Quotations about   expectations

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Cynics are, in the end, only idealists with awkwardly high standards.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
Status Anxiety, “Philosophy” 1.5 (2004)
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Added on 9-Aug-18 | Last updated 9-Aug-18
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Life never gives us what we want at the moment that we consider appropriate. Adventures do occur, but not punctually.

E. M. Forster (1879-1970) English novelist, essayist, critic, librettist [Edward Morgan Forster]
A Passage to India, ch. 3 (1924)
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Added on 1-Aug-18 | Last updated 1-Aug-18
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The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you but yourself.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
Venus Envy, ch. 15 (1993)
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Often paraphrased in the present tense: "The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself."
Added on 2-Apr-18 | Last updated 2-Apr-18
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Rage is caused by a conviction, almost comic in its optimistic origins (however tragic in its effects), that a given frustration has not been written into the contract of life.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 3 “Consolation for Frustration” (2000)
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Added on 6-Dec-17 | Last updated 6-Dec-17
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Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) American poet
“The Summer Day,” New and Selected Poems, Vol. 1 (1992)
Added on 1-Nov-17 | Last updated 1-Nov-17
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Believe me, wise men don’t say “I shall live to do that,”
Tomorrow’s life is too late; live today.

[Non est, crede mihi, sapientis dicere “Vivam”:
Sera nimis vita est crastina: vive hodie.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 1, Epigram 15 [tr. Bohn (1871)]
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Variant translations:
  • "I'll live tomorrow," will a wise man say? Tomorrow is too late, then live today. [tr. Hay]
  • No sage will e'er "I'll live tomorrow" say: Tomorrow is too late: live thou today. [tr. WSB]
  • It sorts not, believe me, with wisdom to say "I shall live." Too late is tomorrow's life; live thou today. [tr. Ker (1919)]
  • "I'll live to-morrow," 'tis not wise to say: 'Twill be too late to-morrow -- live to-day.
  • Tomorrow will I live, the fool does say; Today itself's too late; the wise lived yesterday.
Added on 16-Aug-17 | Last updated 16-Aug-17
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Prim did seem in some distress. Poor thing, she genuinely felt that she should do what was expected of her. What a horrible way to go through life.

Gail Carriger (b. 1976) American archaeologist, author [pen name of Tofa Borregaard]
Imprudence (2016)
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Added on 20-Apr-17 | Last updated 20-Apr-17
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Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
(Attributed)
Added on 22-Mar-17 | Last updated 22-Mar-17
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For we do not easily expect evil of those whom we love most.

[Non enim facile de his quos plurimum diligimus turpitudinem suspicamur.]

Peter Abelard (1079-1142) French philosopher, theologian, logician [Pierre Abélard]
Historia Calamitatum Mearum, ch. 6
Added on 23-Aug-16 | Last updated 23-Aug-16
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Rash indeed is he who reckons on the morrow, or haply on days beyond it; for tomorrow is not, until today is past.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Trachiniae, l. 943
Added on 17-Aug-16 | Last updated 17-Aug-16
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As one gets older one doesn’t feel quite so strongly any more, one discovers that everything is always going to be exactly the same with different hats on.

Noël Coward (1899-1973) English playwright, actor, wit
Letter (1959)
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More frequently paraphrased (as in The Film Daily in 1964): "As one gets older, one discovers everything is going to be exactly the same -- with different hats on."
Added on 16-Jun-16 | Last updated 16-Jun-16
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We haven’t got a plan, so nothing can go wrong!

Terence Alan "Spike" Milligan (1918-2002) Anglo-Irish comedian, writer, actor
(Attributed)

Variants:
  • "We don't have a plan, so nothing can go wrong!"
  • "We haven't any plan, so nothing can go wrong!"
Added on 16-Jul-15 | Last updated 16-Jul-15
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Always expecting this and expecting that. May I recommend serenity to you? A life that is burdened with expectations is a heavy life. Its fruit is sorrow and disappointment. Learn to be one with the joy of the moment.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, ch. 4 (1988)
Added on 15-Jun-15 | Last updated 15-Jun-15
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Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect. We take what we get and are thankful it’s no worse than it is.

Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949) American author and journalist.
Gone with the Wind, ch. 53 (1936)
Added on 30-Mar-15 | Last updated 30-Mar-15
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It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
“The Treasure,” The Mixture as Before (1940)
Added on 24-Mar-15 | Last updated 24-Mar-15
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You have no lease of your lives, and death is not bound to give you warning before it gives you that deadly blow that will send you to everlasting misery or everlasting felicity.

