Quotations about:
    happiness


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A little House well fill’d, a little Field well till’d, and a little Wife well will’d, are great Riches.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1735 ed.)
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Added on 9-May-24 | Last updated 9-May-24
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Next week shall begin my operations on my hat, on which you know my principal hopes of happiness depend.

Jane Austen
Jane Austen (1775-1817) English author
Letter (1798-10-27) to Cassandra Austen
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Added on 7-May-24 | Last updated 7-May-24
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People will tell us that without the consolations of religion they would be intolerably unhappy. So far as this is true, it is a coward’s argument. Nobody but a coward would consciously choose to live in a fool’s paradise. When a man suspects his wife of infidelity, he is not thought the better of for shutting his eyes to the evidence. And I cannot see why ignoring evidence should be contemptible in one case and admirable in the other.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“Is There a God?” (1952)
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Essay commissioned by Illustrated magazine in 1952, but never published there. First publication in Russell, Last Philosophical Testament, 1943-68 (1997) [ed. Slater/Köllner].
 
Added on 1-May-24 | Last updated 1-May-24
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Since Joys are so uncertain; take Gladness when it comes.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English physician, preacher, aphorist, writer
Introductio ad Prudentiam, Vol. 1, # 101 (1725)
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Added on 24-Apr-24 | Last updated 24-Apr-24
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Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have someone to divide it with.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 48, epigraph (1897)
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Added on 28-Mar-24 | Last updated 28-Mar-24
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For the happiest life, rigorously plan your days, leave your nights open to chance.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 4 (1966)
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Variant: "For the happiest life, days should be rigorously planned, nights left open to chance."
 
Added on 26-Mar-24 | Last updated 26-Mar-24
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Getting what you go after is success; but liking it while you are getting it is happiness.

Bertha Damon
Bertha Damon (1881-1975) American humorist, author, lecturer, editor [Bertha Clark Pope Damon]
A Sense of Humus, ch. 13 “Garden Sass” (1943)
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Added on 19-Feb-24 | Last updated 19-Feb-24
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If you are looking after happiness don’t take the turnpike, take one ov the byroads, yu will avoid the tollgates, and find it less crowded and dursty.

[If you are looking after happiness, don’t take the turnpike, take one of the byroads; you will avoid the tollgates, and find it less crowded and dusty.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist, aphorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, ch. 132 “Affurisms: Chips” (1874)
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Added on 15-Feb-24 | Last updated 15-Feb-24
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WYATT: Do you think that philosophy contribute to happiness?

RUSSELL: Yes, if you happen to be interested in philosophy and good at it, but not otherwise – but so does bricklaying. Anything you’re good at contributes to happiness.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
Interview by Woodrow Wyatt, BBC TV (1959)

Collected in Bertrand Russell's BBC Interviews (1959) [UK] and Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind (1960) [US].
 
Added on 7-Feb-24 | Last updated 7-Feb-24
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Sometimes in a vision, I see a world of happy human beings, all vigorous, all intelligent, none of them oppressing, none of them oppressed. A world of human beings aware that their common interests outweigh those in which they compete, striving toward those really splendid possibilities that the human intellect and the human imagination make possible such a world as I was speaking of can exist if everyone chooses that it should. And if it does exist, if it does come to exist, we shall have a world very much more glorious, very much more splendid, more happy, more full of imagination and happy emotions, than any world that the world has ever known before.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
Interview by Woodrow Wyatt, BBC TV (1959)

Collected in Bertrand Russell's BBC Interviews (1959) [UK] and Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind (1960) [US]. Reprinted (abridged) in The Humanist (1982-11/12), and in Russell Society News, #37 (1983-02).
 
Added on 25-Jan-24 | Last updated 25-Jan-24
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The time is passed when you could have a happy minority living upon the misery of the great mass. That time is passed. People won’t acquiesce in it, and you will have to learn to put up with the knowledge that your neighbor is also happy, if you want to be happy yourself. I think, if people are wisely educated, they will have a more expansive nature and will find no difficulty in allowing the happiness of others as a necessary condition of their own.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
Interview by Woodrow Wyatt, BBC TV (1959)

Collected in Bertrand Russell's BBC Interviews (1959) [UK] and Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind (1960) [US].
 
Added on 17-Jan-24 | Last updated 17-Jan-24
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The great calamity of the passions is not the torments they cause but the wrongs, the base actions that they lead one to commit, and which degrade men. Without these hindrances the advantages of the passions would far outweigh those of cold reason, which renders no one happy. The passions make a man live, wisdom merely makes him last.

[Le grand malheur des passions n’est pas dans les tourmens qu’elles causent, mais dans les fautes, dans les turpitudes qu’elles font commettre, et qui dégradent l’homme. Sans ces inconvéniens, elles auraient trop d’avantage sur la froide raison, qui ne rend point heureux. Les passions font vivre l’homme, la sagesse le fait seulement durer.]

Nicolas Chamfort
Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Products of Perfected Civilization [Produits de la Civilisation Perfectionée], Part 1 “Maxims and Thoughts [Maximes et Pensées],” ch. 2, ¶ 118 (1795) [tr. Merwin (1969)]
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(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

The great evil of the passions does not lie in the torments which they bring upon men, but in the faults and shameful actions they cause him to commit. Were it not for this drawback they would have too great an advantage over cold reason, which can never be productive of happiness. His passions make man live, his wisdom only makes him last.
[tr. Mathers (1926)]

The unfortunate thing about passions is not the misery they make one commit, and which degrade man. Without these disadvantages, they would overpower cold reason, which does not in the least a source of happiness. Passions make men live, wisdom only makes the endure.
[tr. Pearson (1973)]

The great disaster of passions is not the torment they cause, but the debasing errors and depravity into which they lead men. Without these drawbacks, passion would enjoy many advantages over cold reason, which never produces happiness. Passions enable men to live, wisdom merely enables them to survive.
[tr. Dusinberre (1992)]

The great misfortune of passions does not come from the torments that they cause, but from the base things they make a person do, and which degrade him. Without these inconveniences, they would have too many advantages over cold reason, which never makes people happy. Passions make a man live, wisdom and facts only make him endure.
[tr. Siniscalchi (1994)]

 
Added on 15-Jan-24 | Last updated 15-Jan-24
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“If Mr. Darcy is neither by honour nor inclination confined to his cousin, why is not he to make another choice? And if I am that choice, why may not I accept him?”
“Because honour, decorum, prudence, nay, interest, forbid it. Yes, Miss Bennet, interest; for do not expect to be noticed by his family or friends, if you wilfully act against the inclinations of all. You will be censured, slighted, and despised, by everyone connected with him. Your alliance will be a disgrace; your name will never even be mentioned by any of us.”
“These are heavy misfortunes,” replied Elizabeth. “But the wife of Mr. Darcy must have such extraordinary sources of happiness necessarily attached to her situation, that she could, upon the whole, have no cause to repine.”

Jane Austen
Jane Austen (1775-1817) English author
Pride and Prejudice, ch. 56 [Elizabeth and Lady Catherine] (1813)
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Added on 11-Jan-24 | Last updated 11-Jan-24
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Knowledge is not happiness, and science
But an exchange of ignorance for that
Which is another kind of ignorance.

Lord Byron
George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
“Manfred,” Act 2, sc. 4 [First Destiny] (1817)
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How little it takes to make life perfect! A good sauce, a cocktail after a hard day, a girl who kisses with her mouth half open!

H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
A Little Book in C Major, ch. 4, § 21 (1916)
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Added on 12-Dec-23 | Last updated 12-Dec-23
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Happy the man, of mortals happiest he,
Whose quiet mind from vain desires is free;
Whom neither hopes deceive, nor fears torment,
But lives at peace, within himself content;
In thought, or act, accountable to none
But to himself, and to the gods alone.

George Granville
George Granville (1666-1735) English politician, poet, playwright [1st Baron Lansdowne]
“Epistle to Mrs. Higgons,” l. 79ff (1690)
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Added on 28-Nov-23 | Last updated 28-Nov-23
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One of the things that militates against happiness is worry, and that’s one respect in which I’ve become much happier as I’ve grown older. I worry much less and I found a very useful plan in regard to worry, which is to think, “Now what is the very worst thing that could happen?” And then think, “Well, after all it wouldn’t be so very bad a hundred years hence; it probably won`t matter.” After you’ve really made yourself think that, you won`t worry so much. Worry comes from not facing unpleasant possibilities.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
Interview by Woodrow Wyatt, BBC TV (1959)

Collected in Bertrand Russell's BBC Interviews (1959) [UK] and Bertrand Russell Speaks His Mind (1960) [US]. Reprinted (abridged) in The Humanist (1982-11/12), and in Russell Society News, #37 (1983-02).
 
Added on 8-Nov-23 | Last updated 8-Nov-23
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But the rich man is tortured by fears, wasted with griefs, aflame with greed, never free from care, always restless and uneasy, out of breath from unending struggles with his enemies. It is true enough that he increases his holdings beyond measure by going through these miseries; but at the same time, thanks to that very increase, he also multiples his bitter cares. In contrast, the individual of moderate means is satisfied with his small and limited property; he is loved by family and friends; he enjoys sweet peace with his relations, neighbors, and friends; he is devout in his piety, benevolent of mind, sound of body, moderate in his style of life, unblemished in character, and untroubled in conscience. I do not know whether anyone would be so foolish as to have any doubt about which of the two to prefer.

[Alium praediuitem cogitemus; sed diuitem timoribus anxium, maeroribus tabescentem, cupiditate flagrantem, numquam securum, semper inquietum, perpetuis inimicitiarum contentionibus anhelantem, augentem sane his miseriis patrimonium suum in inmensum modum atque illis augmentis curas quoque amarissimas aggerantem; mediocrem uero illum re familiari parua atque succincta sibi sufficientem, carissimum suis, cum cognatis uicinis amicis dulcissima pace gaudentem, pietate religiosum, benignum mente, sanum corpore, uita parcum, moribus castum, conscientia securum. Nescio utrum quisquam ita desipiat, ut audeat dubitare quem praeferat.]

