The purpose of growth: to maximize our ability to be loving, joyful and creative… Growth is not just about striving to be better. It is also about enjoying the moment and accepting yourself as you are (knowing that you are or will do your best to change what you can).

A necessary quality for the attainment of individuality is the ability to tolerate some degree of loneliness in the sense of independent adherence to values that those around you will not support.

Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good… Either we have hope or we don't; it is a dimension of the soul, and it's not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world or estimate of the situation. Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, and orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons… Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather and ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. The more propitious the situation in which we demonstrate hope, the deeper the hope is. Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.

The tyranny of conformity tends to deprive man of his inner identity, of his ability to stand still in the midst of flux, to remain a person in the midst of a crowd.

Life’s development has been much harder to definitely trace than that of the universe. This is because biology’s countless combinations and permutations are exceedingly convoluted compared to the linearity of physics or the predictability of chemistry. Life’s ability to mutate and change over successive generations has meant that investigators cannot simply extrapolate backwards to determine what previously existed, nor look forward and predict what might result.

Living entails (and is inseparable from) exploiting the environment for resources. Exploiting therefore, at its roots, is constructive. Indeed, the exploitive ability of the creative has improved the quality of life for billions. We should never fear our exploitive nature, but we must manage its excesses.

Neither existing nor evolving is a purpose – these are simply states of affairs. Demonstrating a trend toward complexity does not demonstrate purpose – it demonstrates only what happens when something new is added to something old. Nor does the ability to learn then apply what has been learned prove that life has a purpose.

The indivisible is not to be put into compartments. Every fact is a logarithm; one added term ramifies it until it is thoroughly transformed. In the general aspects of things, the great lines of creation take shape and arrange themselves into groups; beneath lies the unfathomable. Which of our methods of measuring could we apply to this eddying mass that is the universe? In the presence of the profundities our sole ability is to dream. Our conception, quickly winded, cannot follow creation, that vast breath.

I can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act. The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.

Autobiographical memories are particularly prone to inaccuracy. Traumatic events embed memories in a powerful but somewhat fragmentary way. Neurological disorders and drugs can disrupt the brain’s ability to distinguish between true and false memories and beliefs. The brain perceives reality and transforms it into an extraordinary range of personal, ethical, and creative premises that we use to build meaning, value, spirituality, and truth into our lives.

The roots of a child’s ability to cope and thrive, regardless of circumstance, lie in that child’s having had at least a small, safe place (an apartment? a room? a lap?) in which, in the companionship of a loving person, that child could discover that he or she was lovable and capable of loving in return.

It is in deeds that man becomes aware of what his life really is, of his power to harm and to hurt, to wreck and to ruin; of his ability to derive joy and to bestow it upon others; to relieve and to increase his own and other people’s tensions. It is in the employment of his will, not in reflection, that he meets his own self as it is; not as he should like it to be.

Relying on politics for your sense of who you are greatly impedes your ability to remain true to yourself, your views, and your values.

The primary indication… of a well-ordered mind is a man’s ability to remain in one place and linger in his own company.

The ability to accept responsibility is the measure of the person.

Judgment is the ability to think of many matters at once, in their interdependence, their related importance, and their consequences.

In contemporary America [mental health] has come to mean conformity to the demands of society. According to the commonsense definition, mental health is the ability to play the game of social living, and to play it well. Conversely, mental illness is the refusal to play, or the inability to play well.

Perhaps the clearest and deepest meaning of brotherhood is the ability to imagine yourself in the other person’s position, and then treat that person as if you were him. This form of brotherhood takes a lot of imagination, a great deal of sympathy, and a tremendous amount of understanding.

Our greatest problems in life come not so much from the situations we confront as from our doubts about our ability to handle them.

Humor: The ability to laugh at any mistake you survive.