Thomas Brooks (1608-1680) English Puritan divine, writer
The Hypocrite Detected, Anatomized (1650)
Added on 31-Dec-14 | Last updated 31-Dec-14
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Drove up a newcomer in a covered wagon: “What kind of folks live around here?”
“Well, stranger, what kind of folks was there in the country you come from?”
“Well, they was mostly a lowdown, lying, thieving gossiping, backbiting kind lot of people.”
“Well, I guess, stranger, that’s about the kind of folks you’ll find around here.”
And the dusty gray stranger had just about blended into the dusty gray cottonwoods in a clump on the horizon when another newcomer drove up: “What kind of folks live around here?”
“Well, stranger, what kind of folks was there in the country you come from?”
“Well, they was mostly a decent, hard-working, law-abiding, friendly lot of people.” “Well, I guess, stranger, that’s about the kind of folks you’ll find around here.”

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) American poet, biographer
The People, Yes, Poem #52 (1936)
Added on 5-Nov-14 | Last updated 5-Nov-14
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I had become a new person; and those who knew the old person laughed at me. The only man who behaved sensibly was my tailor: he took my measure anew every time he saw me, whilst all the rest went in with their old measurements and expected them to fit me.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Man and Superman, ch. 1 (1903)
Added on 16-Apr-14 | Last updated 16-Apr-14
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Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Letter to the Young People’s Society, Greenpoint Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn (16 Feb 1901)
Added on 26-Aug-13 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook [ed. Paine (1935)]
Added on 13-Aug-13 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Luke 12:48 (NIV)
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Alt. trans.:
  • KJV: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."
  • GNT: "Much is required from the person to whom much is given; much more is required from the person to whom much more is given."
  • NRSV: "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded."
Added on 15-Jul-13 | Last updated 14-Oct-19
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I tell this story to illustrate the truth of the statement I heard long ago in the Army: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, National Defense Executive Reserve Conference (14 Nov 1957)

Quoted in R. Nixon, Six Crises, "Krushchev" (1962) as "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." Sometimes paraphrased as "Plans are nothing; planning is everything."

Added on 3-Aug-10 | Last updated 25-Jun-15
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HELENA: Oft expectation fails and most oft there
Where most it promises, and oft it hits
Where hope is coldest and despair most fits.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
All’s Well that Ends Well, Act 2, sc. 1, l. 145 (1602)
Added on 26-Feb-10 | Last updated 20-May-16
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Routine is the death to heroism.

P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) Anglo-American humorist, playwright and lyricist [Pelham Grenville Wodehouse]
“The Man Upstairs” (1914)
Added on 18-May-09 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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The President must be greater than anyone else, but not better than anyone else. We subject him and his family to close and constant scrutiny and denounce them for things that we ourselves do every day. A Presidential slip of the tongue, a slight error in judgment — social, political, or ethical — can raise a storm of protest. We give the President more work than a man can do, more responsibility than a man should take, more pressure than a man can bear. We abuse him often and rarely praise him. We wear him out, use him up, eat him up. And with all this, Americans have a love for the President that goes beyond loyalty or party nationality; he is ours, and we exercise the right to destroy him.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American writer
“America and Americans” (1966)
Added on 4-Dec-08 | Last updated 6-Jun-16
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For of those to whom much is given, much is required. And when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each of us — recording whether in our brief span of service we fulfilled our responsibilities to the state — our success or failure, in whatever office we hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions:

First, were we truly men of courage — with the courage to stand up to one’s enemies — and the courage to stand up, when necessary, to one’s associates — the courage to resist public pressure, as well as private greed?

Secondly, were we truly men of judgment — with perceptive judgment of the future as well as the past — of our mistakes as well as the mistakes of others — with enough wisdom to know what we did not know and enough candor to admit it.

Third, were we truly men of integrity — men who never ran out on either the principles in which we believed or the men who believed in us — men whom neither financial gain nor political ambition could ever divert from the fulfillment of our sacred trust?

Finally, were we truly men of dedication — with an honor mortgaged to no single individual or group, and comprised of no private obligation or aim, but devoted solely to serving the public good and the national interest?

Courage — judgment — integrity — dedication — these are the historic qualities … which, with God’s help … will characterize our Government’s conduct in the four stormy years that lie ahead.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Address to the Massachusetts legislature (9 Jan 1961)
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As President-elect. The reference is to Luke 12:48.
Added on 18-Jan-08 | Last updated 14-Oct-19
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