Quotations about   willpower

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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)
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Added on 7-Apr-21 | Last updated 7-Apr-21
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KING : Am I the strongest or am I not?
BECKET: You are, today. But one must never drive one’s enemy to despair. It makes him strong. Gentleness is better politics. It saps virility. A good occupational force must never crush, it must corrupt.

Jean Anouilh (1910-1987) French dramatist
Becket, Act 2 (1959) [tr. Hill (1961)
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The lines remain intact in Edward Anhalt's 1964 screenplay.
Added on 17-Sep-20 | Last updated 17-Sep-20
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It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.

Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) American general
Speech, Republican National Convention, Chicago (7 Jul 1952)
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Added on 23-Jul-20 | Last updated 23-Jul-20
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To array a man’s will against his sickness is the supreme art of medicine.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Norwood; or, Village Life in New England, Vol. 1, ch. 6 (1867)
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Added on 16-Mar-20 | Last updated 16-Mar-20
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Convinced that character is all and circumstances nothing, [the Puritan] sees in the poverty of those who fall by the way, not a misfortune to be pitied and relieved, but a moral failing to be condemned, and in riches, not an object of suspicion but the blessing which rewards the triumph of energy and will.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, ch. 4 (1926)
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Added on 15-Dec-16 | Last updated 17-Apr-20
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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)]
Added on 30-Nov-15 | Last updated 30-Nov-15
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It is easier to write ten volumes of philosophy than to put one principle into practice.

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) Russian novelist and moral philosopher
Diary (17 Mar 1847)
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From his earliest diary entry, when he was 18. Variants:
  • "It is easier to produce ten volumes of philosophical writing than to put one principle into practice."
  • "It is easier to write ten volumes on theoretical principles than to put one principle into practice."
Added on 9-Jul-15 | Last updated 9-Jul-15
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The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Matthew 26:41
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Added on 22-Apr-14 | Last updated 22-Apr-14
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It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
Added on 12-Nov-13 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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