Quotations about   dissatisfaction

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Envy iz sutch a constant companyun, that if we find no one abuv us to envy, we will envy thoze below us.

[Envy is such a constant companion, that if we find no one above us to envy, we will envy those below us.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Plum Pits” (1874)
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Added on 28-Dec-21 | Last updated 28-Dec-21
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If all men were rich, all men would be poor.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Noteook (1935 ed) [ed. Paine]
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Added on 9-Mar-21 | Last updated 9-Mar-21
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Clarity and perseverance are difficult in American society because the basis of capitalism is greed and dissatisfaction.

Natalie Goldberg (b. 1948) American author, teacher, speaker
Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life, ch. 42 (1990)
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Added on 11-Sep-20 | Last updated 11-Sep-20
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Ghosts seem harder to please than we are; it is as though they haunted for haunting’s sake — much as we relive, brood, and smoulder over our pasts.

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) Irish author
The Second Ghost Book, Preface (1952) [ed. C. Asquith]
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Added on 3-Aug-20 | Last updated 3-Aug-20
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Travel, trouble, music, art,
A kiss, a frock, a rhyme —
I never said they feed my heart,
But still they pass my time.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Faute de Mieux,” Enough Rope (1926)


Faute de mieux means "for lack of something better or more desirable."
 
Added on 11-May-20 | Last updated 11-May-20
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The mass of men live lives of quiet exasperation.

Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978) American author, poet
(Attributed)


A take-off from Thoreau.
 
Added on 4-Mar-20 | Last updated 4-Mar-20
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Comparison is the thief of joy.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
(Attributed)
 
Added on 9-Jan-20 | Last updated 9-Jan-20
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Is there anything in life so disenchanting as attainment?

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Scottish essayist, novelist, poet
“The Adventure of the Hansom Cabs” (1878)
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Added on 16-Aug-19 | Last updated 16-Aug-19
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Here’s a man who’s wangled millions;
     Yet the parasite’s not done.
Fortune gives too much to many,
     Yet, strange to say, enough to none.

[Habet Africanus miliens, tamen captat.
Fortuna multis dat nimis, satis nulli.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 12, epigram 10 (12.10) [tr. Marcellino (1968)]
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"On Africanus." Africanus is identified in some sources as a captator, one who sucked up to a childless millionaire in order to inherit part or all of their estate.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

As riche as Cresus Afric is:
     for more yet hunts the chuffe:
To muche to many, fortune gives,
     and yet to none inuffe.
[tr. Kendall (1577)]

Fortune, some say, doth give too much to many:
And yet she never gave enough to any.
[tr. Harington (fl. c. 1600); Book 4, ep. 56; overall ep. 310]

African has a thousand pounds in store,
Yet he desires, and hunts, and rakes for more:
Fortune hath overmuch bestow'd on some;
But plenary content doth give to none.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

He fawns for more, though he his thousands touch:
Fortune gives one enough, but some too much.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

Millions has Africa; yet grasps at more:
Too much have many, none sufficient store.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 12.65]

Africanus possesses a hundred thousand sesterces, but is always striving by servility to acquire more. Fortune gives too much to many, enough to none.
[tr. Amos (1858), ch. 3, ep. 92, "Sufficient Fortune"]

Africanus possesses a hundred thousand sesterces, and yet covets more. Fortune gives too much to many, enough to none.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

African us possesses a hundred millions, yet he angles for more. Fortune to many gives too much, enough to none.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

Although he is a millionaire,
He courts the rich who lack an heir;
Fortune gives much to many a one,
But just enough she grants to none.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Africanus has a hundred million, but still he fishes for legacies. Fortune gives too much to many, to none enough.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

Africanus is a tireless legacy-hunter
though he's a wealthy man.
Fortune gives too much to many,
enough to none
[tr. Kennelly (2008)]

Although worth millions, Africanus hunts a legacy.
To many Fortune gives too much, enough to nobody.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Africanus has a hundred million, and still he's hunting legacies. Fortune gives too much to many, but "enough" to none.
[tr. Nisbet (2015)]

 
Added on 21-Nov-18 | Last updated 29-Jul-22
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Yet there is still this difference between man and all other animals — he is the only animal whose desires increase as they are fed; the only animal that is never satisfied.

Henry George (1839-1897) American economist
Progress and Poverty, Book 2, ch. 3 (1879)
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Added on 7-May-18 | Last updated 7-May-18
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You’ve got to rattle your cage door. You’ve got to let them know that you’re in there, and that you want out. Make noise. Cause trouble. You may not win right away, but you’ll sure have a lot more fun.

Florynce "Flo" Kennedy (1916-2000) American lawyer, feminist, civil rights activist
(Attributed)
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Quoted in Gloria Steinem, "The Verbal Karate of Florynce R. Kennedy, Esq.," Ms. (Mar 1973).
 
