Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"One of the things I learned the hard way was it does not pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself." -

"Optimism and self-pity are the positive and negative poles of modern cowardice." - Cyril Connolly, fully Cyril Vernon Connolly

"It is certainly strange to observe... how many people seem to feel vain of their own unqualified optimism when the place where optimism most flourishes is the lunatic asylum." - Henry Havelock Ellis

"One cannot have faith without optimism. Faith and hope are inseparable. Depression is a great obstacle in the spiritual life and we must strive to conquer it... Cheerfulness is one of the essential spiritual qualities we must guard ourselves against dejection, self-denunciation, or even feeling a little down-hearted... Dejection invariably distorts our vision - it magnifies our troubles." - Paramananda, fully Swami Paramananda, born Suresh Chandra Guha-Thakurta NULL

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror." -

"Optimists perform better statistically. Optimism is power." - Tom Butler-Bowdon

"The food of events is thought. Your habitual thoughts nourish your conditions and cause them to increase and multiply. Fear thoughts, gloomy and critical thoughts, selfish thoughts, are the food of unhappiness, sickness, and failure. When you supply this food in abundance these things come into your life – because they seek their food. Thoughts of God, thoughts of kindness, of optimism, and good will, are the food of health, joy, and success; and if you furnish a bountiful supply of this food you will attract these things instead." - Emmet Fox

"The 'preferred future' - an image of aspiration - [is] a powerful guidance mechanism… When people plan present actions by working backward from what is really desired, they develop energy, enthusiasm, optimism and high commitment." - Marvin Weisbord

"The act of writing is an act of optimism; you would not take the trouble to do it if you felt that it didn't matter." - Edward Albee, fully Edward Franklin Albee

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope or confidence." - Helen Keller. aka Helen Adams Keller

"Today I will make a difference. I will begin by controlling my thoughts. A person is the product of his thoughts. I want to be happy and hopeful. Therefore, I will have thoughts that are happy and hopeful. I refuse to be victimized by my circumstances. I will not let petty inconveniences such as stoplights, long lines, and traffic jams be my masters. I will avoid negativism and gossip. Optimism will be my companion, and victory will be my hallmark. Today I will make a difference." - Max Lucado

"We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guild or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality." - Patroclus or Patroklos NULL

"The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, of vitality and hope where others have resigned; it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not to abandon it to his enemy." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"Religion should be disentangled as much as possible from history and authority and metaphysics, and made to rest honestly on one's feelings, on one's indomitable optimism and trust in life." - George Santayana

"Nine times out of ten, optimism is a sly form of selfishness, a method of isolating oneself from the unhappiness of others." - Georges Bernanos

"Depression, achievement, and physical health are three of the most obvious applications of learned optimism. But there is also the potential for a new understanding of yourself." - Martin Seligman, Martin E. P. "Marty" Seligman

"Optimism is just a useful adjunct to wisdom. By itself it cannot provide meaning. Optimism is a tool to help the individual achieve the goals he has set for himself. It is in the choice of the goals themselves that meaning - or emptiness - resides. When learned optimism is coupled with a renewed commitment to the commons [common good], our epidemic of depression and meaninglessness may end." - Martin Seligman, Martin E. P. "Marty" Seligman

"To talk about the need for perfection in man is to talk about the need for another species. The essence of man is imperfection. Imperfection and blazing contradictions - between mixed good and evil, altruism and selfishness, co-operativeness and combativeness, optimism and fatalism, affirmation and negation." - Norman Cousins

"Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A word of optimism and hope. A "yes you can do it" when things are tough." - Richard M. DeVos, Sr.

"If we want to know what happiness is we must seek it, not as if it were a part of gold at the end of the rainbow, but among human beings who are living richly and fully the good life. If you observe a really happy man you will find him building a boat, writing a symphony, educating his son, growing double Dahlias in his garden. He will not be searching for happiness as if it were a collar gold button that has rolled under the cupboard in his bed room. He will have become aware that he is happy in the course of living 24 crowded hours of the day. If you live only for yourself you are always an immediate danger of being bored to death with the repetition of your own views and interests. No one has learned the meaning of living until he has surrendered his ego to the service of his fellowmen. If your ambition has the momentum of an express train at full speed, if you can no longer stop your mad rush for glory, power, or intellectual supremacy, try to divert your energies into socially useful channels before it is too late. For those who seek the larger happiness and greater effectiveness open to human beings there can be but one philosophy of life, a philosophy of constructive altruism. The truly happy man is always a fighting optimist. Optimism includes not only altruism but also social responsibility, social courage and objectivity. The good life demands a working philosophy as an orientating map of conduct. This is the golden way of life. This is the satisfying life. This is the way to be happy though human. " - W. Béran Wolfe

"Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will." - Edward Wadie Saïd

"Most people measure their happiness in terms of physical pleasure and material possession. Could they win some visible goal which they have set on the horizon, how happy they could be! Lacking this gift or that circumstance, they would be miserable. If happiness is to be so measured, I who cannot hear or see have every reason to sit in a corner with folded hands and weep. If I am happy in spite of my deprivations, if my happiness is so deep that it is a faith, so thoughtful that it becomes a philosophy of life, — if, in short, I am an optimist, my testimony to the creed of optimism is worth hearing." - Helen Keller. aka Helen Adams Keller

"It is a mistake always to contemplate the good and ignore the evil, because by making people neglectful it lets in disaster. There is a dangerous optimism of ignorance and indifference." - Helen Keller. aka Helen Adams Keller

"The test of all beliefs is their practical effect in life. If it be true that optimism compels the world forward, and pessimism retards it, then it is dangerous to propagate a pessimistic philosophy." - Helen Keller. aka Helen Adams Keller