Augustine of Hippo (354-430) Christian church father, philosopher, saint [b. Aurelius Augustinus]
City of God [De Civitate Dei], Book 4, ch. 3 (4.3) (AD 412-416) [tr. Babcock (2012)]
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On wealth and power as the foundation for happiness.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Let my wealthy man take with him fears, sorrows, covetousness, suspicion, disquiet, contentions, making immense additions to his estate only by adding to his heap of most bitter cares; and let my poor man take with him sufficiency with little, love of kindred, neighbours, friends, joyous peace, peaceful religion, soundness of body, sincereness of heart, abstinence of diet, chastity of carriage, and security of conscience. Where should a man find any one so sottish as would make a doubt which of these to prefer in his choice?
[tr. Healey (1610)]

But the rich man is anxious with fears, pining with discontent, burning with covetousness, never secure, always uneasy, panting from the perpetual strife of his enemies, adding to his patrimony indeed by these miseries to an immense degree, and by these additions also heaping up most bitter cares. But that other man of moderate wealth is contented with a small and compact estate, most dear to his own family, enjoying the sweetest peace with his kindred neighbors and friends, in piety religious, benignant in mind, healthy in body, in life frugal, in manners chaste, in conscience secure. I know not whether any one can be such a fool, that he dare hesitate which to prefer.
[ed. Dods (1871)]

But, our wealthy man is haunted by fear, heavy with cares, feverish with greed, never secure, always restless, breathless from endless quarrels with his enemies. By these miseries, he adds to his possessions beyond measure, but he also piles up for himself a mountain of distressing worries. The man of modest means is content with a small and compact patrimony. He is loved by his own, enjoys the sweetness of peace, in his relations with kindred, neighbors, and friends, is religious and pious, of kindly disposition, healthy in body, self-restrained, chaste in morals, and at peace with his conscience. I wonder if there is anyone so senseless as to hesitate over which of the two to prefer.
[tr. Zema/Walsh (1950)]

Let us suppose that the rich man is troubled by fears, pining with grief, burning with desire, never secure, always restless, panting in ceaseless struggles with his foes, though he does, to be sure, by dint of such suffering accumulate great additions to his estate even beyond measure, these additions adding also their quota of corrosive anxieties. Let the man of modest means, on the other hand, be self-sufficient on his trim and tiny property, beloved by his family, enjoying the most agreeable relations with his kindred, neighbours and friends, devoutly religious, kindly disposed, in good physical condition, leading a simple life, free from vice and untroubled in conscience. I don’t suppose that there is anyone so foolish as to think of doubting which one he would prefer.
[tr. Green (Loeb) (1963)]

But the rich man is tortured by fears, worn out with sadness, burnt up with ambition, never knowing serenity of repose, always panting and sweating in his struggles with opponents. It may be true that he enormously swells his patrimony, but at the cost of those discontents, while by this increase he heaps up a load of further anxiety and bitterness. The other man, the ordinary citizen, is content with his strictly limited resources. He is loved by family and friends; he enjoys the blessing of peace with his relations, neighbours, and friends; he is loyal, compassionate, and kind, healthy in body, temperate in habits, of unblemished character, and enjoys the serenity of a good conscience. I do not think anyone would be fool enough to hesitate about which he would prefer.
[tr. Bettenson (1972)]

The wealthy man, however, is troubled by fears; he pines with grief; he burns with greed. He is never secure; he is always unquiet and panting from endless confrontations with his enemies. To be sure, he adds to his patrimony in immense measure by these miseries; but alongside these additions he also heaps up the most bitter cares. By contrast, the man of moderate means is self-sufficient on his small and circumscribed estate. He is of his own family, and rejoices in the most sweet peace with kindred, neighbours and friends. He is devoutly religious, well disposed in mind, healthy in body, frugal in life, chaste in morals, untroubled in conscience. I do not know if anyone could be such a fool as to dare to doubt which to prefer.
[tr. Dyson (1998)]

 
Added on 30-Oct-23 | Last updated 29-Jan-24
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What reason, what prudence, is there in wishing to glory in the greatness and extent of the empire, when you cannot point out the happiness of men who are always rolling, with dark fear and cruel lust, in warlike slaughters and in blood, which, whether shed in civil or foreign war, is still human blood; so that their joy may be compared to glass in its fragile splendor, of which one is horribly afraid lest it should be suddenly broken in pieces.

[Quae sit ratio, quae prudentia, cum hominum felicitatem non possis ostendere, semper in bellicis cladibus et in sanguine ciuili uel hostili, tamen humano cum tenebroso timore et cruenta cupiditate uersantium, ut uitrea laetitia comparetur fragiliter splendida, cui timeatur horribilius ne repente frangatur.]

Augustine of Hippo (354-430) Christian church father, philosopher, saint [b. Aurelius Augustinus]
City of God [De Civitate Dei], Book 4, ch. 3 (4.3) (AD 412-416) [tr. Dods (1871)]
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(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

You cannot show such estates to be anyway happy, as are in continual wars, and constantly in terror, trouble, and guilt of shedding human blood, though it be their foes’; with what reason or wisdom any man doth wish to glory in the largeness of empire, since all their joy is but as a glass, bright and brittle, and evermore in fear and danger of breaking.
[tr. Healey (1610)]

Is it reasonable and wise to glory in the extent and greatness of the Empire when you can in no way prove that there is any real happiness in men perpetually living amid the horrors of war, perpetually wading in blood? Does it matter whether it is the blood of their fellow citizens or the blood of their enemies? It is still human blood, in men perpetually haunted by the gloomy spectre of fear and driven by murderous passions. The happiness arising from such conditions is a thing of glass, of mere glittering brittleness. One can never shake off the horrible dread that it may suddenly shiver into fragments.
[tr. Zema/Walsh (1950)]

You cannot show that men are happy who live always amid the disasters of war. It matters not whether the blood shed is that of fellow-citizens or of enemies; in any case it is the blood of men. The dark shadow of fear and the lust for blood are always with them. Any joy that they know is like the glitter of brittle glass, which inspires the frightful thought that it may suddenly be shattered.
[tr. Green (Loeb) (1963)]

Is it reasonable, is it sensible, to boast of the extent and grandeur of empire, when you cannot show that men lived in happiness, as they passed their lives amid the horrors of war, amid the shedding of men's blood -- whether the blood of enemies or fellow-citizens -- under the shadow of fear and amid the terror of ruthless ambition? The only joy to be attained had the fragile brilliance of glass, a joy outweighed by the fear that it may be shattered in a moment.
[tr. Bettenson (1972)]

Is it wise or prudent to wish to glory in the breadth and magnitude of an empire when you cannot show that the men whose empire it is are happy? For the Romans always lived in dark fear and cruel lust, surrounded by the disasters of war and the shedding of blood which, whether that of fellow citizens or enemies, was human nonetheless. The joy of such men may be compared to the fragile splendour of glass: they are horribly afraid lest it be suddenly shattered.
[tr. Dyson (1998)]

What reason or sense is there in wanting to boast of the size and expanse of an empire when you cannot show that its people are happy? Or why boast of an empire if its people always dwell in the midst of the disasters of war and the spilling of blood -- the blood of fellow-citizens or the blood of foreign enemies, but, in either case, human blood -- and always live under the dark shadow of fear and in the lust for blood? Any joy they have may be compared to the fragile brilliance of glass: there is always the terrible fear that it will suddenly be shattered.
[tr. Babcock (2012)]

 
Added on 16-Oct-23 | Last updated 29-Jan-24
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There will always be a lost dog somewhere that will prevent me being happy.

[Il y aura toujours un chien perdu quelque part qui m’empêchera d’être heureux.]

Jean Anouilh (1910-1987) French dramatist
La Sauvage [The Restless Heart], Act 3 [Thérèse] (1934) [tr. Pronko (1961)]
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Alternate translation:

There will always be a stray dog somewhere in the world who'll stop me being happy.
[tr. Hill (1957)]

 
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A man wants to earn money in order to be happy, and his whole effort and the best of a life are devoted to the earning of that money. Happiness is forgotten; the means are taken for the end.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
The Myth of Sisyphus, “Absurd Creation” (1942) [tr. O’Brien (1991)]
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Pride either finds a desert, or makes one; submission cannot tame its ferocity, nor satiety fill its voracity, and it requires very costly food — Its keeper’s happiness.

Charles Caleb "C. C." Colton (1780-1832) English cleric, writer, aphorist
Lacon: Or, Many Things in Few Words, Vol. 2, § 237 (1822)
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Moderation. Small helpings. Sample a little bit of everything. These are the secrets of happiness and good health. You need to enjoy the good things in life, but you need not overindulge.

Julia Child
Julia Child (1912-2004) American chef and writer
“What I’ve Learned,” interview by MIke Sager, Esquire (2001-06)
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I have known sorrow — therefore I
May laugh with you, O friend, more merrily
Than those who never sorrowed upon earth
And know not laughter’s worth.

I have known laughter — therefore I
May sorrow with you far more tenderly
Than those who never guess how sad a thing
Seems merriment to one heart’s suffering.

Theodosia Garrison
Theodosia Pickering Garrison (1874-1944) American poet
“Knowledge,” The Century Magazine (1900-08)
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Blest is the man who cheats the stormy sea
And safely moors beside the sheltering quay;
So, blest is he who triumphs over trial.
One man, by various means, in wealth or strength
Outdoes his neighbour; hope in a thousand hearts
Colours a thousand different dreams; at length
Some find a dear fulfilment, some denial.
But this I say,
That he who best
Enjoys each passing day
Is truly blest.

