Tag: Gretchen Rubin

Quotes August 20, 2019

Courtesy of Gretchen Rubin

“We are interested in others, when they are interested in us.”
Publius Syrus
“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
“The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.”
William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
“Is life so wretched? Isn’t it rather your hands which are too small, your vision which is muddied? You are the one who must grow up.”
Dag Hammarskjold, Markings
“To live is so startling, it leaves but little room for other occupations.”
Emily Dickinson, letter
“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”
“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
“The desire of being believed, the desire of persuading, of leading, and directing other people, seems to be one of the strongest of all our natural desires.”
Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments
“Experience, contrary to popular belief, is mostly imagination.”
Ruth Benedict

Quotes August 07, 2019

Courtesy of Gretchen Rubin

“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?”
“Most people take action by habit in small things more often than in important things.”
Mary Oliver, “Habits, Differences, and the Light That Abides,” Long Life
“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
“There are no new truths, but only truths that have not been recognized by those who have perceived them without noticing.”
Mary McCarthy, “The Vita Activa”, The New Yorker, October 18, 1958
“There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk.”
M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating
“It is much easier to extinguish a first desire than to satisfy all of those that follow it.”
La Rochefoucauld
“It is well to yield up a pleasure, when a pain goes with it.”
Publius Syrus
“In 1970 I felt so lonely that I could not give; now I feel so joyful that giving seems easy. I hope that the day will come when the memory of my present joy will give me the strength to keep giving even when loneliness gnaws at my heart.”
Henri Nouwen, The Genesee Diary
“How often the prospect of future happiness is thus sacrificed to one’s impatient insistence upon an immediate gratification!”
Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way
“Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Social Aims” in The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Read at whim! Read at whim!”
Randall Jarrell

Quotes July 24, 2019

Courtesy of Gretchen Rubin

“Happiness and misery are not absolute but depend on the direction in which you are tending and consist in a progression towards better or worse.”
Samuel Butler, The Note-books of Samuel Butler
“The fact is, that, of all God’s gifts to the sight of man, colour is the holiest, the most divine, the most solemn…The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.”
John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice
“For whatever reason, the heart cannot separate the world’s appearance and actions from morality and valor, and the power of every idea is intensified, if not actually created, by its expression in substance. Over and over in the butterfly we see the idea of transcendence. In the forest we see not the inert but the aspiring. In water that departs forever and forever returns, we experience eternity.”
Mary Oliver, “Wordsworth’s Mountain,” Long Life
“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
“It has been well observed, that the misery of man proceeds not from any single crush of overwhelming evil, but from small vexations continuously repeated.”
Samuel Johnson, “Pope,” in Selected Writings
“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
“Sometimes deliberate people look for their island and conquer it, and sometimes the dream of the island can be a passive symbol for what is one step beyond reach. The island—at last, privacy, remoteness, intimacy, a rounded whole without bridges or fences.”
Tove Jansson, “The Island,” The Paris Review
“Like the bee, we distill poison from honey for our self-defense—what happens to the bee if it uses its sting is well known.”
Dag Hammarskjold, Markings
“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”
e.e. cummings, “maggie and milly and molly and may”
“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
“Everyone knows the power of things: life is solidified in them, more immediately present than in any of its instants.”
Simone de Beauvoir, A Very Easy Death
“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
“We love the things we love for what they are.”
Robert Frost, “Hyla Brook”
“Habit is, of all the plants of human growth, the one that has least need of nutritious soil in order to live.”
Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way
“The days are long, but the years are short.”
Gretchen Rubin

