Quotations about   activity

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In a word, our moral dispositions are formed as a result of the corresponding activities. Hence it is incumbent on us to control the character of our activities, since on the quality of these depends the quality of our dispositions. It is therefore not of small moment whether we are trained from childhood in one set of habits or another; on the contrary it is of very great, or rather of supreme, importance.

[καὶ ἑνὶ δὴ λόγῳ ἐκ τῶν ὁμοίων ἐνεργειῶν αἱ ἕξεις γίνονται. διὸ δεῖ τὰς ἐνεργείας ποιὰς ἀποδιδόναι: κατὰ γὰρ τὰς τούτων διαφορὰς ἀκολουθοῦσιν αἱ ἕξεις. οὐ μικρὸν οὖν διαφέρει τὸ οὕτως ἢ οὕτως εὐθὺς ἐκ νέων ἐθίζεσθαι, ἀλλὰ πάμπολυ, μᾶλλον δὲ τὸ πᾶν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 2, ch. 1 (1103b.20ff) (c. 325 BC) [tr. Rackham (1934), sec. 7-8]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Or, in one word, the habits are produced from the acts of working like to them: and so what we have to do is to give a certain character to these particular acts, because the habits formed correspond to the differences of these. So then, whether we are accustomed this way or that straight from childhood, makes not a small but an important difference, or rather I would say it makes all the difference.
[tr. Chase (1847)]

And indeed, in a word, all habits are formed by acts of like nature to themselves. And hence it becomes our duty to see that our acts are of a right character. For, as our acts vary, our habits will follow in their course. It makes no little difference, then, to what kind of habituation we are subjected from our youth up; but it is, on the contrary, a matter that is important to us, or rather all-important.
[tr. Williams (1869), sec. 24]

In a word moral states are the results of activities corresponding to the moral states themselves. It is our duty therefore to give a certain character to the activities, as the moral states depend upon the differences of the activities. Accordingly, the difference between one training of the habits and another from early days is not a light matter, but is serious or rather all-important.
[tr. Welldon (1892)]

In a word, acts of any kind produce habits or characters of the same kind. Hence we ought to make sure that our acts be of a certain kind; for the resulting character varies as they vary. It makes no small difference, therefore, whether a man be trained from his youth up in this way or in that, but a great difference, or rather all the difference.
[tr. Peters (1893)]

Thus, in one word, states of character arise out of like activities. This is why the activities we exhibit must be of a certain kind; it is because the states of character correspond to the differences between these. It makes no small difference, then, whether we form habits of one kind or of another from our very youth; it makes a very great difference, or rather all the difference.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

In a word, then, states come about from activities that are similar to them. That is why the activities must exhibit a certain quality, since the states follow along in accord with the differences between these. So it makes no small difference whether people are habituated in one way or in another way straight from childhood; on the contrary, it makes a huge one -- or rather, all the difference.
[tr. Reeve (1948)]

In short, it is by similar activities that habits are developed in men; and in view of this, the activities in which men are engaged should be of [the right] quality, for the kinds of habits which develop follow the corresponding differences in these activities. So in acquiring habit it makes no small difference whether we are acting in one way or on the contrary way right from our early youth; it makes a great difference, or rather all the difference.
[tr. Apostle (1975)]

In a word, then, like activities produce like dispositions. Hence we must give our activities a certain quality, because it is their characteristics that determine the resulting dispositions. So it is a matter of no little importance what sort of habits we form from the earliest age -- it makes a vast difference, or rather all the difference in the world.
[tr. Thomson/Tredennick (1976)]

In a word, then, like states arise from like activities. This is why we must give a certain character to our activities, since it is on the differences between them that the resulting states depend. So it is not unimportant how we are habituated from our early days; indeed it makes a huge difference -- or rather all the difference.
[tr. Crisp (2000)]

And so, in a word, the characteristics come into being as a result of the activities akin to them. Hence we must make our activities be of a certain quality, for the characteristics correspond to the differences among the activities. It makes no small difference, then, whether one is habituated to this or that way straight from childhood but a very great difference -- or rather the whole difference.
[tr. Bartlett/Collins (2011)]

Added on 16-Nov-21 | Last updated 16-Nov-21
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I was waiting for
something extraordinary to
happen

but as the years wasted on
nothing ever did unless I
caused it

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
“two kinds of hell” (c. 1990)
    (Source)

While this sounds motivational, in the context of the poem, the "extraordinary" things (bar fights, dalliances) always end up poorly.