[εὐδαίμων μὲν ὃς ἐκ θαλάσσας
ἔφυγε χεῖμα, λιμένα δ᾽ ἔκιχεν:
εὐδαίμων δ᾽ ὃς ὕπερθε μόχθων
ἐγένεθ᾽: ἑτέρᾳ δ᾽ ἕτερος ἕτερον
ὄλβῳ καὶ δυνάμει παρῆλθεν.
μυρίαι δ᾽ ἔτι μυρίοις
εἰσὶν ἐλπίδες: αἳ μὲν
τελευτῶσιν ἐν ὄλβῳ
βροτοῖς, αἳ δ᾽ ἀπέβησαν:
τὸ δὲ κατ᾽ ἦμαρ ὅτῳ βίοτος
εὐδαίμων, μακαρίζω.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bacchæ [Βάκχαι], l. 902ff (Stasimon 3, Epode) [Chorus/Χορός] (405 BC) [tr. Vellacott (1973)]
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(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Blest is the man who 'scapes the stormy wave.
And in the harbour finds repose:
He too is blest, 'midst dangers brave,
Who soars above the malice of his foes:
And now these, now those possess
Superior talents or success;
Distinct their aims; but hope each bosom fires.
There are, a rich encrease who find,
The vows of some are scatter'd in the wind:
But in my judgement blest are they
Who taste, tho' only for the day.
The joys their soul desires.
[tr. Wodhull (1809)]

Happy is he who has fled a storm on the sea, and reached harbor. Happy too is he who has overcome his hardships. One surpass another in different ways, in wealth or power. There are innumerable hopes to innumerable men, and some result in wealth to mortals, while others fail. But I call him blessed whose life is happy day today.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

Who hath 'scaped the turbulent sea,
And reached the haven, happy he!
Happy he whose toils are o'er
In the race of wealth and power!
This one her, and that one there,
Passes by, and everywhere
Still expectant thousands over
Thousands hopes are seen to hover,
Some to mortals end in bliss;
Some have already fled away:
Happiness alone is his
That happy is to-day.
[tr. Milman (1865)]

Happy he, who from the storm,
Has the breaker escaped, and the harbour has reached;
Happy he who after toil
Is the victor, for many the ways in which man
Wins him power, and wins him wealth.
Thousand-fold ever to thousands of men,
Hope follows upon hope,
With some it grows unceasingly,
With some it wastes to nothingness.
But he whose life is ever fresh,
Lives in unbroken happiness.
[tr. Rogers (1872), l. 865ff.]

Happy is he who hath escaped the wave from out the sea, and reached the haven; and happy he who hath triumphed o’er his troubles; though one surpasses another in wealth and power; yet there be myriad hopes for all the myriad minds; some end in happiness for man, and others come to naught; but him, whose life from day to day is blest, I deem a happy man.
[tr. Coleridge (1891)]

Blest who from ravening seas
Hath 'scaped to haven-peace,
Blest who hath triumphed in endeavour's toil and throe.
This man to higher height
Attains, of wealth, of might,
Than that; yet myriad hopes in myriad hearts still glow:
To fair fruition brought
Are some, some come to nought:
Happy is he whose bliss from day to day doth grow.
[tr. Way (1898)]

Happy he, on the weary sea
Who hath fled the tempest and won the haven.
Happy whoso hath risen, free,
Above his striving. For strangely graven
Is the orb of life, that one and another
In gold and power may outpass his brother.
And men in their millions float and flow
And seethe with a million hopes as leaven;
And they win their Will, or they miss their Will,
And the hopes are dead or are pined for still;
But whoe'er can know,
As the long days go,
That To Live is happy, hath found his Heaven!
[tr. Murray (1902)]

-- Blessèd is he who escapes the storm at sea,
who comes home to his harbor.
-- Blessèd is he who emerges from under affliction.
-- In various ways one man outraces another in the race for wealth and power.
-- Ten thousand men possess ten thousand hopes.
-- A few bear fruit in happiness; the others go awry.
-- But he who garners day by day the good of life, he is happiest. Blessèd is he.
[tr. Arrowsmith (1960)]

Happy the man who from the sea
escapes the storm and finds harbor;
happy he who has surmounted
toils; and in different ways one surpasses another
in prosperity and power.
Besides this, for countless men there are countless
hopes -- some of them
reach to the end in prosperity
for mortals, and others depart;
but him whose life day by day
is happy do I count blessed.
[tr. Kirk (1970)]

Happy he from the sea escaping
out of the storm, arriving at anchorage;
happy he fleeing labour's straining;
in many manners may men surpass other men
in prosperity and in power.
Thousand-fold upon thousand-fold
hopes come crowding upon us,
and some finally prosper
for mortals, some are vanish'd:
who day by day has a livelihood of happiness, he is blessed
[tr. Neuburg (1988)]

Happy the man who withstands
life's assaults.
Somehow, in some way, some man surpasses some other
in position and fortune.
For millions of men there are millions of hopes.
For some, these ripen into happiness,
for others into nothing.
Count lucky the man who is happy on this one day.
[tr. Cacoyannis (1982)]

That man is blessed who fled the storm
At sea and reached the bay.
And he is blessed who rose above
His toil. In various ways
One man outstrips in wealth and power
Another: countless men
Have countless hopes: some end in joy,
But others drift way.
The man who day to day has luck
In life -- that man I bless.
[tr. Blessington (1993)]

Happy the man who escapes
the storm at sea and reaches harbor.
Happy, too, is he who overcomes
his toils. And in different ways one man
surpasses another in prosperity and power.
Besides, countless are the hopes
of countless men, Some of those hopes
end in prosperity for mortals, others vanish.
But I count him blessed whose life,
from day to day, is happy.
[tr. Esposito (1998)]

Happy the man who has come away
safe on the beach from a storm at sea,
happy the man who has risen above
trouble and toil. Many are the ways
one man may surpass another
in wealth or power,
and beyond each hope there beckons another
hope without number.
Hope may lead a man to wealth,
hope may pass away;
but I admire a man when he
is happy in an ordinary life.
[tr. Woodruff (1999)]

Happy is he who escapes
A storm at sea and finds safe harbor.
Happy is he who has risen above
Great toils. In different ways,
Some persons outdo others
In their wealth and power.
And hopes are as many as those who hope --
Some will end in rich reward, others in nothing.
But those whose lives are happy
Day by day -- those
I call the blesséd.
[tr. Gibbons/Segal (2000)]

Blessed is he that out of the sea
escapes the storm and wins the harbor;
blessed he who triumphs over
trouble: one man surpasses another
in respect to wealth or power.
Furthermore, in countless hearts
there live countless hopes, some
ending in good fortune,
though some vanish away.
But the man whose life today is happy,
him I count blessed.
[tr. Kovacs (2002)]

Joy of the storm endured,
And the harbour safely reached.
Joy of hardship overcome.
Joy of striving for wealth and power.
Joy of hope. Joy of dreams,
Fulfilled or unfulfilled.
And most blessed they who takes their joy
In the simple detail of the day by day --
[tr. Teevan (2002)]

Happy is the man who has escaped the storms of life’s angry seas and found a harbour; and happy is the man who have endured those storms.
Men are infinite in number and their hopes have no end and some of these hopes bring joy to some and nothing to others.
I say blessed is the man whose life has been happy -- so far.
These are useful pieces of advice. True wisdom.
[tr. Theodoridis (2005)]

Blessed is the one who's fled the
Storm at sea and come to harbour;
And happy is he who rises above
Hardships; for one may sur-
Pass another in wealth or in power,
But these are a lot hopes to a lot of
Different people; and many end in
Happiness while others fail mis’rably
But the one who's happy day-to-day,
Is the one who's truly blessed.
[tr. Valerie (2005)]

Whoever has escaped a storm at sea
is a happy man in harbour,
whoever overcomes great hardship
is likewise another happy man.
Various men outdo each other
in wealth, in power,
in all sorts of ways.
The hopes of countless men
are infinite in number.
Some make men rich;
some come to nothing,
So I consider that man blessed
who lives a happy life
existing day by day.
[tr. Johnston (2008), l. 1106ff]

Lucky is the man who escapes a storm at sea
and finds his way home to safe harbour --
the man delivered from hardship.
We all compete for wealth and power,
and for every thousand hearts a thousand hopes.
Some wither, some bear fruit.
But the one who lives from day to day,
finding good where he can:
he is happy --
he is a lucky man.
[tr. Robertson (2014)]

Fortunate is the one who flees
The swell of the sea and returns to harbor.
Fortunate is the one who survives through troubles.
One is greater than another in different things,
He surpasses in fortune and power --
But in numberless hearts still
Are numberless hopes: some result
In good fortune, but other mortal dreams
Just disappear.
Whoever has a happy life to-day,
I consider fortunate.
[tr. @sentantiq (2018)]

Happy is the one who escapes a sea-storm
and comes home to the harbor.
And happy is the one who stands against their hardships.
Happy are they who endure.
One man may exceed another, in his own way.
In wealth.
In power.
Countless hopes for yet-more-countless people.
Sometimes hope wins out, gives us riches --
And sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes we fail.
But the one who can live in spite of this,
who is happy day to day.
That one is blessed.
[tr. Pauly (2019)]

Blessed is the one who finds a harbour safe from the winter sea. Blessed is the one who travels beyond affliction. Blessed is the one who wins great joy. Numberless more have their dreams. Some hopes are fulfilled, some vanish. Whoever lives happily from day to day I bless.
[tr. Behr/Foster (2019)]

Fortunate [eudaimōn] is he who has fled a storm on the sea and reached harbor. Eudaimōn too is he who has overcome his toils. Different people surpass others in various ways, be it in wealth [olbos] or in power. Mortals have innumerable hopes, and some come to telos in prosperity [olbos], while others fail. I deem him blessed whose life is eudaimōn day by day.
[tr. Buckley/Sens/Nagy (2020)]

 
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Pleasures may be based on illusion; happiness must be based on truth.

[Le plaisir peut s’appuyer sur l’illusion; mais le bonheur repose sur la vérité.]

Nicolas Chamfort
Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Products of Perfected Civilization [Produits de la Civilisation Perfectionée], Part 1 Maxims and Thoughts [Maximes et Pensées], ch. 2 (1795) [tr. Parmée (2003), # 123]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Pleasure may rest upon illusion, but felicity must repose upon truth.
[tr. Mathers (1926), # 153]

Pleasure may be be based on illusion, but happiness rests on truth.
[tr. Merwin (1969)]

Variants:
  • "Pleasure can be supported by an illusion; but happiness rests upon truth."
  • "Pleasure may come from illusion, but happiness can come only of reality."
 