Quotes July 02, 2019

Courtesy of Gretchen Rubin

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet
“It is not necessary that you leave the house. Remain at your table and listen. Do not even listen, only wait. Do not even wait, be wholly still and alone. The world will present itself to you for its unmasking, it can do no other, in ecstasy it will writhe at your feet.”
Franz Kafka, The Zurau Aphorisms
Who goes to dine must take his Feast
Or find the Banquet mean –
The Table is not laid without
Till it is laid within.
Emily Dickinson, “Who goes to dine must take his Feast”
“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
“Most of our faculties lie dormant because they can rely upon Habit, which knows what there is to be done and has no need of their services. But on this morning of travel, the interruption of the routine of my existence, the unfamiliar place and time, had made their presence indispensable. My habits…for once were missing, and all my faculties came hurrying to take their place.”
Marcel Proust, Within a Budding Grove
“Happiness, knowledge, not in another place but this place,
not for another hour, but this hour…”
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Quotes June 23 & 24, 2019

Courtesy of Gretchen Rubin

“We try to discover in things…the reflection of what our soul has projected on to them; we are disillusioned when we find that they are in reality devoid of the charm which they owed, in our minds, to the association of certain ideas.”
Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way
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
“Some people just shouldn’t be disturbed in their inclinations, whether large or small. A reminder can instantly turn enthusiasm into aversion and spoil everything.”
Tove Jansson, Fair Play
“In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.”
Dag Hammarskjold, Markings
“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
“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, Journal

Quotes June 15, 2019

Courtesy of Gretchen Rubin

“Sheltered and isolated by the water that is at the same time an open possibility.”
Tove Jansson, “The Island,” The Paris Review
“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
“How strange painting is, it delights us with representations of objects that are not pleasing in themselves!”
Eugene Delacroix, The Journal of Eugene Delacroix
“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
“The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope.”
Samuel Johnson, Selected Writings
“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
“We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours.”
Dag Hammarskjold, Markings
“And the eighth and ninth, the tenth, eleventh, twelfth trips? What have they to do with me, the gastronomical me? What sea changes were there, to make me richer, stranger? I grew older with each one, like every other wanderer. My hungers altered: I knew better what and how to eat, just as I knew better how I loved other people, and even why.”
M.F.K. Fisher, The Gastronomical Me
“Happiness is essentially a state of going somewhere wholeheartedly, one-directionally, without regret or reservation.”
W.H. Sheldon
“The sacrifice of pleasures is of course itself a pleasure.”
Muriel Spark, Loitering With Intent
“I sometimes think how much the shaping of a destiny and the binding of a couple together depend on successful meetings and the avoidance of snares. A door which one thought was closed, a watch that is slow, a false step, a traffic jam, a sleeping car available…and your fate is settled…We walk across a cemetery of happiness missed for lack of a word, a gesture, an airy bubble; and how many people, meant for each other, have passed each other by in the fog?”
Maurice Goudeket, Close to Colette: An Intimate Portrait of a Woman of Genius
“In the shapeliness of a life, habit plays its sovereign role.”
Mary Oliver, “Habits, Differences, and the Light That Abides,” Long Life
“Years later I figured out why he [Ivan Karp] was such a successful art dealer–this may sound strange, but I believe it was because art was his second love. He seemed to love literature more, and he put the serious side of his nature into that…Some people are even better at their second love than their first, maybe because when they care too much, it freezes them, but knowing there’s something they’d rather be doing gives them a certain freedom.”
Andy Warhol, POPism
“A difference of taste in jokes is a great strain on the affections.”
George Eliot, Daniel Deronda
“Perhaps it is only in childhood that books have any deep influence on our lives. In later life we admire, we are entertained, we may modify some views we already hold, but we are more likely to find in books merely a confirmation of what is in our minds already…What do we ever get nowadays from reading to equal the excitement and the revelation in those first fourteen years?”
Graham Greene, The Lost Childhood
“Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it.”
George Santayana
“I suppose every one has a mental picture of the days of the week, some seeing them as a circle, some as an endless line…Mine is a wavy line proceeding to infinity, dipping to Wednesday which is the colour of old silver dark with polishing and rising again to a pale gold Sunday.”
Angela Thirkell, Three Houses
“Fundamental happiness depends more than anything else upon what may be called a friendly interest in persons and things.”
Bertrand Russell
“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

