Learn to … be what you are, and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not.
—Henri Frederic Amiel (1821–81) Swiss Moral Philosopher, Poet, Critic
If you expect perfection from people your whole life is a series of disappointments, grumblings and complaints. If, on the contrary, you pitch your expectations low, taking folks as the inefficient creatures which they are, you are frequently surprised by having them perform better than you had hoped.
—Bruce Fairchild Barton (1886–1967) American Author, Advertising Executive, Politician
The art of living lies not in eliminating but in growing with troubles.
—Bernard M. Baruch (1870–1965) American Financier, Economic Consultant
Sometimes it is more important to discover what one cannot do, than what one can.
—Lin Yutang (1895–1976) Chinese Author, Philologist
Life is so constructed that an event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation.
—Charlotte Bronte (1816–1855) English Novelist, Poet
Good is not good, when better is expected.
—Thomas Fuller (1608–61) English Cleric, Historian
I can’t write a book commensurate with Shakespeare, but I can write a book by me.
—Walter Raleigh (1552–1618) English Courtier, Navigator, Poet
Nature is what you may do. There is much you may not do.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher
Every attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and disaster.
—William Tecumseh Sherman (1820–91) American Military Leader, Businessperson, Educator
He who cannot do what he wants must make do with what he can.
—Terence (c.195–159 BCE) Roman Comic Dramatist
We expect more of ourselves than we have any right to, in virtue of our endowments
—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–94) American Physician, Essayist
Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression. The chasm is never completely bridged. We all have the conviction, perhaps illusory, that we have much more to say than appears on the paper.
—Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902–91) Polish-born American Children’s Books Writer, Novelist, Short Story Writer
No one from the beginning of time has had security.
—Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) American First Lady, Diplomat, Humanitarian
Shall a man go and hang himself because he belongs to the race of pygmies, and not be the biggest pygmy that he can?
—Henry David Thoreau (1817–62) American Philosopher
If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!
—Soren Kierkegaard (1813–55) Danish Philosopher, Theologian
There are philosophies which are unendurable not because men are cowards, but because they are men.
—Ludwig Lewisohn (1882–1955) American Novelist, Essayist
To do all that one is able to do is to be a man; to do all that one would like to do is to be a god.
—Napoleon I (1769–1821) Emperor of France
Growth begins when we start to accept our own weakness.
—Jean Vanier (1928–2019) French-Canadian Philosopher, Theologian, Humanitarian
He that will have a perfect brother must resign himself to remain brotherless.
All the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insolvable. They can never be solved, but only outgrown.
—Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961) Swiss Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Philosopher
If you want a place in the sun, you’ve got to put up with a few blisters.
—Pauline Phillips (Abigail van Buren) (b.1918) American Columnist
I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
—Edward Everett Hale (1822–1909) American Unitarian Clergyman, Writer
Free man is by necessity insecure; thinking man by necessity uncertain.
—Erich Fromm (1900–80) German-American Psychoanalyst, Social Philosopher
May God … let me strive for attainable things.
—Pindar (c.518–c.438 BCE) Greek Lyric Poet
It is enough that I am of value to somebody today.
—Hugh Prather (b.1938) American Christian Author, Minister, Counselor
Friendships aren’t perfect and yet they are very precious. For me, not expecting perfection all in one place was a great release.
—Letty Cottin Pogrebin (b.1939) American Social Activist, Journalist
A body shouldn’t heed what might be. He’s got to do with what is.
—Louis L’Amour (1908–88) American Novelist, Short-story Writer
There is no greater enemy to those who would please than expectation.
—Michel de Montaigne (1533–92) French Essayist
We cannot all be masters,
nor all masters cannot he truly followed.
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616) British Playwright
The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one’s work seriously and taking one’s self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous.
—Margot Fonteyn (1919–91) English Classical Ballet Dancer