Quotations about   self-control

Note that not all quotations have been tagged, so the Search function may find additional quotations on this topic.



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)
Added on 7-Apr-21 | Last updated 7-Apr-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Dolnick, Edward

A man does as he is when he can do what he wants.

Other Authors and Sources
English proverb
Added on 30-Mar-21 | Last updated 30-Mar-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by ~Other

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)
Added on 8-Feb-21 | Last updated 8-Feb-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Scott-Maxwell, Florida

The man who is master of his passions is Reason’s slave.

Cyril Connolly (1903-1974) English intellectual, literary critic and writer.
(Attributed)
Added on 5-Jan-21 | Last updated 5-Jan-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Connolly, Cyril

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)
Added on 15-Jun-20 | Last updated 15-Jun-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Spenser, Edmund

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).
Added on 11-Feb-20 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by ~Other

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."
Added on 22-Aug-17 | Last updated 22-Aug-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Pliny the Younger

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)
Added on 13-Jun-17 | Last updated 13-Jun-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Montessori, Maria

There was a young belle of old Natchez
Whose garments were always in patchez.
When comment arose
On the state of her clothes,
She drawled, When Ah itchez, Ah scratchez.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“Requiem” (1938)
Added on 12-Apr-17 | Last updated 12-Apr-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Nash, Ogden

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)
Added on 7-Feb-17 | Last updated 9-Feb-17
Link to this post | 4 comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Gandhi, Mohandas

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)
Added on 13-Dec-16 | Last updated 13-Dec-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Coolidge, Calvin

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)
Added on 22-Mar-16 | Last updated 18-Mar-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Bulwer-Lytton, Edward George

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)
Added on 18-Feb-16 | Last updated 18-Feb-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Tocqueville, Alexis de

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)]
Added on 30-Nov-15 | Last updated 30-Nov-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Rabelais, Francois

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."
Added on 22-May-15 | Last updated 22-May-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Aristippus of Cyrene

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)
Added on 4-Mar-15 | Last updated 4-Mar-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Roosevelt, Eleanor

I sometimes give myself excellent advice. Occasionally, I even listen to it.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Ghost Story (2011)
Added on 4-Nov-14 | Last updated 4-Nov-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Butcher, Jim

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)
    (Source)
Added on 23-Oct-14 | Last updated 23-Oct-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Burgh, James

Self-respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say No to oneself.

Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) Polish-American rabbi, theologian, philosopher
The Insecurity of Freedom: Essays on Human Existance, ch. 3 (1967)
Added on 25-Jun-14 | Last updated 25-Jun-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Heschel, Abraham

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)]
Added on 26-Mar-14 | Last updated 26-Mar-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Hesse, Herman

If the people cannot govern themselves, they must be governed by somebody.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Annajanska (1919)
Added on 11-Feb-14 | Last updated 11-Feb-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Shaw, George Bernard

Discipline should not be practiced like a rule imposed on oneself from the outside, but that it becomes an expression of one’s own will; that it is felt as pleasant, and that one slowly accustoms oneself to a kind of behavior which one would eventually miss, if one stopped practicing it.

Erich Fromm (1900-1980) American psychoanalyst and social philosopher
The Art of Loving, ch. 4 (1956)
Added on 21-Jan-14 | Last updated 21-Jan-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Fromm, Erich

People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist
(Attributed)
Added on 3-Jan-14 | Last updated 3-Jan-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Rogers, Will

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

Epictetus (c.55-c.135) Greek (Phrygian) Stoic philosopher
The Discourses, ch. 18 (c. AD 101-108)
Added on 9-Aug-13 | Last updated 16-May-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Epictetus

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, Book 2, ch. 12, sec. 14 / 1389b (350 BC) [tr. Waterfield (2018)]
    (Source)

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)

Original 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 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 (1924)]
  • "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 (1954)]
  • "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)]
Added on 13-Dec-10 | Last updated 5-Mar-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Aristotle

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)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-May-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Goethe, Johann von

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)
    (Source)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Fuller, Thomas (1654)

Anyone can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not easy.

[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]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nichomachean Ethics, Book 2 [II.1109a27] (c. 350 BC)

Alt trans.:
  • "Any one 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 every one, nor is it easy."
  • "The man who gets angry at the right things and with the right people, and in the right way and at the right time, and for the right length of time, is commended."
  • "It is easy to fly into a passion -- anybody can do that -- but to be angry with the right person and to the right extent and at the right time and with the right object and in the right way -- that is not easy, and it is not everyone who can do it." [tr.  Thompson (1953); cited as "2.9"]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Jan-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Aristotle

Serving one’s own Passions is the greatest Slavery.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #4103 (1732)
    (Source)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Fuller, Thomas (1654)

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who ruleth his spirit than he who taketh a city.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Proverbs 16:32 (KJV)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Oct-18
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Bible

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)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Mar-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Marcus Aurelius

A Man who is a Master of Patience is Master of everything else.

George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1633-1695) English politician and essayist
“Patience,” Political, Moral, and Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections (1750)
    (Source)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 30-Jan-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Halifax, George Savile, Marquis of

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)
    (Source)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 30-Mar-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Hamilton, Alexander

In the midst of great joy, do not promise anyone anything. In the midst of great anger, do not answer anyone’s letter.

Other Authors and Sources
Chinese proverb
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by ~Other

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

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
The Summing Up, ch. 15 (1938)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Mar-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Maugham, W. Somerset

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
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by ~Other

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)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-May-14
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Epictetus