Advice for the New Year from Thomas Jefferson

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peal...

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In September of 1785 Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to his nephew, Peter Carr. Jefferson imparted sage guidance to the young Carr in the correspondence which can be of benefit to any who read it.

Below are seven of my favorite axioms from the Founding Father’s letter.

  • “Encourage all your virtuous dispositions, and exercise them whenever an opportunity arises; being assured that they will gain strength by exercise, as a limb of the body does, and that exercise will make them habitual.”

  • “There is no habit you will value so much as that of walking without fatigue.”

  • “Rise at a fixed and an early hour, and go to bed at a fixed and early hour also…Sitting up late at night is injurious to the health, and not useful to the mind.”

  • “A strong body makes the mind strong.”

  • “Husband well your time, cherish your instructions, strive to make every body your friend…”

  • “He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time”

  • “If you ever find yourself environed with difficulties and perplexing circumstances, out of which you are at a loss how to extricate yourself, do what is right, and be assured that that will extricate you the best out of the worst situations.”

Jefferson’s counsel to his kinsman rings as true today as it did over two hundred years ago. I find them especially applicable now at the beginning of a new year when so many of us take the time to analyze our lives and strive for improvement.

Which of Jefferson’s tips would benefit you the most? Sound off in the comments below.


9 thoughts on “Advice for the New Year from Thomas Jefferson

  1. ceceliafutch

    If I had to narrow it down to one, I think that the first, “Encourage all your virtuous dispositions . . . ,” covers just about everything and is the one that I would most work on. Nice post, and a nice way to start the new year! Have a great one. 🙂

  2. Mark Miller

    They’re all good but I too, like the first one best. I’m a history buff so, I appreciate all things related to early American history. Great blog, well done!

  3. dinkerson

    Great post. Thanks for sharing these. You seem to consistently post information that can be tremendously helpful to motivated people.
    I’m going to go with number three on this one; however, it was a difficult choice.

  4. Ammon Post author

    Great comments, everyone! Jefferson was pretty much awesome at everything–even giving advice apparently.

    It’s so sad that nowadays it seems people are more interested in dragging our Founding Fathers’ names through the mud rather than looking for the good in them and learning from them.

  5. W. R. Woolf

    Number one is great, definitely my favourite 🙂

    I try to do number three, but there is always something I would just like to do before go to bed… and suddenly it’s not early any more…

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