Failed Experiments Quotes

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You are a side effect," Van Houten continued, "of an evolutionary process that cares little for individual lives. You are a failed experiment in mutation.
John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)
Like all failed experiments, that one taught me something I didn’t expect: one key ingredient of so-called experience is the delusional faith that it is unique and special, that those included in it are privileged and those excluded from it are missing out.
Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad)
Emotions, in my experience, aren't covered by single words. I don't believe in "sadness," "joy," or "regret." Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling. I'd like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic train-car constructions like, say, "the happiness that attends disaster." Or: "the disappointment of sleeping with one's fantasy." I'd like to show how "intimations of mortality brought on by aging family members" connects with "the hatred of mirrors that begins in middle age." I'd like to have a word for "the sadness inspired by failing restaurants" as well as for "the excitement of getting a room with a minibar." I've never had the right words to describe my life, and now that I've entered my story, I need them more than ever.
Jeffrey Eugenides (Middlesex)
Life is an experiment in which you may fail or succeed. Explore more, expect least.
Santosh Kalwar
...the more unlived your life, the greater your death anxiety. The more you fail to experience your life fully, the more you will fear death.
Irvin D. Yalom (Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death)
I'd like to repeat the advice that I gave you before, in that I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, Ron, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty. And so, Ron, in short, get out of Salton City and hit the Road. I guarantee you will be very glad you did. But I fear that you will ignore my advice. You think that I am stubborn, but you are even more stubborn than me. You had a wonderful chance on your drive back to see one of the greatest sights on earth, the Grand Canyon, something every American should see at least once in his life. But for some reason incomprehensible to me you wanted nothing but to bolt for home as quickly as possible, right back to the same situation which you see day after day after day. I fear you will follow this same inclination in the future and thus fail to discover all the wonderful things that God has placed around us to discover. Don't settle down and sit in one place. Move around, be nomadic, make each day a new horizon. You are still going to live a long time, Ron, and it would be a shame if you did not take the opportunity to revolutionize your life and move into an entirely new realm of experience. You are wrong if you think Joy emanates only or principally from human relationships. God has placed it all around us. It is in everything and anything we might experience. We just have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living. My point is that you do not need me or anyone else around to bring this new kind of light in your life. It is simply waiting out there for you to grasp it, and all you have to do is reach for it. The only person you are fighting is yourself and your stubbornness to engage in new circumstances.
Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild)
nobody can save you but yourself. you will be put again and again into nearly impossible situations. they will attempt again and again through subterfuge, guise and force to make you submit, quit and/or die quietly inside. nobody can save you but yourself and it will be easy enough to fail so very easily but don’t, don’t, don’t. just watch them. listen to them. do you want to be like that? a faceless, mindless, heartless being? do you want to experience death before death? nobody can save you but yourself and you’re worth saving. it’s a war not easily won but if anything is worth winning then this is it. think about it. think about saving your self.
Charles Bukowski
You have to try. You have to take your chances. Go and attempt and see what happens. And even if you fail - especially if you fail - come back with your experience and your hard-won knowledge and a story you can tell. And then later you can say, without regret or hesitation... 'Once, I dared to dare greatly
Morgan Matson (The Unexpected Everything)
He who becomes the slave of habit, who follows the same routes every day, who never changes pace, who does not risk and change the color of his clothes, who does not speak and does not experience, dies slowly. He or she who shuns passion, who prefers black on white, dotting ones "it’s" rather than a bundle of emotions, the kind that make your eyes glimmer, that turn a yawn into a smile, that make the heart pound in the face of mistakes and feelings, dies slowly. He or she who does not turn things topsy-turvy, who is unhappy at work, who does not risk certainty for uncertainty, to thus follow a dream, those who do not forego sound advice at least once in their lives, die slowly. He who does not travel, who does not read, who does not listen to music, who does not find grace in himself, she who does not find grace in herself, dies slowly. He who slowly destroys his own self-esteem, who does not allow himself to be helped, who spends days on end complaining about his own bad luck, about the rain that never stops, dies slowly. He or she who abandon a project before starting it, who fail to ask questions on subjects he doesn't know, he or she who don't reply when they are asked something they do know, die slowly. Let's try and avoid death in small doses, reminding oneself that being alive requires an effort far greater than the simple fact of breathing. Only a burning patience will lead to the attainment of a splendid happiness.
