I collect axioms, paradoxes, maxims, teaching stories, proverbs, and aphorisms of all sorts, because I love to see complex ideas distilled into a few words.
For years, I’ve been writing my “Secrets of Adulthood,” which are the principles I’ve managed to grasp as I’ve become an adult.
Right now, I’m hard at work editing my next book, Before and After, about how we make and break habits — really.
Many of my latest Secrets of Adulthood relate to habits:
- We’re more like other people than we suppose, and less like other people than we suppose.
- A slight delay is the easiest way; no delay is the easiest way.
- Prioritize prioritizing.
- Well begun is half done.
- Don’t expect to be motivated by motivation.
- Practice makes permanent.
- Things often get harder before they get easier.
- What we assume will be temporary often becomes permanent; what we assume is permanent often proves temporary.
- There is no finish line.
- It’s easier to keep up than to catch up.
- By giving something up, we gain. (More true for Abstainers than Moderators.)
- When we give more to ourselves, we can ask more from ourselves. Important for the Strategy of Treats.
- We can’t make people change, but when we change, others change.
- The biggest waste of time is to do well something that we need not do at all.
- Make it easy to do right, and hard to go wrong. Strategy of Convenience.
- Make sure the things we do to make ourselves feel better don’t make us feel worse.
- To keep going, we sometimes need to allow ourselves to stop.
- Working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination.
- Most decisions don’t require extensive research.
- Self-regard isn’t selfish.
- Progress, not perfection.
- Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. (cribbed from Voltaire)
- The more we accept ourselves, and what’s right for us, the more other people accept us.
- Nothing stays in Vegas.
- Things look messier before they look tidier.
- What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while.
- What’s best? Getting better.
- Self-sacrifice can be self-indulgent.
- Not choosing is a choice.
- Everything counts.
- Slow progress can be more frustrating than no progress.
What would you add?