"One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn't pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself." - Lucille Ball, fully Lucille Désirée Ball

"Chris[topher] Reeve wisely parsed the difference between optimism and hope. Unlike optimism, he said, 'Hope is the product of knowledge and the projection of where the knowledge can take us." - Michael J. Fox

"The characteristics that keep kids from using drugs are hard to quantify but not to understand. Children who truly grasp that they have a choice to make in the matter are more likely to make a responsible one. So are children with high self-esteem. Most influential of all is the optimism and awareness that comes from knowing their parents are interested and involved in their lives." - Hillary Rodham Clinton

"I find the audiences very excited. But then they come and say to me, your optimism has brushed off on me. I didn't know we had an option. I feel so much better. They say, your optimism. And I am not optimistic or pessimistic. I feel that optimism and pessimism are very unbalanced. I am a very hard engineer. I am a mechanic. I am a sailor. I am an air pilot. I don't tell people I can get you across the ocean with my ship unless I know what I'm talking about." - Buckminster Fuller, fully Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller

"What passes for optimism is most often the effect of an intellectual error." - Raymond Aron, fully Raymond-Claude-Ferdinand Aron

"It's not how old you are, it's how hard you work at it." - Jonah Barrington, Sir Jonah Barrington

"I will stand on, and continue to use, the figures I have used, because I believe they are correct. Now, I'm not going to deny that you don't now and then slip up on something; no one bats a thousand." - Ronald Reagan, fully Ronald Wilson Reagan

"I had given up my seat before, but this day, I was especially tired. Tired from my work as a seamstress, and tired from the ache in my heart." - Rosa Parks

"Call it "womb awe" or even "womb worship" but it's not simple envy. I don't remember even wanting to be a woman. But each of the three times I have been present at the birth of one of my children, I have been overwhelmed by a sense of reverence... It was quite suddenly, the first day of creation; the Goddess giving birth to a world... Like men since the beginning of time I wondered: What can I ever create that will equal the magnificence of this new life?" - Sam Keen

"As scientists, we understand the dangers of nuclear weapons and their devastating effects, and we are learning how human activities and technologies are affecting climate systems in ways that may forever change life on Earth. As citizens of the world, we have a duty to alert the public to the unnecessary risks that we live with every day, and to the perils we foresee if governments and societies do not take action now to render nuclear weapons obsolete and to prevent further climate change... There’s a realization that we are changing our climate for the worse. That would have catastrophic effects. Although the threat is not as dire as that of nuclear weapons right now, in the long term we are looking at a serious threat." - Stephen Hawking

"There are something like ten million million million million million million million million million million million million million million (1 with eighty zeroes after it) particles in the region of the universe that we can observe. Where did they all come from? The answer is that, in quantum theory, particles can be created out of energy in the form of particle/antiparticle pairs. But that just raises the question of where the energy came from. The answer is that the total energy of the universe is exactly zero. The matter in the universe is made out of positive energy. However, the matter is all attracting itself by gravity. Two pieces of matter that are close to each other have less energy than the same two pieces a long way apart, because you have to expend energy to separate them against the gravitational force that is pulling them together. Thus, in a sense, the gravitational field has negative energy. In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that this negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented by the matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero." - Stephen Hawking

"Consistency is a virtue for trains: what we want from a philosopher is insights, whether he comes by them consistently or not." - Stephen Vizinczey, born István Vizinczey

"Training is needed in order to love properly; and to be able to give happiness and joy, you must practice DEEP LOOKING directed toward the other person you love. Because if you do not understand this person, you cannot love properly. Understanding is the essence of love. If you cannot understand, you cannot love. That is the message of the Buddha. --" - Thich Nhất Hanh

"Faith is a light of such supreme brilliance that it dazzles the mind and darkens all its visions of other realities, but in the end when we become used to the new light, we gain a new view of all reality transfigured and elevated in the light itself." - Thomas Merton

"Theories are great, they sound great, but the minute you are asked to prove one in actual life, why the thing blows up." - Will Rogers, fully William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers

"The most important quality for an investor is temperament, not intellect… You need a temperament that neither derives great pleasure from being with the crowd or against the crowd." - Warren Buffett, fully Warren Edward Buffett, aka Oracle of Omaha

"The English have only one sauce, melted butter." - Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

"What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general, but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment." - Viktor Frankl, fully Viktor Emil Frankl

"Philosophy is an unusually stubborn attempt to think clearly." - William James

"Do not be caught up in materialism, one of the real plagues of our generation-that is, acquiring things, fast-paced living, and securing career success." - Ezra Taft Benson

"Theories of what is true have their day. They come and go, leave their deposit in the common stock of knowledge, and are supplanted by other more convincing theories. The thinkers and investigators of the world are pledged to no special theory, but feel themselves free to search for the greater truth beyond the utmost limits of present knowledge. So likewise in the field of moral truth, it is our hope, that men in proportion as they grow more enlightened, will learn to hold their theories and their creeds more loosely, and will none the less, nay, rather all the more be devoted to the supreme end of practical righteousness to which all theories and creeds must be kept subservient. There are two purposes then which we have in view: To secure in the moral and religious life perfect intellectual liberty, and at the same time to secure concert in action. There shall be no shackles upon the mind, no fetters imposed in early youth which the growing man or woman may feel prevented from shaking off, no barrier set up which daring thought may not transcend. And on the other hand there shall be unity of effort, the unity that comes of an end supremely prized and loved, the unity of earnest, morally aspiring persons, engaged in the conflict with moral evil." - Felix Adler