Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Loneliness

"“Desiderata" Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy." - Max Ehrmann

"What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?" - George Eliot, pen name of Mary Ann or Marian Evans

"The best arguments in favor of marriage and family life are not that they promote happiness and reduce loneliness, though at their best they do these things, but that they create a situation in which facing the truth about ourselves - our self-deceiving, touchy, vain, inflated selves - becomes more difficult to avoid than it is anywhere else." - Monica Furlong

"Every man is an island. Each person radiates feelings to others, but ultimately we are alone. For me, the essence of life is how we handle our loneliness. There are moments when we manage to resolve this loneliness through personal relationships, especially through love. But there are also certain situations in which you feel truly alone, when even words and affection cannot ease your fears." - László Kardos

"Loneliness is only an opportunity to cut adrift and find yourself." - Anne Monroe, fully Anne Shannon Monroe

"Joy has its friends, but grief its loneliness." - Robert Nathan

"Man's loneliness is but his fear of life." - Eugene O'Neill, fully Eugene Gladstone O'Neill

"Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind... the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be." -

"The surest cure for vanity is loneliness." - Thomas Wolfe, fully Thomas Clayton Wolfe

"It would do the world good if every man in it would compel himself occasionally to be absolutely alone. Most of the world's progress has come out of such loneliness." - Bruce Burton

"Who knows what true loneliness is - not the conventional word but the naked terror? To the lonely themselves it wears a mask. The most miserable outcast hugs some memory or some illusion." - Joseph Conrad, born Teodor Josef Konrad Korzeniowski

"Music was invented to confirm human loneliness." -

"Loneliness is something you can't walk away from." - William Feather

"At the innermost core of all loneliness is a deep and powerful yearning for union with one's lost self." - Brendan Francis Behan

"The great omission in American life is solitude; not loneliness, for this is an alienation that thrives most in the midst of crowds, but that zone of time and space free from outside pressure which is the incubator of the spirit." - Marya Mannes

"To most people loneliness is a doom. Yet loneliness is the very thing which god has chosen to be one of the schools of training for His very own. It is the fire that sheds the dross and reveals the gold." - Bernard M. Martin, D.D

"Science will never be able to reduce the value of a sunset to arithmetic. Nor can it reduce friendship to a formula. Laughter and love, pain and loneliness, the challenge of accomplishment in living, and the depth of insight into beauty and truth: these will always surpass the scientific mastery of nature." - Louis Orr

"In that fearful loneliness of spirit, when those who should have been his friends and counselors only frown upon his misgivings... and everything seems wrapped in hideous uncertainty, I know but one way in which a man may come forth from his agony scathless: it is by holding fast to those things which are certain still - the grand, simple landmarks of morality. In the darkest hour through which a human soul can pass, whatever is doubtful, this at least is certain. If there be no God and no future state, yet even then, it is better to be generous than selfish, better to be chaste than licentious, better to be true than false, better to be brave than to be a coward. Blessed beyond all earthly blessedness is the man who in the tempestuous darkness of the soul has dared to hold fast to these venerable landmarks." -

"What is man without beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth." -

"One ought to love society, if he wishes to enjoy solitude. It is a social nature that solitude works upon with the most various power. If one is misanthropic, and betakes himself to loneliness that he may get away from hateful things, solitude is a silent emptiness to him." - Johann Georg Ritter von Zimmermann

"The human spirit has fashioned its prayers out of its loneliness, its persuasion of being something other than earthdust or star-dust." - Gaius Glenn Atkins

"Man’s disease is loneliness; God’s is progress." - Charles Dyer

"Loneliness is a game of pretense, for the essential loneliness is an escape from an inescapable God." - Walter Farrell

"The tight boundaries of rural, neighborhood, family-centered America have burst, breaking the bonds of exclusiveness and duty, freeing people for alternatives that seem to have no end, so much do they promise. And yet - the problem of loneliness. When it is mentioned, even the eyes of those who tend to deny its existence flicker inward for a moment." - Suzanne Gordon

"The secret to overcoming a feeling of loneliness is not gong outside to meet people. That will only keep you from being alone. The secret is going inside yourself, to realize your true kinship with God and with all the human beings that he created." - Amy Lee Grant

