Here I collect a list of “wisdoms” I’ve picked up throughout my life. This is inspired by the Wisdom Project by Merlin Mann, and I’d say his introductory remarks with qualifications and context apply equally here.

These are meaningful, insightful, helpful, interesting, or funny to me, but your mileage may vary. They’re quotes, phrases, or ideas I think about often, and they’re loosely organized. Attributions to the author noted where known or applicable. The project is never finished.

Nothing endures but change.

You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who they think can do nothing for them.
Malcolm Forbes1

The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause. The mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.
Wilhelm Stekel2

Never ascribe to malice what could be adequately explained by stupidity.

When your enemies make mistakes, don’t interrupt them.

Nothing good happens after midnight.
Deb Gartner

Silly icebreakers are a superpower in awkward social situations, especially at work. The template is something innocuous, universal, and specific (only one answer). First concert, first car, first job, movies you’ve walked out of, best meal you’ve had on a trip, and so on. My favorite is “fictional universe you’d live in, and what you’d be doing there.”

Two contradictory things can both be true at the same time.

Sometimes being the butt of the joke is the coolest thing you can do.

Ask people about themselves. Listen to what they have to say. Assume everyone you meet just wants to feel understood.

Everyone should work a job in the service industry at some point in their lives. You can tell when someone hasn’t.

Live every day as if you know it’s all going to work out.

Also: Live every day as if you’ve deliberately come back in time to this one day, to enjoy it.3

  1. I’ve also seen this attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. 

  2. Purportedly misattributed in The Catcher in the Rye, but I’d consider it paraphrasing. 

  3. Both paraphrased from About Time, my favorite movie.