Gretchen Rubin

Daily Quotes

February 19th, 2018
“All the daily routine of life, our dressing and undressing, the coming and going from our work or carrying through of its various operations, is utterly without mental reference to pleasure and pain, except under rarely realized conditions.”
- William James, The Principles of Psychology

February 16th, 2018
“Choose always the way that seems best, however rough it may be, and custom will soon render it easy and agreeable.”
- Pythagoras

February 15th, 2018
“They always say that times changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
- Andy Warhol, in Warhol: The Biography by Victor Bockris

February 14th, 2018
“Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

February 13th, 2018
Although you sit in a room that is gray,
Except for the silver
Of the straw-paper,
And pick
At your pale white gown;
Or lift one of the green beads
Of your necklace,
To let it fall;
Or gaze at your green fan
Printed with the red branches of a red willow;
Or, with one finger,
Move the leaf in the bowl—
The leaf that has fallen from the branches of the forsythia
Beside you...
What is all this?
I know how furiously your heart is beating.
- Wallace Stevens, “Gray Room

February 12th, 2018
"The satisfaction to be derived from success in a great constructive enterprise is one of the most massive that life has to offer.”
- Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

February 9th, 2018
“Reject your sense of injury, and the injury itself disappears.”
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

February 8th, 2018
“The satisfaction to be derived from success in a great constructive enterprise is one of the most massive that life has to offer.”
- Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

February 7th, 2018
“The secret of contentment is knowing how to enjoy what you have, and to be able to lose all desire for things beyond your reach.”
- Lin Yutang

February 6th, 2018
“If we pick up a brush, we feel like writing; if we hold a musical instrument in our hands, we wish to play.”
- Essays in Idleness, The Tsurezuregusa of Kenko

February 5th, 2018
“I think that it is useless to fight directly against natural weaknesses. One has to force oneself to act as though one did not have them in circumstances where a duty makes it imperative; and in the ordinary course of life one has to know these weaknesses, prudently take them into account, and strive to turn them to good purpose; for they are all capable of being put to some good purpose.”
- Simone Weil, Waiting For God

February 2nd, 2018
“To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.”
- Robert Louis Stevenson, Familiar Studies of Men and Books (1882)

February 1st, 2018
“The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken too seriously.”
- Samuel Butler

January 31st, 2018
“It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light.”
- G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

January 30th, 2018
“Nature is a Haunted House – but Art – a House that tries to be haunted.”
- Emily Dickinson, letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson

January 29th, 2018
“In everything…leaving something incomplete makes it interesting and gives one the feeling that there is room for growth. Someone once told me, ‘Even when building the imperial palace, they always leave one place unfinished.’”
- Essays in Idleness, The Tsurezuregusa of Kenko

January 26th, 2018
“I have reached the stage now where luxury is not in fine possessions but in carefree possessions, and the greatest luxury of all would be the completely expendable."
- Nan Fairbrother, The House in the Country

January 25th, 2018
“When they had eventually calmed down a bit, and had gotten home, Mr. Duncan put the magic pebble in an iron safe. Some day they might want to use it, but really, for now, what more could they wish for? They all had all that they wanted.”
- William Steig, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

January 24th, 2018
“With my mother’s death all settled happiness, all that was tranquil and reliable, disappeared from my life. There was to be much fun, many pleasures, many stabs of Joy; but no more of the old security. It was sea and islands now; the great continent had sunk like Atlantis.”
- C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

January 23rd, 2018
"Slumbering in every human being lies an infinity of possibilities, which one must not arouse in vain. For it is terrible when the whole man resonates with echoes and echoes, none becoming a real voice."
- Elias Canetti, Notes from Hampstead

January 22nd, 2018
“I meant, I have said, to climb the Matterhorn. Why? Let’s say because I was there. No: I’m being flip. I meant to climb the Matterhorn because to climb it was for me so improbable. For too many years now I had failed to surprise myself, to reach beyond my grasp."
- Geoffrey Wolff, A Day at the Beach, “Matterhorn”

January 19th, 2018
“Life is a roar of bargain and battle, but in the very heart of it there rises a mystic spiritual tone that gives meaning to the whole. It transmutes the dull details into romance. It reminds us that our only but wholly adequate significance is as parts of the unimaginable whole. It suggests that even while living we are living to ends outside ourselves.”
- Oliver Wendell Holmes

January 18th, 2018
“Who will free me from hurry, flurry, the feeling of a crowd pushing behind me, of being hustled and crushed? How can I regain even for a minute the feeling of ample leisure I had during my early, my creative years? Then I seldom felt fussed, or hurried. There was time for work, for play, for love, the confidence that if a task was not done at the appointed time, I easily could fit it into another hour. I used to take leisure for granted, as I did time itself.”
- Bernard Berenson, Sunset and Twilight, from the Diaries of 1947-1958

January 17th, 2018
“As long as man is growing, and the sap rises in him, how spacious and pleasant seems to him the World! He stretches out his branches and fancies his head will reach the Heavens.”
- Johann Gottfried von Herder

January 16th, 2018
“A red flower placed in a window may expand its influence over all the area of your sight.”
- Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

January 15th, 2018
"The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play."
- Arnold Toynbee

January 12th, 2018
“It is not easy to know what you like.
Most people fool themselves their entire lives through about this.”
- Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

January 11th, 2018
"If we will have the kindness of others, we must endure their follies.”
- Samuel Johnson, Selected Writings

January 10th, 2018
"Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there–I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. People sometimes say that the way things happen in movies is unreal, but actually it’s the way things happen to you in life that’s unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it’s like watching television–you don’t feel anything.

Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it’s all television. When you’re really really involved with something, you’re usually thinking about something else. When something’s happening, you fantasize about other things.”
- Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

January 9th, 2018
“We would rather see those to whom we do good, than those who do good to us.”
- La Rochefoucauld, Collected Maxims and Other Reflections

January 8th, 2018
"It is in virtue of his own desires and curiosities that any man continues to exist with even patience, that he is charmed by the look of things and people, and that he wakens every morning with a renewed appetite for work and pleasure. Desire and curiosity are the two eyes through which he sees the world in the most enchanted colours…and the man may squander his estate and come to beggary, but if he keeps these two amulets he is still rich in the possibilities of pleasure.”
- Robert Louis Stevenson

January 5th, 2018
“It is often to the wary that the events in life are unexpected. Looser types – people who are not busy weighing and measuring every little thing – are used to accidents, coincidences, chance, things getting out of hand, things sneaking up on them. They are the happy children of life, to whom life happens for better or worse.”
- Laurie Colwin, “A Mythological Subject,” in The Lone Pilgrim

January 4th, 2018
“Every now and then a man's mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.”
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

January 3rd, 2018
“It takes wit, and interest and energy to be happy. The pursuit of happiness is a great activity. One must be open and alive. It is the greatest feat man has to accomplish, and spirits must flow. There must be courage. There are no easy ruts to get into which lead to happiness.”
- Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

January 2nd, 2018
“O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,—Lord, I do fear
Thou’st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,—let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.”
- Edna St. Vincent Millay, "God's World”

January 1st, 2018
“We lived the whole of our early lives under the rule of postponement: life was not in the present, it was always ahead of us. Somewhere in the future we would be the people we intended to be.”
- Diana Trilling, The Beginning of the Journey


December 29th, 2017
“I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptation. It is not serious, provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience, etc., don’t get the upper hand. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep picking ourselves up each time...The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give up.”
- C.S. Lewis, Letters, January 20, 1942