Martha Medeiros
The curse of mortality. You spend the first portion of your life learning, growing stronger, more capable. And then, through no fault of your own, your body begins to fail. You regress. Strong limbs become feeble, keen senses grow dull, hardy constitutions deteriorate. Beauty withers. Organs quit. You remember yourself in your prime, and wonder where that person went. As your wisdom and experience are peaking, your traitorous body becomes a prison.
Brandon Mull (Fablehaven (Fablehaven, #1))
Certain experiences you can't survive, and afterward you don't fully exist, even if you failed to die.
Nic Pizzolatto (Galveston)
So often we experience things in life, and yet never see the connections between them. When we are given hardship, or feel pain, we often fail to consider that the experience may be the direct cause or result of another action or experience. Sometimes we fail to recognize the direct connection between the pain in our lives and our relationship with Allah SWT
Yasmin Mogahed (Reclaim Your Heart: Personal Insights on Breaking Free from Life's Shackles)
Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor - the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart." Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences -- good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as "ordinary courage.
Brené Brown (I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame)
The legalization of marijuana is not a dangerous experiment – the prohibition is the experiment, and it has failed dramatically, with millions of victims all around the world.
Sebastian Marincolo
The most important words a man can say are, “I will do better.” These are not the most important words any man can say. I am a man, and they are what I needed to say. The ancient code of the Knights Radiant says “journey before destination.” Some may call it a simple platitude, but it is far more. A journey will have pain and failure. It is not only the steps forward that we must accept. It is the stumbles. The trials. The knowledge that we will fail. That we will hurt those around us. But if we stop, if we accept the person we are when we fall, the journey ends. That failure becomes our destination. To love the journey is to accept no such end. I have found, through painful experience, that the most important step a person can take is always the next one. I’m certain some will feel threatened by this record. Some few may feel liberated. Most will simply feel that it should not exist. I needed to write it anyway.
Brandon Sanderson (Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive, #3))
America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success.
Sigmund Freud
People who say, “it is not my fault,” continuously fail. People who say, “I’ve done no wrong,” have not done enough right. People who say, “I am done!” are never done repeating the cycle. Even in the privacy of our own thoughts, we can’t sow lies and reap truth.
Katina Ferguson
A faith without some doubts is like a human body with no antobodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask the hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person's faith can collapse almost overnight if she failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection.
Timothy J. Keller
The Army might screw you and your girlfriend might dump you and the enemy might kill you, but the shared commitment to safeguard one another’s lives is unnegotiable and only deepens with time. The willingness to die for another person is a form of love that even religions fail to inspire, and the experience of it changes a person profoundly.
Sebastian Junger (War)
For [erotically intelligent couples], love is a vessel that contains both security and adventure, and commitment offers one of the great luxuries of life: time. Marriage is not the end of romance, it is the beginning. They know that they have years in which to deepen their connection, to experiment, to regress, and even to fail. They see their relationship as something alive and ongoing, not a fait accompli. It’s a story that they are writing together, one with many chapters, and neither partner knows how it will end. There’s always a place they haven’t gone yet, always something about the other still to be discovered.
Esther Perel (Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic)
There’s a quote by Ethel Person that says: “People should not judge failed love affairs as failed experiences but as part of the growth process. Something does not have to end well for it to have been one of the most valuable experiences of a lifetime.
Mandy Hale (The Single Woman's Sassy Survival Guide: Letting Go and Moving On)
Rust is the failure of the work of man. The project, the venture, the experiment: failed, given up on, and not cleaned up after.
Martin Amis (House of Meetings)
God help us for we knew the worst too young.
Rudyard Kipling (The Light That Failed)
Science is often misrepresented as ‘the body of knowledge acquired by performing replicated controlled experiments in the laboratory.’ Actually, science is something broader: the acquisition of reliable knowledge about the world.
