Quotations about   habit

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I believe that you can reach the point where there is no longer any difference between developing the habit of pretending to believe and developing the habit of believing.

Umberto Eco (b. 1932) Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, novelist
Foucault’s Pendulum, ch. 87 (1988) [tr. W. Weaver (1989)]
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See also Hawthorne.
Added on 26-Jan-19 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Character is simply habit long continued.

Plutarch (AD 46-127) Greek historian, biographer, essayist [Mestrius Plutarchos]
Moral Writings [Moralia], “On the Education of Children,” 4.3 [tr. Babbitt and Goodwin]
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Added on 29-Aug-17 | Last updated 29-Aug-17
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Habit is habit, and not to be flung out the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, ch. 6, Epigraph “Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar” (1894)
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Added on 25-May-17 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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There was a young belle of old Natchez
Whose garments were always in patchez.
When comment arose
On the state of her clothes,
She drawled, When Ah itchez, Ah scratchez.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“Requiem” (1938)
Added on 12-Apr-17 | Last updated 12-Apr-17
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The power to become habituated to his surroundings is a marked characteristic of mankind.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
The Economic Consequences of the Peace, ch. 1 (1919)
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Added on 3-Jan-17 | Last updated 3-Jan-17
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Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit.

Henry Adams (1838-1918) American journalist, historian, academic, novelist
The Education of Henry Adams, ch. 16 (1907)
Added on 3-Nov-16 | Last updated 3-Nov-16
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Be as careful of the books you read as of the company you keep, for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as the latter.

Edwin Paxton Hood (1820-1885) English nonconformist minister and author
Self-Formation (1858 ed.)
Added on 22-Sep-16 | Last updated 22-Sep-16
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Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.

Twain - other peoples habits - wist_info quote

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, ch. 15, epigraph (1894)
Added on 25-Feb-16 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior.
Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits.
Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian philosopher and nationalist [Mahatma Gandhi]
(Attributed)

Never specifically cited, and attributed with variations in the language. Also attributed as a Chinese or Buddhist proverb.
Added on 26-Oct-15 | Last updated 26-Oct-15
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Man is the only animal that learns by being hypocritical. He pretends to be polite and then, eventually, he becomes polite.

Jean Kerr (1922-2003) American author and playwright [b. Bridget Jean Collins]
Finishing Touches, Act 1 (1973)
Added on 14-Sep-15 | Last updated 14-Sep-15
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Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit, and you reap a character. Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.

Charles Reade (1814-1884) English novelist and dramatist
(Attributed)

Attributed in Notes and Queries, 9th series, vol. 12 (7 Nov 1903). Not found in any of his works, but attributed to many other authors over time. See here for more discussion.
Added on 7-Sep-15 | Last updated 10-Aug-16
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In short, we can judge by nothing but Appearances, and they are very apt to deceive us. Some put on a gay chearful Outside, and appear to the World perfectly at Ease, tho’ even then, some inward Sting, some secret Pain imbitters all their Joys, and makes the Balance even: Others appear continually dejected and full of Sorrow; but even Grief itself is sometimes pleasant, and Tears are not always without their Sweetness: Besides, Some take a Satisfaction in being thought unhappy, (as others take a Pride in being thought humble,) these will paint their Misfortunes to others in the strongest Colours, and leave no Means unus’d to make you think them thoroughly miserable; so great a Pleasure it is to them to be pitied; Others retain the Form and outside Shew of Sorrow, long after the Thing itself, with its Cause, is remov’d from the Mind; it is a Habit they have acquir’d and cannot leave.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
“A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity” (1725)
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Added on 11-Aug-15 | Last updated 11-Aug-15
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We must be something in order to do something, but we must also do something in order to be something. The best rule, I think, is this: If we find it hard to do good, then let us try to be good. If, on the other hand, we find it hard to be good, then let us try to do good. Being leads to doing, doing leads to being. Yet below both as their common root is faith, — faith in God, in man, in ourselves, in the eternal superiority of right over wrong, truth over error, good over evil, love over all selfishness and all sin.

