What Characteristics Must a Successful Person Have According to Ben Franklin?

by Anne Davis
Benjamin Franklin suggests that success comes from, in part, not partaking in elaborate feasts.

Benjamin Franklin suggests that success comes from, in part, not partaking in elaborate feasts.

Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Between 1733 and 1757, Benjamin Franklin composed a series of maxim collections gathered in annuals called "Poor Richard's Almanack." It's from Franklin that we get sayings such as "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." He makes a lot of suggestions about how one can be happy and successful in life, but there are certain themes that he addresses frequently.

Have a Healthy and Lean Diet

Throughout his authorship of "Poor Richard's Almanack," Benjamin Franklin wrote about the dangers of eating too much. In his first year of writing, 1733, he wrote both "Eat to live, and not live to eat" and "To lengthen thy Life, lessen thy Meals." Franklin suggests time and again that gluttony leads to unhappiness and a lack of success. He is occasionally more specific, stating, for example, that "Cheese and salt meat, should be sparingly eat."

Be Proactive

Benjamin Franklin writes, also, about how "He that waits upon Fortune, is never sure of a Dinner" and how "Sloth and Silence are a Fool's Virtues." Simply put, he suggests that anyone who waits for good things to happen instead of making them happen is sure to be left without. He stresses, however, that "He that can have Patience, can have what he will." While you should be proactive, Franklin seems to say that you should also understand that the fruits of your labors may not be immediately forthcoming.

Don't Succumb to Pleasures

Time and again, Benjamin Franklin says that men should "Deny Self for Self's Sake," suggesting that you shouldn't indulge your bodily desires. He says, too, that while "Pain wastes the body, Pleasures the Understanding." Benjamin Franklin implies that in order to retain the full capacities of your mind and understanding, one must deny his basest pleasures: "He that lives carnally, won't live eternally."

Don't Incur Debts

Benjamin Franklin is intent that to be successful and happy, you must not incur debts. He says, "Pay what you owe, and you'll know what's your own," suggesting that you'll never have to question what's yours if you own everything outright. He warns that "Creditors have better memories than debtors," which implies that if you are in debt, you will be reminded of it often.

About the Author

Anne Davis writes pieces on domestic and international travel, automotive maintenance, education and health. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and history, and is pursuing graduate study in a related field.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images