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
The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.
—Thomas Paine (1737–1809) American Nationalist, Author, Pamphleteer, Radical, Inventor
Maturity is achieved when a person accepts life as full of tension.
—Joshua L. Liebman (1907–48) American Jewish Rabbi, Author
Power abdicates only under stress of counter-power.
—Martin Buber (1878–1965) Austrian Jewish Theologian, Philosopher, Novelist
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time
—John Lubbock (1834–1913) English Politician, Biologist
Look not mournfully into the Past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the Present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy Future, without fear, and with a manly heart.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–82) American Poet, Educator, Academic
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
The only liberty an inferior man really cherishes is the liberty to quit work, stretch out in the sun, and scratch himself.
—H. L. Mencken (1880–1956) American Journalist, Literary Critic
There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.
—Sylvia Plath (1932–63) American Poet, Novelist
I like to be alone so I can write. But focus can hurt you. I don’t want to be some stress casualty in early middle age.
—James Ellroy (b.1948) American Crime Fiction Writer, Essayist
There is more to life than increasing its speed.
—Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869–1948) Indian Hindu Political leader
There is nothing so elastic as the human mind. Like imprisoned steam, the more it is pressed the more it rises to resist the pressure. The more we are obliged to do the more we are able to accomplish.
—Tryon Edwards American Theologian
Throw out an alarming alarm clock. If the ring is loud and strident, you’re waking up to instant stress. You shouldn’t be bullied out of bed, just reminded that it’s time to start your day.
—Sharon Anderson-Gold (1947–2011) American Philosopher, Academic
No one can get inner peace by pouncing on it.
—Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878–1969) American Baptist Minister
Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.
—A. A. Milne (1882–1956) British Humorist, Playwright, Children’s Writer
A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.
—Aesop (620–564 BCE) Greek Fabulist
Over the years your bodies become walking autobiographies, telling friends and strangers alike of the minor and major stresses of your lives.
—Marilyn Ferguson (1938–2008) American Author, Editor, Orator
When you suffer an attack of nerves you’re being attacked by the nervous system. What chance has a man got against a system?
—Russell Hoban (1925–2011) American Novelist, Children’s Writer
A life spent in constant labor is a life wasted, save a man be such a fool as to regard a fulsome obituary notice as ample reward.
—George Jean Nathan (1882–1958) American Drama Critic, Editor
The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.
—Sydney J. Harris (1917–86) American Essayist, Drama Critic
Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down.
—Natalie Goldberg (b.1948) American Buddhist Author
To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.
—Milan Kundera (b.1929) Czech Novelist
In this world without quiet corners, there can be no easy escapes from history, from hullabaloo, from terrible, unquiet fuss.
—Salman Rushdie (b.1947) Indian-born British Novelist
In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.
—Lee Iacocca (1924–2019) American Businessperson
Clarity moves much more efficiently than violence or stress.
—Byron Katie (b.1942) American Speaker, Author
The capacity of man himself is only revealed when, under stress and responsibility, he breaks through his educational shell, and he may then be a splendid surprise to himself no less than to his teachers.
—Harvey Williams Cushing (1869–1939) American Neurosurgeon, Biographer
The more you struggle to live, the less you live. Give up the notion that you must be sure of what you are doing. Instead, surrender to what is real within you, for that alone is sure. As stars high above earth, you are above everything distressing. But you must awaken to it. Wake up!
—Baruch Spinoza (1632–77) Dutch Philosopher, Theologian
Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.
—Richard Carlson (1912–77) American Actor, TV Personality, Film Director, Screenwriter
For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.
—Lily Tomlin (b.1939) American Comedy Actress