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Ben Franklin on Vanity

I just started reading Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography. This paragraph surprised me:

And lastly (I may as well confess it, since my denial of it will be believed by nobody), perhaps I shall a good deal gratify my own vanity [by writing this]. Indeed, I scarce ever heard or saw the introductory words, "Without vanity I may say," but some vain thing immediately followed. Most people dislike vanity in others, whatever share they have of it themselves; but I give it fair quarter wherever I meet with it, being persuaded that it is often productive of good to the possessor, and to others that are within his sphere of action; and therefore, in many cases, it would not be altogether absurd if a man were to thank God for his vanity among the other comforts of his life.

Fascinating! Thank God for vanity? Wow...

But you know, it makes some sense. It seems to me that modesty is good when it helps you achieve what you set out to achieve, and modesty is bad when it stops you from achieving what you set out to achieve. Whether modesty is effective or not depends on the situation. Some situations call for it. Some don't.

It seems to me that there's a certain kind of pragmatic humility that'd always be good to have. Knowing what you don't know, knowing that there's a lot of skills you don't have, understanding that even your best reasoned judgment of a situation might be overlooking some details...

Leopard Print Slippers

On Python Bake

The week has been very good. I am reading Benjamin Franklin's autobiography and I am finding it very timely considering my own self-improvement efforts. In case any of you have not read it, I highly recommend it, both as an interesting account of early America and the life of one of its founding fathers, but also a great discussion about self-improvement by one of the most accomplished men in history of humanity. The great thing about the book is that it outlines the method that B.F. used for his own self-improvement and provides a guide to those of us that are struggling with our own shortcomings. I find it interesting how little we have changed as humans over the centuries, and likely millennia. Even though now we are surrounded by fangled new technologies, the patterns of behavior, good and bad habits, and the way we interact, have changed very little. An so, even though the book was written in 18th century, its precepts are still applicable to the life in the 21st. Neat.

You can read more about Benjamin Franklin's 13 habits here.

Personally, I know that one virtue I will have to work on is Silence. :p


As for the progress this week, I have been focusing on my Ubiquitous Capture. So far, I have been successful in keeping up with the new positive habit that I am trying to maintain, but really it has been less than a week, so lets not celebrate yet. I am using weekplan.net to record my captures, and I have a pocket-size moleskine coming in the mail. For now I am using a small nondescript notebook.

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