It’s been said that brevity is the soul of wit.  Perhaps that’s true, but perhaps it’s just a nod to short attention spans.  Regardless, there’s something to be said about the value of a well-placed aphorism.  Here are some of my own, in no particular order.

  1. The rhetorical volume of one’s opinion is inversely proportional to the wisdom contained therein.
  2. If given the opportunity, people will disappoint you.  Forgive them anyway.
  3. Because most are incapable of seeing the world that lies hidden beyond their ideological blinders and tribal identities, genuine and respectful discourse on politics, religion and ethics requires careful stewardship of the conversation.
  4. Most people cling to the unhappiness and misfortune they know, instead of risking the unknown in pursuit of something better.
  5. Few disagreements are so profound, nor many crises so pressing, that a well-formed initial response cannot wait until the next day.  Sleep often brings a perspective that lies beyond the grasp of logic.
  6. Introspection without action is worse than useless — it’s inherently self-destructive.
  7. You cannot engage another as an equal if you cannot first love yourself without qualification.
  8. Honor your commitments and always speak the truth, for trust betrayed has a cascading effect far worse than the momentary pain of keeping your integrity at a difficult time.
  9. Set clear expectations in your dealings with others, but take care that the expectations of others do not curtail your own happiness.
  10. Nurture the courage to be yourself even when those closest to you wish for you to be someone else.
  11. Aversion to reasonable risk fertilizes the full flowering of mediocrity.
  12. It is better to leave your heart vulnerable, and thereby to suffer more quickly and more deeply the pain inflicted by others, than to be so calloused inside that your soul is numb to all but extremes.
  13. Save your anger for those offenses that are motivated out of genuine and premeditated maliciousness and let pass those offenses arising merely from carelessness.
  14. Regret leeches the vividness of memory’s color.
  15. It is human nature to reject the good for want of the perfect: Nowhere does this tendency hold true more strongly than among 30-something single women seeking husbands.
  16. Understand how your opponent will respond along each of the four responses to conflict — flight, fight, compromise, and freeze — before you enter the arena.
  17. If your understanding of the facts fits too well with your deeply held preferences, then one or the other is deficient.
  18. Civility is the only investment that charges no up-front cost yet pays handsome dividends.
  19. Wisdom isn’t about finding the right answers — it’s about asking the right questions and knowing when to keep silent.
  20. Profess your love to someone today rather than to that person’s headstone tomorrow.
  21. Never be so convinced of your own correctness that you refuse to give full and fair treatment to the arguments and counsels of others.
  22. When you’re caught with your hand in the cookie jar, don’t lash out at the person who snuck up on you to catch you in the act.
  23. Always be willing to divest yourself of negative influences, especially friendships and routines that become inimical to your happiness and growth.
  24. Master the sword: When to wield it, when to sheathe it and when to fall upon it.
  25. People are naturally attracted to those who project confidence and demonstrate high social value, even when such demonstration is more fantasy than fact.  The illusion of confidence compensates for many social blemishes.
  26. Everyone goes through times in their lives when everything changes.  Sometimes, loved ones won’t really understand it.  Don’t let their resistance limit your growth.
  27. Just as your body needs exercise to stay strong, your mind needs new ideas to keep sharp and your heart needs genuine affection to remain warm.
  28. Mere retaliation is for the unrefined; to savor the cold deliciousness of well-executed retribution, you must become conspicuously better than your target in ways that inflame his shame and envy and regret.
  29. Never underestimate the power of the human heart to react to perceived slights with abject and lingering pettiness.
  30. Accept or reject others for who they are and not for whom you wish, or fear, them to be.
  31. Every event is open to myriad interpretations and re-tellings.  Take care that the story you tell isn’t merely your own, and be open to the possibility that the wickedness you see in others is, from their view, utterly benign.
  32. Prosperity obscures a multitude of sins; conspicuous prosperity magnifies them.
  33. No one is entitled to an opinion.  Opinions, being merely the conclusion to an elliptical argument, can be true or false, and are subject to the same laws of factual accuracy and logical consistency as any other formal argument.
  34. Learn how to spot the cheap tin beneath the gilding.
  35. Cultivate the strength of will to resist the beguilements of the socially aggressive, no matter how instinctive the urge to please them may be.
  36. Even mediocrity, creatively leveraged, can become an asset.
  37. There is great power in well-done ritual.