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He’s the one who gives us wine to ease our pain.
If you take wine away, love will die, and
every other source of human joy will follow.

[τὴν παυσίλυπον ἄμπελον δοῦναι βροτοῖς.
οἴνου δὲ μηκέτ᾽ ὄντος οὐκ ἔστιν Κύπρις
οὐδ᾽ ἄλλο τερπνὸν οὐδὲν ἀνθρώποις ἔτι.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bacchæ [Βάκχαι], l. 772ff [First Messenger/Ἄγγελος] (405 BC) [tr. Woodruff (1999)]
    (Source)

Speaking of Dionysus. (Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

He, the grape, that med'cine for our cares,
Bestow'd on favour'd mortals. Take away
The sparkling Wine, fair Venus smiles no more
And every pleasure quits the human race.
[tr. Wodhull (1809)]

He gives to mortals the vine that puts an end to grief. Without wine there is no longer Aphrodite or any other pleasant thing for men.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

He hath given the sorrow-soothing vine to man
For where wine is not love will never be,
Nor any other joy of human life.
[tr. Milman (1865)]

He gives the soothing vine
Which stills the sorrow of the human heart;
Where wine is absent, love can never be;
Where wine is absent, other joys are gone.
[tr. Rogers (1872), l. 732ff]

’Twas he that gave the vine to man, sorrow’s antidote. Take wine away and Cypris flies, and every other human joy is dead.
[tr. Coleridge (1891)]

He gave men the grief-assuaging vine.
When wine is no more found, then Love is not,
Nor any joy beside is left to men.
[tr. Way (1898)]

This is he who first to man did give
The grief-assuaging vine. Oh, let him live;
For if he die, then Love herself is slain,
And nothing joyous in the world again!
[tr. Murray (1902)]

It was he,
or so they say, who gave to mortal men
the gift of lovely wine by which our suffering
is stopped. And if there is no god of wine,
there is no love, no Aphrodite either,
nor other pleasures left to men.
[tr. Arrowsmith (1960)]

They say that he
has given to men the vine that ends pain.
If wine were no more, then Cypris is no more
nor anything else delighted for mankind.
[tr. Kirk (1970)]

It was he who gave men the gift of the vine as a cure for sorrow. And if there were no more wine, why, there's an end of love, and of every other pleasure in life.
[tr. Vellacott (1973)]

Didn't he make us
Mortal men the gift of wine? If that is true
You have much to thank him for -- wine makes
Our labors bearable. Take wine away
And the world is without joy, tolerance, or love.
[tr. Soyinka (1973)]

The sorrow-ceasing vine he gives to mortals.
Without wine there is no Aphrodite,
nor longer any other delight for men.
[tr. Neuburg (1988)]

It was he,
so they say, who gave to us, poor mortals, the gift of wine,
that numbs all sorrows.
If wine should ever cease to be,
then so will love.
No pleasures left for men.
[tr. Cacoyannis (1982)]

He himself, I hear them say,
Gave the pain-killing vine to men.
When wine is no more, neither is love.
Nor any other pleasure for mankind.
[tr. Blessington (1993)]

He gave to mortals the vine that stops pain.
If there were no more wine, then there is no more Aphrodite
nor any other pleasure for mankind.
[tr. Esposito (1998)]

It's he who gave
To mortals the vine that stops all suffering.
Adn if wine were to exist no longer, then
Neither would the goddess Aphrodite,
Nor anything of pleasure for us mortals.
[tr. Gibbons/Segal (2000), l. 885ff]

He gave to mortals the vine that puts an end to pain. If there is no wine, there is no Aphrodite or any other pleasure for mortals.
[tr. Kovacs (2002)]

Besides, he's given us the gift of wine,
Without which man desires nor endures not.
[tr. Teevan (2002)]

He’s the god who brought the wine to the mortals. Great stuff that. It stops all sadness. Truth is, my Lord, when the wine is missing so does love and then… well, then there’s nothing sweet left for us mortals.
[tr. Theodoridis (2005)]

He is the one who gave us the vine that gives
pause from pain; and if there is no wine, there'll be no more
Aphrodite, & there is no other gift to give such pleasure to us mortals.
[tr. Valerie (2005)]

He gives to mortal human beings that vine which puts an end to human grief. Without wine, there's no more Aphrodite -- or any other pleasure left for men.
[tr. Johnston (2008)]

He is great in so many ways -- not least, I hear say,
for his gift of wine to mortal men.
Wine, which puts an end to sorrow and to pain.
And if there is no wine, there is no Aphrodite,
And without her no pleasure left at all.
[tr. Robertson (2014)]

When wine is gone, there is no more Cypris,
nor anything else to delight a mortal heart.
[tr. @sentantiq/Robinson (2015)]

He gave mortals the pain-pausing vine.
When there is no wine, Cypris is absent,
And human beings have no other pleasure.
[tr. @sentantiq (2015)]

I’ve heard he gave the grapevine to us mortals, as an end to pain.
And without wine, we’ve got no chance with Aphrodite. Or anything else good, for that matter.
[tr. Pauly (2019)]

He even gives to mortals the grape that brings relief from cares. Without wine there is no longer Kypris or any other delightful thing for humans.
[tr. Buckley/Sens/Nagy (2020)]

He gave mortals the pain-relieving vine.
But when there is no more wine, there is no Aphrodite
Nor any other pleasure left for human beings.
[tr. @sentantiq (2021)]

 
Added on 11-Apr-23 | Last updated 11-Jul-23
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The way to achieve happiness is to have a high standard for yourself and a medium one for everyone else.

No picture available
Marcelene Cox (1900-1998) American writer, columnist, aphorist
“Ask Any Woman” column, Ladies’ Home Journal (1954-08)
    (Source)
 
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There’s not a joy the world can give like that it takes away.

Lord Byron
George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
“Stanzas for Music,” st. 1 (1815-03)
    (Source)
 
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Depend upon it, you see but half. You see the evil [of matrimony], but you do not see the consolation. There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere — and those evil-minded observers, dearest Mary, who make much of a little, are more taken in and deceived than the parties themselves.

Jane Austen
Jane Austen (1775-1817) English author
Mansfield Park, ch. 5 [Henry Crawford to Mary] (1814)
    (Source)
 
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A cheerful life is what the Muses love,
A soaring spirit is their prime delight.

William Wordsworth (1770-1850) English poet
“From the Dark Chambers of Dejection Freed,” ll. 13-14 (1814)
    (Source)
 
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All the higher animals have methods of expressing pleasure, but human beings alone express pleasure when they do not feel it. This is called politeness and is reckoned among the virtues.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“On smiling,” New York American (1932-08-17)
    (Source)
 
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Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.

James Barrie (1860-1937) Scottish novelist and dramatist
A Window in Thrums, ch. 18 “Leeby and Jamie” (1890)
    (Source)
 
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There is only one way to achieve happiness on this terrestrial ball,
And that is to have either a clear conscience, or none at all.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“Inter-Office Memorandum,” I’m a Stranger Here Myself (1938)
    (Source)
 
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Life brings no greater grief
Than happiness remembered in a time
Of sorrow.

[Nessun maggior dolore
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
Ne la miseria.]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 5, l. 121ff (5.121-123) [Francesca] (1309) [tr. James (2013), l. 141ff]
    (Source)

Francesca de Rimini is responding to Dante's request to speak of her love affair while in the middle of being punished for it. It is a true (if slanted) tale that occurred when Dante was a young man. Francesca da Polenta wed the crippled Giovanni Malatesta de Rimini, but fell in adulterous love with his brother, Paolo. Upon discovery of their affair, Giovanni killed them both. This was a local scandal, and would have been lost to time if Dante had not recorded it here. He relegates the lovers to the "least" eternal punishment in Hell, in the circle of carnal sins -- while Giovanni (who was still alive when this was written) is doomed to a lower circle for the murder (treachery to kindred). (More info.)

Inspiration for this particular phrase has been credited to many sources: Wisdom 11:11-12, Boethius (Consolation of Philosophy, 2.4.3-6), and Pindar (Pythian 4.510-512) are the most common. Augustine (Confessions 10.14) and Thomas Aquinas have also been cited.

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

No greater grief assails us [...]
Than in unhappy hours to recollect
A better time.
[tr. Rogers (1782)]

Oh! how grievous to relate
Past joys, and tread again the paths of fate.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 23]

No greater grief than to remember days
Of joy, when mis'ry is at hand!
[tr. Cary (1814)]

No keener pang hath hell.
Than to recall, amid some deep distress,
Our happier time.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

There is no greater pain than to recall a happy time in wretchedness.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

There is no greater grief
Than to remember happiness in woe.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

No greater grief than this,
Mem'ry to hold of the past happy time
In misery.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

There is no greater sorrow
Than to be mindful of the happy time
In misery.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

No greater woe is there than to call to mind the happy time in your misery.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

There is no greater grief
Than to remember us of happy time
In misery.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

There is no greater woe than in misery to remember the happy time.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

No deeper sorrow is, than to recall a time of happiness, in misery's hour.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

There is no greater sorrow
Than to recall to memory times of gladness
In misery.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

There is no greater pain than to recall the happy time in misery.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

No grief surpasses this [...]
In the midst of misery to remember bliss.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

The bitterest woe of woes
Is to remember in our wretchedness
Old happy times.
[tr. Sayers (1949)]

The double grief of a lost bliss
is to recall its happy hour in pain.
[tr. Ciardi (1954), ll. 118-19]

There is no greater sorrow than to recall, in wretchedness, the happy time.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

There is no greater pain
than to remember, in our present grief,
past happiness!
[tr. Musa (1971)]

There is no greater sorrow
than thinking back upon a happy time
in misery.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

There is no greater sorrow
Than to think backwards to a happy time,
When one is miserable.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

No sadness
Is greater than in misery to rehearse
Memories of joy.
[tr. Pinsky (1994), l. 107ff]

There is no greater pain than to remember the happy time in wretchedness.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

There is no greater pain, than to remember happy times in misery.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

There is no greater pain, I fear,
than to recall past joy in present hell.
[tr. Carson (2002)]

There is no sorrow greater
than, in times of misery, to hold at heart
the memory of happiness.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

There is no greater sorrow
than to recall our time of joy
in wretchedness.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

No sadness afflicts the heart
More than recalling, in times of utter disaster,
Sweetened days in which we knew no darkness.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

What's sadder than remembering
The happy past when you're feeling wretched?
[tr. Bang (2012)]

 
Added on 23-Dec-22 | Last updated 1-Oct-23
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We should laugh before being happy, for fear of dying without having laughed.

