Quotations about   self-control

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Love, you tyrant!
To what extremes won’t you compel our hearts?

[Improbe Amor, quid non mortalia pectora cogis!]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 4, l. 412 (4.412) (29-19 BC) [tr. Fagles (2006), ll. 518-19]
    (Source)

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

All-pow'rful Love! what changes canst thou cause
In human hearts, subjected to thy laws!
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

Unrelenting love, how irresistible is they sway over the minds of mortals!
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

Curst love! what lengths of tyrant scorn
Wreak'st not on those of woman born?
[tr. Conington (1866)]

Accursèd power of love, what mortal hearts
Dost thou not force to obey thee!
[tr. Cranch (1872), ll. 544-45]

Injurious Love, to what dost thou not compel mortal hearts!
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

O evil Love, where wilt thou not drive on a mortal breast?
[tr. Morris (1900)]

O tyrant love, so potent to subdue!
[tr. Taylor (1907), st. 53, l. 473]

Relentless Love,
to what mad courses may not mortal hearts
by thee be driven?
[tr. Williams (1910), l. 409ff]

O tyrant Love, to what dost thou not drive the hearts of men!
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

There is nothing to which the hearts of men and women
Cannot be driven by love.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

Excess of love, to what lengths you drive our human hearts!
[tr. Day Lewis (1952)]

Voracious Love, to what do you not drive
the hearts of men?
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971), ll. 566-67]

Unconscionable Love,
To what extremes will you not drive our hearts!
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981), ll. 571-72]

Love is a cruel master. There are no lengths to which it does not force the human heart.
[tr. West (1990)]

Cruel Love, what do you not force human hearts to bear?
[tr. Lombardo (2005)]

Cursed love, you make us stoop to anything.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

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’Tis true. O heaven, were man
But constant, he were perfect; that one error
Fills him with faults, makes him run through all th’ sins;
Inconstancy falls off ere it begins.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 5, sc. 4, l. 118ff [Proteus] (c. 1590)
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Try to remember this: what you project
Is what you will perceive; what you perceive
With any passion, be it love or terror,
May take on whims and powers of its own.

Richard Wilbur
Richard Wilbur (1921-2017) American poet, literary translator
“Walking to Sleep” (1967)
    (Source)

Published in <>The New Yorker (23 Dec 1967).
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The first thing to do when you are upset is to notice that you are. You begin by mastering your emotions and determining not to go any further. With this superior sort of caution you can put a quick end to your anger.

[El primer paso del apasionarse es advertir que se apasiona, que es entrar con señorío del afecto, tanteando la necesidad hasta tal punto de enojo, y no más. Con esta superior refleja entre y salga en una ira.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 155 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]
    (Source)

(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translation:

The first step towards getting into a passion is to announce that you are in a passion. By this means you begin the conflict with command over your temper, for one has to regulate one's passion to the exact point that is necessary and no further. This is the art of arts in falling into and getting out of a rage.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

Added on 11-Apr-22 | Last updated 11-Apr-22
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I can resist everything except temptation.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
Lady Windermere’s Fan, Act 1 [Lord Darlington] (1893)
    (Source)

Also attributed to Mark Twain, Mae West, and W. C. Fields. The sentiment may not be original to Wilde, but his use popularized it.
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There are many people who can exercise virtue in their own affairs, but are unable to do so in their relations with others. This is why the aphorism of Bias, “Office will reveal the man”, seems a good one, since an official is, by virtue of his position, engaged with other people and the community at large.

[πολλοὶ γὰρ ἐν μὲν τοῖς οἰκείοις τῇ ἀρετῇ δύνανται χρῆσθαι, ἐν δὲ τοῖς πρὸς ἕτερον ἀδυνατοῦσιν. καὶ διὰ τοῦτο εὖ δοκεῖ ἔχειν τὸ τοῦ Βίαντος, ὅτι ἀρχὴ ἄνδρα δείξει: πρὸς ἕτερον γὰρ καὶ ἐν κοινωνίᾳ ἤδη ὁ ἄρχων.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 5, ch. 1 (5.1.15-16) / 1129b.33ff (c. 325 BC) [tr. Crisp (2000)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

I mean, there are many who can practise virtue in the regulation of their own personal conduct who are wholly unable to do it in transactions with their neighbour. And for this reason that saying of Bias is thought to be a good one, “Rule will show what a man is;” for he who bears Rule is necessarily in contact with others, i.e., in a community.
[tr. Chase (1847), ch. 2]

