Raised as a Christian, I was often struck by some of the great wise sayings I found in the Bible, particularly in the Book of Proverbs. Some of the wisdom I learned from the Bible has withstood the test of time in my life, while other things I found there have not. But the fact that I had collected a number of valuable “gems” of wisdom from the Bible eventually put me on a course to begin collecting what I consider “timeless” wisdom from many sources— valuable ideas that I would wish to return to over and over to admire, to master, and to pass on to my children and the world. Considering the wide variety of sources, I decided to make each of these thoughts my own, paraphrasing them in simple, modern English in the form of maxims or aphorisms— terse, straightforward sayings stated with a minimum of poetry for its own sake.
At some point in reviewing my growing collection, I realized that the value I derived from it lay not in collecting more and more of it, but in consistently applying even a few of the principles it contained. “All the wisdom in the world,” I thought, “is useless unless I actualize it in my life, and even one successfully actualized maxim is more valuable than simply knowing a thousand.” This thought, paraphrased, became my First Law of Wisdom:
You will benefit more from applying the wisdom you already know than you will from learning more wisdom.
Wisdom collecting is a great hobby. But unlike most other collecting hobbies— bird watching, rock hounding, stamp collecting and the like, there is a deeply practical aspect to having a personal collection of wisdom that you actually study and attempt to apply. So, I encourage everyone who reads this to create your own personal wisdom collection. As for my own collection, I’ve started publishing it in a new blog here:
Many of my maxims are easy to agree with, but harder to put into practice. People I’ve shown them to find a few of them difficult to accept (particularly if they’re from a religious worldview) but I stand by them nonetheless.
Agree or disagree, I invite you to leave questions or commentary of your own on the individual maxims at More Wisdom, and I’ll be happy to respond there. I will not respond to comments on particular maxims here.
Right now I’m publishing about one a day to catch up with my collection so far, but that will slow at some point, and I’ll put out one every week or two. If you use an RSS reader, I recommend subscribing to the feed so you don’t miss any.