[Il faut rire avant que d’être heureux, de peur de mourir sans avoir ri.]

Jean de La Bruyere
Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
The Characters [Les Caractères], ch. 4 “Of the Heart [Du Coeur],” § 63 (4.63) (1688) [tr. Stewart (1970)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

We must laugh before we are happy, or else we may die before we have cause to laugh.
[Bullord ed. (1696)]

We must laugh before we are happy, for fear we die before we laugh at all.
[Curll ed. (1713)]

We must laugh before we are happy, or else we may die before we ever laugh at all.
[Browne ed. (1752)]

We must laugh before we are happy, or else we may die before ever having laughed at all.
[tr. Van Laun (1885)]

We must laugh before we are happy, for fear of dying before we have laughed.
[tr. Lee (1903), "Brief Reflections on Men and Things"]

 
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In any country, regardless of what its laws say, wherever people act upon the idea that the disadvantage of one man is the good of another, there slavery exists. Wherever, in any country the whole people feel that the happiness of all is dependent upon the happiness of the weakest, there freedom exists.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) American educator, writer
Speech, Republican Club, New York City (12 Feb 1909)
    (Source)
 
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There is one illusion that has much to do with most of our happiness, and still more to do with most of our unhappiness. It may be told in a word. We expect too much.

Joseph Farrell
Joseph Farrell (1841-1885) Irish Jesuit priest, lecturer, preacher
“About Happiness,” The Lectures of a Certain Professor (1877)
    (Source)
 
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Things look different when seen in a different light. So look at them in the light of happiness. Don’t confuse good and bad.

[Hace muy diferentes visos una misma cosa si se mira a diferentes luces: mírese por la de la felicidad. No se han de trocar los frenos al bien y al mal.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 224 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]
    (Source)

(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translations:

One and the same thing, hath its good day, and its bad. Examine it on the fairest side. We must not give the contrary reines to good and evil.
[Flesher ed. (1685)]

The same thing looks quite different in another light; look at it therefore on its best side and do not exchange good for evil.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

For one and the same thing has very different faces, as seen in different lights; look upon it in its happiest light, and do not get the controls mixed, as to what is good and what is bad.
[tr. Fischer (1937)]

 
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Hope is itself a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords: but, like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by pain; and expectations improperly indulged must end in disappointment.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Letter (1 Jun 1762)
    (Source)
 
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There are only two roads that lead to something like human happiness. They are marked by the words: love and achievement.

Theodor Reik
Theodor Reik (1888-1969) Austrian-American psychoanalyst, writer
A Psychologist Looks at Love (1944)
    (Source)

Collected (with some modifications) in M. Sherman (ed.), Of Love and Lust Part 1, ch. 14 (1957).

This is frequently paraphrased or misquoted as "Work and love -- these are the basics. Without them there is neurosis." The apparent source of these misquotations is George Seldes, The Great Quotations (1960), where he attributed the passage to Reik and his book. Where Seldes got it from is unknown.

More discussion of this quotation: Ralph Keyes, Nice Guys Finish Seventh (1992).
 
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It is very easy for you to call me a happy man: you are only a spectator. I am one of the principals; and I know better.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Man and Superman, Act 4 [Tanner] (1903)
    (Source)
 
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Happiness is thought to imply leisure; for we toil in order that we may have leisure, as we make war in order that we may enjoy peace.

[δοκεῖ τε ἡ εὐδαιμονία ἐν τῇ σχολῇ εἶναι, ἀσχολούμεθα γὰρ ἵνα σχολάζωμεν καὶ πολεμοῦμεν ἵν᾽ εἰρήνην ἄγωμεν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 10, ch. 7 (10.7) / 1177b.4 (c. 325 BC) [tr. Peters (1893), 10.7.6]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Happiness is thought to stand in perfect rest; for we toil that we may rest, and war that we may be at peace.
[tr. Chase (1847), ch. 6]

It would seem that happiness is the very antithesis of a busy life, in that it is compatible with perfect leisures. And it is with such leisure in view that a busy life is always led, exactly as war is only waged for the sake of ultimate peace.
[tr. Williams (1869)]

The end of labor is to gain leisure.
[in Ballou, Treasury of Thought (1872)]

Happiness is thought to depend on leisure; for we are busy that we may have leisure, and make war that we may live in peace.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

Happiness is thought to involve leisure; for we do business in order that we may have leisure, and carry on war in order that we may have peace.
[tr. Rackham (1934)]

Happiness seems to reside in leisure, since we do unleisured things in order to be at leisure, and wage war in order to live in peace.
[tr. Reeve (1948)]

Happiness is thought to depend on leisure; for we toil for the sake of leisurely activity, and we are at war for the sake of peaceful activity.
[tr. Apostle (1975)]

Happiness seems to depend on leisure, because we work to have leisure, and wage war to live in peace.
[tr. Crisp (2000)]

[Because], happiness seems to reside in leisure, we labor [sacrifice leisure] so that we may have leisure.
[tr. @sentantiq (2018)]

 
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When you jump for joy, beware that no one moves the ground from beneath your feet.

[Gdy z radości podskoczysz do góry, uważaj, by ci ktoś ziemi spod nóg nie usunął.]

Stanislaw Lec (1909-1966) Polish aphorist, poet, satirist
Unkempt Thoughts [Myśli nieuczesane] (1957) [tr. Gałązka (1962)]
    (Source)
 
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Consequently, happiness is not found in amusement, for it would be also absurd to maintain that the end of man is amusement and that men work and suffer all their life for the sake of amusement. For, in short, we choose everything for the sake of something else, except happiness, since happiness is the end of a man. So to be serious and work hard for the sake of amusement appears foolish and very childish, but to amuse oneself for the sake of serious work seems, as Anacharsis put it, to be right; for amusement is like relaxation, and we need relaxation since we cannot keep on working hard continuously. Thus amusement is not the end, for it is chosen for the sake of serious activity.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 10, ch. 6, sec. 6 (10.6.6) / 1176b.28ff (c. 325 BC) [tr. Apostle (1975)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Happiness then stands not in amusement; in fact the very notion is absurd of the End being amusement, and of one’s toiling and enduring hardness all one’s life long with a view to amusement: for everything in the world, so to speak, we choose with some further End in view, except Happiness, for that is the End comprehending all others. Now to take pains and to labour with a view to amusement is plainly foolish and very childish: but to amuse one’s self with a view to steady employment afterwards, as Anacharsis says, is thought to be right: for amusement is like rest, and men want rest because unable to labour continuously. Rest, therefore, is not an End, because it is adopted with a view to Working afterwards.
[tr. Chase (1847), ch. 5]

And, hence it follows, that happiness does not consist in mere amusement. For, it is inconceivable that amusement should be the end and consummation of everything, and that a man should endure a lifetime of labour and suffering, with nothing higher than amusement in view. And this would be the case, were happiness identical with mere amusement. For there is, indeed, nothing whatever upon earth which we do not choose for the sake of something else beyond itself, with the one exception of happiness -- happiness being the one end of all things els. Now, that all earnestness and toil should tend to no higher end than mere amusement, is a view of life which is worse than childish, and fit only for a fool. But the saying of Anacharsis, "play makes us fit for work," would seem to be well spoken; for it would seem that amusement is a species of rest, and that men stand in need of rest, inasmuch as continuous exertion is not possible. And, hence, rest cannot be an end in itself, inasmuch as it is only sought with view to subsequent action.
[tr. Williams (1869)]

Happiness then does not consist in amusement. It would be paradoxical to hold that the end of human life is amusement, and that we should toil and suffer all our life for the sake of amusing ourselves. For we may be said to desire all things as means to something else except indeed happiness, as happiness is the end or perfect state. It appears to be foolish and utterly childish to take serious trouble and pains for the sake of amusement. But to amuse oneself with a view to being serious seems to be right, as Anacharsis says; for amusement is a kind of relaxation, and it is because we cannot work for ever that we need relaxation. Relaxation then is not an end. We enjoy it as a means to activity.
[tr. Welldon (1892)]

Happiness, therefore, does not consist in amusement; and indeed it is absurd to suppose that the end is amusement, and that we toil and moil all our life long for the sake of amusing ourselves. We may say that we choose everything for the sake of something else, excepting only happiness; for it is the end. But to be serious and to labour for the sake of amusement seems silly and utterly childish; while to amuse ourselves in order that we may be serious, as Anacharsis says, seems to be right; for amusement is a sort of recreation, and we need recreation because we are unable to work continuously. Recreation, then, cannot be the end; for it is taken as a means to the exercise of our faculties.
[tr. Peters (1893), 10.6.6]

Happiness, therefore, does not lie in amusement; it would, indeed, be strange if the end were amusement, and one were to take trouble and suffer hardship all one's life in order to amuse oneself. For, in a word, everything that we choose we choose for the sake of something else -- except happiness, which is an end. Now to exert oneself and work for the sake of amusement seems silly and utterly childish. But to amuse oneself in order that one may exert oneself, as Anacharsis puts it, seems right; for amusement is a sort of relaxation, and we need relaxation because we cannot work continuously. Relaxation, then, is not an end; for it is taken for the sake of activity.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

It follows therefore that happiness is not to be found in amusements. Indeed it would be strange that amusement should be our End -- that we should toil and moil all our life long in order that we may amuse ourselves. For virtually every object we adopt is pursued as a means to something else, excepting happiness, which is an end in itself; to make amusement the object of our serious pursuits and our work seems foolish and childish to excess: Anacharsis' motto, Play in order that you may work, is felt to be the right rule. For amusement is a form of rest; but we need rest because we are not able to go on working without a break, and therefore it is not an end, since we take it as a means to further activity.
[tr. Rackham (1934)]