First published in Third Lung Review, #8 (1992); collected in an edited version in The People Look Like Flowers at Last (2007).
Added on 13-Oct-21 | Last updated 13-Oct-21
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There’s some devil in us that drives us to and fro on everlasting idiocies. There’s time for everything except the things worth doing. Think of something you really care about. Then add hour to hour and calculate the fraction of your life that you’ve actually spent in doing it. And then calculate the time you’ve spent on things like shaving, riding to and fro on buses, waiting in railway, junctions, swapping dirty stories, and reading the newspapers.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
Coming up for Air, ch. 5 (1939)
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Added on 26-May-20 | Last updated 26-May-20
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Solitude is not lack.

Laurie Helgoe (b. 1960) American psychologist and author
Introvert Power, ch. 2 (2008)
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Sometimes misquoted "Solitude is not a lack."
Added on 8-May-20 | Last updated 8-May-20
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Life is not made up of dramatic incidents — even the life of a nation. It is made up of slowly evolving events and processes, which newspapers, by a score of different forms of emphasis, can reasonably attempt to explore from day to day. But television news jerks from incident to incident. For the real world of patient and familiar arrangements, it substitutes an unreal world of constant activity, and the effect is already apparent in the way which the world behaves. It is almost impossible, these days, to consider any problem or any event except as a crisis; and, by this very way of looking at it, it in fact becomes a crisis.

Henry Fairlie (1924-1990) British journalist and social critic
“Can You Believe Your Eyes?” Horizon (Spring 1967)
Added on 31-Mar-17 | Last updated 31-Mar-17
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The busy have no time for tears.

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
The Two Foscari, Act 4, sc. 1 (1821)
Added on 10-Dec-15 | Last updated 10-Dec-15
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Indolence is a delightful but distressing state; we must be doing something to be happy. Action is no less necessary than thought to the instinctive tendencies of the human frame.

William Hazlitt (1778-1830) English writer
Table Talk, “On the Pleasure of Painting” (1821-22)
Added on 29-Jun-15 | Last updated 24-Jun-15
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The firefly only shines when on the wing.
So is it with the mind — when once we rest
We darken.

Philip James Bailey (1816-1902) English poet
Festus (1839)
Added on 30-Mar-15 | Last updated 30-Mar-15
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The difference between the Japanese and the American is summed up in their opposite reactions to the proverb (popular in both nations), “A rolling stone gathers no moss.” Epidemiologist S. Leonard Syme observes that to the Japanese, moss is exquisite and valued; a stone is enhanced by moss; hence a person who keeps moving and changing never acquires the beauty and benefits of stability. To Americans, the proverb is an admonition to keep rolling, to keep from being covered with clinging attachments.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Carol Tavris, Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion, ch. 4 (1982)
Added on 19-May-14 | Last updated 19-May-14
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Some find activity only in repose, and others repose only in movement.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
Added on 18-Mar-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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Up, Sluggard, and waste not life;
in the grave will be sleeping enough.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Alamanack (Sep 1741)

Repeated as "There will be enough sleeping in the Grave" in "The Way of Wealth" (7 Jul 1756).
Added on 17-May-11 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
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Some are very busy, and yet do nothing.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #4211 (1732)
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Added on 21-May-08 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you ran a very long time as we’ve been doing.”
“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) English writer and mathematician [pseud. of Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson]
Through the Looking-Glass, ch. 2 (1871)
Added on 23-Jan-08 | Last updated 1-May-14
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To condemn spontaneous and delightful occupations because they are useless for self-preservation shows an uncritical prizing of life regardless of its contents.

George Santayana (1863-1952) Spanish-American poet and philosopher [Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruíz de Santayana y Borrás]
The Sense of Beauty, Part 1 “The Nature of Beauty,” sec. 4 “Work and Play” (1896)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Mar-20
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Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.

Dave Barry (b. 1947) American humorist
“25 Things I Have Learned In 50 Years,” #25 (1997)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Oct-14
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It is better to wear out than to rust out.

Richard Cumberland (1632-1718) English philosopher and cleric (Bishop of Peterborough)
(Attributed)
    (Source)

Quoted in G. Horne, "Sermon on the Duty of Contending for the Truth" (1786).
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Jan-15
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Happiness is someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Chinese proverb

Also attributed to T. Bodett, S. Freud, A. Chalmers.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
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