According to respected Seventeenth Century sage, Balthasar Gracian, there are five examples of the types of folly (the extreme other end of wisdom) we’re best to avoid, for they’re eternally common, meaning these have the uncanny ability to trip up every generation.
These follies are:
1. Satisfaction with Personal Fortune
Trusting in our own riches or assets is a common trap; many have fallen when they’ve taken their own ‘wealth’ too seriously, as if they’ve already ‘made it.’ I recall a time like this perhaps nine months before I lost everything. I almost gloated about how materially well I was going that blind I was to how transient things of cash and possession truly are.
2. Dissatisfaction with Personal Intellect
Enter the intellectual snob, for they put everyone smarter than them up for special praise, whilst deploring with contempt anyone with an iota or less sense than they. In this they shoot everyone to the upper and lower reaches for they can’t see past smarts. This person sees themselves through a scholarly microscope and what they get back for their viewing puts them under intense pressure to meet standards no one ever could.
3. Discontent with Own Lot, Envy at Others’
Such a common trap. Everyone has more than we ourselves have… well, if we choose that worldview, that is. What about the equally true worldview that everyone has less than we do? Did I mention yet the Global Food Crisis? Those inclined to chronically look over the other side of the fence can only ever see others’ folly or see that which is prized above–in their own skewed estimation–what they currently have. Arrogance and envy are hence the predictable and pervasive attitudes. These are never far from the pit.
4. Praising Things of Yesteryear or Those Far Off
This is the easy way out for the lazy thinker. Of course yesterday was better and things connected with other people (not those in present company) superior. It makes the person saying such things more elevated. To not see the positive things in the present situation is a rank folly and a giving up of influence. It does us no good to have all our eggs in a basket too far off to reach. Besides, it’s not fair or the truth.
5. Laughing at All, Weeping at All
Not everything can be funny just as not everything can take us to the abyss of sorrow. We do well to remain aware of this, laughing with those who laugh, weeping with those who weep. Appropriate to the time, we respond in like. So, what’s the common denominator amongst these five?
Balance, in one word, or lack thereof.
Balancing satisfaction and dissatisfaction regarding personal wealth and intellect, becoming appropriately content with our own lots, praising things both of today and yesterday, and keeping a balance to our emotions all pave the way to leading a more wise existence.