For many there be who can make good use of their virtue in their own matters, but not towards their fellow-man. And, hence, Bias would seem to have said well, saying that, "It is authority that shows the man." For whosoever is in authority stands ipso facto in relation to his fellow-man, in that he is a fellow-member of the body politic.
[tr. Williams (1869)]

For there are many people who are capable of exhibiting virtue at home, but incapable of exhibiting it in relation to their neighbors. Accordingly there seems to be good sense in saying of Bias that "office will reveal a man," for one who is in office is at once brought into relation and association with others.
[tr. Welldon (1892)]

For there are many who can be virtuous enough at home, but fail in dealing with their neighbours. This is the reason why people commend the saying of Bias, “Office will show the man;” for he that is in office ipso facto stands in relation to others, and has dealings with them.
[tr. Peters (1893)]

For many men can exercise virtue in their own affairs, but not in their relations to their neighbour. This is why the saying of Bias is thought to be true, that "rule will show the man"; for a ruler is necessarily in relation to other men and a member of a society.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

For there are many who can practise virtue in their own private affairs but cannot do so in their relations with another. This is why we approve the saying of Bias, "Office will show a man"; for in office one is brought into relation with others and becomes a member of a community.
[tr. Rackham (1934)]

For many people are able to use their virtue in what properly belongs to themselves, but unable to do so in issues relating to another person. And this is why Bias' saying, "ruling office shows forth the man," seems good, since a ruler is automatically in relation to another person and in a community with him.
[tr. Reeve (1948)]

I say this because there are plenty of people who can behave uprightly in their own affairs, but are incapable of doing so in relation to somebody else. That is why Bias's saying "Office will reveal the man" is felt to be valid; because an official is eo ipso in relation to, and associated with, somebody else.
[tr. Thomson/Tredennick (1976)]

For many people are able to use virtue in dealing with the members of their household, but in their affairs together regarding another, they are unable to do so. And on this account, the saying of Bias seems good, that "office will show the man." For he who rules is already in relation to another and within the community.
[tr. Bartlett/Collins (2011)]

Added on 15-Feb-22 | Last updated 15-Feb-22
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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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I understand there’s a guy inside me who wants to lay in bed, smoke weed all day, and watch cartoons and old movies. My whole life is a series of stratagems to avoid, and outwit, that guy.

Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain (1956-2018) American chef, author, travel documentarian
(Attributed)
Added on 30-Jul-21 | Last updated 30-Jul-21
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Just as most soldiers believe bullets will hit only others, not themselves, most citizens like to think that their own minds and thought processes are invulnerable. “Other people can be manipulated, but not me,” they declare. People like to think that their opinions, values and ideas are inviolate and totally self-regulated. They may admit grudgingly that they are influenced slightly by advertising. Beyond that, they want to preserve a myth in which other persons are weak-minded and easily influenced, but they are strong-minded.

Margaret Singer (1921-2003) American clinical psychologist and researcher
“The ‘Not Me’ Myth: Orwell and the Mind,” Idea (19 Jan 1996)
    (Source)
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The world belongs to the enthusiast who keeps cool.

William McFee (1881-1966) English writer
Casuals of the Sea, Book 1, ch. 13 (1916)
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I must learn to love the fool in me, the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of human aliveness, humility, and dignity, but for my fool.

Theodore Isaac Rubin (1923-2019) American psychiatrist and author
Love Me, Love My Fool (1976)

Sometimes quoted in the second person.
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From the simple observation that mental illness is marked by odd behavior flows a host of problems. For nothing seems clearer than that we are responsible for our behavior; from there, it seems only a small step to the conclusion that a disease characterized by strange behavior must be a disease under our control. And so we appeal to willpower in the devout belief that we can think our way to mental health. We advise the victim of depression to look on the bright side; we tell the person in the midst of a sky-high manic episode to take a deep breath and calm down. When it comes to mental illness, we are all Christian Scientists.

Edward Dolnick (b. 1952) American writer
Madness on the Couch, ch. 18 (1998)
    (Source)
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A man does as he is when he can do what he wants.

(Other Authors and Sources)
English proverb
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Age is truly a time of heroic helplessness. One is confronted by one’s own incorrigibility. I am always saying to myself, “Look at you, and after a lifetime of trying.” I still have the vices that I have known and struggled with — well it seems like since birth. Many of them are modified, but not much. I can neither order nor command the hubbub of my mind.