Jared Diamond (Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed)
Die slowly He who becomes the slave of habit, who follows the same routes every day, who never changes pace, who does not risk and change the color of his clothes, who does not speak and does not experience, dies slowly. He or she who shuns passion, who prefers black on white, dotting ones "it’s" rather than a bundle of emotions, the kind that make your eyes glimmer, that turn a yawn into a smile, that make the heart pound in the face of mistakes and feelings, dies slowly. He or she who does not turn things topsy-turvy, who is unhappy at work, who does not risk certainty for uncertainty, to thus follow a dream, those who do not forego sound advice at least once in their lives, die slowly. He who does not travel, who does not read, who does not listen to music, who does not find grace in himself, she who does not find grace in herself, dies slowly. He who slowly destroys his own self-esteem, who does not allow himself to be helped, who spends days on end complaining about his own bad luck, about the rain that never stops, dies slowly. He or she who abandon a project before starting it, who fail to ask questions on subjects he doesn't know, he or she who don't reply when they are asked something they do know, die slowly. Let's try and avoid death in small doses, reminding oneself that being alive requires an effort far greater than the simple fact of breathing. Only a burning patience will lead to the attainment of a splendid happiness.
Martha Medeiros
I speak to the Black experience, but I am always talking about the human condition--about what we can endure, dream, fail at and survive.
Maya Angelou
When we meet somebody whose separate tunnel-reality is obviously far different from ours, we are a bit frightened and always disoriented. We tend to think they are mad, or that they are crooks trying to con us in some way, or that they are hoaxers playing a joke. Yet it is neurologically obvious that no two brains have the same genetically-programmed hard wiring, the same imprints, the same conditioning, the same learning experiences. We are all living in separate realities. That is why communication fails so often, and misunderstandings and resentments are so common. I say "meow" and you say "Bow-wow," and each of us is convinced the other is a bit dumb.
Robert Anton Wilson (Prometheus Rising)
Like all failed experiments, that one taught me something I didn’t expect: one key ingredient of so-called experience is the delusional faith that it is unique and special, that those included in it are privileged and those excluded from it are missing out. And I, like a scientist unwittingly inhaling toxic fumes from the beaker I was boiling in my lab, had, through sheer physical proximity, been infected by that same delusion and in my drugged state had come to believe I was Excluded: condemned to stand shivering outside the public library at Fifth Avenue and Forty-second Street forever and...
Jennifer Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad)
Trust me, it's paradise. This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is the generation that travels the globe and searches for something we haven't tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite & never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience— And if it hurts, you know what? It's probably worth it.
Alex Garland (The Beach)
The problem of unmet expectations in marriage is primarily a problem of stereotyping. Each and every human being on this planet is a unique person. Since marriage is inevitably a relationship between two unique people, no one marriage is going to be exactly like any other. Yet we tend to wed with explicit visions of what a “good” marriage ought to be like. Then we suffer enormously from trying to force the relationship to fit the stereotype and from the neurotic guilt and anger we experience when we fail to pull it off.
M. Scott Peck (In Search Of Stones)
I think if we ever reach the point where we think we thoroughly understand who we are and where we came from, we will have failed.
Carl Sagan (The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God)
I know not how to aid you, save in the assurance of one of mature age, and much severe experience, that you can not fail, if you resolutely determine, that you will not.
Abraham Lincoln
Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect the shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes. In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be "healing." A certain forward movement will prevail. The worst days will be the earliest days. We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the funeral, after which this hypothetical healing will take place. When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to "get through it," rise to the occasion, exhibit the "strength" that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death. We anticipate needing to steel ourselves the for the moment: will I be able to greet people, will I be able to leave the scene, will I be able even to get dressed that day? We have no way of knowing that this will not be the issue. We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion. Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief was we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.