December 28th, 2017
“The serious problems in life, however, are never fully solved. If ever they should appear to be so it is a sure sign that something has been lost. The meaning and purpose of a problem seem to lie not in its solution but in our working at it incessantly. This alone preserves us from stultification and petrification.”
- Carl Jung, The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche

December 27th, 2017
“It does seem that it is often in those years between 8 and 13 that a tiny spark is lit by a teacher telling you or showing you something, and that if you’re lucky, that spark keeps alight and gradually becomes the glowing fire of your lifelong passion and career.”
- Ysenda Maxtone Graham, Mr. Tibbits’s Catholic School

December 26th, 2017
“There is a joy in the pursuit of anything.”
- Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

December 25th, 2017
“With what pleasure do we look upon a family, through the whole of which reign mutual love and esteem, where the parents and children are companions for one another, without any other difference than what is made by respectful affection on the one side, and kind indulgence on the other, . . .”
- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

December 22nd, 2017
“We change, but always at a cost: to win this you lose that.”
- Geoffrey Wolff, A Day at the Beach, “Apprentice”

December 21st, 2017
"A good conscience is a continual Christmas.”
- Benjamin Franklin

December 20th, 2017
“I love the tools made for mechanics. I stop at the windows of hardware stores. If I could only find an excuse to buy many more of them than I have already bought on the mere pretense that I might have a use for them! They are so beautiful, so simple and plain and straight to their meaning. There is no ‘Art’ about them, they have not been made beautiful, they are beautiful.”
- Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Dcecember 19th, 2017
“We seldom think of what we have but always of what we lack.”
- Schopenhauer

December 18th, 2017
"Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded forever."
- Herman Melville, Moby Dick

December 15th, 2017
“The feeling of being hurried is not usually the result of living a full life and having no time. It is on the contrary born of a vague fear that we are wasting our life. When we do not do the one thing we ought to do, we have no time for anything else.”
- Eric Hoffer

December 14th, 2017
“’Safe! safe! safe!’ the pulse of the house beats wildly. Waking, I cry ‘Oh, is this your buried treasure? The light in the heart.’”
- Virginia Woolf

December 13th, 2017
“When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy.”
- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

December 12th, 2017
“Live as long as you may, the first twenty years are the longest half of your life. They appear so while they are passing; they seem to have been so when we look back on them; and they take up more room in our memory than all the years that succeed them.”
- Robert Southey

December 11th, 2017
“When one comes away from an art gallery with a sense of being irradiated, often it is as much from the colors one has absorbed as from the visions of the artists. Much of the thrill of spring, I think, is because of the return of color.”
- Ross Parmenter, The Awakened Eye

December 8th, 2017
“Whatever fate befalls you, do not give way to great rejoicings or great lamentation; partly because all things are full of change, and your fortune may turn at any moment; partly because men are so apt to be deceived in their judgment as to what is good or bad for them.”
- Arthur Schopenhauer, Counsels and Maxims

December 7th, 2017
“There is another side of Kanchenjunga and of every mountain—the side that has never been photographed and turned into postcards. That is the only side worth seeing.”
- Thomas Merton, The Other Side of the Mountain: Journal volume 7

December 6th, 2017
“Probably one can say that all beautiful, noble, or brilliant works are of use, or that everything that proves to be useful or beneficial has its own beauty.”
- Isak Dineson, July 29, 1929

December 5th, 2017
“I have not been inordinately materialistic, but I am attached to my house, to my inherited belongings, and to the things that I have chosen for myself. All these objects add complexity to my emotional ties to the people with whom I have shared, and share, my life, and to my aspirations for myself.”
- Ann Truitt, Turn: The Journal of an Artist

December 4th, 2017
“Sight is often reinforced by the other senses. A rose looks different when you can smell it. A ballroom looks different when you can hear music. Whenever I saw the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, I would be apt to play the ‘Marseillaise’ in my mind, and the monument somehow seemed grander and more real.”
- Henry Grunwald, Twilight: Losing Sight, Gaining Insight

December 1st, 2017
“Habit simplifies our movements, makes them accurate, and diminishes fatigue.”
- William James, The Principles of Psychology

November 30th, 2017
“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Remarks at the National Defense Executive Reserve Conference, November 14, 1957”

November 29th, 2017
“The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.”
- Carl Jung, Schiller’s Ideas on the Type Problem, in Collected Work of C. G Jung

November 28th, 2017
“Whatever creates or increases happiness or some part of happiness, we ought to do; whatever destroys or hampers happiness, or gives rise to its opposite, we ought not to do.”
- Aristotle, Rhetoric

November 27th, 2017
“I know that the writer does call up the general and maybe the essential through the particular, but this general and essential is still deeply embedded in mystery. It is not answerable to any of our formulas.”
- The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor

November 24th, 2017
“The disturbers of happiness are our desires, our griefs, and our fears.”
- Samuel Johnson

November 23rd, 2017
“Blessed is the man who has found his work. Let him ask no other blessedness.”
- Thomas Carlyle

November 22nd, 2017
“The true spirit of conversation consists more in bringing out the cleverness of others than in showing a great deal of it yourself; he who goes away pleased with himself and his own wit is also greatly pleased with you.”
- Jean de La Bruyère, “Of Society and Conversation”, The Characters of Jean de La Bruyère

November 21st, 2017
“Optimism is true moral courage.”
- Ernest Shackleton

November 20th, 2017
"You know, I haven't been able to look at flowers the same way since I learnt about the Fibonacci sequence," Violet says, stroking the pink daisies with her thin white hand as we walk along the wall. "I don't know which is better: simple beauty with no explanation, or knowing exactly how and why seed pods are organized."
- Scarlett Thomas, PopCo

November 17th, 2017
“The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest."
- William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

November 16th, 2017
“If we did not have pride, we would not complain of it in others.”
- La Rochefoucauld

November 15th, 2017
“Pleasures that are in themselves innocent lose their power of pleasing if they become the sole or main object of pursuit.”
- William Edward Hartpole Lecky, The Map of Life

November 14th, 2017
“Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it.”
- George Santayana

November 13th, 2017
“As I know more of mankind I expect less of them, and am ready now to call a man ‘a good man,’ upon easier terms than I was formerly.”
- Samuel Johnson in James Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson

November 10th, 2017
“When one loves, one does not calculate.”
- St. Therese of Lisieux

November 9th, 2017
“Wisdom has its excesses, and has no less need of moderation than folly.”
- Michel de Montaigne, “Upon Some Verses of Virgil,” The Essays of Montaigne

November 8th, 2017
“One is happy as a result of one’s own efforts, once one knows of the necessary ingredients of happiness—simple tastes, a certain degree of courage, self-denial to a point, love of work, and, above all, a clear conscience. Happiness is no vague dream, of that I now feel certain.”
- George Sand

November 7th, 2017
“How to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness, is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do, and of all they are willing to endure.”
- William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

November 6th, 2017
“Energy creates energy. It is by spending myself that I become rich.”
- Sarah Bernhardt

November 3rd, 2017
“We are never so much disposed to quarrel with others as when we are dissatisfied with ourselves.”
- William Hazlitt, Characteristics

November 2nd, 2017
"We can only know others by ourselves."
- Robert Louis Stevenson, The Lantern-Bearers and Other Essays

November 1st, 2017
“I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of Faults than I had imagined, but I had the Satisfaction of seeing them diminish.”
- Benjamin Franklin

October 31st, 2017
“The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope.”
- Samuel Johnson, Selected Writings

October 30th, 2017
“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.”
- Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

October 27th, 2017
“The Natural History Museum is open to the public on Tuesdays and Fridays. Elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus; extraordinary animals! Rubens rendered them marvelously. I had a feeling of happiness as soon as I entered the place and the further I went the stronger it grew. I felt my whole being rise above commonplaces and trivialities and the petty worries of my daily life. What an immense variety of animals and species of different shapes and functions!"
- Eugene Delacroix, Journal