Hence happiness does not lie in amusement, since it would indeed be strange if the end were amusement and we did all the work we do and suffered evil all our live for the sake of amusing ourselves. For, in a word, we choose everything -- except happiness, since end it is -- for the sake of something else. But to engage in serious matters and to labor for the sake of amusement would evidently be silly and utterly childish. On the contrary, "amusing ourselves so as to engage in serious matters," as Anacharsis puts it, seems to be correct. For amusement is like relaxation, and it is because people cannot labor continuously that they need relaxation. End, then, relaxation is not, since it occurs for the sake of activity.
[tr. Reeve (1948)]

It follows that happiness does not consist in amusement. Indeed, it would be paradoxical if the end were amusement; if we toiled and suffered all our lives long to amuse ourselves. For we choose practically everything for the sake of something else, except happiness, because it is the end. To spend effort and toil for the sake of amusement seems silly and unduly childish; but on the other hand the maxim of Anacharsis, "Play to work harder," seems to be on the right lines, because amusement is a form of relaxation, and people need relaxation because they cannot exert themselves continuously. Therefore relaxation is not an end, because it is taken for the sake of activity.
[tr. Thomson/Tredennick (1976)]

Happiness, then, is not found in amusement, for it would be absurd if the end were amusement, and our lifelong efforts and sufferings aimed at amusing ourselves. For we choose practically everything for some other end -- except for happiness, since it is the end; but serious work and toil amed only at amusement appears stupid and excessively childish. Rather, it seems correct to amuse ourselves so that we can do something serous, as Anacharsis says; for amusement would seem to be relaxation, and it is because we cannot toil continuously that we require relaxation. Relaxation, then, is not the end, since we pursue it to prepare for activity.
[tr. Irwin/Fine (1995)]

Happiness, then, does not consist in amusement, because it would be absurd if our end were amusement, and we laboured and suffered all of our lives for the sake of amusing ourselves. For we choose virtually everything for the sake of something else, except happiness, since it is the end; but serious work and exertion for the sake of amusement is manifestly foolish and extremely childish. Rather, as Anacharsis puts it, what seems correct is amusing ourselves so that we can engage in some serious work, since amusement is like relaxation, and we need relaxation because we cannot continuously exert ourselves. Relaxation, then, is not an end, since it occurs for the sake of activity.
[tr. Crisp (2000)]

 
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The things that make a life of ease,
Dear Martial, are such things as these:
Wealth furnished not by work but birth,
A grateful farm, a blazing hearth,
No lawsuit, seldom formal dress;
But leisure, stalwart healthiness,
A tactful candour, equal friends,
Glad guests at board which naught pretends,
No drunken nights, but sorrow free,
A bed of joy yet chastity;
Sleep that makes darkness fly apace,
So well content with destined place,
Unenvious so as not to fear
Your final day, nor wish it near.

[Vitam quae faciant beatiorem,
Iucundissime Martialis, haec sunt:
Res non parta labore, sed relicta;
Non ingratus ager, focus perennis;
Lis numquam, toga rara, mens quieta;
Vires ingenuae, salubre corpus;
Prudens simplicitas, pares amici;
Convictus facilis, sine arte mensa;
Nox non ebria, sed soluta curis;
Non tristis torus, et tamen pudicus;
Somnus, qui faciat breves tenebras:
Quod sis, esse velis nihilque malis;
Summum nec metuas diem nec optes.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 47 (10.47) (AD 95, 98 ed.) [tr. Duff (1929)]
    (Source)

To his friend, Julius Martialis. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Martial, the things that do attain
The happy life, be these, I find:
The riches left, not got with pain;
the fruitful ground, the quiet mind:
the equal friend, no grudge, no strife;
No charge of rule, nor governance;
Without disease, the healthful life;
The household of continuance:
The mean diet, no delicate fare;
True wisdom join'd with simpleness;
The night discharged of all care,
Where wine the wit may not oppress:
The faithful wife, without debate;
Such sleeps as may beguile the night.
Contented with thine own estate;
Ne wish for Death, ne Fear his might.
[tr. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1557)]

The Things that make the happier life, are these,
Most pleasant Martial; Substance got with ease,
Not labour'd for, but left thee by thy Sire;
A Soyle, not barren, a continewall fire;
Never at law; seldome in office gown'd;
A quiet mind; free powers; and body sound;
A wise simplicity; freindes alike-stated;
Thy table without art, and easy-rated:
Thy night not dronken, but from cares layd wast;
No sowre, or sollen bed-mate, yet a Chast;
Sleepe, that will make the darkest howres swift-pac't;
Will to bee, what thou art; and nothing more:
Nor feare thy latest day, nor wish therfore.
[tr. Jonson (1640)]

The things that make a life to please
(Sweetest Martiall), they are these:
Estate inherited, not got:
A thankful field, hearth always hot:
City seldom, law-suits never:
Equal friends agreeing ever:
Health of body, peace of mind:
Sleeps that till the morning bind:
Wise simplicity, plain fare:
Not drunken nights, yet loosed from care:
A sober, not a sullen spouse:
Clean strength, not such as his that plows;
Wish only what you are, to be;
Death neither wish, nor fear to see.
[tr. Fanshawe (1648)]

Those things which make life truly blest,
Sweetest Martial hear exprest:
Wealth left, and not from Labour growing;
A gratefull soyl, a Hearth still glowing;
No Strife, small Business, Peace of Mind,
Quick Wit, a Body well inclin'd,
Wise Innocence, Friends of one Hart,
Cheap Food, a Table without Art;
Nights which nor Cares, nor Surfets know,
No dull, yet a chaste Bedfellow;
Sleeps which the tedious Hours contract;
Be what thou mayst be, nor exact
ought more; nor thy last Hour of Breath
Fear, nor with wishes hasten Death.
[tr. Sherburne (1651)]

Most pleasant Martial these are they
That make the happyer life and day,
Means not sweat for, but resign'd,
Fire wihtout end, fields still in kinde,
No strife, no office, inward peace,
Free strength, a body sans disease,
A prudent plainesse, equal friends,
Cheap Cates, not scraped from the world's ends,
A night not drown'd, but free from care,
Sheets never sad, and yet chast are,
Sleep that makes hsort the shades of night,
Art such thou would'st be, if there might
A choice be offer'd, nor dost fear
Nor wish thy last dayes exit here.
[tr. Fletcher (1656)]

Since, dearest Friend! 'tis your desire to see
A true receipt of happiness from me;
These are the chief ingredients, if not all:
Take an estate neither too great, nor small
Which quantum sufficit the doctors call.
Let this estate from parents' care descend;
The getting it too much of life does spend.
Take such a ground, whose gratitude may be
A fair encouragement for industry.
Let constant fires the winter's fury take,
And let thy kitchen's be a vestal flame.
Thee to the town let never suit at law,
And rarely, very rarely, business draw.
They active mind in equal temper keep,
in undisturbed peace, yet not in sleep.
Let exercise a vigorous health maintain,
Without which all the composition's vain.
In the same weight prudence and innocence take;
And of each does the just mixture make.
But a few friendships wear, and let them be
By nature and by fortune fit for thee.
Instead of art and luxury in food,
Let mirth and freedom make thy table good.
If any cares into the daytime creep,
At night, without wine's opium, let them sleep,
Let rest, which nature does to darkness wed,
And not lust, recommend to thee thy bed.
Be satisfied, and pleas'd with what thou art;
Act cheerfully and well th' allotted part;
Enjoy the present hour, be thankful for the past,
And neither fear, nor with th' approaches of the last.
[tr. Cowley (1656)]

What things our Life do happy make
From me, my sweetest Martial, take.
A left Estate, not got with pain;
A fruitfull Field, that swells with grain;
A Kitching, that is ever warm;
Life free from Quarrels and from Harm.
Rarely to be concern;d with State,
Never to have Law-sutes , or debate;
But on the Mind Content to wait.
The Strength intire and Body sound,
And Innocence with Prudence crown'd:
An Equal and a Faithfull Friend,
Discourse, that may in Pleasure end,
Nor Feasts, that may to Riot tend.
No drunken Nights, yet such, as may
Wash off the sully of the Day.
No lonely Bed, yet One, that's chast;
And Sleep, that tedious Nights may wast.
With what we have to be Content,
Nor, what we have not, to resent:
Not fear our last approaching Day,
And yet not rashly fling our Life away.
[tr. Heyrick (1691)]

To make my life of all mens happyest,
Sweet Martiall, I w'ld bee wit these things blest:
A good Estate, nott gott with mine own toyle,
But by Descent: plac'd in a fruitfull soyle:
Well woodded, that may constant fyres mayntayne:
No private Suites: few publicke Cares: A Brayne
Untroubled: Body healthfull; active, strong;
Harmeless, butt prudent, in converse; among
Few friends of my owne rank: No curious Fare,
Butt wholesome: Nights, nott drunke, butt free from Care
A Wife though chast yett frolick in my Bedd:
Sound sleepe all Night to seize my drowsy head;
Wish to bee what thou art, and wish no higher:
And thy last End nor feare, nor yett desire.
[British Library MS Add. 27343 (17th C)]

Pleas'd alway with the lot my fates assign,
Let me no change desire, no change decline;
With every turn of Providence comply,
Not tir'd with life, nor yet afraid to die.
[tr. Fenton (c. 1725)]

Of things that heighten human bliss,
The sum, sweet Martial, may be this.
A freehold, not amast by care;
But dropt on a deserving heir:
A soil, that ev'ry culture pays,
A hearth, with never-dying blaze:
No contest, and but little court;
A quiet mind, her own support:
A gale, to fan ingenuous flame;
Exertion, to enforce the frame:
Simplicity, that wisdom blends;
Equality, the bond of friends:
An easy converse, artless board,
With all the little needfull stor'd:
A night not soaking, care effac'd;
A couch not dismal, always chaste:
Sleep stealing o'er the gloom so sweet,
That evening bids and morning meet.
content, which nought beyond aspires;
And death nor dreads, nor yet desires.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 2.47]

