Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.Marcus Tullius Cicero
Cicero was, by any standards, an amazing man. Philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, and the list goes on. He had a huge influence on the Latin language. The rediscovery of Cicero’s letters kickstarted the Renaissance period.
1. Believing that one person can profit by crushing another.
People still believe that you can profit from somebody else’s downfall. We’re on a planet with finite resources with a system promoting endless consumption. Someone, somewhere, has to lose.
Your successes will be much sweeter and long-lasting with this approach. If instead of trying to destroy your competitors, you actually help them out. Your victory will not be as quick and it may not be a victory in the traditional sense, but you will be winning as a human being.
One of the hallmarks of an educated and cultured person is the ability to empathize with others. No matter who they are.
2. The tendency people have of worrying about things they can’t change.
I’ve often discussed the things that we can control. It turns out that it’s not much: we can control our thoughts and our actions and that’s about it.
So the problem is this: while we may be able to have some effect on things outside our direct control, there is no guarantee.
Yet, we worry about it. We create alternative “what if” scenarios and wonder if it was our fault.
The truth is that you will never know if it could have gone any other way.
The first thing that we need to accept is that the past is unalterable. So, there is very little point in dwelling on it.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t think about the past. There is much to learn from our personal past experiences and also from the collective experience of the human race.
Worrying about things you cannot change is a waste of time. This is time that could be far better spent concentrating on the things we can change.
3. The tendency people have of insisting that something is impossible because they cannot do it.
Almost everything that we take for granted today would appear pure magic a few hundred years ago. It would appear impossible and yet, here we are.
Change is a strange phenomenon. Most people overestimate how much can change in a day and underestimate how much can change in a year or a decade.
Have you noticed that whenever you go ahead and make a major life change, you will always have people against you? Telling you that it is not going to work? That it’s not practical or that it’s plain impossible.
Often this is the case because people want other people to fail, especially when that person is doing something different.
The logic is quite simple. If you are doing something different to them, you are, in some ways, saying that what they are doing is wrong, and people hate that they are wrong.
4. Holding fast to trivial pride, preference, and prejudice.
People hate being told that they are wrong because it wounds their pride. A wise person doesn’t get insulted when his mistakes are pointed out to him. He is thankful that he has a chance to correct his ways.
None of us is infallible and so you should question both your own opinions as well as the opinions of others.
The best way to live is with a thick skin and an open mind.
5. The fact people stop learning and do not continue to hone their minds, particularly by acquiring the habit of reading and studying.
This is getting to the core of what my entire philosophy is about – continual education.
Do you know what’s the amazing thing about reading? It allows you to experience other people’s ideas and points of view, as well as other cultures without having to leave your front door. It’s almost like teleportation! Reading also works like a time machine. You get to have wonderful conversations with people who lived hundreds, if not thousands of years ago.
That’s real magic. I believe that if you stop learning you stop living.
6. People’s consistent and insistent attempts to compel others to believe and live as they do.
Intelligent debate, disagreements, and problem-solving are the spice of life. Almost everyone agrees that true hell on earth would be a society in which everyone agrees on everything.
The thing I find strange about people who compel others to believe and live as they do is that they tend to see things completely in black and white, while life is really designed in shades of grey.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed our short journey in the past. I would recommend you check out Cicero’s works, I especially recommend his essay On Duties.