October 26th, 2017
“It reminds us that our only but wholly adequate significance is as parts of the unimaginable whole. It suggests that even while we think that we are egotists we are living to ends outside ourselves.”
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

October 25th, 2017
“Pessimism like calumny is easy to do, and attracts immediate attention. The gossiper and the writer may find this out soon enough, and a little encouragement from the current mood will procure them successes that bring endless imitators in their trail. On the other hand saying good things about life in general and individuals in particular and making it interesting is a serious task which few can achieve with credit."
- Bernard Berenson, Sunset and Twilight

October 24th, 2017
“But if a man has commonly a very clear and happy daily life then I think we are justified in asking that he shall not make mountains out of molehills. I do not deny that molehills can sometimes be important. Small annoyances have this evil about them, that they can be more abrupt because they are more invisible; they cast no shadow before, they have no atmosphere….But when all this is allowed for, I repeat that we may ask a happy man…to put up with pure inconveniences, and even make them part of his happiness. Of positive pain or positive poverty I do not here speak. I speak of those innumerable accidental limitations that are always falling across our path – bad weather, confinement to this or that house or room, failure of appointments or arrangements…”
- G.K. Chesterton, “The Advantages of Having One Leg.”

October 23rd, 2017
“Some beautiful things are more dazzling when they are still imperfect than when they have been too perfectly crafted."
- La Rochefoucauld, Collected Maxims and Other Reflections

October 20th, 2017
“On the whole, tho’ I never arrived at the Perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet as I was, by the Endeavor, a better and a happier Man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it.”
- Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

October 19th, 2017
“Out of date, perhaps, but who wasn’t these days? Out of date, but loyal to his own time. At a certain moment, after all, every man chooses: will he go forward, will he go back? There was nothing dishonorable in not being blown about by every little modern wind. Better to have worth, to entrench, to be an oak of one’s own generation.”
- John Le Carre, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

October 18th, 2017
“If one thinks that one is happy, that is enough to be happy.”
- Madame de La Fayette

October 17th, 2017
“As soon as you stop wanting something you get it. I’ve found that to be absolutely axiomatic.”
- Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again

October 16th, 2017
“I would like to become tolerant without overlooking anything, persecute no one even when all people persecute me; become better without noticing it; become sadder, but enjoy living; become more serene, be happy in others; belong to no one, grow in everyone; love the best, comfort the worst; not even hate myself anymore.”
- Elias Canetti, The Human Province

October 13th, 2017
“Teach me to go to the country beyond words and beyond names.”
- Thomas Merton, A Search for Solitude: Journals vol. 3

October 12th, 2017
“Home, I learned, can be anywhere you make it. Home is also the place to which you come back again and again.”
- Margaret Mead, Blackberry Winter: My Earlier Years

October 11th, 2017
“Now and then someone would accuse me of being evil — of letting people destroy themselves while I watched, just so I could film them and tape record them. But I don’t think of myself as evil — just realistic. I learned when I was little that whenever I got aggressive I tried to tell someone what to do, nothing happened — I just couldn’t carry it off. I learned that you actually have more power when you shut up, because at least that way people still start to maybe doubt themselves. When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it.”
- Andy Warhol, POPism

October 10th, 2017
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
- Romans 7:15

October 9th, 2017
“October is a fine and dangerous season in America. It is dry and cool and the land is wild with red and gold and crimson, and all the lassitudes of August have seeped out of your blood, and you are full of ambition. It is a wonderful time to begin anything at all.”
- Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

October 6th, 2017
“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

October 5th, 2017
“Everything is raw material. Everything is relevant. Everything is usable. Everything feeds into my creativity. But without proper preparation, I cannot see it, retain it, and use it.”
- Twyla Tharp

October 4th, 2017
“But what is work and what is not work? Is it work to dig, to carpenter, to plant trees, to fell trees, to ride, to fish, to hunt, to feed chickens, to play the piano, to take photographs, to build a house, to cook, to sew, to trim hats, to mend motor bicycles? All of these things are work to somebody, and all of them are play to somebody. There are in fact very few activities which cannot be classed either as work or play according as you choose to regard them.”
- George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

October 3rd, 2017
“The pleasure of doing a thing in the same way at the same time every day, and savoring it, should be noted.”
- Arnold Bennett

October 2nd, 2017
“The only cure [for envy] in the case of ordinary men and women is happiness, and the difficulty is that envy is itself a terrible obstacle to happiness.”
- Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

September 29th, 2017
“I don’t know who I am or who I was. I know it less than ever. I do and I don’t identify myself with myself. Everything is totally contradictory, but maybe I have remained exactly as I was as a small boy of twelve.”
- Giacometti, in Giacometti: A Biography by James Lord

September 28th, 2017
“To have the management of the mind is a great art, and it may be attained in a considerable degree by experience and habitual exercise…Let him take a course of chemistry, or a course of rope-dance, or a course of any thing to which he is inclined at the time. Let him contrive to have as many retreats for his mind as he can, as many things to which it can fly from itself.”
- Samuel Johnson in James Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson

September 27th, 2017
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
- Fred “Mr.” Rogers

September 26, 2017
“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.”
- Robert Louis Stevenson, An Inland Voyage

September 25th, 2017
“It is all a question of weeding out what you yourself like best to do, so that you can live most agreeably in a world full of an increasing number of disagreeable surprises.”
- M.F.K. Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf

September 22nd, 2017
“Children think not of what is past, nor what is to come, but enjoy the present time, which few of us do.”
- Jean de La Bruyère

September 21st, 2017
“I come to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home. I thus dispose of the superfluous and see things as they are, grand and beautiful."
- Henry David Thoreau, Journal

September 20th, 2017
“Let us decide on the route that we wish to take to pass our life, and attempt to sow that route with flowers.”
- Madame du Chatelet

September 19th, 2017
“Routine shortens and variety lengthens time, and it is therefore in the power of men to do something to regulate its pace. A life with many landmarks, a life which is much subdivided when those subdivisions are not of the same kind, and when new and diverse interests, impressions, and labours follow each other in swift and distinct successions, seems the most long…”
- William Edward Hartpole Lecky, The Map of Life

September 18th, 2017
“Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.”
- Leo Tolstoy

September 15th, 2017
“I put my hand on Lucy’s back and felt her uneven breaths, the tremor of her shoulder blades. I was stunned by the rawness of her pain. I came to understand that night in the sports bar, safe from the blinding rain, that I could not worry about Lucy anymore. I knew then it was just too enormous for me to manage and that worrying about her would swamp me. If I was swamped by worry, I would be useless to her. It was even possible that I would desert her, and that was the thing that could never happen.”
- Ann Patchett, Truth and Beauty: a Friendship

September 14th, 2017
“Never say you know the last word about any human heart!”
- Henry James, “Louisa Pallant,” in The Reverberator, Madame de Mauves, A Passionate Pilgrim and Other Tales

September 13th, 2017
“Of all the tasks which are set before man in life, the education and management of his character is the most important, and . . . it is necessary that he should make a calm and careful survey of his own tendencies, unblinded either by the self-deception which conceals errors and magnifies excellences, or by the indiscriminate pessimism which refuses to recognise his powers for good. He must avoid the fatalism which would persuade him that he has no power over his nature, and he must also clearly recognise that this power is not unlimited.”
- William Edward Hartpole Lecky, The Map of Life

September 12th, 2017
“Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am.”
- Thomas Merton, Journal