Quotes May 20, 2019

Courtesy of Gretchen Rubin

“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
“The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet.”
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
“There is no such thing as an empty space or an empty time. There is always something to see, something to hear.”
John Cage, Silence
“Sartaj was thinking about how uncanny an animal this life was, that you had to seize it and let go of it at the same time, that you had to enjoy but also plan, live every minute and die every moment.”
Vikram Chandra, Sacred Games
“There is a place in me I haven’t gone yet.”
Gail Godwin, notes when starting her novel Flora
“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
“Yet occasionally we discover in the folds of an old handkerchief a shell or insignificant stone that had once embodied our happiest of afternoons.”
Patti Smith, Just Kids
“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
“Nothing is more becoming to the mind than its own natural manner; from this proceeds its ease, its grace, and all its powers, whether real or apparent. All constraint injures it to force its springs, destroys it. We all carry about us indices of our destiny; these must not be effaced, but watched, if our career is not to be a miserable failure.”
Joubert, Pensees
“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
“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
“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
“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
“The different and the novel are sweet, but regularity and repetition are also teachers.”
Mary Oliver, “Habits, Differences, and the Light That Abides,” Long Life
“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

Quotes April 29, 2019

Courtesy of Gretchen Rubin

“Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure.”
George Eliot, Middlemarch
“…that best portion of a good man’s life, his little, nameless, unremembered, acts of kindness and of love.”
William Wordsworth
“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends.”
Samuel Johnson
“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
“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
“The late summer sun slanted across the piney slopes, and the air was full of fragrance, and the click of the ancient hand-turned balls made an easy music. A big farm woman brought us tea and bread, and pots of wild green honey. It was one of the most idyllic moments I have ever known, very sharp, like a Breughel painting.”
M.F.K. Fisher, The Gastronomical Me
“When you enter an art gallery or an antique shop, you see what you hope will surprise and delight you, but a bookstore does not show what it is selling…It is from the collective impression, from the sight of many books wedged together on many shelves, that the mysterious good feel comes. Is there something that leaks out of the closed books, some subliminal message about culture and aspiration?”
Janet Malcom, “Three Sisters”
“Oh, man! admire and model thyself after the whale! Do thou, too, remain warm among ice. Do thou, too, live in this world without being of it. Be cool at the equator; keep thy blood fluid at the Pole. Like the great dome of St. Peter’s, and like the great whale, retain, O man! in all seasons a temperature of thine own.”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.”
C. S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew
“The soul makes the body.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Poet”
“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
“Beauty has its purposes, which, all our lives and at every season, it is our opportunity, and our joy, to divine.”
Mary Oliver, “Wordsworth’s Mountain,” Long Life
“Change was such an elusive thing. A man could say every day that he wanted to change his life, was going to change it, and every day the lament became merely a part of the life he was already living, so that the desire for change was in fact a kind of stasis that allowed the unchanged life to continue, because at least the man knew to disapprove of it, which reassured him not all was lost.”
Rachel Kushner, The Mars Room
“It takes a certain amount of effort to be miserable and another kind of effort to be happy, and I was willing to do the work of happiness. I figured even if I couldn’t make Lucy deeply happy, I could provide the kind of happiness that would seem hollow if we had the money or the time to stay in it too long…I booked Lucy a massage and had her eyelashes dyed. I took her for a pedicure. I bought her the best pate I could find in Nashville along with Spaghetti-O’s and Hungry Jack biscuits and everything else I knew she liked. We went to a bad movie and then stayed for a second bad movie. I took her shopping and bought her whatever she wanted. And she was happy, and I was happy.”
Ann Patchett, Truth and Beauty

