Tag Archives: quotation

“The Colour of the Leaves in Autumn Would Be Nothing Without the Feeling that Accompanies It.”

“The colour of the leaves in autumn would be nothing without the feeling that accompanies it.”

–William Hazlitt, “The Indian Jugglers” in Selected Writings

My color obsession continues. I see colors — and references to colors — everywhere. What a beautiful preoccupation!

Is there a place in your life where seeing a certain set of colors inspires certain emotions? For instance, the colors of the ocean, or the color scheme of your childhood kitchen?

 

 

A Mysterious Observation about Happiness from Oscar Wilde.

“There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.”  — Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

This has always struck me as an eerie and mysterious observation; I’ve been surprised by its truth.

Taking a job, dating a person, accepting a position, a great bargain…how often do we pursue a certain course because we know that if we don’t take advantage of something, someone else will?

What’s Your Most Fruitful Time for Thinking?

“Some of the most fruitful thinking times are when I wake after sleeping a few hours, and in the seamless time when nothing needs to be done, not even getting up, I meditate.”

–May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

When is your most fruitful time for thinking — in the middle of the night, before you get out of bed, in the shower, during a run, walking the dog, in the car?

I have a friend who never misses his weekly massage, because that’s when he gets his best ideas for building his business.

 

A Happiness Reminder from Charles Darwin: “I Have Worked as Well as I Could.”

“Whenever I have found out that I have blundered, or that my work has been imperfect, and when I have been contemptuously criticized, and even when I have been overpraised, so that I have felt mortified, it has been my greatest comfort to say hundreds of times to myself that ‘I have worked as hard and as well as I could, and no man can do more than this.’”

–Charles Darwin, The Autobiography

I often comfort myself with the same thought — and often, in advance. When I’m preparing for some challenge — say, one of my books getting published — I think, “I should do everything I possibly can, because that way, if things don’t go as well as I hope, I can comfort myself with the thought that there just wasn’t anything else I might have done.”

Does this reminder strike a chord with you?

“My Highest Ambition Is To Be What I Already Am.”

“Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself–and if I accept myself fully in the right way I will already have surpassed myself.

–Thomas Merton, Journal, October 2, 1958

I love this quotation so much that the first line of this passage is the epigraph for my forthcoming book The Four Tendencies. (Choosing the epigraph is probably my favorite part of writing a book. How I love quotations!)

I’ve spent a lot of time studying Merton, because as a Trappist monk and definite Rebel, he was a fascinating case study. He kept voluminous journals, as well as writing essays and memoirs, so it was possible for me to have true insight into his thinking.

When I first started studying the Four Tendencies, I was puzzled by the not-infrequent pattern of Rebels being attracted to areas of high regulation, like the clergy, the military, and big corporations. Now it makes sense to me. It’s a whole section in my book.

If you’re intrigued by the book The Four Tendencies, you can pre-order it here (pre-orders really help me, so if you’re inclined to buy the book, I very much appreciate a pre-order).

If you don’t know which of the Four Tendencies describes you — whether you’re an  Upholder (like me), Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel (like Merton), you can take the quiz here.

I also love the way writer Flannery O’Connor put it: “Accepting oneself does not preclude an attempt to become better.”

These quotations remind me of one of the paradoxes of my happiness project: I want to accept myself, but also expect more from myself.

This tension between “accepting myself’ and “surpassing myself” — how we must accept ourselves in order to surpass ourselves — is something I think about often. What is self-acceptance, really? Or self-knowledge? A mystery.

How do you think about self-acceptance and self-knowledge?