September 11th, 2017
“Just as coffee can grow . . . under 7,000 [feet] and cedar over 7,000, I think that every human being requires a certain type of soil, temperature, and altitude, very narrowly defined for some, almost universal for others,—in order to feel free and happy, that is to say, free to develop his nature to the utmost of which it is capable. I believe that one can feel completely free both in a Trappist monastery or at the court in Berlin; but I think it would have to be an unusual and an unusually gracious personality that would feel free in both places.”
- Isak Dinesen, letter, August 19, 1923

September 10th, 2017
“All severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle.”
- Samuel Johnson, quoted in John Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson

September 9th, 2017
“The names of the three spinners [goddesses of fate] have been interpreted significantly…Lachesis, the name of the second, seems to mean ‘the accidental within the decrees of destiny’ while Atropos means ‘the inevitable’ and for Clotho ‘the fateful tendencies each one of us brings into the world.’”
- Sigmund Freud, “The Theme of the Three Caskets,” in The Freud Reader

September 8th, 2017
“One should not wish anyone disagreeable conditions of life; but for him who is involved in them by chance, they are touchstones of characters and of the most decisive value to man.”
- Goethe

September 7th, 2017
“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”
- Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

September 6th, 2017
“Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind.”
- Leonardo da Vinci

September 5th, 2017
“Anything one does every day is important and imposing and anywhere one lives is interesting and beautiful.”
- Gertrude Stein, Paris France

September 4th, 2017
“Fundamental happiness depends more than anything else upon what may be called a friendly interest in persons and things.”
- Bertrand Russell

September 1st, 2017
“I suppose the more you have to do, the more you learn to organise and concentrate—or else get fragmented into bits. I have learned to use my ‘ten minutes’. I once thought it was not worth sitting down for a time as short as that; now I know differently and, if I have ten minutes, I use them, even if they bring only two lines, and it keeps the book alive.”
- Rumer Godden, A House with Four Rooms

August 31st, 2017
“All knowledge is interesting to a wise man, and the knowledge of nature is interesting to all men.”
- Matthew Arnold

August 30th, 2017
“She generally gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it).”
- Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

August 29th, 2017
“Accepting oneself does not preclude an attempt to become better.”
- Flannery O’Connor

August 28th, 2017
“Meanwhile, as we read, two little girls slept as if couched on zephyrs on the south side of the parlor floor, in a room that had bunny wallpaper…and a bookcase crammed with the collected Beatrix Potter. Snow White was in a youth bed and Rose Red was in a crib, and next to them was the little blue and white guest room that one of them would have one day. Because I recognize emotions only in retrospect, I didn’t know that I was happy. As always, there was something nagging at my mind’s corners. But I did know that I had all that it is proper in this world to wish for.”
- Mary Cantwell, Manhattan, When I Was Young

August 25th, 2017
“'Appearances are not held to be a clue to the truth,’ said his cousin. ‘But we seem to have no other.’”
- Ivy Compton-Burnett, Manservant and Maidservant

August 24th, 2017
“It is easier for me to take ten good pictures in an airplane bathroom than in the gardens at Versailles.”
- Sally Mann, Hold Still

August 23rd, 2017
“I will speak ill of no man and speak all the good I know of everybody.”
- Benjamin Franklin

August 22nd, 2017
“Most of anyone’s life is a preoccupation with urgent inessentials. If we divide our affairs into what matters for a day or a season or the rest of our lives, it is the long-term fundamentals we give least time to, and put off till tomorrow’s tomorrow. We are more concerned with the pressing than the important, and the essentials are easily crowded out by the mere day-to-day business of living.”
- Nan Fairbrother, The House in the Country

August 21, 2017
“Though still very far from being perfect girls, each was slowly learning, in her own way, one of the three lessons all are the better for knowing – that cheerfulness can change misfortune into love and friends; that in ordering one’s self aright one helps others to do the same; and that the power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.”
- Louisa May Alcott, Jack and Jill

August 18th, 2017
“Slumbering in every human lies an infinity of possibilities, which one must not arouse in vain. For it is terrible when the whole man resonates with echoes and echoes, none becoming a real voice.”
- Elias Canetti, Notes from Hampstead

August 17th, 2017
“Temperament does not predestine one man to sanctity and another to reprobation. All temperaments can serve as the material for ruin or for salvation…It does not matter how poor or how difficult a temperament we may be endowed with. If we make good use of what we have, if we make it serve our good desires, we can do better than another who merely serves his temperament instead of making it serve him.”
- Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

August 16th, 2017
“To make Routine a Stimulus
Remember it can cease —
Capacity to Terminate
Is a Specific Grace —.”
- Emily Dickinson, “To make Routine a Stimulus,” 1196

August 15th, 2017
“For me, the challenge of middle age was not to stand still.”
- Jon Katz, A Dog Year

August 14th, 2017
“We are never so disposed to quarrel with others as when we are dissatisfied with ourselves.”
- William Hazlitt, “Characteristics”

August 11th, 2017
“If someone asked me what my idea of luxury is, I think my answer would be: flowers in the house all year around.”
- May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep

August 10th, 2017
“Early in his career, artist Alberto Giacometti moved into a Paris studio that measured only about sixteen feet square. He didn’t expect this to be a permanent situation, but he stayed for the next thirty-eight years. ‘The longer I stayed,’ he said, ‘the larger it grew.’”
- Alberto Giacometti, Giacometti: A Biography

August 9th, 2017
“The death of Guillaume Apollinaire at this time made a very serious difference to all his friends apart from their sorrow at his death. It was the moment just after the war when many things had changed and people naturally fell apart. Guillaume would have been a bond of union, he always had a quality of keeping people together, and now that he was gone everybody ceased to be friends.”
- Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas

August 8th, 2017
“Do not look back. And do not dream about the future, either. It will neither give you back the past, nor satisfy your other daydreams. Your duty, your reward—your destiny—are here and now.”
- Dag Hammarskjold, Markings

August 7th, 2017
“In my opinion, there are two types of perfect. The first is the type that seems so obvious and intuitive to you and everyone else that in a perfect world it would simply be considered standard; but, in reality, in our flawed world, what should be considered standard is actually so rare that it has to be elevated to the level of ‘perfect.’ This is the type of perfect that makes you and most other people think, ‘Why isn’t everything like this? Why is it so hard to find…’ a black V-neck cotton sweater, or a casual non-chain restaurant with comfortable booths, etc.–‘that is just exactly the way everyone knows something like this should be?’ ‘Perfect,’ we all say with relief when we finally find something like this that is exactly as it should be. ‘Perfect. Why was that so hard to find?’
“The other type of perfect is the type you never could have expected and then could never replicate.”
- B. J. Novak, “Sophia,” in One More Thing

August 4th, 2017
“In the best times of my life I always think I am making room, even more room in me. Here I shovel away snow, there I raise aloft a piece of fallen sky; there are superfluous lakes, I let them run out (I save the fish), overgrown forests, I drive crowds of apes into them, everything is astir, but there’s never enough room, I never ask why, I never feel why, I just have to keep making room, on and on, and as long as I can do so, I merit my life.”
- Elias Canetti, The Human Province

August 3rd, 2017
“For our duties and our needs, in all the fundamental things for which we were created, come down in practice to the same thing.”
- Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

August 2nd, 2017
“Associate with people who are likely to improve you.”
- Seneca

August 1st, 2017
“At these best moments a great humility fused with a great ambition: to be only what I was, but to the utmost of what I was.”
- Stephen Spender, World Within World

July 31st, 2017
“I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great.”
- Willa Cather, My Antonia

