Aphorism # 14:
Reality and manner. Substance is insufficient, circumstance is also vital. A bad manner ruins everything, even justice and reason. A good manner makes up for everything: it gilds a ‘no’, sweetens truth, and beautifies old age itself. How something is done plays a key role in all affairs, and a good manner is a winning trick. Graceful conduct is the chief ornament of life; it gets you out of any tight situation.
What I love about Gracián’s point of view is that his recommendations often combine survival tactic, strategy for success, and beauty. Good manners can save your butt by getting you out of “any tight situation,” they are “a winning trick,” and they beautify even “old age.” A win/win/win situation.
How can that not lead to happiness?!