Added on 21-Aug-17 | Last updated 21-Aug-17
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Ambition has its disappointments to sour us, but never the good fortune to satisfy us. Its appetite grows keener by indulgence and all we can gratify it with at present serves but the more to inflame its insatiable desires.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
“On True Happiness,” The Pennsylvania Gazette (20 Nov 1735)
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Added on 5-Jul-17 | Last updated 5-Jul-17
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The happiness which is lacking makes one think even the happiness one has unbearable.

Joseph Roux
Joseph Roux (1834-1886) French Catholic priest
Meditations of a Parish Priest: Thoughts, Part 5, #37 (1886)
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Added on 11-Apr-16 | Last updated 11-Apr-16
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Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.

Oprah Winfrey (b. 1954) American TV personality, actress
(Attributed)
 
Added on 19-Nov-15 | Last updated 19-Nov-15
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“The trouble with this country is,” observed Herndon, “that there’re too many people going about saying: ‘The trouble with this country is –‘”

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) American novelist, playwright
Dodsworth, ch. 10 (1929)
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Added on 25-Aug-15 | Last updated 25-Aug-15
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Most of us have achieved levels of affluence and comfort un-thought of two generations ago. We’ve never had it so good, most of us. Nor have we ever complained so bitterly about our problems. The closed circle of materialism is clear to us now — aspirations become wants, wants become needs, and self-gratification becomes a bottomless pit. All around us we have seen success in the world’s terms become ultimate and desperate failure.

Mario Cuomo (1932-2015) American politician
Commencement Address, Iona College (3 Jun 1984)
 
Added on 15-Jun-15 | Last updated 15-Jun-15
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Human life must be some kind of mistake. The truth of this will be sufficiently obvious if we only remember that man is a compound of needs and necessities hard to satisfy; and that even when they are satisfied, all he obtains is a state of painlessness, where nothing remains to him but abandonment to boredom. This is direct proof that existence has no real value in itself; for what is boredom but the feeling of the emptiness of life? If life — the craving for which is the very essence of our being — were possessed of any positive intrinsic value, there would be no such thing as boredom at all: mere existence would satisfy us in itself, and we should want for nothing. But as it is, we take no delight in existence except when we are struggling for something; and then distance and difficulties to be overcome make our goal look as though it would satisfy us — an illusion which vanishes when we reach it; or else when we are occupied with some purely intellectual interest — when in reality we have stepped forth from life to look upon it from the outside, much after the manner of spectators at a play. And even sensual pleasure itself means nothing but a struggle and aspiration, ceasing the moment its aim is attained. Whenever we are not occupied in one of these ways, but cast upon existence itself, its vain and worthless nature is brought home to us; and this is what we mean by boredom. The hankering after what is strange and uncommon — an innate and ineradicable tendency of human nature — shows how glad we are at any interruption of that natural course of affairs which is so very tedious.

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
“The Vanity of Existence,” Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer: Studies in Pessimism [tr. Saunders (1851)]
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Alternate translation:

That human life must be a kind of mistake is sufficiently clear from the fact that man is a compound of needs, which are difficult to satisfy; moreover, if they are satisfied, all he is granted is a state of painlessness, in which he can only give himself up to boredom. This is a precise proof that existence in itself has no value, since boredom is merely the feeling of the emptiness of life. If, for instance, life, the longing for which constitutes our very being, had in itself any positive and real value, boredom could not exist; mere existence in itself would supply us with everything, and therefore satisfy us. But our existence would not be a joyous thing unless we were striving after something; distance and obstacles to be overcome then represent our aim as something that would satisfy us -- an illusion which vanishes when our aim has been attained; or when we are engaged in something that is of a purely intellectual nature, when, in reality, we have retired from the world, so that we may observe it from the outside, like spectators at a theatre. Even sensual pleasure itself is nothing but a continual striving, which ceases directly its aim is attained. As soon as we are not engaged in one of these two ways, but thrown back on existence itself, we are convinced of the emptiness and worthlessness of it; and this it is we call boredom. That innate and ineradicable craving for what is out of the common proves how glad we are to have the natural and tedious course of things interrupted. [tr. Dircks]
 
Added on 16-Sep-14 | Last updated 3-Aug-22
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Want is a growing giant whom the coat of Have was never large enough to cover.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Wealth,” The Conduct of Life, ch. 3 (1860)
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Added on 12-May-14 | Last updated 22-Feb-22
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Be always displeased at what thou art, if thou desirest to attain to what thou art not.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430) Christian church father, philosopher, saint [b. Aurelius Augustinus]
Sermon 169


Alt. trans.: "Ever let that displease thee which thou art, if thou wouldest attain to what thou art not."
 
Added on 29-Jan-14 | Last updated 29-Jan-14
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We are born crying, live complaining, and die disappointed.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #5427 (1732)
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Added on 10-Aug-11 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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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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