Joan Didion (The Year of Magical Thinking)
It is too often the quality of happiness that you feel at every moment its fragility, while depression seems when you are in it to be a state that will never pass. Even if you accept that moods change, that whatever you feel today will be different tomorrow, you cannot relax into happiness like you can into sadness. For me, sadness has always been and still is a more powerful feeling; and if that is not a universal experience, perhaps it is the base from which depression grows. I hated being depressed, but it was also in depression that I learned my own acreage, the full extent of my soul. When I am happy, I feel slightly distracted by happiness, as though it fails to use some part of my mind and brain that wants the exercise. Depression is something to do. My grasp tightens and becomes acute in moments of loss: I can see the beauty of glass objects fully at the moment when they slip from my hand toward the floor
Andrew Solomon (The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression)
It was better to try and fail, than to never have the experience
Rebecca Donovan (Reason to Breathe (Breathing, #1))
We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies - all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes. Most island universes are sufficiently like one another to Permit of inferential understanding or even of mutual empathy or "feeling into." Thus, remembering our own bereavements and humiliations, we can condole with others in analogous circumstances, can put ourselves (always, of course, in a slightly Pickwickian sense) in their places. But in certain cases communication between universes is incomplete or even nonexistent. The mind is its own place, and the Places inhabited by the insane and the exceptionally gifted are so different from the places where ordinary men and women live, that there is little or no common ground of memory to serve as a basis for understanding or fellow feeling. Words are uttered, but fail to enlighten. The things and events to which the symbols refer belong to mutually exclusive realms of experience.
Aldous Huxley (The Doors of Perception & Heaven and Hell)
Numerous experiments showed that people feel depressed when they fail to live up to their own ideals, but when they fall short of a standard set by others, they feel anxious.
Lisa Feldman Barrett (How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain)
The TV scientist who mutters sadly, "The experiment is a failure; we have failed to achieve what we had hoped for," is suffering mainly from a bad script writer. An experiment is never a failure solely because it fails to achieve predicted results. An experiment is a failure only when it also fails adequately to test the hypothesis in question, when the data it produces don't prove anything one way or another.
Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values (Phaedrus, #1))
What I want you to take away from my life story is just how important it is to defend your freedom, at all costs. Experience has shown me that if you lose your freedom, you are condemned to fail.
Leon Schgrin
If you experiment, you have to fail. By definition, experimenting means going to territory where you’ve never been, where failure is very possible. How can you know you’re going to succeed? Having the courage to face the unknown is so important. I
Marina Abramović (Walk Through Walls: Becoming Marina Abramovic)
At times it may seem as though you and your past are one. Sometimes we fail to differentiate between what has happened to us and who we are today. If you have a hard time getting beyond that damaging mind-set let me encourage you right now. You are not your past Although you are changed and shaped by past experiences who you were yesterday does not control the person you have the potential to become tomorrow.
Sue Augustine (When Your Past Is Hurting Your Present: Getting Beyond Fears That Hold You Back)
Youth is a failing only too easily outgrown.
Agatha Christie (The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence #1))
Before he dies, all his experiences in these long years gather themselves in his head to one point, a ques-tion he has not yet asked the doorkeeper. He waves him nearer, since he can no longer raise his stiffening body. The doorkeeper has to bend low towards him, for the difference in height between them has altered much to the man's disadvantage. "What do you want to know now?" asks the doorkeeper; "you are insati-able." "Everyone strives to reach the Law," says the man, "so how does it happen that for all these many years no one but myself has ever begged for admit-tance?" The doorkeeper recognizes that the man has reached his end, and to let his failing senses catch the words roars in his ear: "No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it.
Franz Kafka (The Trial)
L'Age Licence. As in: License to experience, mess up, license to fail, license to do... whatever, before you're settled.
Lucy Knisley (An Age of License: A Travelogue)
I DECLARE I will experience God’s faithfulness. I will not worry. I will not doubt. I will keep my trust in Him, knowing that He will not fail me. I will give birth to every promise God put in my heart and I will become everything God created me to be. This is my declaration.