James Freeman Clarke (1810-1888) American theologian and author
(Attributed)

Quoted in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
Added on 24-Oct-14 | Last updated 24-Oct-14
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Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
Mere Christianity, 4.7 (1952 ed.)
Added on 12-Feb-14 | Last updated 12-Feb-14
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There is a popular hallucination that makes of authors a romantic people who are entirely dependent upon moods and moments of inspiration for the power to labor in their peculiar way. Authors are supposed to write when they “feel like it,” and at no other time. Visions of Byron with a gin-bottle at his side, and a beautiful woman hanging over his shoulder, dashing off a dozen stanzas of Childe Harold at a sitting, flit through the brains of sentimental youth. We hear of women who are seized suddenly by an idea, as if it were a colic, or a flea, often at midnight, and are obliged to rise and dispose of it in some way. We are told of very delicate girls who carry pencils and cards with them, to take the names and address of such angels as may visit them in out-of-the-way places. We read of poets who go on long sprees, and after recovery retire to their rooms and work night and day, eating not and sleeping little, and in some miraculous way producing wonderful literary creations. The mind of a literary man is supposed to be like a shallow summer brook, that turns a mill. There is no water except when it rains, and the weather being very fickle, it is never known when there will be water. Sometimes, however, there comes a freshet, and then the mill runs night and day, until the water subsides, and another dry time comes on.

Now, while I am aware, as every writer must be, that the brain works very much better at some times than it does at others, I can declare without reservation, that no man who depends upon moods for the power to write can possibly accomplish much. I know men who rely upon their moods, alike for the disposition and the ability to write, but they are, without exception, lazy and inefficient men. They never have accomplished much, and they never will accomplish much.

Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819-1881) American novelist, poet, editor [pseud. Timothy Titcomb]
Lessons in Life, Lesson 1 “Moods and Frames of Mind” (1861) [as Timothy Titcomb]
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Added on 29-Jan-14 | Last updated 29-Jan-14
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Discipline should not be practiced like a rule imposed on oneself from the outside, but that it becomes an expression of one’s own will; that it is felt as pleasant, and that one slowly accustoms oneself to a kind of behavior which one would eventually miss, if one stopped practicing it.

Erich Fromm (1900-1980) American psychoanalyst and social philosopher
The Art of Loving, ch. 4 (1956)
Added on 21-Jan-14 | Last updated 21-Jan-14
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If you would not be of an angry temper, then, do not feed the habit. Give it nothing to help it increase. Be quiet at first and reckon the days in which you have not been angry. I used to be angry every day; now every other day; then every third and fourth day; and if you miss it so long as thirty days, offer a of Thanksgiving to God. For habit is first weakened and then entirely destroyed.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135) Greek (Phrygian) Stoic philosopher
The Discourses, ch. 18 (c. AD 101-108)
Added on 9-Aug-13 | Last updated 16-May-14
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Choose the best life; for habit will make it pleasant.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135) Greek (Phrygian) Stoic philosopher
Fragment 144

Sometimes attributed to Francis Bacon.
Added on 19-Apr-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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I have not been afraid of excess: excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
The Summing Up, ch. 15 (1938)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Mar-16
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If we attend continually and promptly to the little that we can do, we shall ere long be surprised to find how little remains that we cannot do.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics (c. 350 BC) (paraphrase)

Variants: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." "We are what we repeatedly do, therefore excellence is not an act, but a habit."

Not actually Aristotle, but a summary by  Will Durant,  The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers (1926), ch. II "Aristotle and Greek Science," Part VII "Ethics and the Nature of Happiness" (1926):
Excellence is an art won by training and habituation: we do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have these because we have acted rightly; 'these virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions'; we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit: 'the good of man is a working of the soul in the way of excellence in a complete life... for as it is not one swallow or one fine day that makes a spring, so it is not one day or a short time that makes a man blessed and happy.'"
The quoted phrases are from the Nicomachean Ethics, Book 2, ch. 4; Book 1, ch. 7.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Jun-17
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“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh, what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
“It’s the same thing,” he said.

A. A. Milne (1882-1956) English poet and playwright [Alan Alexander Milne]
Winnie-the-Pooh (1926)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Nov-15
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Marriage must continually vanquish the monster that devours everything, the monster of habit.

Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) French novelist, playwright
Physiology of Marriage (1829)

Alt. trans.: "Marriage must constantly fight against a monster which devours everything: routine."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-Sep-17
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Do something every day that you don’t want to do; this is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 58, epigraph (1897)

See here for more discussion about this (and related) quotations.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-Dec-15
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Habit with him was all the test of truth,
“It must be right: I’ve done it from my youth.”

George Crabbe (1754-1832) English poet, writer, surgeon, clergyman
The Borough, Letter 3 “The Vicar,” l. 138 (1810)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 7-Sep-17
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