Quotations about:
    discontent


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Better is a little with contentment than great Treasure; and trouble therewith.

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) American correspondent, First Lady (1797-1801)
Letter to Mary Smith Cranch (1790-02-20)
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Added on 14-Nov-23 | Last updated 14-Nov-23
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This life is a hospital in which every patient is haunted by the desire to change beds. This one wants to suffer in front of the stove, and that one believes he will recover next to the window.
 
[Cette vie est un hôpital où chaque malade est possédé du désir de changer de lit. Celui-ci voudrait souffrir en face du poêle, et celui-là croit qu’il guérirait à côté de la fenêtre.]

Charles Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) French poet, essayist, art critic
Le Spleen de Paris (Petits Poèmes en Prose), No. 48 “Any Where Out of the world” (1869) [tr. Kaplan (1989)]
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The title of the original is in English, a line from Thomas Hood, "The Bridge of Sighs." It is often subtitled with the French translation, "N’importe où hors du monde," which are the final lines.

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Life is a hospital, in which every patient is possessed by the desire of changing his bed. One would prefer to suffer near the fire, and another is certain that he would get well if he were by the window.
[tr. Symons (<1919)]

This life is a hospital where every patient is possessed with the desire to change beds; one man would like to suffer in front of the stove, and another believes that he would recover his health beside the window.
[tr. Hamburger (1946)]

Life is a hospital where every patient is obsessed by the desire of changing beds. One would like to suffer opposite the stove, another is sure he would get well beside the window.
[tr. Varèse (1970)]

This life is a hospital where each patient is possessed with the desire of changing his bed. One would like to suffer in front of the stove, and another believes he would get well beside the windows.
[tr. Fowlie (1992)]

This life is a hospital, where each patient is possessed by the desire to change beds. That one prefers to suffer nearer the stove and this one believes he would get well next to the window.
[tr. Waldrop (2009)]

 
Added on 9-Oct-23 | Last updated 9-Oct-23
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Many of us go through life feeling as an actor might feel who does not like his part, and does not believe in the play.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 5 (1963)
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Added on 2-Mar-23 | Last updated 2-Mar-23
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Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass. Change may be announced by a small ache, so that you think you’re catching cold. Or you may feel a faint disgust for something you loved yesterday. It may even take the form of a hunger that peanuts won’t satisfy.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American writer
Sweet Thursday, ch. 3, sec. 1 (1954)
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Added on 23-Dec-22 | Last updated 23-Dec-22
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All we hear is “What’s the matter with the country?” “What’s the matter with the world?” There ain’t but one thing wrong with every one of us in the world, and that’s selfishness.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist
“Daily Telegrams” column (10 Mar 1935)
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Added on 1-Dec-22 | Last updated 1-Dec-22
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Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.

Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) English social reformer, statistician, founder of modern nursing
Cassandra (1860)
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Added on 9-Sep-21 | Last updated 9-Sep-21
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It is always tempting when you have political discontent in your own country to say it is the fault of some other country and not of your own government.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
How Wars Begin (1979)
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Added on 28-Jun-21 | Last updated 28-Jun-21
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We are, perhaps uniquely among the earth’s creatures, the worrying animal. We worry away our lives, fearing the future, discontent with the present, unable to take in the idea of dying, unable to sit still.

Lewis Thomas (1913-1993) American physician, poet, essayist, researcher
“The Youngest and Brightest Thing Around,” The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher (1979)
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Added on 23-Apr-19 | Last updated 23-Apr-19
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What is said by great employers of labor against agitators is unquestionably true. Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community and sow the seeds of discontent amongst them. That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary. Without them, in our incomplete state, there would be no advance towards civilization.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
“The Soul of Man Under Socialism” (1891)
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Added on 14-May-18 | Last updated 20-Jun-23
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Looky here, America
What you done done —
Let things drift
Until the riots come.

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright
“Beaumont to Detroit: 1943”
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Added on 14-May-15 | Last updated 20-Dec-19
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To be content with little is difficult; to be content with much, impossible.

[Sich mit Wenigem begnügen ist schwer, sich mit Vielem begnügen noch schwerer.]

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830-1916) Austrian writer
Aphorisms [Aphorismen], No. 89 (1880) [tr. Wister (1883)]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translation:

To be satisfied with little is hard, to be satisfied with a lot is impossible.
[tr. Scrase/Mieder (1994)]
 
Added on 10-Dec-12 | Last updated 21-Sep-22
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In this respect, the freedom of the press is certainly for the state machine what the safety-valve is for the steam-engine. For by means of it, every dissatisfaction is at once ventilated in words and such grievance is soon exhausted if in it there is not very much substance. If, however, there is, then such ventilation is a good thing and enables the matter to be known in time and to be put right. This is very much better than forcing down the grievance so that it simmers, ferments, expands, and finally ends in an explosion.

[In dieser Hinsicht ist allerdings für die Staatsmaschine die Preßfreiheit Das, was für die Dampfmaschine die Sicherheitsvalve: denn mittelst derselben macht jede Unzufriedenheit sich alsbald durch Worte Luft, ja wird sich, wenn sie nicht sehr viel Stoff. hat, an ihnen erschöpfen. Hat sie jedoch diesen, so ist es gut, daß man ihn bei Zeiten erkenne, um abzuhelfen sehr viel besser, als wenn die Unzufriedenheit eingezwängt bleibt, brütet, gährt, kocht und anwächst, bis sie endlich zur Explosion gelangt.]

Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol. 2, ch. 9 “On Jurisprudence and Politics [Zur Rechtslehre und Politik],” § 127 (1851) [tr. Payne (1974)]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translation:

Freedom of the press is to the machinery of the state what the safety-valve is to the steam engine: every discontent is by means of it immediately relieved in words -- indeed, unless this discontent is very considerable, it exhausts itself in this way. If, however, it is very considerable, it is as well to know of it in time, so as to redress it.
[tr. Hollingdale (1970)]

 
Added on 6-Sep-10 | Last updated 1-Mar-23
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If it had not been for the discontent of a few fellows who have not been satisfied with their condition you would still be living in caves. You never would have emerged from the jungle. Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation.

Eugene V. Debs (1855-1926) American union leader, activist, socialist, politician
“The Issue,” Speech, Girard, Kansas (23 May 1908)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 28-Jan-15
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And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it’s motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion. The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to William Stephens Smith (13 Nov 1787)
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Speaking of Shay's Rebellion.
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Aug-22
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