extra degrees of strictness do not help to come to righteousness.

The most remarkable thesis of the Rambam is  the synthesis of Reason with Revelation which scandalizes people today as much as it did in his own days.  I would not have paid any attention to it if not for my encountering problems in the religious world in the most unpleasant  possibles ways.
This is what got me to thinking the strictly religious approach is highly unkosher and that something is really wrong. My first feeling was to go with the idea of the religious not being strict enough. That is I thought they were ignoring essential aspects of Torah while focusing on rituals. Eventually I gave up on that and simply decided extra degrees of strictness do not help to come to righteousness.

A lot of this was based more on observation more than on abstract principles.
My basic set of principles today is different than what I would have said at the time all this was going on.
Today my set of principles  would be (1) Learning Torah with making full use of the great Litvak Gedolim like Rav Shach and Reb Chaim Soloveitchik.
(2) Learning Math and Physics.
(3) The Rambam's approach of combining reason and Revelation but I would not stop at Aristotle as he did but also make use of the German idealism especially Hegel and Kelley Ross.
(4) Learning the Ari, Isaac Luria but avoiding the cults of the Sitra Achra which claim to be going by him.
(5) Bitul Torah  is an even more important concept than learning Torah. Bitul Torah negates the idea of doing things outside of learning Torah as having any great significance. It says that it is  a sin to be doing other things even you could be learning Torah. This concept comes from a verse in the Torah כי דבר ה' בזה ונכרתה הנפש ההיא מקרב ינה For he despised the word of God and that soul shall be cut off from among its people. And the Gemara in Sanhedrim explains that verse as referring to anyone who is able to be learning Torah and does not do so. However I should add the Rambam who considered Physics and Metaphysics as a part of the Oral Law.