Vanity is to pride as appearance is to substance.

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One is to be; the other is to appear as such. All are allowed to be silently great. The Himalayas and the Niagaras are not begrudged their majesty, but only because they are wordless in their glory. They simply are what they are; they do not speak of being so. We should learn the lessons of mum nature.

Every wealthy person is admired and applauded, except for two reasons. The first is that they have gained their wealth by unsavory and unearned ways. All who begin life with a surplus of wealth by their family name also begin life with…


Why one is often ganged up on when introducing friends to friends

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It is a sign of closeness and being comfortable in a relationship to playfully insult a person. Best friends often speak to one another as if they were the worst of enemies, but betraying their true intent with a mischievous grin and playful tone, they laugh about it in unison a few seconds later.

When one person is friends with two others, but those two are not acquainted with each other, there is an interesting psychological response that comes with their interactions. When the two meet, they tend to deride the mutual friend. It is as if they’re making displays…


There are some people who can never be alone.

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There is a class of hyper-social people that have some restlessness in them that keeps them from ever wanting to be alone. There is a psychological specter that creeps in whenever they’re in solitude, so they use others to ward it off. We all use others to shield us from loneliness, but these individuals are avoiding something more.

Most of us can offer ourselves agreeable company for a time, and some of us enjoy our own company more than any other’s. But this type of person finds something sorely dissatisfying in the time they spend with themselves. Often, it is…


Faith is the foundation on which all things are built.

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There is a single mental quality that will determine a person’s fate in this life beyond any other: faith. I have no desire to suggest that the wants, beliefs, and imaginings of the mind transfer themselves into real-world outcomes. Rather, I wish only to contend that the sole linchpin of the psychological system at work in the human mind is faith.

If the most important virtues in personal efficacy are patience, persistence, confidence, gratitude, and self-control, we find that each of these are flowers on the tree of faith. The connection to patience is clear, for one is in no…


If it is part of self, how is it I have to work to control it?

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Each of us lives our life under the encumbrance of our own imperfection. We try to resist and change something in the core of us, which we feel so strongly should be ours to manipulate as freely as we wish. And yet, we have a knotted bundle of wants and desires, emotions and thoughts, swirling about in us (and us in it), pulling us hither and thither like a storm.

One wants to lose weight but craves cake; one wants to be fit but cannot summon the motivation for exercise; we seek to resist those who damage us but love…


Perhaps weakness isn’t a failing.

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Everywhere I look I see sensitivity. I see quivering ripples, trembling blades of grass, and shivering flames. The human soul, too, is an airy, delicate structure. Everything affects it, and it is moved by every breeze. It is lifted to joy or dealt injuries by accidents and chance. There is no tissue more easily scarred than the human heart. Every eye has behind it a vault of pain. To become an adult is to harden into some emotionally disfigured and shelled thing, from wounds largely inflicted upon us as supple youths.

We forget what we once were. It is in…


Having a personal relationship with someone can keep them from seeing your work for what it is

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A writer’s confidence is a wobbly thing. What seemed to be a masterful piece of writing this morning often becomes a worthless mound of words by nightfall, only to be profound again the next day. It is a punishment fit for Greek mythology: to be able to instantly and unequivocally assess the worth of every other writer’s work, except one’s own. We are too close to see the worth of our own writing clearly. In one mood, it looks to be skillful and beautiful; in another, it seems mundane and clunky.

Often, we look to those around us for reassurance…


Our minds are filled with opinions that are not our own.

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Each of our minds is a room for rent, and tenants come and go, some only visiting and others establishing permanent residence. Though we find ourselves in solitude, the specters of our acquaintances continually hang round us. We may find ourselves daydreaming up a conversation with an imagined reconstruction of a friend, so that we talk to ourselves as if through them.

We look at an item of clothing for sale and the suggestion that some one of our friends would love it comes to mind. We do something embarrassing, and though no one is around to see it, we…


Psychology was always a house built on sand.

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The goal of psychology is to ascribe concrete motivations to behaviors. We find that the inner workings of the mind, might, at their root, be far too nebulous with no real discernment between nuances to be made. Unconscious or conscious, what if — and I put it as a question — there is no explicit motivational foundation? What if the bulk of our inner workings are less akin to a calculating processor and much more like a flower petal gliding aimlessly on the wind? How much of what we do is truly done for no reason at all — or…


We pride ourselves on our work, but it is only play.

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Our Highest Virtue

As I look about at the members of our species, I see our highest virtue in our indefatigable instinct for building and cultivation. The leaders of enterprise have risen to the top of an economy from which no person is omitted, and still the engine of their ambition powers forward. The most wretched soul, lost in this world and lying in the gutter, never fails to scrounge for themselves some small pleasure and token of self-betterment. Each and all of our neighbors tends to their plot, whether small or large, and finds employment each day in the steady effort of…

Martin Vidal

I put the “me” in Medium. • Author of “The Ambition Handbook: A Guide for Ambitious Persons” • Instagram: @writeofpassage

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