Pleas'd with thy present lot, not grudging at the past
Nor fearing when thy time shall come, nor hoping for thy last.
[tr. Somerville (<1858)]

The requisites for a happy life are the following: competency inherited and not acquired by labour; productive land, a hearth with never lacks a fire; total absence of litigation; rare occasion for the toga; a quiet mind; unimpaired physical vigour; health of body; prudent simplicity; friends that are, in all respects, your equal; familiar society; a table devoid fo art; nights, not of revelling, but of freedom from cares; a couch not sad nor licentious; sleep, which curtails the time of darkness; to be exactly what you wish to be; preferring no other condition to your own; neither to dread nor to long for your last hour.
[tr. Amos (1858); includes a variety of commentary]

The things that make life happy, dearest Martial, are these: wealth not gained by labour, but inherited; lands that make no ill return; a hearth always warm; freedom from litigation; little need of business costume; a quiet mind; a vigorous frame; a healthy constitution; prudence without cunning; friends among our equals, and social intercourse; a table spread without luxury; nights, not of drunkenness, yet of freedom from care; a bed, not void of connubial pleasures, yet chaste; sleep, such as makes the darkness seem short; contentment with our lot, and no wish for change; and neither to fear death nor seek it.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

What makes the happiest life below,
A few plain rules, my friend, will show.
A good estate not earn'd with toil,
But left by will, or giv'n by fate;
A land of no ungrateful soil,
A constant fire within your grate:
No law; few cares; a quiet mind;
Strength unimpair'd, a healthful frame;
Wisdom with innocence combin'd;
Friends equal both in years and fame;
Your living easy, and your board
With food, but not with luxury stored
A Bed, though chaste, not solitary;
Sound sleep, to shorten night's dull reign;
Wish nothing that is yours to vary;
Think all enjoyments that remain;
And for the inevitable hour,
Nor hope it nigh, nor dread its power.
[tr. Merivale (<1871)]

These, Martial, are the things that give
A happier life than most men live.
A fortune not by labour on,
But left by father to his son;
A farm that yields no scant returns,
A hearth that ever brightly burns;
No law-suits, no heart-using cares;
A gown its owner seldom wears;
A constitution firmly knit,
And healthy frame accompanying it;
An honest canour, yet discreet,
With friends congenial and meet;
Good-natured guests your joys to share,
A pain and unpretentious fare;
No nights whose hours in revel pass,
Yet not uncheered by social glass;
A spouse of chaste yet merry sort;
Sound sleep that makes the darkness short;
A mind so well contented grown
It thinks no lot excels its own;
So blest, you neither wish nor fear
To see the closing hour draw near.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

What makes a happy life, dear friend,
If thou would'st briefly learn, attend.
An income left, not earned by toil;
Some acres of a kindly soil;
The pot unfailing on the fire;
No lawsuits; seldom town attire;
Health; strength with grace; a peaceful mind;
Shrewdness with honesty combined;
Plain living; equal friends and free;
Evenings of temperate gaiety;
A wife discreet, yet blithe and bright;
Sound slumber that lends wings to night.
With all thy heart embrace thy lot,
Wish not for death and fear it not.
[tr. Smith (1893)]

Martial, my best of friends, believe
Upon these terms ’tis good to live.
Wealth handed down, not bought by toil,
A genial hearth, a kindly soil;
Scant ceremonial, lawsuits none,
A mind a peace, a healthy tone
Of body, native strength withal,
Wise frankness, friends congenial,
Good company, a simple fare,
Of wine enough to banish care,
A bedfellow who's fondly shy,
Sound sleep to make the night go by,
Divine contentment with your lot,
Death not desired, but dreaded not.
[tr. Street (1907)]

Julius, the things that make for ease
And happiness in life are these:
Lands left me, not acquired with toil;
Unfailing fuel; kindly soil;
No suits; light work; mind void of whims;
Good constitution; healthy limbs;
Frank thoughts; plain board; congenial friends;
Meals that, with Plenty, Mirth attends;
Nights with good cheer, not drinking, sped;
A glad, but not immodest bed;
Sound sleep that makes the darkness fly;
content with life, if I be I,
Without the fear, or wish, to die.
[tr. Courthope (1914)]

The things that make life happier, most genial Martial, are these: means not acquired by labour, but bequeathed; fields not unkindly, an ever blazing hearth; no lawsuit, the toga seldom worn, a quiet mind; a free man's strength, a healthy body; frankness with tact, congenial friends, good-natured guests, a board plainly spread; nights not spent in wine, but freed from cares, a wife not prudish and yet pure; sleep such as makes the darkness brief; be content with what you are, and wish no change, nor dread your last day, nor long for it.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

The things that make a happy life,
My genial friend, are these:
A quiet dwelling free from strife,
Health, strength, a mind at ease;
Money bequeathed, not hardly won,
A blazing fire when work is done.
Ingenuous prudence, equal friends,
Bright talk and simple fare,
a farm that crops ungrudging lends,
Soberness free from care,
A wife who's chaste yet fond of sport,
And sleep that makes the night seem short.
With what you are be satisfied,
Nor let ambition range;
Contented still whate'er betide
And caring naught for change.
Pray not for death nor yet feel fear
When the last hour life draws near.
[tr. Wright (1921)]

Dear Martial, if you'ld happy be,
Here's the unfailing recipe.
An income not procured by toil,
A blazing hearth, a grateful soil,
Quiet, undress, no suit at law,
Good health and strength without a flaw,
Shrewd frankness, many a loyal heart,
Kind guests, a table void of art,
Nights careless, sober, bed that's chaste
But cheerful, sleep the night to waste;
Contented seek no other fate,
Nor wish nor fear your death to wait.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #544, "To His Cousin"]

Here are the things, dear friend, which make
Life not impossible to take:
Riches bequeathed, not won by toil;
Fire on the hearth; responsive soil;
No law suits; seldom formal dress;
A frank but wise disarmingness;
A healthy body, and a mind
Alert, but peaceably inclined;
Congenial guests; a table set
Without excessive etiquette;
Nights free from exigence and worry,
But not too bleary or too blurry;
In bed, a wife not frigid nor
Too reminiscent of a whore;
Slumber, to make the shadows swift;
Contentment with your native gift;
And, without longing or dismay,
The prospect of your final day.
[tr. Humphries (1963)]

These are the things, my handsome friend,
That make life happier to the end:
Wealth, not as an employee
Amassed, but as a legatee,
A farm responsive to my care,
A fire to warm my pensive chair,
Lawsuits never, rare the bane
Of dinner-suits, a mind that's sane,
A body sound, a shoulder free,
Not bowed by fear or slavery.
A disposition frank but kind,
Friends with me of an equal mind,
Friends who easily are led
To share my table plainly spread;
Wine at night the cares of day
To smile at and to chase away,
Fun and merriment in bed
But such as proper to those wed,
A sleep that makes the night on wings
Depart, and blessed daylight brings,
To be content with what we are,
And not to curse our natal star,
Never to fear the final day,
Never for death to hope and pray.
[tr. Marcellino (1968), "On Happiness"]

The things that make life better
are these, my good friend Julius Martial:
Money you inherit and don't have to work for,
a fruitful field, an unfailing fire,
no lawsuit in sight, being seldom obliged
to don the toga, a mind unhampered by cares,
a body in good condition, and still endowed
with the strength it always had,
deliberately living on the small scale
with friends and equals, just good company;
no fussing around with costly dinner parties,
the sort of night that cheers you up
without landing you dead drunk
on a couch that's neither prudish
nor abandoned,
and then a good long sleep
that makes the darkness short.
And this above all, to accept yourself
as you really are
and to wish for nothing more.
If you live like this, my good friend Julius Martial,
you won't either long for
or wince at
your last day on earth.
[tr. Bovie (1970)]

Friend and namesake, genial Martial, life’s
happier when you know what happiness is:
money inherited, with no need to work,
property run by experts (yours or your wife’s),
Town House properly kitchened and no bus-
iness worries, family watchdogs, legal quirks.
Hardly ever required to wear a suit,
mind relaxed and body exercised
(nothing done that’s just seen to be done),
candour matched by tact; friends by repute
won and all guests good-natured -- wise
leavers and warm stayers like the sun;
food that isn’t smart or finicky,
not too often drunk or shaking off
dolorous dreams; your appetite for sex
moderate but inventive, nights like sea-
scapes under moonlight, never rough;
don’t scare yourself with formulae, like x
equals nought, the schizophrenic quest!
What else is there? Well, two points at least --
wishing change wastes both time and breath,
life's unfair and nothing's for the best,
but having started finish off the feats --
neither dread your last day nor long for death.
[tr. Porter (1972)]

Of what does the happy life consist,
My dear friend, Julius? Here's a list:
Inherited wealth, no need to earn,
Fires that continually burn,
And fields that give a fair return,
No lawsuits, formal togas worn
Seldom, a calm mind, the freeborn
Gentleman's health and good physique,
Tact with the readiness to speak
Openly, friends of your own mind,
Guests of an easy-going kind,
Plain food, a table simply set,
Nights sober but wine-freed from fret,
A wife who's true to you and yet
No prude in bed, and sleep so sound
It makes the down come quickly round.
Be pleased with what you are, keep hope
Within that self-appointed scope;
Neither uneasily apprehend
Nor morbidly desire the end.
[tr. Michie (1972)]

Most delightful Martialis, the elements of a happy life are as follows: money not worked for but inherited; land not unproductive; a fire all the year round; lawsuits never, a gown rarely worn, a mind at peace; a gentleman's strength, a healthy body; guielessness not naive, friends of like degree, easy company, a table without frills; a night not drunken but free of cares; a marriage bed not austere and yet modest; sleep to make the dark hours short; a wish to be what you are, wish nothing better; don't fear your last day, nor yet pray for it.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