July 28th, 2017
“There is a myth, sometimes widespread, that a person need only do inner work…that a man is entirely responsible for his own problems; and that to cure himself, he need only change himself…The fact is, a person is so formed by his surroundings, that his state of harmony depends entirely on his harmony with his surroundings.”
- Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building

July 27th, 2017
“Most of us are experts at solving other people’s problems, but we generally solve them in terms of our own and the advice we give is seldom for other people but for ourselves.”
- Nan Fairbrother, The House in the Country

July 26th, 2017
“The important question is not, what will yield to man a few scattered pleasures, but what will render his life happy on the whole amount.”
- Joseph Addison

July 25th, 2017
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
- Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

July 24th, 2017
“Pleasures that are in themselves innocent lose their power of pleasing if they become the sole or main object of pursuit.”
- William Edward Hartpole Lecky, The Map of Life

July 21st, 2017
“He knew that under the tall grass of an apparently untamed future the steel rails of fear and habit were already laid. What he suddenly couldn’t bear, with every cell in his body, was to act out the destiny prepared for him by his past, and slide obediently along those rails, contemplating bitterly all the routes he would rather have taken.”
- Edward St. Aubyn, Some Hope

July 20th, 2017
“Then he rustled his feathers, curved his slender neck, and cried joyfully, from the depths of his heart, ‘I never dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling.”
- Hans Christian Andersen, The Ugly Duckling

July 19th, 2017
“What we want out of a vacation changes as we age. It changes from vacation to vacation. There was a time when it was all about culture for me. My idea of a real break was to stay in museums until my legs ached and then go stand in line to get tickets for an opera or a play. Later I became a disciple of relaxation and looked for words like beach and massage when making my plans. I found those little paper umbrellas that balanced on the side of rum drinks to be deeply charming then. Now I strive for transcendent invisibility and the chance to accomplish the things I can’t get done at home. But as I pack up my room at the Hotel Bel-Air, I think the best vacation is the one that relieves me of my own life for a while and then makes me long for it again.”
- Ann Patchett, “Do Not Disturb,” in This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

July 18th, 2017
“Where it is in our power to act, it is also in our power to not act.”
- Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

July 17th, 2017
“The comfort of it in her hours of leisure was extreme. She could go there after anything unpleasant below, and find immediate consolation in some pursuit, or some train of thought at hand. Her plants, her books…her writing desk, and her works of charity and ingenuity, were all within her reach…she could scarcely see an object in that room which had not an interesting remembrance connected with it.”
- Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

July 14th, 2017
“Sometimes something can look beautiful just because it’s different in some way from the other things around it. One red petunia in a window box will look very beautiful if all the rest of them are white, and vice-versa.
- Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again

July 13th, 2017
“Do not hunt for subjects, let them choose you, not you them. Only do that which insists on being done and runs right up against you, hitting you in the eye until you do it.”
- Samuel Butler

July 12th, 2017
“There are children who will leave a game to go and be bored in a corner of the garret. How often have I wished for the attic of my boredom when the complications of life made me lose the very germ of freedom!”
- Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

July 11th, 2017
“It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation, which give happiness.”
- Thomas Jefferson

July 10th, 2017
“If in this world there is one misery having no relief, it is the pressure on the heart from the Incommunicable.”
- Thomas de Quincey, Confessions of an English Opium Eater

July 7th, 2017
“Men’s natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them.”
- Confucious

July 6th, 2017
“Passions weaken, but habits strengthen, with age, and it is the great task of youth to set the current of habit and to form the tastes which are most productive of happiness in life.”
- William Edward Hartpole Lecky, The Map of Life

July 5th, 2017
“It is in changing that things find repose.”
- Heraclitus

July 4th, 2017
“To be driven by our appetites alone is slavery, while to obey a law that we have imposed on ourselves is freedom.”
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract

July 3rd, 2017
“I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.”
- Jane Kenyon, “Otherwise”

June 30th, 2017
“One does not play Bach without having done scales. But neither does one play a scale merely for the sake of the scale."
- Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

June 29th, 2017
“You increase your self-respect when you feel you’ve done everything you ought to have done, and if there is nothing else to enjoy, there remains that chief of pleasures, the feeling of being pleased with oneself. A man gets an immense amount of satisfaction from the knowledge of having done good work and of having made the best use of his day, and when I am in this state I find that I thoroughly enjoy my rest and even the mildest forms of recreation.”
- Eugene Delacroix

June 28th, 2017
“No effort is required to define or even attain happiness, but enormous concentration is needed to abandon everything else.”
- Quentin Crisp, The Naked Civil Servant

June 27th, 2017
“The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening.”
- Henry David Thoreau

June 26th, 2017
“Third things are essential to marriages, objects or practices or habits or arts or institutions or games or human beings that provide a site of joint rapture or contentment. Each member of a couple is separate; the two come together in double attention.”
- Donald Hall, The Best Day the Worst Day

June 23rd, 2017
“Between what a man calls me and what he simply calls mine the line is difficult to draw. We feel and act about certain things that are ours very much as we feel and act about ourselves.”
- William James, The Principles of Psychology

June 22nd, 2017
“Silence was the cure, if only temporarily, silence and geography. But of what was I being cured? I do not know, have never known. I only know the cure. Silence, and no connections except to landscape.”
- Mary Cantwell, Manhattan, When I Was Young

June 21st, 2017
“No human face is exactly the same in its lines on each side, no leaf perfect in its lobes, no branch in its symmetry. All admit irregularity as they imply change; and to banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality. All things are literally better, lovelier, and more beloved for the imperfections which have been divinely appointed, that the law of human life may be Effort, and the law of human judgment, Mercy.”
- John Ruskin

June 20th, 2017
“What so great happiness as to be beloved, and to know that we deserve to be beloved? What so great misery as to be hated, and to know that we deserve to be hated?”
- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

June 19th, 2017
“A stumble may prevent a fall.”
- “Proverb”

June 16th, 2017
“No money is better spent than what is laid out for domestic satisfaction.”
- Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson

June 15th, 2017
“When asked, “What disturbs him now about himself?” E. B. White answered, ‘I am bothered chiefly by my little fears that are the same as they were almost 70 years ago. I was born scared and am still scared. This has sometimes tested my courage almost beyond endurance.’”
- E.B. White, quoted in “Notes and Comment by Author,” by Israel Shenker, New York Times, July 11, 1969

June 14th, 2017
Jonathan Haidt writes that his old friend Greg called him. Greg’s wife Amy had left him for another man, a psychopath, and taken with her the couple’s two young daughters. Eventually the couple divorced, and Greg got custody, but his whole life was overturned. Haidt writes:
“And then Greg said something so powerful that I choked up. Referring to the often sad and moving solo that is at the heart of many operas, he said: ‘This is my moment to sing that aria. I don’t want to, I don’t want to have this chance, but it’s here now, and what am I going to do about it? Am I going to rise to the occasion?’”
- Jonathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis

June 13th, 2017
“True life is lived when tiny changes occur.”
- Leo Tolstoy

June 12th, 2017
“There are jobs, there are chores, and there is work.”
- Donald Hall, Life Work

June 9th, 2017
“Would all, who cherish such wild wishes, but look around them, they would oftenest find their sphere of duty, of prosperity, and happiness, within those precincts, and in that station where Providence itself has cast their lot. Happy they who read the riddle without a weary world-search, or a lifetime spent in vain!”
- Nathaniel Hawthorne

June 8th, 2017
“Pleasures are more safely postponed than virtues…greater loss is suffered by missing an opportunity of doing good, than an hour of giddy frolic and noisy merriment.”
- Samuel Johnson, Selected Writings

