Fill in the Blank: “The Mind Is Rarely So Disturbed But That __ Will Restore It to Tranquility.”

“The mind…is rarely so disturbed, but that the company of a friend will restore it to some degree of tranquility and sedateness.”

–Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Agree, disagree?

Ancient philosophers and contemporary scientists agree: strong relationships are a key to happiness. We usually get a little lift from engaging with other people.

  • Penelope Schmitt

    . . . an hour in the sewing room . . .

    that would be my prescription. Or an hour of walking outside. For others, this could be some time in the garden, the company of a good book, a calming piece of music, a walk in a labyrinth, painting, working with clay . . .

    Making something beautiful is my first ‘go to’ when I am stressed. Fun with a good friend is healing, as long as it’s a friend who can balance listening and advice with some laughter and good times. It is not helpful for me to dive too deeply into problem talk–that is just ‘rumination for two.’

    I love to make a quilt — playing with scraps and colors, and maybe making a lap quilt to give to one of my favorite charities occupies me with beauty and creation, and results in something that can help another person. That’s what works best for me.

  • Agree! especially when coffee or wine are included!

    • johanna

      True friends listen with their hearts and I always feel better after I share and talk with my best friend- my sister Ginger. She is the most loving and kind person I have ever met, so to talk and share with her can truly lift my spirits. I feel very fortunate to have a loving family.

  • Nancy

    Returning to the author of our last quote, James Boswell describes a conversation on the topic of whether friendship is a Christian virtue, or rather ought we to love everyone equally. Samuel Johnson suddenly burst out: “I am willing to love all mankind EXCEPT AN AMERICAN … Rascals–Robbers–Pirates!” (Penguin edition p. 680) HAHAHA. BTW Johnson also detested Adam Smith.

  • Gillian

    The company of a friend, involving some good stimulating conversation can, on occasion, “restore tranquility”. However, as an introvert and not very social person, the tranquility is more likely to be restored by solitude and quiet – going for a walk, sitting by a stream or on a beach, or listening to music. In other words, by getting away from the source of the disturbance and clearing the mind. I imagine that meditation would have a similar effect but I have never seriously tried it.

    • Liz Z

      I agree. When I’m particularly upset, throwing on some really hard dance music and headbanging by myself until I’m exhausted helps burn off the adrenaline that tends to fuel intense moods.

  • Mimi Gregor

    Like Gillian, I am more of an introvert, and would not be “restored to tranquility” by friends, no matter how much I loved them or how well-meaning they were. The first word that popped into my mind to fill in the blank would be “books”. Getting lost in a particularly engrossing book is THE way for me to relax. Exercising can do it as well, as can meditation. What do all these things have in common? That’s right… they are things one generally does alone.

  • lisa

    I think that is the sentiment of a relatively happy person. I’d be curious what a woman of the era thought! For some of us, true agitation is difficult to break. There is no doubt, however, that if I feel like I can relax, I love to sink into a good novel. Sometimes an alternate universe is just the right escape.

  • Abby

    ….journaling for two to three pages….
    I think more clearly when I write down my thoughts, and I can vent in my journal more than I can with a friend. I hate it when people try to make me feel better when I’m upset, it never really works for me. But in my journal I can write about all sides of the issue, and “hear” back about potential solutions to make me feel better.

  • PolarSamovar

    Ha, depends a great deal on the friend.

    Although, “one who restores tranquility” is a pretty good definition.

  • Doug Gerard

    is it “so rarely” or “rarely so” ?

    • gretchenrubin

      Excellent catch.

      I’m fixing now.

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