A life so blest you would put none before it?
Some money, just enough you can ignore it.
Some fertile fields on your producing farm,
And hearth ablaze within to keep you warm.
No lawsuits, no bought formal wear, no hassle.
A body trim, without a trainer's wrastle.
A mind secure, with trusting friends, not silly.
A house with taste designed, not frilly.
Nights drinking deep, but not to stupor given
A bedmate warm, but not to frenzy driven.
A sleep not enervating that renews.
A sense of what you are in all your views.
A wish to wish no other thing ahead.
Acceptance that in time you must be dead.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

My carefree Namesake, this the heart
Shall lead thee to life's happier part:
A competence inherited, not one,
Productive acres and a constant home;
No courts, few formal days, your mind stable,
A native figure in a healthy frame;
A tact in candor, friendships on a part,
Convivial courtesies, a plain table;
A night, not drunken, yet shall banish care,
A bed, not frigid, yet not one of shame;
A sleep that makes the dark hours shorter:
Prefer your state and hanker for none other,
Nor fear, nor seek to meet, your final hour.
[tr Whigham (1987), "Means to Attain"]

These, my dearest Martialis, are
the things that bring a happy life:
wealth left to you, not laboured for;
rich land, an ever-glowing hearth;
no law, light business, and a quiet mind;
a healthy body, gentlemanly powers;
a wise simplicity, friends not unlike;
good company, a table without art;
nights carefree, yet no drunkenness;
a bed that’s modest, true, and yet not cold;
sleep that makes the hours of darkness brief:
the need to be yourself, and nothing more;
not fearing your last day, not wishing it.
[tr. Kline (2006), "The Good Life"]

What constitutes a happy life?
Enough money to meet your needs
steady work
a comfortable fire
a clear distance from law
a minimum of city business
a peaceful mind and a healthy body
simple wisdom and firm friends
enjoyable dinners and plain living
nights free from care
A virtuous wife who's not a prude
enough sleep to make the darkness short
contentment with the life you have,
avoiding the sneer, the poisoned sigh;
no fear of death
and no desire to die.
[tr. Kennelly (2008), "A happy life"]

Most genial Martial, these things are
the elements that make life blessed:
money inherited, not earned;
a fire year-round, a mind at rest,
productive land, no lawsuits, togas
rarely, friends of like degree,
a gentleman's physique, sound health,
shrewd innocence, good company,
plain fair, nights carefree, yet not drunk;
a bed that's decent, not austere;
sleep, to make darkness brief desire
to be just what you are, no higher;
and death no cause for hope or fear.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

These are the things, my dearest Martial, which make life happier: possessions not gotten from labor, but left to you; a not ungrateful field, a fireplace always warm; never any strife, rarely putting on the toga, a quiet mind; inborn strength, a healthy body; wise simplicity and equal friends; easy dining, and a simple table; sober nights, but still free of cares; a bed that isn’t sad, but still with its share of modesty; sleep to make the shadows short; to wish to be what you are, and to desire nothing else; not to fear your final day, nor yet to wish for it.
[tr. @sentantiq/Robinson (2020)]

 
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Wretchedness is caused by emotional disturbances, and the happy life by calmness, and disturbance takes two forms — anxiety and fear in expecting evils, ecstatic joy and lustful thoughts in misunderstanding good things, all of which are at variance with with wisdom and reason. Accordingly, if a man possesses self-control and consistency, and is without fear, distress, excitability, or lust, is he not happy? But this is the nature of the wise man always, so he is happy always.

[Atque cum perturbationes animi miseriam, sedationes autem vitam efficiant beatam, duplexque ratio perturbationis sit, quod aegritudo et metus in malis opinatis, in bonorum autem errore laetitia gestiens libidoque versetur, quae omnia cum consilio et ratione pugnent, his tu tam gravibus concitationibus tamque ipsis inter se dissentientibus atque distractis quem vacuum solutum liberum videris, hunc dubitabis beatum dicere? atqui sapiens semper ita adfectus est; semper igitur sapiens beatus est.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 5, ch. 15 (5.15) / sec. 43 (45 BC) [tr. Davie (2017)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Now since the Disturbances of the Soul render the Life miserable, but the composure of them happy; and there is a double rank of Passions; in that, Discontent and Fear are terminated on Evils conceiv'd; but excessive Mirth and Lust arise from the misapprehension of good things, since all are inconsistent with Advice and Reason, if you shall see any one clear, emancipated, free from these emotions so vehement, so discordant one with the other, and so distracting, can you make any question of calling him Happy? But the Wise man is always so dispos'd, therefore the Wise man is always Happy.
[tr. Wase (1643)]

But as the perturbations of the mind make life miserable, and tranquility renders it happy: and as these perturbations are of two sorts; grief and fear, proceeding from imagined evils, immoderate joy and lust, from the mistake of what is good; and all these are in opposition to reason and counsel; when you see a man at ease, quite free and disengaged from such troublesome commotions, which are so much at variance with one another, can you hesitate to pronounce such a one a happy man? Now the wise man is always in such a disposition: therefore the wise man is always happy.
[tr. Main (1824)]

But when the perturbations render life unhappy, while their repose makes it happy -- and since the mode of perturbation is twofold -- sorrow and fear having birth from reputed evils -- the delirium of joy and desire, from the delusion of good, -- when all these are repugnant to counsel and reason, and you see a man void, exempt, free from these excitements, so vehement, so discordant, so distracted by mutual conflicts, -- will you hesitate to pronounce him happy? But the wise man is always thus, and therefore always happy.
[tr. Otis (1839)]

But as the perturbations of the mind make life miserable, and tranquillity renders it happy; and as these perturbations are of two sorts, grief and fear, proceeding from imagined evils, and as immoderate joy and lust arise from a mistake about what is good, and as all these feelings are in opposition to reason and counsel; when you see a man at ease, quite free and disengaged from such troublesome commotions, which are so much at variance with one another can you hesitate to pronounce such an one a happy man? Now the wise man is always in such a disposition, therefore the wise man is always happy.
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

Now since perturbations of mind create misery, while quietness of mind makes life happy, and since there are two kinds of perturbations, grief and fear having their scope in imagined evils, inordinate joy and desire in mistaken notions of the good, all being repugnant to wise counsel and reason, will you hesitate to call him happy whom you see relieved, released, free from these excitements so oppressive, and so at variance and divided among themselves? Indeed one thus disposed is always happy. Therefore the wise man is always happy.
[tr. Peabody (1886)]

 
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That person, then, whose mind is quiet through consistency and self-control, who finds contentment in himself, and neither breaks down in adversity nor crumbles in fright, nor burns with any thirsty need nor dissolves into wild and futile excitement, that person is the wise one we are seeking, and that person is happy.

[Ergo hic, quisquis est, qui moderatione et constantia quietus animo est sibique ipse placatus, ut nec tabescat molestiis nec frangatur timore nec sitienter quid expetens ardeat desiderio nec alacritate futtili gestiens deliquescat, is est sapiens quem quaerimus, is est beatus.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Tusculan Disputations [Tusculanae Disputationes], Book 4, ch. 17 (4.17) / sec. 37 (45 BC) [tr. Graver (2002)]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

He therefore, call him by what name you will, who through Moderation and Constancy, hath quiet of mind, and is at Peace with himself; so as neither to fret out of Discontent, nor to be confounded with Fear, who neither is inflam'd with an impatient longing after any thing, nor ravish'd out of himself into the Fools Paradice of an empty Mirth; this is the wise man, after whom we are in quest; this the Happy man.
[tr. Wase (1643)]

Whoever then, through moderation and consistency, is at rest in his mind, and in calm possession of himself, so as neither to pine with care, nor be dejected with fear, neither to be inflamed with desire, nor dissolved by extravagant joy, such a one is the very wise man we enquire after, the happy man.
[tr. Main (1824)]

Therefore the man, whoever he is, who has quiet of mind, through moderation and constancy, and thus at peace with himself, is neither corroded with cares, nor crippled by fear; and, thirsting for nothing impatiently, is exempt from the fires of desire, and, dizzied by the fumes of no futile felicity, reels with no riotous joy: this is the wise man we seek: this man is happy.
[tr. Otis (1839)]

Whoever, then, through moderation and constancy, is at rest in his mind, and in calm possession of himself, so as neither to pine with care, nor be dejected with fear, nor to be inflamed with desire, coveting something greedily, nor relaxed by extravagant mirth, -- such a man is that identical wise man whom we are inquiring for, he is the happy man.
[tr. Yonge (1853)]

Whoever then has his mind kept in repose by moderation and firmness, and is at peace with himself so that he is neither wasted by troubles nor broken down by fear, nor burns with longing in his thirsty quest of some object of desire, nor flows out in the demonstration of empty joy, is the wise man whom we seek; he is the happy man.
[tr. Peabody (1886)]

 
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Despair says It’s all the same. Happiness knows there are even a thousand Despairs.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
“Vectors: 56 Aphorisms and Ten-second Essays,” Michigan Quarterly Review, # 50 (Spring 1999)
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there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
you.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
“The Bluebird”
    (Source)
 
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Whoever increases the sum of human joy, is a worshipper.

He who adds to the sum of human misery, is a blasphemer.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
Speech to the Jury, Trial of C. B. Reynolds for Blasphemy, Morristown, New Jersey (May 1887)
    (Source)
 
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I never will believe that our youngest days are our happiest. What a miserable augury for the progress of the race and the destination of the individual, if the more matured and enlightened state is the less happy one! Childhood is only the beautiful and happy time in contemplation and retrospect: to the child it is full of deep sorrows, the meaning of which is unknown.

George Eliot (1819-1880) English novelist [pseud. of Mary Ann Evans]
Letter to Sara Hennell (May 1844)
    (Source)
 
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Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
(Attributed)
 
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It may be confidently asserted that no man chooses evil, because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks.

Wollstonecraft - No man chooses evil because it is evil - wist.info quote

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) English social philosopher, feminist, writer
A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790)
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but whotthehell archy whotthehell
jamais triste archy jamais triste
that is my motto.

Don Marquis (1878-1937) American journalist and humorist
archy and mehitabel, “mehitabel sees paris” (1927)
    (Source)

"Jamais triste" means "never sad" in French.
 
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