June 7th, 2017
"The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Senior

June 6th, 2017
“I once saw a simple fish pond in a Japanese village which was perhaps eternal. A farmer made it for his farm. The pond was a simple rectangle, about 6 feet wide, and 8 feet long; opening off a little irrigation stream. At one end, a bush of flowers hung over the water. At the other end, under the water, was a circle of wood, its top perhaps 12 inches below the surface of the water. In the pond there were eight great ancient carp, each maybe 18 inches long, orange, gold, purple, and black: the oldest one had been there eighty years. The eight fish swam, slowly, slowly, in circles—often within the wooden circle. The whole world was in that pond. Every day the farmer sat by it for a few minutes. I was there only one day and I sat by it all afternoon. Even now, I cannot think about it without tears.”
- Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building

June 5th, 2017
"Happiness and misery consist in a progression towards better or worse; it does not matter how high up or low down you are, it depends not on this, but on the direction in which you are tending."
- Samuel Butler

June 2nd, 2017
“The greatest of all human delusions is that there is a tangible goal, and not just direction towards an ideal aim. The idea that a goal can be attained perpetually frustrates human beings, who are disappointed at never getting there, never being able to stop.”
- Stephen Spender, World Within World

June 1st, 2017
“I have always tried to make room for anything that wanted to come to me from within.”
- Carl Jung

May 31st, 2017
“Arrears of small things to be attended to, if allowed to accumulate, worry and depress like unpaid debts. The main work should always stand aside for these, not these for the main work, as large debts should stand aside for small ones, or truth for common charity and good feeling. If we attend continually and promptly to the little that we can do, we shall ere long be surprised to find how little remains that we cannot do.”
- Samuel Butler, The Notebooks of Samuel Butler

May 30th, 2017
“I like boring things. I like things to be exactly the same over and over again.”
- Andy Warhol

May 29th, 2017
“The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way…To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion,--all in one.”
- John Ruskin, Modern Painters

May 26th, 2017
“When your toil has been a pleasure, you have not earned money merely, but money, health, delight, and moral profit, all in one.”
- Robert Louis Stevenson

May 25th, 2017
“Every man is, no doubt, by nature, first and principally recommended to his own care; and as he is fitter to take care of himself, than of any other person, it is fit and right that it should be so.”
- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

May 24th, 2017
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
- William Shakespeare, “Hamlet”

May 23rd, 2017
“To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual.”
- Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist Part II

May 22nd, 2017
“Life is not so short but that there is always time for courtesy.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

May 19th, 2017
“Nothing is more graceful than habitual cheerfulness, which is always founded upon a peculiar relish for all the little pleasures which common occurrences afford.”
- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

May 18th, 2017
“Setting the gently sloshing tank on the dresser, Ellsworth sprinkled in some food and spent a few minutes watching the little fish dart up and away from the surface, over and over again. Like always, it did something to him, something he could never quite figure out. It seemed to put one part of him to sleep and wake another part up, the part that sent ideas bubbling up and out.”
- Janet S. Anderson, The Last Treasure

May 17th, 2017
“For our duties and our needs, in all the fundamental things for which we were created, come down in practice to the same thing.”
- Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

May 16th, 2017
“There’s only one very good life and that’s the life you know you want and you make it yourself.”
- Diana Vreeland, quoted in The Unexpurgated Beaton by Cecil Beaton, forward by Hugo Vickers

May 15th, 2017
“Action and feeling go together . . . by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling.”
- William James, Talks to Teachers on Psychology and to Students on Some of Life’s Ideals

May 12th, 2017
“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

May 11th, 2017
“The most congenial social occasions are those ruled by cheerful deference of each for all.”
- Goethe, Maxims and Reflections

May 10th, 2017
“I’m glad to report that even now, at this late day, a blank sheet of paper holds the greatest excitement there is for me—more promising than a silver cloud, prettier than a little red wagon. It holds all the hope there is, all fears. I can remember, really quite distinctly, looking a sheet of paper square in the eyes when I was seven or eight years old and thinking, ‘This is where I belong, this is it.’”
- E. B. White, letter to Stanley Hart White January 1947

May 9th, 2017
“Happiness is essentially a state of going somewhere wholeheartedly, one-directionally, without regret or reservation.”
- W.H. Sheldon

May 8th, 2017
“It has been well observed that the misery of man proceeds not from any single crush of overwhelming evil, but from small vexatious continuous repeated.”
- Samuel Johnson, “Pope,” in Selected Writings

May 5th, 2017
“Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure.”
- George Eliot, Middlemarch

May 4th, 2017
“Humor is the antidote to over thinking. It’s a way of saying that life is paradoxical. Humor contains contradictions; it does not resolve them but revels in them. It says that the right way to exist among the contradictions, paradoxes, and absurdities of life is to cope with them through laughter.”
- Bob Mankoff, How About Never: Is Never Good For You

May 3rd, 2017
“If sleep is the apogee of physical relaxation, boredom is the apogee of mental relaxation. Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience.”
- Walter Benjamin, “The Storyteller”

May 2nd, 2017
“An uneasy conscience is a hair in the mouth.”
- Mark Twain, Notebook

May 1st, 2017
“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.”
- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

April 28th, 2017
“The constant remaking of order out of chaos is what life is all about, even in the simplest domestic chores such as clearing the table and washing the dishes after a meal…but when it comes to the inner world, the world of feeling and thinking, many people leave the dishes unwashed for weeks so no wonder they feel ill and exhausted.”
- May Sarton, Recovering

April 27th, 2017
“The hallmark of a decision in line with one’s inner development is a feeling of having laid down a burden and picked up a more natural responsibility.”
- Anne Truitt, Daybook: the Journal of an Artist

April 26th, 2017
“To be interested in the changing seasons is…a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.”
- George Santayana, “Justification of Art”

April 25th, 2017
“The playing of whist before dinner has…become a habit with me…I have sometimes felt sore with myself for this persistency, feeling that I was making myself a slave to an amusement which has not after all very much to recommend it. I have often thought that I would break myself away from it, and ‘swear off’….[N]ow, as I think of it coolly, I do not know but that I have been right to cling to it. As a man grows old he wants amusement, more even than when he is young; and then it becomes so difficult to find amusement.”
- Anthony Trollope, An Autobiography

April 24th, 2017
“When we have read a book or poem so often that we can no longer find any amusement in reading it by ourselves, we can still take pleasure in reading it to a companion. To him it has all the graces of novelty...”
- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

April 21st, 2017
“She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day.”
- Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

April 20th, 2017
“To be really happy and really safe, one ought to have at least two or three hobbies, and they must all be real.”
- Winston Churchill, “Hobbies”

April 19th, 2017
“Of course reading and thinking are important but, my God, food is important too. How fortunate we are to be food-consuming animals. Each meal should be a treat and one ought to bless every day which brings with it a good digestion and the precious gift of hunger.”
- Iris Murdoch, The Sea, the Sea

April 18th, 2017
“Thinking about monastic ideals is not the same as living up to them, but at any rate such thinking has an important place in a monk’s life, because you cannot begin to do anything unless you have some idea what you are trying to do.”
- Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas

April 17th, 2017
“There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk around the whole world till we come back to the same place.”
- G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

April 14th, 2017
“The years from 7 to 13 seem to be particularly formative. We are young enough to be innocent and impressionable, yet old enough to think and feel deeply about what is happening to us.”
- Ysenda Maxtone Graham, Mr. Tibbits’s Catholic School

April 13th, 2017
“To enjoy the excitement of pleasure, but to be free from its vices and ill effects, - to have the sweet, and leave the bitter untasted, - that has been my study. The preachers tell us that this is impossible. It seems to me that hitherto I have succeeded fairly well. I will not say that I have never scorched a finger, - but I carry no ugly wounds.”
- Anthony Trollope, An Autobiography

