» N.S. Books
December 28, 1997.
Quotes on Happiness
"Consider man in every sphere,
Then tell me is your lot severe:
We're born a restless, needy crew;
Show me a happier man than you."
- Gay: Fables.
"We are never so happy nor so unhappy as we imagine." (Rochefoucauld, Maxim 49.)
"Happiness is a clear conscience, unsullied by the reproach or remembrance of an unworthy action." (Gibbon, his autobiography at page 218.)
"[Happiness comes] by studying little things ..." (Dr. Johnson.)
"Nothing is more idle, than to enquire after happiness, which nature has kindly placed within our reach. The way to be happy is to live according to nature, in obedience to that universal and unalterable law with which every heart is originally impressed which is not written on it by precept, but engraven by destiny, not instilled by education, but infused at our nativity. He that lives according to nature will suffer nothing from the delusions of hope, or importunities of desire: he will receive and reflect with equability of temper...; and act or suffer as the things shall alternately prescribe. ... Throw away the encumbrance of precepts, which they who utter them with so much pride and pomp do not understand, and carry with us this simple and intelligible maxim. That deviation from nature is deviation from Happiness. ... To live according to nature, is to act always with due regard to the fitness arising from the relations and qualities of causes and effects; to concur with the great and unchangeable scheme of universal felicity; to cooperate with the general disposition and tendency of the present system of things. (Doctor Johnson, as quoted by Cecil.)
"... I hear you laugh at me for being happy in the country, and upon this I have a few words to say. In the first place whether one lives or dies I hold and always have held to be of infinitely less moment than is generally supposed; but if life is the choice then it is commonsense to amuse yourself with the best you can find where you happen to be placed. I am not leading precisely the life I should choose, but that which (all things considered, as well as I could consider them) appeared to be the most eligible. I am resolved therefore to like it and to reconcile myself to it... In short, if my lot be to crawl, I will crawl contentedly; if to fly, I will fly with alacrity; but as long as I can possibly avoid it, I will never be unhappy." (Sidney Smith, as quoted by Cecil.)
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December, 1997 (2021)