Baltasar Gracian (1601-1658) wrote many popular maxims:

33. Know when to put something aside– One of life's great lessons lies in knowing how to refuse, and it is even more important to refuse yourself, both to business and to others…it is worse to busy yourself with the trivial than to do nothing…All excess is a vice, especially in your dealings with others.

51. Know how to choose– Most things in life depend on it. You need good taste and an upright judgment; intelligence and application are not enough…Two talents are involved: choosing and choosing the best.

89. Know yourself-– The key to everything.

104. Have a good sense of what each job requires-– "Far better are the jobs we don't grow bored with, where variety combines with importance and refreshes our taste."

110. Don't wait to be a setting sun. Similar: Quit while you're ahead; don't wear out your welcome

121. Don't make much ado about nothing-– "Few bothersome things are important enough to bother with…Many things that were something are nothing if left alone, and others that were nothing turn into much because we pay attention to them." Similar: Take it easy.

139. Know your unlucky days – "On some days, everything goes badly; on others, well, and with less effort…Take advantage of such days, and don't waste a moment of them."

140. Go straight to the good in everything. Similar: Think positive; be optimistic. Thoughts: Everything has a "good" and "bad" side. Focusing on the negative just makes it harder to get anything done.

176. Either know, or listen to someone who does. [M]any people are unaware that they do not know, and others think they know when they do not. Attacks of foolishness have no remedy…Asking advice won't diminish your greatness or cast doubt on your talent.

198. Know how to transplant yourself. "Everything foreign is held in esteem, whether it came from afar, or because people see it only after it is well formed and has reached perfection." Thoughts: In nature, seedlings cannot grow tall in the shadows of their parent. Sometimes you have to move away in order to spread your wings and fly. Part of it involves opportunities for personal growth, but the other part is acknowledgement, which Gracián discusses above.

200. Have something to hope for – "If all were possession, all would be disappointment and discontent. Even the understanding needs something else to learn, something curiosity can feed on." Thoughts: Always set new goals after achieving old ones. Nothing is more dangerous than boredom; think of how many successful people proceeded to ruin their lives because they "didn't know what else to do."

229. Parcel out your life wisely – Gracián's suggestion: "What makes life pleasant is a variety of learning. For a beautiful life, spend the first act in conversation with the dead (books)…Spend the second act with the living: behold all that is good in the world…The third act belongs entirely to you.

"The 1892 book of his maxims has a full view in Google.


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