April 12th, 2017
“Experience, contrary to popular belief, is mostly imagination.”
- Ruth Benedict

April 11th, 2017
“A difference of taste in jokes is a great strain on the affections.”
- George Eliot, Daniel Deronda

April 10th, 2017
Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing…Consequently two viewpoints are always tenable. The one, how can you improve human nature until you have changed the system? The other, what is the use of changing the system before you have improved human nature? They appeal to different individuals, and they probably show a tendency to alternate in point of time.
- George Orwell, “Charles Dickens”

April 7th, 2017
“If you do the same thing every day at the same time for the same length of time, you’ll save yourself from many a sink. Routine is a condition of survival.”
- Flannery O’Connor, letter to “A,” 10 Feb 62

April 6th, 2017
“It was on a bright day of midwinter, in New York. The little girl who eventually became me, but as yet was neither me nor anybody else in particular, but merely a soft anonymous morsel of humanity—this little girl, who bore my name, was going for a walk with her father. The episode is literally the first thing I can remember about her, and therefore I date the birth of her identity from that day.”
- Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance

April 5th, 2017
“Since every man is obliged to promote happiness and virtue, he should be careful not to mislead unwary minds, by appearing to set too high a value upon things by which no real excellence is conferred.”
- Samuel Johnson, The Rambler No. 66

April 4th, 2017
“The way of paradoxes is the way of truth. To test Reality we must see it on the tight-rope.”
- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

April 3rd, 2017
“There is a perfect ant, a perfect bee, but man is perpetually unfinished…Moreover, the incurable unfinishedness keeps man perpetually immature, perpetually capable of learning and growing.”
- Eric Hoffer

March 31st, 2017
“Forever — is composed of Nows –“
- Emily Dickinson, The Poems of Emily Dickinson

March 30th, 2017
“We are all born for love. It is the principle of existence, and its only end.”
- Benjamin Disraeli

March 29th, 2017
"I get so much comfort in thinking of our long friendship, and how it has grown so much stronger through the years, binding us all together. If I didn't have those things at the bottom of my heart I wouldn't get much out of blue seas or sunny lands."
- Willa Cather, Letters

March 28th, 2017
“Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care;
To stay at home is best.”
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

March 27th, 2017
“The Little House was very happy as she sat on the hill and watched the countryside around her. She watched the sun rise in the morning and she watched the sun set in the evening. Day followed day, each one a little different from the one before . . . but the Little House stayed just the same.”
- Virginia Lee Burton, The Little House

March 24th, 2017
“The greatest of empires, is the empire over one’s self.”
- Publius Syrus

March 23rd, 2017
“The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly—that is what each of us is here for.”
- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

March 22nd, 2017
“To live is so startling, it leaves but little room for other occupations.”
- Emily Dickinson, letter

March 21st, 2017
"We learn a great deal from great people… [T]hey somehow strike out the foolish platitudes that we have been taught to respect devoutly, and give us courage to be honest and free. Free to rely on what we really feel and really love—and that only."
- Willa Cather, Letters

March 20th, 2017
“In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: They must be fit for it; They must not do too much of it; and they must have a sense of success in it.”
- John Ruskin, “Pre-Raphaelitism”

March 17th, 2017
“I had wanted to come back to Greenwich Village ever since I had left Waverly Place, and since moving to West Eleventh Street, I have never lived anyplace else. I do not want to. That is not because of what the Village is but because of what I have made it, and what I have made it depends on who I am at the time.”
- Mary Cantwell, Manhattan, When I Was Young

March 16th, 2017
“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good…Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.”
- C.S. Lewis

March 15th, 2017
“I felt I was needed: my own eyes were needed in order that the copper-red of the beech could be set against the blue of the cedar and the silver of the poplars. When I went away, the landscape fell to pieces, and no longer existed for anyone; it no longer existed at all.”
- Simone de Beauvoir, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter

March 14th, 2017
“We needs must love the highest when we see it.”
- Alfred Lord Tennyson

March 13th, 2017
"One of the pleasures of getting older is that one can get so much nearer to one's own people, and that the dear ones of them become dearer all the time."
- Willa Cather, Letters

March 10th, 2017
“We all know people…who are at loggerheads with existence; unhappy people who never get what they want; are baffled, complaining, who stand at an uncomfortable angle when they see everything askew. There are others again who, though they appear perfectly content, seem to have lost all touch with reality. They lavish all their affections upon little dogs and old china. They take interest in nothing but the vicissitudes of their own health and the ups and downs of social snobbery. There are, however, others who strike us, why precisely it would be difficult to say, as being by nature or circumstances in a position where they can use their faculties to the full upon things that are of importance. They are not necessarily happy or successful, but there is a zest in their presence, an interest in their doings. They seem to be alive all over.”
- Virginia Woolf, The Narrow Bridge of Art

March 9th, 2017
“I love the broad margin to my life.”
- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

March 8th, 2017
“If you make it a habit not to blame others, you will feel the growth of the ability to love in your soul, and you will see the growth of goodness in your life.”
- Leo Tolstoy, A Calendar of Wisdom

March 7th, 2017
“The habit of being happy enables one to be freed, or largely freed, from the dominance of outward conditions.”
- Robert Louis Stevenson

March 6th, 2017
“To be mature you have to realize what you value most. It is extraordinary to discover that comparatively few people reach this level of maturity. They seem never to have paused to consider what has value for them. They spend great effort and sometimes make great sacrifices for values that, fundamentally, meet no real needs of their own. Perhaps they have imbibed the values of their particular profession or job, of their community or their neighbors, of their parents or family. Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one’s own values is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life is for.”
- Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

March 3rd, 2017
“There is no excellent beauty, that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.”
- Francis Bacon

March 2nd, 2017
“Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything…we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to realize it as such.”
- Henry Miller, The Henry Miller Reader

March 1st, 2017
Dreams, books, are each a world; and books, we know,
Are a substantial world, both pure and good:
Round these, with tendrils strong as flesh and blood,
Our pastime and our happiness will grow.
- William Wordsworth, Personal Talk

February 28th, 2018
“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

February 27th, 2017
“Life is barren enough surely with all her trappings; let us therefore be cautious of how we strip her.”
- Samuel Johnson, Hester Lynch Piozzi, Anecdotes of the Late Samuel Johnson

February 24th, 2017
“To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.”
- Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

February 23rd, 2017
“If you look at a thing, the very fact of your looking changes it…if you think about yourself, that very fact changes you.”
- Robert Penn Warren

February 22nd, 2017
“The [hay] rack stood as if it had been there forever across the landscape and lit by the sun with its long shadow behind it, and in harmony with every fold of the field and finally turned into a mere form, a primordial form, even if that was not the word I used then, and it gave me huge pleasure just to look at it. I can still feel the same thing today when I see a hayrack in a photograph from a book, but all that is a thing of the past now…so the feeling of pleasure slips into the feeling that time has passed, that it is very long ago, and the sudden feeling of being old.”
- Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses

February 21st, 2017
“Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult.”
- Samuel Johnson

February 20th, 2017
“I didn’t entirely like this glossy new surface, because it made the school look like a museum, and that’s exactly what it was to me, and what I did not want it to be. In the deep, tacit way in which feeling becomes stronger than thought, I had always felt that the Devon School came into existence the day I entered it, was vibrantly real while I was a student there, and then blinked out like a candle the day I left.”
- John Knowles, A Separate Peace

February 17th, 2017
“Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My script of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of salvation,
My gown of glory, hope’s true gage;
And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage.”
- Sir Walter Raleigh, “His Pilgrimage”