Florida Scott-Maxwell (1883-1979) American-British playwright, author, psychologist
The Measure of My Days (1968)
    (Source)
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The man who is master of his passions is Reason’s slave.

Cyril Connolly (1903-1974) English intellectual, literary critic and writer.
(Attributed)
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For nothing is more blamefull to a Knight,
That court’sie doth as well as armes professe,
However strong and fortunate in fight,
Then the reproch of pride and cruelnesse:
In vain he seeketh others to suppresse,
Who hath not learned himself first to subdue:
All flesh is frayle and full of ficklenesse,
Subject to fortunes chance, still chaunging new;
What haps to-day to me to-morrow may to you.

Edmund Spenser (c. 1552-1599) English poet
The Faerie Queene, Book 6, canto 1, st. 41 (1590-96)
    (Source)
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If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Chinese proverb

Quoted by Amy Tan, The Kitchen God’s Wife (1992).
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For my own part, I consider the best and most finished type of man to be the person who is always ready to make allowances for others, on the ground that never a day passes without his being in fault himself, yet who keeps as clear of faults as if he never pardoned them in others.

[Atque ego optimum et emendatissimum existimo, qui ceteris ita ignoscit, tamquam ipse cotidie peccet, ita peccatis abstinet tamquam nemini ignoscat.]

Pliny the Younger (c. 61-c. 113) Roman politician, writer [Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus]
Epistles [Epistulae], Book 8, Letter 22 “To Geminus” [tr. J.B.Firth (1900)]
    (Source)

Alt. trans.: "The highest of characters, in my estimation, is his, who is as ready to pardon the moral errors of mankind, as if he were every day guilty of some himself; and at the same time as cautious of committing a fault as if he never forgave one."
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To ensure moral salvation, it is primarily necessary to depend on oneself, because in the moment of peril we are alone. And strength is not to be acquired instantaneously. He who knows that he will have to fight, prepares himself for boxing and dueling by strength and skill; he does not sit still with folded hands.

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) Italian educator, philosopher, educator, physician
The Advanced Montessori Method: Spontaneous Activity in Education, Vol. I (1917)
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There was a young belle of old Natchez
Whose garments were always in patchez.
When comment arose
On the state of her clothes,
She drawled, When Ah itchez, Ah scratchez.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“Requiem” (1938)
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All of your scholarship, all your study of Shakespeare and Wordsworth would be vain if at the same time you did not build your character and attain mastery over your thoughts and your actions.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian philosopher and nationalist [Mahatma Gandhi]
Speech to students, Agra, in Young India (19 Sep 1929)
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Industry, thrift and self-control are not sought because they create wealth, but because they create character.

Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) American lawyer, politician, US President (1925-29)
Foundations of the Republic (1926)
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Emotion, whether of ridicule, anger, or sorrow, — whether raised at a puppet show, a funeral, or a battle, — is your grandest of levelers. The man who would be always superior should be always apathetic.

Edward George Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873) English novelist and politician
Devereux, Book 2, ch. 1 (1829)
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If an American were condemned to confine his activity to his own affairs, he would be robbed of one half of his existence.

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) French writer, diplomat, politician
Democracy in America, Vol. 1, pt. 2, ch. 14 (1835)
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I would permit no man, no matter what his colour might be, to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) American educator, writer
Up from Slavery, ch. 11 (1901)
    (Source)

This has been paraphrased in various ways, and is the source of Martin Luther King, Jr's quote he attributed to Washington: "Let no man pull you so low as to make you hate him" (e.g., Stride Toward Freedom, ch. 6 (1958)). King used this or variants of this paraphrase frequently in his speeches, though it was only in his early activism that he referenced Washington by name.
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How should I be able to govern others when I don’t know how to govern myself?

François Rabelais (1494-1553) French writer, humanist, doctor
Gargantua and Pantagruel, 1.52 (1532-1552) [tr. Cohen (1955)]
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He is the true conqueror of pleasure, who can make use of it without being carried away by it, not he who abstains from it altogether.