Joel Osteen (I Declare: 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life)
Experience shows that Being is the essential, basic nature of the mind; but, since It commonly remains in tune with the senses projecting outwards toward the manifested realms of creation, the mind misses or fails to appreciate its own essential nature, just as the eyes are unable to see themselves.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (The Science of Being and the Art of Living)
Before I got here, I thought for a long time that the way out of the labyrinth was to pretend that it did not exist, to build a small, self-sufficient world in a back corner of, the endless maze and to pretend that I was not lost, but home. But that only led to a lonely life accompanied only by the last words of the looking for a Great Perhaps, for real friends, and a more-than minor life. And then i screwed up and the Colonel screwed up and Takumi screwed up and she slipped through our fingers. And there's no sugar-coating it: She deserved better friends. When she fucked up, all those years ago, just a little girl terrified. into paralysis, she collapsed into the enigma of herself. And I could have done that, but I saw where it led for her. So I still believe in the Great Perhaps, and I can believe in it spite of having lost her. Beacause I will forget her, yes. That which came together will fall apart imperceptibly slowly, and I will forget, but she will forgive my forgetting, just as I forgive her for forgetting me and the Colonel and everyone but herself and her mom in those last moments she spent as a person. I know that she forgives me for being dumb and sacred and doing the dumb and scared thing. I know she forgives me, just as her mother forgives her. And here's how I know: I thought at first she was just dead. Just darkness. Just a body being eaten by bugs. I thought about her a lot like that, as something's meal. What was her-green eyes, half a smirk, the soft curves of her legs-would soon be nothing, just the bones I never saw. I thought about the slow process of becoming bone and then fossil and then coal that will, in millions of years, be mined by humans of the future, and how they would their homes with her, and then she would be smoke billowing out of a smokestack, coating the atmosphere. I still think that, sometimes. I still think that, sometimes, think that maybe "the afterlife" is just something we made up to ease the pain of loss, to make our time in the labyrinth bearable. Maybe she was just a matter, and matter gets recycled. But ultimately I do not believe that she was only matter. The rest of her must be recycled, too. I believe now that we are greater than the sum of our parts. If you take Alaska's genetic code and you add her life experiences and the relationships she had with people, and then you take the size and shape of her body, you do not get her. There is something else entirety. There is a part of her knowable parts. And that parts has to go somewhere, because it cannot be destroyed. Although no one will ever accuse me of being much of a science student, One thing I learned from science classes is that energy is never created and never destroyed. And if Alaska took her own life, that is the hope I wish I could have given her. Forgetting her mother, failing her mother and her friends and herself -those are awful things, but she did not need to fold into herself and self-destruct. Those awful things are survivable because we are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be. When adults say "Teenagers think they are invincible" with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don't know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail. So I know she forgives me, just as I forgive her. Thomas Eidson's last words were: "It's very beautiful over there." I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful.
John Green (Looking for Alaska)
In my experience, writers tend to be really good at the inside of their own heads and imaginary people, and a lot less good at the stuff going on outside, which means that quite often if you flirt with us we will completely fail to notice, leaving everybody involved slightly uncomfortable and more than slightly unlaid. So I would suggest that any attempted seduction of a writer would probably go a great deal easier for all parties if you sent them a cheerful note saying "YOU ARE INVITED TO A SEDUCTION: Please come to dinner on Friday Night, Wear the kind of clothes you would like to be seduced in." And alcohol may help, too. Or kissing. Many writers figure out that they're being seduced or flirted with if someone is actually kissing them.
Neil Gaiman
Trust me, it's paradise. This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven't tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It's probably worth it.
Alex Garland
Clarence Darrow, one of history's greatest lawyers, once noted "There is no such thing as justice, in or out of court." Perhaps because justice is a flawed concept that ultimately comes down to the decision of twelve people. People with their own experiences, prejudices, feelings about what defines right and wrong. Which is why, when the system fails us, we must go out and seek our own justice.
Emily Thorne
To fail to experience gratitude when walking through the corridors of the Metropolitan Museum, when listening to the music of Bach or Beethoven, when exercising our freedom to speak, or ... to give, or withhold, our assent, is to fail to recognize how much we have received from the great wellsprings of human talent and concern that gave us Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, our parents, our friends. We need a rebirth of gratitude for those who have cared for us, living and, mostly, dead. The high moments of our way of life are their gifts to us. We must remember them in our thoughts and in our prayers; and in our deeds.
William F. Buckley Jr.
Was better to try and fail, than to never have the experience?
Rebecca Donovan (Reason to Breathe (Breathing, #1))
Never give up your right to be wrong, and be sure to give others that right too.
Tim Fargo
Feminism hasn't failed, it's just never been tried.
Hilary Mantel (An Experiment in Love)
From my experience, I see a high number of change initiatives fail, so why is it that change experts and leadership coaches continually praise organisations for their great efforts?