February 16th, 2017
“When things are taking their ordinary course, it is hard to remember what matters.”
- Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

February 15th, 2017
“Who looks upon a river in a meditative hour, and is not reminded of the flux of all things?”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature,” Selected Essays, Lectures and Poems

February 14th, 2017
“Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

February 13th, 2017
“It is never easy to confront life-changing news, especially when you are deeply embroiled in the everyday and the banal, which we always are. They absorb almost everything, make almost everything small, apart from the few events that are so immense that they lay waste to all the everyday trivia around you."
- Karl Ove Knausgaard, My Struggle, Book 2

February 10th, 2017
“I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.”
- Wallace Stevens, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” The Palm at the End of the Mind

February 9th, 2017
“So coming back from a journey, or after an illness, before habits had spun themselves across the surface, one felt the same unreality, which was so startling; felt something emerge. Life was most vivid then.”
- Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

February 8th, 2017
“One of the consolations of old age is the intense pleasure I now get from nature. It seems that in youth I was too busy confronting life and experience to stand still and gaze.”
- P. D. James, Time to Be in Earnest

February 7th, 2017
“We lived our lives as if life was forever. To live one’s life without a sense of time is to squander it.”
- Diana Trilling, The Beginning of the Journey

February 6th, 2017
“When things are taking their ordinary course, it is hard to remember what matters.”
- Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

February 3rd, 2017
“Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue, and each shows only what lies in its focus.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience,” from The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson

February 2nd, 2017
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
- Robert Frost, “The Death of the Hired Man,” The Poetry of Robert Frost

February 1st, 2017
“One must never be either content with, or impatient with, oneself…”
- C. S. Lewis, Letter, March 31, 1954, reprinted in Letters to an American Lady

January 31st, 2017
“With what pleasure do we look upon a family, through the whole of which reign mutual love and esteem, where the parents and children are companions for one another, without any other difference than what is made by respectful affection on the one side, and kind indulgence on the other, . . .”
- Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

January 30th, 2017
“You can never predict what little things in the way somebody looks or talks or acts will set off peculiar emotional reactions in other people.”
- Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: (From A to Be and Back Again)

January 27th, 2017
“To see things in their true proportion, to escape the magnifying influence of a morbid imagination, should be one of the chief aims of life.”
- William Edward Hartpole Lecky, The Map of Life

January 26th, 2017
“My favorite thing is to go where I’ve never been.”
- Diane Arbus

January 25th, 2017
“The cut worm forgives the plow.”
- William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

January 24th, 2017
“Read at whim! Read at whim!”
- Randall Jarrell

January 23rd, 2017
“For the love of God and my sisters (so charitable toward me) I take care to appear happy and especially to be so.”
- St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul

January 20th, 2017
“The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.”
- William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

January 19th, 2017
“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals

January 18th, 2017
“The sacrifice of pleasures is of course itself a pleasure.”
- Muriel Spark, Loitering With Intent

January 17th, 2017
“Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”
- William Butler Yeats

January 16th, 2017
“Always, as one arrives, here is the old acceleration of the pulse—the mountainous gray skyline glimpsed from the Triboro Bridge, the cheerful games of basketball and handball being played on the recreational asphalt beside the FDR Drive, the startling, steamy, rain-splotched intimacy of the side streets where one’s taxi slows to a crawl, the careless flung beauty of the pedestrians clumped at the street corners. So many faces, costumes, packages, errands! So many preoccupations, hopes, passions, lives in progress!”
- John Updike, “Is New York City Inhabitable?”

January 13th, 2017
“How strange painti7ng is, it delights us with representations of objects that are not pleasing in themselves!”
- Eugene Delacroix, The Journal of Eugene Delacroix

January 12th, 2017
“Man’s life is a progress, and not a station.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Compensation”

January 11th, 2017
“’Do you know of a cure for me?’
“’Why yes,’ he said, ‘I know of a cure for everything: salt water.’
“’Salt water?’ I asked him.
“Yes,’ he said, ‘in one way or the other. Sweat, or tears, or the salt sea.’”
- Isak Dinesen, “The Deluge at Norderney,” in Seven Gothic Tales

January 10th, 2017
“Traveling makes one modest: one sees what a tiny place one occupies in the world.”
- The Letters of Gustave Flaubert, 1830-1857

January 9th, 2017
We love the things we love for what they are.
- Robert Frost, “Hyla Brook”

January 6th, 2017
“In our hurried world too little value is attached to the part of the connoisseur and dilettante.”
-Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance

January 5th, 2017
“Perhaps this sounds very simple, but simple things are always the most difficult. In actual life it requires the greatest discipline to be simple, and the acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook upon life.”
- C.G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul

January 4th, 2017
“We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.”
- Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

January 3rd, 2017
“Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.”
- Kierkegaard, letter, 1847

January 2nd, 2017
“Yet the definition we have made of ourselves is ourselves. To break out of it, we must make a new self. But how can the self make a new self when the selflessness which it is, is the only substance from which the new self can be made?”
- Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men

December 30th, 2016
“Talent is insignificant. I know a lot of talented ruins. Beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but, most of all, endurance.”
- James Baldwin, Paris Review Interviews, II

December 29th, 2016
“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
- William Morris

December 28th, 2016
“The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness.”
- Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

December 27th, 2016
“Nothing is ever the same as they said it was. It’s what I’ve never seen before that I recognize.”
- Diane Arbus

December 26th, 2016
“Not that she didn’t enjoy the holidays: but she always felt—and it was, perhaps, the measure of her peculiar happiness—a little relieved when they were over. Her normal life pleased her so well that she was half afraid to step out of its frame in case one day she should find herself unable to get back.”
- Jan Struther, Mrs. Miniver

December 23rd, 2016
“Each time of life has its own kind of love.”
- Leo Tolstoy

December 22nd, 2016
“When they had eventually calmed down a bit, and had gotten home, Mr. Duncan put the magic pebble in an iron safe. Some day they might want to use it, but really, for now, what more could they wish for? They all had all that they wanted.”
- William Steig, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

December 21st, 2016
“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!”
- Henry David Thoreau

December 20th, 2016
“Of all the tasks which are set before man in life, the education and management of his character is the most important, and, in order that it should be successfully pursued, it is necessary that he should make a calm and careful survey of his own tendencies, unblinded either by the self-deception which conceals errors and magnifies excellences, or by the indiscriminate pessimism which refuses to recognize his powers for good. He must avoid the fatalism which would persuade him that he has no power over his nature, and he must also clearly recognize that this power is not unlimited.”
- William Edward Hartpole Lecky, The Map of Life

December 19th, 2016
“It needs good management to enjoy life. I enjoy it twice as much as others, for the measure of enjoyment depends on the greater or less attention that we give to it…The shorter my possession of life the deeper and fuller I must make it.”
- Michel de Montaigne

December 16th, 2016
“Who will free me from hurry, flurry, the feeling of a crowd pushing behind me, of being hustled and crushed? How can I regain even for a minute the feeling of ample leisure I had during my early, my creative years? Then I seldom felt fussed, or hurried. There was time for work, for play, for love, the confidence that if a task was not done at the appointed time, I easily could fit it into another hour. I used to take leisure for granted, as I did time itself.”
- Bernard Berenson, Sunset and Twilight, from the Diaries of 1947-1958

December 15th, 2016
“Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.”
- Leo Tolstoy

December 14th, 2016
“How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them!”
- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

December 13th, 2016
“We change, but always at a cost: to win this you lose that.”
- Geoffrey Wolff, A Day at the Beach, “Apprentice”

December 12th, 2016
“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land…the only way to go to England is to go away from it.”
- G. K