you. May satisfaction and fulfillment be the experience that is yours today and the rest of the days allotted to you.

    David Markham


  5. Bill Harvey Says:

    Happy Birthday, Phil!


  6. Word from the Dark Side – pseudo-chicks a-swimming, mean tweets triggering, elephants a-giggling and I’ve Simple Things | SovietMen Says:

    […] 14 maxims for life from Phil E. on his 85th birthday. I should know these but lack the wisdom to consistently bring them to mind when required. […]


  7. Nicky D Says:

    Wise words. Happy birthday!


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