Quotes April 09, 2019

Courtesy of Gretchen Rubin


“Sometimes I look back and think my whole adult life has been underlined with a feeling of waiting – waiting for something to happen, waiting for circumstances to change, waiting for the right man or the right job or the right shoes-and-clothes-and-haircut to swoop down from above and change me, to infuse me from the outside in with a feeling of well-being and validation and peace of mind.”
Caroline Knapp, “Clearing Up: Grief in Sobriety, Confronting Loss Once More, with Feeling,”
from The Merry Recluse

“The truest mark of being born with great qualities is to be born without envy.”
La Rochefoucauld

“Would you rather love the more, and suffer the more; or love the less, and suffer the less? That is, I think, finally, the only real question.”
Julian Barnes, The Only Story

“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

“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

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

“I love a broad margin to my life.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden

“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

Quotes March 27, 2019

Courtesy of Gretchen Rubin

“Character is destiny.”
“The truth is that when a human being is not eating, drinking, sleeping, making love, talking, playing games or merely lounging about—and these things will not fill up a lifetime—he needs work and usually looks for it, though he may not call it work.”

“Cease to use your hands, and you have lopped off a huge chunk of your consciousness.”
George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier
“It doesn’t really matter whether you’re first rate, second rate, or third rate, but it’s of vital importance…that you do the very best you can with the powers that are given you. It’s idle to strive for things out of your reach, just as it’s utterly immoral to be slothful about the qualities you have.”
Lawrence Durrell, The Paris Review interview
“If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
William Morris
“Order is Heaven’s first law.”
Alexander Pope
“To live in perpetual want of little things is a state, not indeed of torture but of constant vexation.”
Samuel Johnson
“You learn more about a person by living in his house for a week then by years of running into him at social gatherings.”
Phillip Lopate
“The things that we love tell us what we are.”
“The love of pleasure is destined by its very nature to defeat itself and end in frustration.”
Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain
“Not to find one’s way about in a city is of little interest. But to lose one’s way in a city, as one loses one’s way in a forest, requires practice.”
Walter Benjamin, A Berlin Childhood Around 1900
“He who can believe himself well, will be well.”
“To refuse what life offers is to chance not recognizing happiness if it comes your way.”
Maurice Goudeket, Close to Colette: An Intimate Portrait of a Woman of Genius
“People often ask themselves the right questions. Where they fail is in answering the questions they ask themselves, and even there they do not fail by much…But it takes time, it takes humility and a serious reason for searching.”
William Maxwell, Time Will Darken It
“How much hope, expectation, and sheer hard work goes into the smallest success! There is no being sure of anything except that whatever has been created will change in time…”
May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep
“One of the breakthrough moments [of doing stand-up comedy] for me was realizing that…you can take all the classes you want and learn and practice and get all the advice from other people, but it’s really like learning an instrument that has never existed until you were born. No one can tell you how to play that instrument.”
Jordan Peele, “Key and Peele,” in Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy by Judd Apatow
“If I consider my life honestly, I see that it is governed by a certain very small number of patterns of events which I take part in over and over again…when I see how very few of them there are, I begin to understand what huge effect these few patterns have on my life, on my capacity to live. If these few patterns are good for me, I can live well. If they are bad for me, I can’t.”
Christopher Alexander, The Timeless Way of Building
“Good habits, imperceptibly fixed, are far preferable to the precepts of reason.”
Mary Wollstonecraft, Original Stories from Real Life
“There is a surprisingly large number of people who go around dreaming about an island.”
Tove Jansson, “The Island,” the Paris Review
“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
“…every life has at least one fairy palace in its span. Usually these miracles happen when a person is young, but still wide-eyed enough to catch the magic that older people have forgotten or pushed away. For countless children, Disneyland has it…For both tourists and natives, the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace does well…prancing horses, flashing sabers, plumes and capes and trumpets in the fog…the Palace is in safe hands, a solid dream. Sometimes people can know two palaces before Lady Luck calls it quits, but of course they are never of equal enchantment…[For me] the lesser of the two palaces was the Pig’n’Whisle, a stylish ice-cream parlor in Los Angeles.”
M.F.K. Fisher