Sunday, August 7, 2011

15 Lessons Learned from Ben Franklin...

So I got the chance to read Benjamin Franklin's "The Autobiography" last week and I absolutely loved it! He is such a great writer--the perfect mix of great advice, sarcasm, comedy, and serious reflections on life. If you ever get the chance to take some time to read it, I highly recommend it. This is going to be a kind of lengthy blog, so if you are not in the mood to read the musings of Benjamin Franklin mixed with my own thoughts, I suggest you just skip this one and wait for another, shorter blog, but it you do happen to read this, I hope you enjoy it! These are just some of my favorite quotes from the book and what they made me think about.

"A man being sometimes more generous when he has but a little money than when he has plenty"--Why is that? I've found it's really true though, at least with myself. I find I'm more generous with my time when I don't even seem to have enough of it to handle my own life. Franklin suggests that poor people are generous to avoid the appearance of being poor, but I'm not sure I agree. It's just a weird phenomenon.

"He and I had made a serious agreement, that the one who happen'd first to die should, if possible, make a friendly visit to the other, and acquaint him how he found things in that separate state."--This is hilarious to me. But it makes perfect sense. People are supposed to have the best perspective on their lives when they're on their deathbeds. So, at the risk of sounding slightly insensitive/morbid, I have to agree with Franklin. If you have to die, might as well do something useful while you're at it.

"I grew convinced that truth , sincerity, and integrity in dealings between man and man were of the utmost importance to the felicity of life."--How great is that?! It all leads back to being honest--always. I just love this as a motto for life. By the way, "felicity" means "intense happiness".

"I entertained an opinion that, though certain actions might not be bad because they were forbidden, or good because they are commanded, probably these actions might be forbidden because they were bad for us, or commanded because they were beneficial to us, in their own natures, all the circumstances of things considered." --So basically, things are prohibited to keep us safe, and commanded to help us become better people. I think as a member of the LDS church I go through this train of thought once in a while because a lot of Heavenly Father's commandments are like this and it's easy to get caught up in the logistics and forget the reasoning behind it all.

"There are croakers in every country, always boding it's ruin."--Right?? There's always going to be nay-sayers and doubters in our lives. The story behind this quote was that this guy wouldn't buy property in Philadelphia because he said the city was going to fail soon. He kept discouraging Benjamin Franklin from starting up his business there because he was so sure the town would never survive. Several years later, he finally bought a house for 5 times as much as he would have paid in the first place. I think sometimes in life we may listen to the "croakers" a little too much when it'd be better for us to just have confidence in our ideas and dreams and have faith that it'll all work out.

"Will Coleman...who had the coolest, clearest head, the best heart, and the exactest morals of any man I have ever met."--Wouldn't you just love to be remembered like that?! A clear head, a good heart, and strong, good morals. That's pretty much my goal for who I want to be. I wish I knew how this Will Coleman guy did it.

"Small things appearing great to those in small circumstances."--He's talking about money here and how grateful he was when he was struggling and someone helped him out. I think he's right to an extent, but I don't think small things just "appear" great. I think any help really is great--just especially if you're in a humble situation.

"He that would thrive, must ask his wife."--enough said. ;)

"As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other."--CTR right? No big deal. This is when Franklin was working on perfecting himself. I thought that was funny. Wish it were that simple, right?

"I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined."--It's funny how when we really start trying to improve ourselves we start finding our faults...I can't decide if that's discouraging or inspiring?

"Tho' I never arrived at perfection, I had been so ambitious of obtaining it, I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man."--It's hard to accept that we will never be perfect simply because were mortal and prone to error, but I agree. It's worth a shot if only for what you learn along the journey, right?

"In reality, there is, perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself."--I'd imagine pride was hard to keep at bay when you were someone as brilliant, hard-working, and successful as Benjamin Franklin. But it's inspiring to me that someone so amazing realized that all pride ever got him was arguments and tension. He knew that humility was the only way to present yourself in life and I hope I can take a lesson from his book.

"He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged."--I can personally attest to the truth of this maxim. Isn't it funny how we develop such a deep love for those we serve? It makes no logical sense, but it's one of those weird truths of life.

"When men are employed, they are best content'd."--In other words, being lazy will never lead to happiness. I think this is so true. I am always happiest when I am being productive, or engaged in learning, or working hard.

"Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day."--This is exactly the title of my blog! It amazes me that Benjamin Franklin, who had his fair share of big things happen to him in his lifetime, swears that it's the little things that produce joy--not huge things.

1 comment:

  1. How did I miss this great post??? Loved it Erin. Makes me wanna READ!