Aristippus of Cyrene (c. 435 – c. 356 BC) Cyrenaic philosopher, Hedonist
Fragment 53
    (Source)

Alt. trans.:

  • "The one to master pleasure is not he who abstains but he who employs it without being carried away by it -- just as being a master of a ship or of a horse is not abstaining from using them, but directing them where one wishes." (Fragment 55 Mannebach) (Stob. Ecl. 3.17 17
  • "The master of pleasure is not he who abstains from it, but he who uses it without being carried away by it."
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Democracy requires both discipline and hard work. It is not easy for individuals to govern themselves. … It is one thing to gain freedom, but no one can give you the right to self-government. This you must earn for yourself by long discipline.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
Tomorrow Is Now (1963)
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I sometimes give myself excellent advice. Occasionally, I even listen to it.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Ghost Story (2011)
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If there be, in any region of the universe, an order of moral agents living in society, whose reason is strong, whose passions and inclinations are moderate, and whose dispositions are turned to virtue, to such an order of happy beings, legislation, administration, and police, with the endlessly various and complicated apparatus of politics, must be in a great measure superfluous.

James Burgh (1714-1775) British politician and writer
Political Disquisitions, Book 1 “Of Government, briefly,” ch. 1 “Government by Laws and Sanctions, why necessary” (1774)
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Whenever you feel a warmth of temper rising, check it at once, and suppress it, recollecting it will make you unhappy within yourself, and disliked by others. Nothing gives one person so great advantage over another, as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Francis Eppes (21 May 1816)
    (Source)

Often updated as "Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances."
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Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say No to oneself.

Abraham Joshua Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) Polish-American rabbi, theologian, philosopher
The Insecurity of Freedom: Essays on Human Existance, ch. 3 (1967)
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Most people are like a falling leaf that drifts and turns in the air, flutters, and falls to the ground. But a few others are like stars which travel one defined path: no wind reaches them, they have within themselves their guide and path.

Herman Hesse (1877-1962) German-born Swiss poet, novelist, painter
Siddhartha, ch 2 “Amongst the People” (1922) [tr. Rosner (1951)]
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If the people cannot govern themselves, they must be governed by somebody.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Annajanska (1919)
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Discipline should not be practiced like a rule imposed on oneself from the outside, but that it becomes an expression of one’s own will; that it is felt as pleasant, and that one slowly accustoms oneself to a kind of behavior which one would eventually miss, if one stopped practicing it.

Erich Fromm (1900-1980) American psychoanalyst and social philosopher
The Art of Loving, ch. 4 (1956)
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People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist
(Attributed)
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Further, a little self-control at the right moment may prevent much subsequent compulsion at the hands of others.

[Daß jedoch ein kleiner, an der rechten Stelle angebrachter Selbstzwang nachmals vielem Zwange von außen vorbeugt.]

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol. 1, “Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life [Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit],” “Counsels and Maxims [Paränesen und Maximen],” ch. B, § 15 (1851) [tr. Saunders (1890), 2.15]
    (Source)

Source (German). Alternate translation:

Nevertheless, a little self-restraint applied at the right place afterwards prevents much restraint from without.
[tr. Payne (1974), 2.15]

Added on 5-Nov-13 | Last updated 6-Jul-22
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If you would not be of an angry temper, then, do not feed the habit. Give it nothing to help it increase. Be quiet at first and reckon the days in which you have not been angry. I used to be angry every day; now every other day; then every third and fourth day; and if you miss it so long as thirty days, offer a of Thanksgiving to God. For habit is first weakened and then entirely destroyed.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135) Greek (Phrygian) Stoic philosopher
The Discourses, ch. 18 (c. AD 101-108)
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A man makes his inferiors his superiors by heat. […] Self-control is the rule.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Social Aims,” Letters and Social Aims (1876)
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Their mistakes are always due to lack of moderation and taking things too far, contrary to Chilon’s saying. That is, they do everything to excess: they love excessively, they hate excessively, and so on and so forth.

καὶ ἅπαντα ἐπὶ τὸ μᾶλλον καὶ σφοδρότερον ἁμαρτάνουσι, παρὰ τὸ Χιλώνειον (πάντα γὰρ ἄγαν πράττουσιν: φιλοῦσι γὰρ ἄγαν καὶ μισοῦσιν ἄγαν καὶ τἆλλα πάντα ὁμοίως), καὶ εἰδέναι ἅπαντα οἴονται καὶ διισχυρίζονται (τοῦτο γὰρ αἴτιόν ἐστιν καὶ τοῦ πάντα ἄγαν)

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Rhetoric [Ῥητορική; Ars Rhetorica], Book 2, ch. 12, sec. 14 (2.12.14) / 1389b (350 BC) [tr. Waterfield (2018)]
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Speaking of youth.