  38. When your knowledge of complex subjects is limited to bumper-sticker sloganeering — shut up.
  39. Experience puts meat on the bones of theory.
  40. Fools put their trust in the blind luck that says, “Your day will come,” but you’ll never be dealt a royal flush unless you actually belly-up to the table in the first place.
  41. Nice people finish mid-pack.
  42. There is no greater crime against the human spirit than to crush a child’s dreams.
  43. Avoid judging when simple evaluation will suffice.
  44. Ethics without aesthetics is like physics without mathematics.
  45. Most people prefer to excuse or ignore genuine moral evil than to confront it.
  46. Even the most trivial of events can set in motion a chain of causation that can touch the lives of many in deep and lasting ways. Therefore, be intentional even about the small things.
  47. Every relationship requires a shared understanding about its basis.  Take care that in all your relationships, this understanding is reflects truth rather than lip service to truth.
  48. The line between righteous indignation and self-inflicted bitterness is so thin that most of us can only see it in the rear-view mirror.
  49. Life may well be pregnant with possibility but at some point, a man needs to give birth to a well-defined identity.
  50. Suspension of disbelief works well for watching films, but if your life is overrun with dei ex machina, it might be time to check the script for continuity errors.
  51. Dreams, once dreamt, become the soul’s chief prosecutor.
  52. It’s typically not the object of our thoughts or perceptions, but the process by which they form, that is significant.
  53. Circumstance is rarely a valid excuse for inaction.
  54. The value of a fine Scotch or quality cigar lies less in its commodity than in its culture. Sinking into a nice leather chair for 90 minutes with a dear friend, savoring a smoke and a drink and elevated conversation, may be the closest most men will get to a useful therapy session.
  55. People are generally less put-together than you’d think.
  56. The louder a young gay male protests that he’s really only interested in a relationship, the more likely it is that he’s stringing along five separate guys simultaneously, looking for which one has the highest hotness-to-sluttiness ratio.
  57. Materialism lures us to invest our treasure in labels and fads that quickly fade, instead of cultivating intangible experiences that last a lifetime.
  58. Beware the person who keeps his options open; you cannot depend on him.
  59. The view from the sidewalk is more intimate than the view from the driver’s-side window. Slow down and seek alternative ways of experiencing your everyday surroundings.
  60. Wear funny non-hipster hats in public — it’s the ultimate assertion of self-worth against a conformist culture.
  61. Take the time to watch a spider spin its web. You won’t look at nature the same way again.
  62. Never burn bridges, for you cannot know what opportunities may pass you by because you pissed off the wrong future rainmaker.
  63. Your family consists of all those who will come to your aid without complaint after a 3 a.m. phone call. All others, blood relation or not, are merely acquaintances.
  64. Everyone requires Sabbath, whether it’s in a house of worship or a period of quiet rest and reflection.
  65. No terminally ill person I’ve ever ministered to in the hospital ever said that he wished he had a better credit score.
  66. Sometimes when your motivation weakens and you find excuses to avoid doing what you should, your subconscious is telling you something serious about an internal conflict that you must resolve if you’re to resume your progress.
  67. Keeping your own counsel saves you from the inconvenience of announcing a different course to those who have already received an ample and probably unwelcome piece of your mind.
  68. Avoid the beguilement of progressives and other fools who preach a gospel of radical relativism, for a person who accepts everything understands nothing.
  69. Writers have the same inner masochism as marathon runners, but we look less attractive in spandex.
  70. Only the person who has transformed the worst of fate into the best of fortune understands the value of struggle as a scribe of character.
  71. “Indifferent neutrality” is a synonym for “evil.”
  72. True friendship is nurtured through the magnanimity to respect differences and the fortitude to be the first to act to keep the relationship from failing. The small heart lets friendship wither, leading only to solitude.
  73. The coin of arrogance is stamped, on its reverse, with cowardice.
  74. Acedia is a choice, not an affliction.
  75. Few are as loathsome as those who’ve hitched hypocrisy to their sanctimony.
  76. Comfort is the sweetest toxin.
  77. Charm offers a grace that mere competence can never approximate.

You may also like


  1. Be not ashamed of what it is today, whatever “it” may be, for when it comes tomorrow, you will know that yesterday wasn’t so bad.

  2. “The quoting of an aphorism, like the angry barking of a dog or the smell of overcooked broccoli, rarely indicates that something helpful is about to happen.” –Lemony Snicket, _The Vile Village_

Offer a witty retort.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: