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12 Laws of True Power

Power is control, control is tranquillity, tranquillity is happiness.

1. Read lots of books. You won’t know anything otherwise. Knowledge is power, and studies have found that a love of reading is closely associated with success and happiness. Any reading is good but highbrow is best by far.

2. Start writing, even if it is just letters or a diary. Writing forces you to uncover and complete your thoughts. It also exercises your judgement and sharpens your sense of justice.

3. Only ever act out of love. If you do what you love, it'll feel like fun and never like work. And you'll be very good at it.

4. Never worry about what people think. If you worry about what people think, you'll end up thinking and being just like them—and it will have served you right. On the other hand, if you make it very clear that you don't give a damn, they will greatly respect and admire you for it.

5. At the same time, always seek plenty of advice, but only from people whom you admire or seek to emulate. Best of all, seek advice from great works of literature and philosophy. Sad but true: Plato and Shakespeare are far wiser than anyone you could ever meet.

6. Cultivate courage and self-confidence, which are the products of achievement, and which lead to even greater achievement. Not to mention peace of mind and sexiness.

7. Conversely, root out all cowardice, which is a magnet for worry and bad luck. Cowardice is born out of fear, which is a superfluous emotion: if something has to be done, it has to be done, whether it is frightening or not. Always ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen?

8. Be very sensitive to your feelings and intuitions, particularly those that are recurring or long lasting. They are your unconscious made conscious. And they are almost always right.

9. But beware of your emotions (and be able to distinguish between feelings and emotions). This is particularly true of anger, which, like fear, is as destabilizing and damaging as it is misguided and superfluous. People generally do bad things because they are broken, not because of the particular circumstances in which they find themselves and still less because of you. As they are not truly responsible for their actions, there is little point in taking it personally and getting angry with them. Besides which, uncontrolled anger can do much more harm than good to your long- and even short-term interests.

10. If someone truly deserves your anger, just ignore him. Write him off. Bury him in the dust of his own insignificance. But be careful not to appear like some modern-day saint. Cultivate a reputation for vengefulness to discourage people from messing about with you. It's seldom worth rushing to revenge: just wait for the perfect opportunity to arise, even if this means waiting half a lifetime. In the meanwhile, make sure to live well. Happiness is the best and most complete revenge.

11. Don’t let people read your mind or understand you. Behave like a mystery wrapped in an enigma. If people can’t figure you out, they will be fascinated by you. They will also be too intimidated to attack.

12. As well as cultivating fear, it can be a good idea to cultivate love. Always be very good to people, particularly when doing so is pleasant or indifferent. It helps if you throw the best parties in town. But most important of all, listen to people and let them feel that they have been understood.

Neel Burton is author of The Meaning of Madness, The Art of Failure: The Anti Self-Help Guide, Hide and Seek: The Psychology of Self-Deception, and other books.

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Neel Burton
Source: Neel Burton