Chilon was one of "the Seven Wise Men" of Greece. His maxim was "Μηδὲν ἄγαν" ["Never go to extremes."] (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 1.41)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

  • "And all their errors are on the side of excess, and too much zeal, contrary to Chilo's rule; for they carry every thing too far. For they are extreme in their friendships, and in their hates, and in all other their actions are similarly excessive." [Source (1847)]

  • "And all their errors are on the side of excess and too great earnestness, in contravention of Chilo's rule; for the young carry everything to an excess; for their friendships are in excess, their hatreds are in excess, and they do everything else with the same degree of earnestness." [tr. Buckley (1850)]

  • "All their mistakes are on the side of excess or vehemence -- against the maxim of Chilon; they do everything too much; they loe to much, hate too much, and so in all else." [tr. Jebb (1873)]

  • "All their mistakes are in the direction of doing things excessively and vehemently. They disobey Chilon's precept by overdoing everything, they love too much and hate too much, and the same thing with everything else." [tr. Roberts (1924)]

  • "All their errors are due to excess and vehemence and their neglect of the maxim of Chilon, for they do everything to excess, love, hate, and everything else." [tr. Freese (1926)]

  • "And quite all the mistakes they make tend in the direction of excess and vehemence, in violation of the saying of Chilon, for they do all things excessively: they feel friendly affection to excess and hatred to excess, and all else similarly." [tr. Bartlett (2019)]

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More quotes by Aristotle

It is easier to suppress the first Desire than to satisfy all that follow it.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1751)
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Included in his summary piece, "The Way to Wealth" (1757).
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More quotes by Franklin, Benjamin

First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) American writer [Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald]
(Attributed)

Sometimes cited to Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, but not found there. See also Hokekyo-Sho, Piper, and this Spanish Proverb.
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What is the matter with the world that it is so out of joint? Simply that men do not rule themselves but let circumstances rule them.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (25 Jun 1828)
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More quotes by Emerson, Ralph Waldo

I would give the broad sweep of the First Amendment full support. I have the same confidence in the ability of our people to reject noxious literature as I have in their capacity to sort out the true from the false in theology, economics, or any other field.

William O. Douglas (1898-1980) US Supreme Court justice (1939-75)
Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476, 514, dissenting opinion (1957)
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Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Othello, Act 1, sc. 3, l. 362ff [Iago] (1603)
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We cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over our heads, but we can refuse to let them build their nests in our hair.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Chinese proverb
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More quotes by ~Other

Visible goodwill is the strongest negotiation strategy. Don’t let somebody else determine your behavior.

(Other Authors and Sources)
S. U. Sunrei
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First get an absolute Conquest over thyself, and then thou wilt easily govern thy Wife.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Introductio ad Prudentiam, # 497 (1725)
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More quotes by Fuller, Thomas (1654)

I have not been afraid of excess: excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
The Summing Up, ch. 15 (1938)
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Serving one’s own Passions is the greatest Slavery.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #4103 (1732)
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If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb you, but your own judgment of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgment now.

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 8, #47 [tr. Long (1862)]
    (Source)

Modernized version (see below for original). Alternate translations:

  • "If therefore it be a thing external that causes thy grief, know, that it is not that properly that doth cause it, but thine own conceit and opinion concerning the thing: which thou mayest rid thyself of, when thou wilt." [tr. Casaubon (1634), #45]
  • "If externals put you into the spleen, take notice 'tis not the thing which disturbs you, but your notion about it: which notion you may dismiss if you please." [tr. Collier (1701)]
  • "If thou art pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs thee, but thy own judgment about it. And it is in thy power to wipe out this judgment now." [tr. Long (1862), original]
  • "If anything external vexes you, take notice that it is not the thing which disturbs you, but your notion about it, which notion you may dismiss at once if you please." [tr. Zimmern (1887)]
  • "If you suffer pain because of some external cause, what troubles you is not the thing but your decision about it, and this it is in your power to wipe out at once." [tr. Farquharson (1944)]
  • "If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing yourself but to your estaimte of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment." [tr. Staniforth (1964)]
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In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.

Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) American statesman, author
The Federalist #51 (6 Feb 1788)
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More quotes by Hamilton, Alexander

So also anybody can become angry — that is easy, and so it is to give and spend money; but to be angry with or give money to the right person, and to the right amount, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way — this is not within everybody’s power and is not easy; so that to do these things properly is rare, praiseworthy, and noble.

[οὕτω δὲ καὶ τὸ μὲν ὀργισθῆναι παντὸς καὶ ῥᾴδιον, καὶ τὸ δοῦναι ἀργύριον καὶ δαπανῆσαι: τὸ δ᾽ ᾧ καὶ ὅσον καὶ ὅτε καὶ οὗ ἕνεκα καὶ ὥς, οὐκέτι παντὸς οὐδὲ ῥᾴδιον: διόπερ τὸ εὖ καὶ σπάνιον καὶ ἐπαινετὸν καὶ καλόν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 2, ch. 9 (2.9, 1109a.27) (c. 325 BC) [tr. Rackham (1934)]
    (Source)

(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Just so to be angry, to give money, and be expensive, is what any man can do, and easy: but to do these to the right person, in due proportion, at the right time, with a right object, and in the right manner, this is not as before what any man can do, nor is it easy; and for this cause goodness is rare, and praiseworthy, and noble.
[tr. Chase (1847)]

And so, too, to get angry is an easy matter, and in any man's power; or to give away money or to spend it: but to decide to whom to give it, and how large a sum, and when, and for what purpose, and how, is neither in every many's power, nor an easy matter. And hence it is that excellence herein is rare and praiseworthy and noble.
[tr. Williams (1869), sec. 37]

So too anybody can get angry -- that is an easy matter -- and anybody can give or spend money, but to give it to the right persons, to give the right amount of it and to give it at the right time and for the right cause and in the right way, this is not what anybody can do, nor is it easy. That is the reason why it is rare and laudable and noble to do well.
[tr. Welldon (1892)]

Thus anyone can be angry -- that is quite easy; anyone can give money away or spend it: but to do these things to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right object, and in the right manner, is not what everybody can do, and is by no means easy; and that is the reason why right doing is rare and praiseworthy and noble.
[tr. Peters (1893)]

So, too, anyone can get angry -- that is easy -- or give or spend money; but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for everyone, nor is it easy; wherefore goodness is both rare and laudable and noble.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

In the same way, getting angry is also something everyone can do and something easy, as is giving or spending money. Determining whom to give it to, though, and how much, when, for the sake of what, and in what way -- that is no longer something everyone can do or something easy. That is why doing it well is a rare thing and a praiseworthy and noble one.
[tr. Reeve (1948)]

So, too, anyone can get angry or give money or spend it, and it is easy. But to give to the right person, the right amount, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right manner, this is not something anyone can do nor is it easy to do; and it is in view of this that excellence is rare and praiseworthy and noble.
[tr. Apostle (1975)]

So too it is easy to get angry -- anyone can do that -- or to give and spend money; but to feel or act towards the right person to the right extent at the right time for the right reason in the right way -- that is not easy, and it is not everyone that can do it. Hence to do these things well is a rare, laudable, and fine achievement.
[tr. Thomson/Tredennick (1976)]

So too anyone can get angry, or give and spend money -- these are easy, but doing them in relation to the right person, in the right amount, at the right time, with the right aim in view, and in the right way -- that is not something anyone can do, nor is it easy. This is why excellence in these things is rare, praiseworthy, and noble.
[tr. Crisp (2000)]

And so too, to become angry belongs to everyone and is an easy thing, as is also giving and spending money; but to whom [one ought to do so], how much, when for the sake fo what, and how -- these no longer belong to everyone nor are easy. Thus in fact acting well is rare, praiseworthy, and noble.
[tr. Bartlett/Collins (2011)]

Note that some translations paraphrase this only to speak of anger, e.g., Edith M. Leonard, et al., The Child: At Home and School (1944):

Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.
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More quotes by Aristotle

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135) Greek (Phrygian) Stoic philosopher
The Discourses, ch. 23, “Concerning Such as Read and Dispute Ostentatiously” (c. AD 101-108)
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What government is the best? That which teaches us to govern ourselves.

[Welche Regierung die beste sei? Diejenige, die uns lehrt, uns selbst zu regieren.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Spruche in Prosa [Proverbs in Prose], 3.225 (1819)
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