Tag Archives: quotations

“To Cease for a Bright Hour to Be a Prisoner of This Sickly Body & to Become as Large as the World.”

“Every man that goes into the wood seems to be the first man that ever went into a wood….I feel a pain of an alien world or I am cheered with the moist, warm, glittering, budding, and melodious hour that takes down the narrow walls of my soul and extends its life and pulsation to the very horizon. That is Morning. To cease for a bright hour to be a prisoner of this sickly body and to become as large as the World.”

–Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals, March 27, 1838

E. M. Forster Explains How To Know If a Book Is Influencing You.

“I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little farther down our particular path than we have got ourselves. I suggest, furthermore, that when you feel that you could almost have written the book yourself—that’s the moment when it’s influencing you. You are not influenced when you say, ‘How marvelous! What a revelation! How monumental! Oh!’ You are being extended. You are being influenced when you say ‘I might have written that myself if I hadn’t be so busy.'”

– E. M. Forster, “A Book That Influenced Me,” from Two Cheers for Democracy

Does this ring true for you?

I have to say, I think that people sometimes get that feeling from my books, especially The Happiness Project. People often say to me,  “Wow, I could’ve written a book like yours myself.” And I always think, “Terrific, you should!”

One of my favorite happiness-project resolutions is to “Imitate a spiritual master,” and I feel influenced (I hope) every time I read Story of a Soul, the memoir of my spiritual master, St. Therese of Lisieux. She’s a great saint and a Doctor of the Church and I’m me, of course, but still, when I read St. Therese, I think, “That’s exactly right, I’ve thought the same thing myself, I’ve struggled with that impulse, too. ”

What books have influenced you — or extended you?

A Little Happier: A Reminder about Happiness from 1662.

Here’s the passage that I read:

“This day by God’s mercy I am 29 years of age, and in very good health, and like to live and get an estate; and if I have a heart to be contented, I think I may reckon myself as happy a man as any is in the world, for which God be praised. So to prayers and to bed.”

Diary of Samuel Pepys, February 1662

(That phrase “And so to bed” was a signature sign-off for Pepys, a seventeenth-century version of Cronkite’s “And that’s the way it is” or Ryan Seacrest’s “Seacrest…out!” or my “Onward and upward” at the end of each episode of the Happier podcast.)

I love this passage, and it inspired the resolutions for the month of November in The Happiness Project. I resolved to “Keep a contented heart,” because I realized that no matter what’s happening in my life, I’m going to be happy only if I “have a heart to be contented.”

One of my most frequent faults is fretfulness — annoyance and complaints about minor inconveniences or little mistakes or oversights by others.

One of my main aims is to remember how happy I already am. Do you struggle with this?

I have Eight Splendid Truths about happiness, and the Fourth is: You’re not happy unless you think you’re happy.

Of course, many argue the opposite case. John Stuart Mill, for example, wrote, “Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.” I disagree; I think most of us don’t spend enough time thinking how whether we’re happy or how we could be happier (at least I never did, which is why I wrote The Happiness Project). What do you think?

Check out Yogi Tea. When it comes to enjoying life, little moments — like drinking a delicious cup of tea — can make a big difference.

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“The Salvation of Man is Through Love and in Love.”

To usher in the new year of 2017, I wanted to post one of my very favorite passages in all of literature:

We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbor’s arm. Hardly a word was spoken; the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: “If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.”

That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.

A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth — that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way — an honorable way — in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, “The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory.”

–Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

If you haven’t read Man’s Search for Meaning, run out and get a copy now.

Podcast 95: Practice Mise-En-Place, Pack a Canvas Tote Bag, and the Tragedy of the Messy Commons.

It’s time for the next installment of  Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

To start the new year in a happier way, we’re doing a fun project on Instagram. Every day, for the month of January, Elizabeth and I will post a photo on Instagram of something that makes us happier (by giving us a boost, helping us stick to good habits, reminding us to feel grateful, etc.).  Join in! Use the hashtag #Happier2017 and tag us — I’m @gretchenrubin and Elizabeth is @lizcraft.

Want the Spotify list of Happier 911 songs that I mention? It’s here.

Holidays are approaching! Want a Happier t-shirt? Email us if you want to get one. Or if you want to buy one of my books, journals, calendar, mug, etc., look here.

Try This at Home: Practice mise-en-place.  In cooking, cooks “put everything in its place” — the idea is to get all your tools and supplies together, so that once you start working, you can work easily and well. Preparation is a true stage of working.

As I mention, if you’d like some personalized, signed bookplates or signature cards for your copies of my books, e-books, or audio-books, you can sign up here (U.S. and Canada only, sorry; mailing costs).

Happiness Hack: Pack a canvas tote bag in your suitcase.

Happiness Stumbling Block: The tragedy of the messy commons — or, the problem of shared work. We mention the Four Tendencies; if you want to find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, look here.

Listener Question: A while back, we asked for suggestions for wedding readings, and I collected them into a single document, which you can get when you click the button below.

Click here to get the Wedding Readings PDF now

Along the same lines, Sylvia asked for suggestion for funeral readings — such a great idea. I’ll make a collection of funeral readings, too. So please send in your suggestions. I’m sure it will be very helpful for people to have this resource, during a difficult time.

Demerit: Elizabeth forgot to check the school schedule before picking a date for her son Jack’s birthday.

Gold Star: I get half a gold star — a better-late-than-never gold star — for finally getting the flu vaccine for my daughters and me.

If you want easy instructions about how to rate or review the podcast, look here.

Remember,  I’m doing weekly live videos on my Facebook Page to continue the conversation from the podcast — usually on Tuesdays at 3:00 pm ET. To join the conversation, check the schedule.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

Check out Olive and Cocoa. Surprise someone you love with a meaningful gift today. Go to OliveandCocoa.com/happier to see gift options specifically chosen for our listeners.

Sign up for The Great Courses Plus today for access to thousands of fascinating lectures taught by top professors and experts in their fields. Special offer for our listeners: try it for free for a month when you sign up at www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/happier.

Check out Stamps.com. Want to avoid trips to the post office, and buy and print official U.S. postage for any letter or package, right from your own computer and printer? Visit Stamps.com to sign up for a 4-week trial, plus a $110 bonus offer — just enter the promo code HAPPIER.

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #95

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