"The most fateful choices are made in tragic loneliness. In the valley of decision, we stand alone, accompanied by our haunting fears and our stubborn hopes, by dread despair or gritty faith. Yet, though we appear to stand solitary, in truth we are accompanied by the tall and brave spirits who have stood where we stand and who, when torn between “No” and “Yes” to life and its infinite possibilities; by those who have had the wisdom to focus not on what they had lost but on what they had left; by those who understood that fate is what life gives us and that destiny is what we do with what’s given; and by those who, therefore, grasped the liberating truth that while we have no control over our fate, we do have an astonishing amount of control over our destiny." - Sidney Greenberg

"The most isolating form of loneliness is not to be apart from people; it is to be apathetic to them, to be indifferent to them, to feel unrelated to them." - Sidney Greenberg

"Loneliness is never more cruel than when it is felt in close propinquity with someone who has ceased to communicate." - Germaine Greer

"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." - D. W. Harding, fully Denys Clement Wyatt Harding

"Possession is loneliness." - Abraham Joshua Heschel

"Its effects on the soul is to be measured neither by the guilt nor by the temporal punishment inexorably fixed, but by that deep sense of loneliness it brings with it." - Bede Jarrett

"The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring - the earth from here is a vast ovation to the big vastness of space." - Jim Lovell, fully James "Jim" Arthur Lovell

"Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going one knows that he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust, and betraying them without remorse." - Janet Malcolm

"When one has too many answers, and when on ejoins a chorus of others chanting the same slogans, there is, it seems to me, a danger that one is trying to evade the loneliness of a conscience that realizes itself to be in an inescapably evil situation. We are under judgment." - Thomas Merton

"Faith faces everything that makes the world uncomfortable - pain, fear, loneliness, shame, death - and acts with a compassion by which these things are transformed, even exalted." - Samuel H. Miller

"Atheism leads not to badness but only to an incurable sadness and loneliness." - William P. Montague, fully William Pepperell Montague

"Man's loneliness is but his fear of life." -

"Loneliness is a terrible blindness." - Christina Stead

"When a man feels the pangs of loneliness, he is able to create. As soon as he reaches detachment, he ceases to create, for he loves no more. Every creation originates in love." - Lu Xun, or Lu Hsün, pen name of Zhou Shuren

"The secular or freethinking humanist looks into the self for guidance; response to need comes from deep human feelings of compassion, concern for others, and a desire to help. The freethinker is not motivated by a divine command to act, but rather by personal humanistic response to pain, loneliness, hunger, and homelessness. Benevolent actions are not accompanied by a need to convert or indoctrinate, but rather flow from deep human wellsprings of empathy and a desire to improve the condition of the world." - Gerald Alexander Larue

"I believe that if we are able to acknowledge our isolated situations in existence and to confront them with resoluteness, we will be able to turn lovingly toward others. If, on the other hand, we are overcome with dread before the abyss of loneliness, we will not reach out toward others but instead will flail at them on order not to drown in the sea of existence." - Irvin David Yalom

"Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace. The soul that knows it not, knows no release from little things; knows not the livid loneliness of fear, nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear the sound of wings." - Amelia Earhart, fully Amelia Mary Earhart

"The surest sign of age is loneliness. While one finds company in himself and his pursuits, he cannot be old, whatever his years may be." - Amos Bronson Alcott

"Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibition, instabilities and it always balances them." -

"(D. H. Lawrence) was the first modern novelist to realize that men and women cannot solve one another's loneliness." - Anatole Broyard

"H. Lawrence was the first modern novelist to realize that men and women cannot solve one another's loneliness." - Anatole Broyard

"Loneliness is bred of a mind that has grown earthbound. For the spirit has its homeland, which is the realm of the meaning of things." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"If you are afraid of loneliness, don't marry." - Anton Chekhov, fully Anton Pavlovich Chekhov

"Love is something far more than desire for sexual intercourse; it is the principal means of escape from the loneliness which afflicts most men and women throughout the greater part of their lives." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell

"A book can give greater riches than any; other form of recreation but it cannot provide the last answers. They must be found in the loneliness of a man's own mind. Books can help a man be ready for those moments. But neither books nor teachers can provide the answers." - Carl Sandburg