Choice of attention – to pay attention to this and ignore that – is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences, whatever they may be.
—W. H. Auden (1907–73) British-born American Poet, Dramatist
The destiny of man is in his own soul.
—Herodotus (c.485–425 BCE) Ancient Greek Historian
Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.
—Alexis Carrel (1873–1944) American Surgeon, Biologist
The strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.
—Henrik Ibsen (1828–1906) Norwegian Playwright
No human being can really understand another, and no one can arrange another’s happiness.
—Graham Greene (1904–91) British Novelist, Playwright, Short Story Writer
Let me listen to me and not to them.
—Gertrude Stein (1874–1946) American Writer
Don’t ask of your friends what you yourself can do.
—Ennius (c.239–169 BCE) Roman Poet
No man who is not willing to help himself has any right to apply to his friends, or to the gods.
—Demosthenes (384–322 BCE) Greek Statesman, Orator
Make good use of bad rubbish.
—Elisabeth Beresford (1926–2010) British Children’s Writer
To be a man is, precisely, to be responsible.
—Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900–44) French Novelist, Aviator
Circumstances are the rulers of the weak; they are but the instruments of the wise.
—Samuel Lover (1797–1868) Anglo-Irish Writer, Artist, Songwriter
Happiness is not in our circumstances, but in ourselves. It is not something we see, like a rainbow, or feel, like the heat of a fire. Happiness is something we are.
—John B. Sheerin (1907–92) American Catholic Columnist
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
All times are beautiful for those who maintain joy within them; but there is no happy or favorable time for those with disconsolate or orphaned souls.
—Rosalia de Castro (1837–1885) Galician Romanticist Writer, Poet
We create our fate every day … most of the ills we suffer from are directly traceable to our own behavior.
—Henry Miller (1891–1980) American Novelist
To character and success, two things, contradictory as they may seem, must go together – humble dependence and manly independence: humble dependence on God and manly reliance on self.
—William Wordsworth (1770–1850) English Poet
A chief is a man who assumes responsibility. He says, “I was beaten”. He does not say, “My men were beaten”. Thus speaks a real man.
—Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900–44) French Novelist, Aviator
One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.
—Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) American First Lady, Diplomat, Humanitarian
There is no man so low down that the cure for his condition does not lie strictly within himself.
—Thomas Masson (1866–1934) American Journalist, Humorist, Author
A man that only translates, shall never be a poet: nor a painter, that only copies; nor a swimmer, that swims always with bladders; so people that trust wholly to others’ charity, and without industry of their own, will always be poor.
—William Temple (1881–1944) British Clergyman, Theologian
Faced with crisis, the man of character falls back on himself. He imposes his own stamp of action, takes responsibility for it, makes it his own.
—Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970) French General, Statesman
If, after all, men cannot always make history have a meaning, they can always act so that their own lives have one.
—Albert Camus (1913–60) Algerian-born French Philosopher, Dramatist, Essayist, Novelist, Author
Up to a point a man’s life is shaped by environment, heredity, and the movements and changes in the world around him. Then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be. Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune, or the quirks of fate. Everyone has it within his power to say, ‘This I am today; that I will be tomorrow.’ The wish, however, must be implemented by deeds.
—Louis L’Amour (1908–88) American Novelist, Short-story Writer
Man is not the creature of circumstances, circumstances are the creatures of man. We are free agents, and man is more powerful than matter.
—Benjamin Disraeli (1804–81) British Head of State
The man who makes everything that leads to happiness depend upon himself, and not upon other men, has adopted the very best plan for living happily. This is the man of moderation, the man of manly character and of wisdom.
—Plato (428 BCE–347 BCE) Ancient Greek Philosopher, Mathematician, Educator
To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying “Amen” to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to keep your soul alive.
—Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94) Scottish Novelist
Happiness depends upon ourselves.
—Aristotle (384BCE–322BCE) Ancient Greek Philosopher, Scholar
There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self. So you have to begin there, not outside, not on other people. That comes afterward, when you’ve worked on your own corner.
