Quotations about   seriousness

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Few bothersome things are important enough to bother with. It is folly to take to heart what you should turn your back on. Many things that were something are nothing if left alone, and others that were nothing turn into much because we pay attention to them.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 121 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]
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Alternate translation:

Troublesome things must not be taken too seriously if they can be avoided. It is preposterous to take to heart that which you should throw over your shoulders. Much that would be something has become nothing by being left alone and what was nothing has become of consequence by being made much of.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

Added on 4-Apr-22 | Last updated 4-Apr-22
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Learn what is to be taken seriously and laugh at the rest.

Herman Hesse (1877-1962) German-born Swiss poet, novelist, painter
Steppenwolf (1927) [tr. Creighton, rev. Milleck (1963)]
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Added on 1-Oct-21 | Last updated 1-Oct-21
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Don’t take life so serious, son … it ain’t no how permanent.

Walt Kelly (1913-1973) American animator and cartoonist [Walter Crawford Kelly, Jr.]
“Pogo” [Porky Pine] (24 Jun 1950)

More discussion about this quotation: Don’t Take Life So Serious, Son … It Ain’t Nohow Permanent – Quote Investigator.
Added on 21-Apr-21 | Last updated 5-May-21
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Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.
— By Order of the Author

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, “Notice” (1884)
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Added on 12-Apr-18 | Last updated 12-Apr-18
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I have observed that in comedies the best actor plays the droll, while some scrub rogue is made the fine gentleman or hero. Thus it is in the farce of life. Wise men spend their time in mirth, ’tis only fools who are serious.

Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke (1678-1751) English politician, government official, political philosopher [Lord Bolingbroke]
(Attributed)

Quoted in Gleason's Pictorial (Boston) (3 Dec 1853).
Added on 19-Dec-16 | Last updated 19-Dec-16
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We must take note that the games of children are not games in their eyes; and we must regard these as their most serious actions.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
Essays, Book 1, ch. 22 (1580-88)
Added on 29-Nov-16 | Last updated 29-Nov-16
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Thank goodness, many years ago, I had a preceptor, for whom my admiration has never died, and he had a favorite saying, one that I trust I try to live by. It was: always take your job seriously, never yourself.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, New England “Forward to ’54” Dinner, Boston (21 Sep 1953)
Added on 14-May-15 | Last updated 14-May-15
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Society, my dear, is like salt water, good to swim in but hard to swallow.

Arthur Stringer (1874-1950) Canadian-American novelist, screenwriter, poet
The Silver Poppy, ch. 8, epigraph (1903)
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Added on 29-Jun-11 | Last updated 23-Jun-20
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No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.

Dave Barry (b. 1947) American humorist
“25 Things I Have Learned In 50 Years,” #22 (1997)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Oct-14
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The one serious conviction that a man should have is that nothing is to be taken too seriously.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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‘Twas the saying of an ancient Sage, “That Humour was the only Test of Gravity, and Gravity of Humour. For a Subject which would not bear Raillery is suspicious; and a Jest which would not bear a serious Examination is certainly false Wit.”

Anthony Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) English politician and philosopher
Sensus Communis: An Essay on the Freedom of Wit and Humour, Part 1, Sec. 5 (1709)
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Often incorrectly attributed to Aristotle. Shaftesbury, according to his footnote, is paraphrasing from Aristotle quoting Gorgias Leontinus. The Latin translation is "Seria risu, risum seriis discutere" ("In arguing one should meet serious pleading with humor, and humor with serious pleading"). Shaftesbury's second sentence is his own commentary.

In Lord Chesterfield, in a letter to his son (6 Feb 1752), rendered it, "Ridicule is the best test of truth."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 18-Sep-19
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