Peter F Gallagher
The failed experiment, the bird that could repeat human speech, that had been a tool for espionage until the rebels had figured out its abilities and sent it back carrying false information. Now the useless creatures were creating an echo chamber filled with the Avoxes’ pitiful wails.
Suzanne Collins (The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, #0))
I knew that, in a large degree, we were trying an experiment--that of testing whether or not it was possible for Negroes to build up and control the affairs of a large education institution. I knew that if we failed it wold injure the whole race.
Booker T. Washington (Up from Slavery)
It's frustrating when our best efforts to help people fail. But if we could see life through their weary eyes and experience their trials with the same frayed emotions, we might understand why.
Richelle E. Goodrich (Slaying Dragons: Quotes, Poetry, & a few Short Stories for Every Day of the Year)
Great revelations of nature, of course, never fail to impress in one way or another, and I was no stranger to moods of the kind. Mountains overawe and oceans terrify, while the mystery of great forests exercises a spell peculiarly its own. But all these, at one point or another, somewhere link on intimately with human life and human experience. They stir comprehensible, even if alarming, emotions. They tend on the whole to exalt.
Algernon Blackwood (The Willows)
You have to try,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper. He closed his eyes, just for a moment, then opened them and forced himself to go on. “You have to take your chances. Go and attempt and see what happens. And even if you fail—especially if you fail—come back with your experience and your hard-won knowledge and a story you can tell. And then later you can say, without regret or hesitation . . . ‘Once, I dared to dare greatly.
Morgan Matson (The Unexpected Everything)
To suggest personal will and effort to one all sicklied o'er with the sense of irremediable impotence is to suggest the most impossible of things. What he craves is to be consoled in his very powerlessness, to feel that the spirit of the universe recognizes and secures him, all decaying and failing as he is.
William James (The Varieties of Religious Experience)
Work in classrooms isn’t significant work; it fails to satisfy real needs pressing on the individual; it doesn’t answer real questions experience raises in the young mind; it doesn’t contribute to solving any problem encountered in actual life. The net effect of making all schoolwork external to individual longings, experiences, questions, and problems is to render the victim listless.
John Taylor Gatto (The Underground History of American Education: An Intimate Investigation Into the Prison of Modern Schooling)
Don't be ridiculous,' said Maya, 'You can't fail at a relationship. That's like getting off of a roller coaster and saying you failed because the ride is over. Things end. That doesn't mean the experience wasn't worth it.
Hazel Hayes (Out of Love)
Of course: because it was in one of the camps that he went blind. They had performed some failed experiment on his eyes in the camp. ‘No, not summer camp,’ Franny had to tell Lilly, who had always been afraid of being sent to summer camp, and was unsurprised to hear that they tortured the campers.
John Irving (The Hotel New Hampshire)
The Peruvian flute music is . . . cool. In this music, they have not yet invented the industrial revolution that leads to excessive punctuality or the failed experiment they call the nuclear family. This is the music of elements, untarnished, unrehearsed.
Kate Braverman (Small Craft Warnings: Stories)
These people have all developed the art of not experiencing feelings, for a child can experience her feelings only when there is somebody there who accepts her fully, understands her, and supports her. If that person is missing, if the child must risk losing the mother’s love or the love of her substitute in order to feel, then she will repress her emotions. She cannot even experience them secretly, “just for herself”; she will fail to experience them at all. But they will nevertheless stay in her body, in her cells, stored up as information that can be triggered by a later event.
Alice Miller (The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self)
Failure is so common a human experience that what distinguishes us from one another is not that we fail but rather how we respond when we do.
Guy Winch (Emotional First Aid: Practical Strategies for Treating Failure, Rejection, Guilt, and Other EverydayPsychological Injuries)
The anthropologist Margaret Mead concluded in 1948, after observing seven different ethnic groups in the Pacific Islands, that different cultures made different forms of female sexual experience seem normal and desirable. The capacity for orgasm in women, she found, is a learned response, which a given culture can help or can fail to help its women to develop. Mead believed that a woman's sexual fulfillment, and the positive meaning of her sexuality in her own mind, depend upon three factors: 1: She must live in a culture that recognizes female desire as being of value; 2: Her culture must allow her to understand her sexual anatomy; 3: And her culture must teach the various sexual skills that give women orgasms.