—Aldous Huxley (1894–1963) English Humanist, Pacifist, Essayist, Short Story Writer, Satirist
He who has no opinion of his own, but depends upon the opinion and taste of others, is a slave.
—Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724–1803) German Poet
Each of us makes his own weather, determines the color of the skies in the emotional universe which he inhabits.
—Fulton J. Sheen (1895–1979) American Catholic Religious Leader, Theologian
I have always regarded myself as the pillar of my life.
—Meryl Streep (b.1949) American Actor
There is no reality except the one contained within us.
—Hermann Hesse (1877–1962) German-born Swiss Novelist, Poet
A wise man will make more opportunities, than he finds.
—Francis Bacon (1561–1626) English Philosopher
Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.
—Anne Frank (1929–45) Holocaust Victim
You can’t get spoiled if you do your own ironing.
—Meryl Streep (b.1949) American Actor
A secure individual … knows that the responsibility for anything concerning his life remains with himself — and he accepts that responsibility.
—Harry Browne (1933–2006) American Politician, Investor, Writer
Trust in God – but tie your camel tight.
We carry with us the wonders we seek without us.
—Thomas Browne (1605–82) English Author, Physician
Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself.
—Doris Lessing (1919–2013) British Novelist, Poet
He has not learned the first lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher
God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into the nest.
—Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819–81) American Editor, Novelist
Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility in the realm of faith and morals.
—Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965) French Theologian, Musician, Philosopher, Physician
Learn to depend upon yourself by doing things in accordance with your own way of thinking.
—Grenville Kleiser (1868–1935) Canadian Author
Every time I start a picture … I feel the same fear, the same self-doubts … and I have only one source on which I can draw, because it comes from within me.
—Federico Fellini (1920–93) Italian Filmmaker
Heaven and hell is right now … You make it heaven or you make it hell by your actions.
—George Harrison (1943–2001) English Singer
Remember that what pulls the strings is the force hidden within; there lies the power to persuade, there the life—there, if one must speak out, the real man.
—Marcus Aurelius (121–180) Emperor of Rome, Stoic Philosopher
Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.
—Abraham Lincoln (1809–65) American Head of State
It is a painful thing to look at your own trouble and know that you yourself, and no one else, has made it.
—Sophocles (495–405 BCE) Ancient Greek Dramatist
Trust in God, but keep your powder dry.
—Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658) British Head of State, Military Leader
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbow’d.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Lies but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
—William Ernest Henley (1849–1903) English Poet, Critic, Editor
God helps them that help themselves.
—Benjamin Franklin (1706–90) American Political Leader, Inventor, Diplomat
He who would be well taken care of must take care of himself.
—William Graham Sumner (1840–1910) American Polymath, Academic, Historian, Sociologist, Anthropologist
No one to blame! That was why most people led lives they hated, with people they hated. How wonderful to have someone to blame! How wonderful to live with one’s nemesis! You may be miserable, but you feel forever in the right. You may be fragmented, but you feel absolved of all the blame for it. Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.
—Erica Jong (b.1942) American Novelist, Feminist
Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.
—Mark Twain (1835–1910) American Humorist
There is no dependence that can be sure but a dependence upon one’s self.
—John Gay (1685–1732) English Poet, Dramatist
Champions take responsibility. When the ball is coming over the net, you can be sure I want the ball.
—Billie Jean King (b.1943) American Tennis Player
The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.
—Edward Gibbon (1737–94) English Historian, Politician
Men throw themselves on foreign assistances to spare their own, which, after all, are the only certain and sufficient ones.
—Michel de Montaigne (1533–92) French Essayist
The efficient man is the man who thinks for himself.
—Charles William Eliot (1834–1926) American Educationalist
A fellow can’t keep people from having a bad opinion of him, but he can keep them from being right about it.
We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood until we move from the passive voice to the active voice — that is, until we have stopped saying “It got lost,” and say, “I lost it.”
—Sydney J. Harris (1917–86) American Essayist, Drama Critic