Quotations about   optimism

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Every observation of history inspires a confidence that we shall not go far wrong; that things will mend.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“The Young American” (1844)
Added on 6-Mar-19 | Last updated 6-Mar-19
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When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession — as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life — will be recognised for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.

But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. For only they can lead us out of the tunnel of economic necessity into daylight.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
“Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren” (1930)
Added on 14-Feb-17 | Last updated 14-Feb-17
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DRUMLIN: I know you must think this is all very unfair. Maybe that’s an understatement. What you don’t know is I agree. I wish the world was a place where fair was the bottom line, where the kind of idealism you showed at the hearing was rewarded, not taken advantage of. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world.

ARROWAY: Funny, I’ve always believed that the world is what we make of it.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996) American scientist and writer
Contact, film (1997) [screenplay by J. Hart and M. Goldenberg
Added on 11-Nov-16 | Last updated 11-Nov-16
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While there is a chance of the world getting through its troubles I hold that a reasonable man has to behave as though he was sure of it. If at the end your cheerfulness is not justified, at any rate you will have been cheerful.

wells-you-will-have-been-cheerful-wist-info-quote

H.G. Wells (1866-1946) British writer [Herbert George Wells]
Apropos of Dolores (1938)
Added on 16-Sep-16 | Last updated 16-Sep-16
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By concentrating on what is good in people, by appealing to their idealism and their sense of justice, and by asking them to put their faith in the future, socialists put themselves at a severe disadvantage.

Ian McEwan (b. 1948) English novelist and screenwriter
City Limits (London, May 27, 1983)
Added on 16-Aug-16 | Last updated 16-Aug-16
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One day I sat thinking, almost in despair; a hand fell on my shoulder and a voice said reassuringly: cheer up, things could get worse. So I cheered up and, sure enough, things got worse.

Other Authors and Sources
James Haggerty (1909-1981) Press Secretary to President Eisenhower
Added on 9-Aug-16 | Last updated 9-Aug-16
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Hope for the best.
Expect the worst.
The world’s a stage.
We’re unrehearsed.

Brooks - were unrehearsed - wist_info quote

Mel Brooks (b. 1926) American comedic actor, writer, producer [b. Melvyn Kaminsky]
The Twelve Chairs, “Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst”, chorus (1970)
Added on 20-Jul-16 | Last updated 20-Jul-16
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On a recent Sunday evening, Theo came up with an aphorism: the bigger you think, the crappier it looks. Asked to explain he said, “When we go on about the big things, the political situation, global warming, world poverty, it all looks really terrible, with nothing getting better, nothing to look forward to. But when I think small, closer in — you know, a girl I’ve just met, or this song we’re going to do with Chas, or snowboarding next month, then it looks great. So this is going to be my motto — think small.”

Ian McEwan (b. 1948) English novelist and screenwriter
Saturday (2005)
Added on 5-Jul-16 | Last updated 5-Jul-16
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There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?

Erin Hanson (b. 1996) Australian poet
“There is freedom waiting for you”
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Added on 4-May-16 | Last updated 4-May-16
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“Life is like a sewer — what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.” It’s always seemed to me that this is precisely the sort of dynamic, positive thinking that we so desperately need today in these trying times of crisis and universal brouhaha.

Tom Lehrer (b. 1928) American mathematician, satirist, songwriter
Introduction to “We Will All Go Together When We Go,” An Evening (Wasted) with Tom Lehrer (1959)
Added on 3-Mar-16 | Last updated 3-Mar-16
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What was impossible yesterday is an accomplishment today — while tomorrow heralds the unbelievable.

Fansler - tomorrow - wist_info quote

Percival E. Fansler (1883-1937) American engineer, businessman, entrepreneur
Speech, First Scheduled Commercial Airline Flight, St. Petersburg, Florida (1 Jan 1914)
Added on 3-Dec-15 | Last updated 3-Dec-15
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My faith in the future rests squarely on the belief that man, if he doesn’t first destroy himself, will find new answers in the universe, new technologies, new disciplines, which will contribute to a vastly different and better world in the twenty-first century. Recalling what has happened in my short lifetime in the fields of communication and transportation and the life sciences, I marvel at the pessimists who tell us that we have reached the end of our productive capacity, who project a future of primarily dividing up what we now have and making do with less. To my mind the single essential element on which all discoveries will be dependent is human freedom.

Barry Goldwater (1909-1998) American politician
With No Apologies (1979)
Added on 3-Dec-15 | Last updated 3-Dec-15
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Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.

G. B. Stern (1890-1973) British writer [Gladys Bronwyn Stern]
(Attributed)
Added on 13-Apr-15 | Last updated 13-Apr-15
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Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
“Optimism” (1903)
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Added on 16-Mar-15 | Last updated 16-Mar-15
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If I should try to say anew the creed of the Optimist, I should say something like this: “I believe in God, I believe in Man, I believe in the power of the spirit, I believe we should so act that we may draw nearer and more near the age when no man shall live at his ease while another suffers.”

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
“Optimism” (1903)
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Added on 9-Mar-15 | Last updated 9-Mar-15
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It is a mistake always to contemplate the good and ignore the evil, because by making people neglectful it lets in disaster. There is a dangerous optimism of ignorance and indifference.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
“Optimism” (1903)
    (Source)
Added on 2-Mar-15 | Last updated 2-Mar-15
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We [Americans] cheerfully assume that in some mystic way love conquers all, that good outweighs evil in the just balances of the universe and that at the eleventh hour something gloriously triumphant will prevent the worst before it happens.

Brooks Atkinson (1894-1984) American drama critic and journalist
Once Around the Sun, “January” (1951)
Added on 12-Feb-14 | Last updated 12-Feb-14
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When you face the sun, the shadows always fall behind you.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
(Attributed)

Variant: "Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow." Keller experts at the American Federation for the Blind have been unable to find a source for this quotation.
Added on 28-Oct-13 | Last updated 16-Jun-14
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There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist, except an old optimist.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook, 22 Dec 1903 [ed. Paine (1935)]
Added on 5-Jan-12 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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To the question whether I am a pessimist or an optimist, I answer that my knowledge is pessimistic, but my willing and hoping are optimistic.

Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) Alsatian theologian, philosopher, physician, philanthropist
Out of My Life and Thought, An Autobiography, Epilogue (1933) [tr. Campion]

See also Gramsci.
Added on 5-Apr-11 | Last updated 14-May-18
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An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it is also more nourishing.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
A Little Book in C Major (1916)

He later changed this to "... concludes that it will also make better soup." (A Book of Burlesques (1924); also attributed to Chrestomathy.)
Added on 16-Nov-07 | Last updated 1-Dec-14
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Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail. I try to increase the power God has given me to see the best in everything and every one, and make that Best a part of my life.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) American author and lecturer
“Optimism,” part 1 (1903)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Feb-15
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Don’t ever become a pessimist, Ira; a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun — and neither can stop the march of events.

Robert A. Heinlein (1909-1988) American writer
Time Enough for Love [Lazarus Long] (1973)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-May-15
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Every child comes with the message that God is not yet tired of the man.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) Indian Bengali poet, philosopher [a.k.a. Rabi Thakur, Kabiguru]
Stray Birds (1916)

Alt. trans.: "Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Feb-17
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