I'm so money.
In my quest to become a Better Man, I’ve made no secret of my efforts to plunder self-improvement ideas from the greatest men in history. I figured that if these men were great for reasons other than the inscrutable twisting of their nucleotides, then I had find out what those reasons were. So far, there’s been lots of examples on how to avoid becoming a Terrible Man – thanks to Jesus, I no longer stone adulterers (terrible habit when I was younger). Because of Abraham Lincoln, I refuse to keep slaves. I’m sure they didn’t mean for me to take it this way, but thanks to Howard Hughes I’ve chosen to forego napkin loincloths and kleenex box shoes as a style choice, and because of Hitler’s example, I don’t bake Jews in ovens.
...if an aspiring Better Man is looking to crib “good” habits from historical figures, there’s a strong chance he could get himself arrested or killed.
Of course, knowing what not
to do isn’t so hard, and usually there’s people around to remind us should we forget that, say, armed robbery is a crime. Taking conscious steps towards self-betterment, on the other hand…that’s a tougher path, and taking a page from historical figures doesn’t always help. I’ve combed through several biographies (at great personal risk, I might add…thanks to my bio-reading, I now firmly believe that those who can write, do, and those who can’t, write biographies) and discovered many attempts at self-improvement that can be described as, well, unique: In later life, Gandhi liked to sleep with naked underage girls in order to “test his chastity”. Mark Twain smoked as many as 500 cigars a month (“helped the writing process”). Einstein used to pilot his sailboat on windless days (“for the challenge”), and King Leonidas of Sparta would hunt slaves to keep from getting rusty between battles – good practice maybe, but perhaps not all that practical these days.
In short, if an aspiring Better Man is looking to crib “good” habits from historical figures, there’s a strong chance he could get himself arrested or killed. Thankfully, though I did find an exception – my boy Benjamin Franklin.
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