Show no self-satisfaction.

Cover of "The Art of Worldly Wisdom"
Cover of The Art of Worldly Wisdom

 

You must neither be discontented with yourself, which is weak spirited, nor self-satisfied, which is folly. Self-satisfaction arises mostly from ignorance, and it would be a happy ignorance not without its advantages if it did not ruin reputation. Because a person cannot achieve the superlative perfections of others, he contents himself with any mediocre talent of his own. Distrust is wise, and even useful, either to evade mishaps or to afford consolation when they come, for a misfortune cannot surprise a man who has already feared it. Even Homer nods at times, and Alexander fell from his lofty state due to his illusions. Things depend on many circumstances-what constitutes triumph in one set may cause defeat in another. In the midst of all, incorrigible folly remains the same with empty self-satisfaction, blossoming flowering, and running all to seed.

 

Maxim 107, page 90, The Art of Worldly Wisdom, B.Gracian, Shambhala, London, 1993 (originally written in 1637)

 

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