Benjamin Franklin’s To-Do List

Deep from the vaults of Lists of Note, comes this peculiar set of virtues from one of the most famous founders of the USA. Benjamin Franklin is easily my favorite among the white wigged men who drafted the US constitution simply because of his intellectual capacity which often seems boundless. The pot-bellied inventor, who was also an accomplished scientist, musician, philosopher and a diplomat, was also an excellent wordsmith, which, no doubt, came in handy when he was editing the drafts of the original constitution. Long before he became the 18th century version of the Dos Equis guy, he was a young adult figuring out how to make himself better. At the age of 20, is when he came up with this list shown below which he published in his auto-biography. He decided to dedicate one week for each item in the list practicing and mastering them as he grew up to become a renowned statesman. Given his physical size, it is easy to guess that ‘Go to Gym’ was not part of his list but the things he had in them sure make it a powerful one.

1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. MODERATION. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.

11. TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


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The Life Of George Orwell

Without much notice I suddenly became aware today that a I will be a spending a large portion of this weekend watching this great BBC documentary about the life of the man who forever defined the words ‘Big Brother‘ and gave us ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm‘. George Orwell, his writings and his ideas, on everything from totalitarianism to the art of making good tea are lessons not only on how to think freely and deeply but also about conveying those free thoughts and transforming them into actions. Here is a taste of the documentary available for free in YouTube.

The documentary highlights the rough, non-congruent and often seemingly directionless life of Mr.Orwell while also giving us insight into the roots from which he drew inspiration and strength to produce literary works that made him one of the most artistic and revolutionary critics of inequality, corruption and the general foibles humankind.

The entire YouTube playlist is available here.


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Five Things To Improve Intelligence

Numbered lists are awesome. Especially if it’s a list of things that would make us smarter. Here are five simple things, from the awesome blog PickTheBrain, that we can do, every day, to improve and make the most of our intelligence, which apparently is limitless.

1. Minimize watching TV
One of the best things about cutting down on TV time is the amount of new free time you will find which can be used to do other things like reading a book, cooking food or day dreaming.

2. Exercise
No explanation needed here, but plenty of motivation seem to be required.

3. Read challenging books
This is something I have trouble with. It’s one thing to read stuff that you agree or at least accommodate, but reading a book that is diametrically opposite to your beliefs or interests is a tough job. But science has shown that this is a guaranteed way of truly expanding your knowledge.

4. Early to bed, early to rise
I would take this as ‘find your best hours of the day and fit your sleep time accordingly’. If you are a night owl, it’s ok to wake up late. From my life long personal experience in living semi-productively, I can assure you that being in the ‘zone’ is much better than 4 AM of any day. Just make sure you get 8 hours of sleep regularly.

5. Take time to reflect
This is one of my favorite. Introspection is a rarely seen in the real world from real people but its one of the most powerful tools to understand a lot of complexities around us. I find that, oddly enough, going in circles inside my head actually leads to a new and interesting destination almost every time.

So there they are. Five kind-of-simple things that are sure to improve your intelligence or at least make you feel better over the long run. You are welcome.
You can read the original list and updated list at PickTheBrain here.


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Making Of A Hero

Did you know that there is a manual for becoming a hero? Yeah, there is one. It’s from a guy called Joseph Campbell, an American  author, who has listed the essential twelve steps that make a hero. I figure this is what each and every one of us have been waiting for, since we are all waiting for the secret recipe for Hero-dom. So here they are.

1. The Ordinary World : Living the routine life

2. Call to Adventure : A quest or calling is realized

3. Refusal of Call/Reluctant Hero : Rejecting the potential life mission for self-deprecating reasons

4. Meeting Wise Mentor : Learning something from a source of deep wisdom (probably with white beard)

5. The First Threshold : A major but unexpected test and proves one’s capacity

6. Tests, Allies and Enemies : A progressively hard battery of problems/fights that makes the hero tougher and wiser.

7. Supreme Ordeal : An impossible task or barrier. This is the darkest hour in the hero’s path and possibility of failure is very high.

8. Revisiting the Mentor : Gaining key and potentially mind-blowing knowledge that makes every thing clear.

9. Return with New Knowledge : face the darkest fear/task again with newly gained wisdom/powers

10. Seizing the Sword (or Prize) : Defeat the ultimate villain and possibly capture the damsel’s heart.

11. Resurrection : Realizing the true purpose of the mission and understanding its nobility

12. Return with Elixir : Using the powers/wisdom gained through the last 11 steps  to make life better for every day folks.

I have paraphrased the descriptions from Joseph Campbell’s original list. Here is the link from where I shamelessly stole the main steps.

How many of these steps do you think applies to us in our lives? We can all agree that we have missions in life and there are obstacles in between and there are sources of wisdom. So, to what degree does this list fit our life?

And if it does fit, where do we get stuck? I think its number 3.

What do you think?

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