There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.
The human mind is so complex and things are so tangled up with each other that, to explain a blade of straw, one would have to take to pieces an entire universe. A definition is a sack of flour compressed into a thimble.
—Remy de Gourmont (1858–1915) French Poet, Novelist, Critic
The experiences of camp life show that a man does have a choice of action. There were enough examples, often of a heroic nature, which proved that apathy could be overcome, irritability suppressed. Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress. We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way. The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity—even in the most difficult circumstances—to add a deeper meaning to life.
—Viktor Frankl (1905–97) Austrian Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist
Being born in a duck yard does not matter, if only you are hatched from a swan’s egg.
—Hans Christian Andersen (1805–75) Danish Author, Poet, Short Story Writer
A stumbling block to the pessimist is a stepping-stone to the optimist.
—Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) American First Lady, Diplomat, Humanitarian
Maybe it was because like not only finds like; it can’t even escape from being found by its like. Even when it’s just like in one thing, because even them two with the same like was different.
—William Faulkner (1897–1962) American Novelist
However, no two people see the external world in exactly the same way. To every separate person a thing is what he thinks it is –in other words, not a thing, but a think.
—Penelope Fitzgerald (1916–2000) British Novelist, Short-Story Writer, Biographer
He gives us the very quintessence of perception.
—James Russell Lowell (1819–91) American Poet, Critic
To see, to hear, means nothing. To recognize (or not to recognize) means everything. Between what I do recognize and what I do not recognize there stands myself. And what I do not recognize I shall continue not to recognize.
—Andre Breton (1896–1966) French Poet, Essayist, Critic
You must have absolute faith in your own perceptions of truth. Never act in haste or hurry; be deliberated in everything; wait until you know the true way.
—Wallace Wattles (1860–1911) American New Thought Author
What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.
—Laozi (fl.6th Century BCE) Chinese Philosopher, Sage
The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d druther not.
—Mark Twain (1835–1910) American Humorist
The heart has eyes which the brain knows nothing of.
—Charles Henry Parkhurst (1842–1933) American Clergyman, Civic Reformer
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to treat everything as if it were a nail.
—Abraham Maslow (1908–70) American Psychologist, Academic, Humanist
The man who is aware of himself is henceforward independent; and he is never bored, and life is only too short, and he is steeped through and through with a profound yet temperate happiness.
—Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) English Novelist
It is true that there are exercises that can strengthen the ‘muscle’ that enable us to push back the bounds of acceptation. But these are relatively unimportant. The real problem is that we are trapped in misconceptions that always deceive us, as the matador’s cape deceives the bull; that continue to deceive us a million times over the course of a lifetime. Wittgenstein once said that traditional philosophy causes a form of mental cramp, and that the aim of his philosophy was to remove this mental cramp, or to ‘show the fly the way out of the bottle’. Our misconceptions involve the passive fallacy and notion that consciousness is a plane mirror that cannot lie about the world it reflects.
—Colin Wilson (b.1931) British Philosopher, Novelist
To perceive means to immobilize… we seize, in the act of perception, something which outruns perception itself.
—Henri Bergson (1859–1941) French Philosopher, Evolutionist
Nothing in life is so hard that you can’t make it easier by the way you take it.
—Ellen Glasgow (1873–1945) American Novelist
In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king.
—Desiderius Erasmus (c.1469–1536) Dutch Humanist, Scholar
Open-mindedness should not be fostered because, as Scripture teaches, Truth is great and will prevail, nor because, as Milton suggests, Truth will always win in a free and open encounter. It should be fostered for its own sake.
—Richard Rorty (1931–2007) American Philosopher
Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens. Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is…The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds.
—Dan Millman (b.1946) American Children’s Books Writer, Sportsperson
Very few men are wise by their own counsel, or learned by their own teaching; for he that was only taught by himself had a fool as his master.
—Ben Jonson (1572–1637) English Dramatist, Poet, Actor
The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances. We carry the seeds of the one or the other about with us in our minds wherever we go.
—Martha Washington (1731–1802) American First Lady
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.
We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them.
—Kahlil Gibran (1883–1931) Lebanese-born American Philosopher, Poet, Painter, Theologian, Sculptor
We think too small. Like the frog at the bottom of the well. He thinks the sky is only as big as the top of the well. If he surfaced, he would have an entirely different view.
—Mao Zedong (1893–1976) Chinese Statesman
The gaze should be large and broad. … In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.
—Miyamoto Musashi (1584–1645) Japanese Samurai Warrior, Artist
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 (1898-1963) Irish-born British Academic, Author, Literary Scholar
Man’s mind stretched by a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions.
—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–94) American Physician, Essayist
Simple creatures, whose thoughts are not taken up, like those of educated people, with the care of a great museum of dead phrases, are very quick to see the live facts which are going on about them.
—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–94) American Physician, Essayist
The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.
—Robertson Davies (1913–95) Canadian Novelist, Playwright, Essayist
Man is an over-complicated organism. If he is doomed to extinction he will die out for want of simplicity.
—Ezra Pound (1885-1972) American Poet, Translator, Critic
The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be.
—Robert Fulghum (b.1937) American Unitarian Universalist Author, Essayist, Clergyman
There are children playing in the streets who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago.
—J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904–67) American Nuclear Physicist
Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.
—Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) French Sculptor
If you look at your life one way, there is always cause for alarm.
—Elizabeth Bowen (1899–1973) Irish Novelist, Short-story Writer
The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.
—Carlos Castaneda (1925–98) Peruvian-born American Anthropologist, Author
There are in life as many aspects as attitudes towards it; and aspects change with attitudes… Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different. Life would undergo a change of appearance because we ourselves had undergone a change in attitude.
—Katherine Mansfield (1888–1923) New Zealand-born British Author
Happiness never lays its finger on its pulse.
—George Goodman (b.1930) American Economist, Author
We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.
—Anais Nin (1903–77) French-American Essayist
Poetry has to be something more than a conception of the mind. It has to be a revelation of nature. Conceptions are artificial. Perceptions are essential.
—Wallace Stevens (1879–1955) American Poet
To see what is right, and not do it, is want of courage, or of principle.
—Confucius (551–479 BCE) Chinese Philosopher
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.
—Albert Einstein (1879–1955) German-born Physicist
As you inquire into issues and turn judgments around, you come to see that every perceived problem appearing “out there” is really nothing more than a misperception within your own thinking.
—Byron Katie (b.1942) American Speaker, Author