Naomi Wolf (Promiscuities)
If you're lucky, in some point in the future when you're in need of guidance or perhaps moral support, you may cross paths with a suitable mentor. Even luckier, you'll realize you had one in your life all along and you'll gain a new appreciation for how you benefited from that relationship. The luckiest relationship of all, of course, is a combination of the two. You've had help all along, and as the path widens or narrows, whatever the case may be, new and powerful influences will enter your life and aid your progress. In my experience, a mentor doesn't necessarily tell you what to do, but more importantly: tells you what they did or might do, then trusts you to draw your own conclusions and act accordingly. If you succeed, they'll take one step back and if you fail, they'll take one step closer. Whatever it is they teach you, pass it on.
Michael J. Fox (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future...: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned)
Initially, I feel expansive when I try something new, and then contract as soon as I encounter difficulty or the unknown. I am learning to experiment with my tolerance of difficulty and the not knowing, in order to go further with my creative dreams. Whenever I experience contraction, I explore it by asking, "Where did I stop and why?" Building a creative dream life is not just about achieving, succeeding, or "meeting goals." It is also about floundering, stumbling, tripping and failing.
S.A.R.K.
This was the tragic fallacy which brought on the decadence and collapse of the democracies of the twentieth century; those noble experiments failed because the people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted . . . and get it, without toil, without sweat, without tears.
Robert A. Heinlein (Starship Troopers)
I’m just not, okay? Can we please drop it? I’m done working on the experiment for the day. We’re supposed to be helping Grayson with his physics too, and he’s got a make up quiz tomorrow on Newton’s Laws.” This seemed to stop everyone. I wasn’t sure why they were suddenly all staring at me until Brandon said, “Did you really fail a quiz on Newton’s Laws?” Okay. So they were staring at me because they all thought I was a moron. “What?” I asked a little defensively. “Like it’s easy? ‘Don’t steal’ I get. ‘Red means stop’ makes perfect sense. That Newton guy was smoking some serious crack when he made up his laws. When the hell will I ever use that stuff anyway?
Kelly Oram (The Avery Shaw Experiment (Science Squad, #1))
Children were experiments, and his had failed.
Maile Meloy (Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It)
You have to want it, want it so bad you will never give up, so bad that you are ready to sacrifice time, money, sleep, friendships, even your reputation,” he writes. “You will have to adopt a particular lifestyle of ambition, not just for a few weeks or months but for years and years and years. You have to want it so bad that you are not only ready to fail, but you actually want to experience failure: revel in it, learn from it.
David Shenk (The Genius in All of Us: Why Everything You've Been Told About Genetics, Talent, and IQ Is Wrong)
Those who were molested or beaten as children or teenagers might later be vulnerable to sexual abuse or violence, because their natural impulses to protect themselves and protest (physical and verbal) were extinguished. Expectation of hurtful treatment by others or one's own failed capabilities can stubbornly persist despite overwhelming evidence that such is no longer the case.
Babette Rothschild
To make this journey, we'll need imagination but imagination alone is not enough because the reality of nature is far more wondrous than anything we can imagine. This adventure is made possible by generations of searchers strictly adhering to a simple set of rules. Test ideas by experiment and observation. Build on those ideas that pass the test, reject the ones that fail, follow the evidence where ever it leads and question everything. Accept these terms and the cosmos is yours...
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In the first stage of life the mind is frivolous and easily distracted; it misses progress by failing in consecutiveness and persistence. This is the condition of children and barbarians, in which instinct has learned nothing from experience.
George Santayana
I had also, during many years, followed a golden rule, namely that whenever published fact, a new observation of thought came across me, which was opposed to my general results, to make a memorandum of it without fail and at once; for I had found by experience that such facts and thoughts were far more apt to escape from the memory than favourable ones.
Charles Darwin
In my experience, people love what they love. They just do. Or fail to love what they fail to love.
Marisa de los Santos (Love Walked In (Love Walked In #1))
Children, who play life, discern its true law and relations more clearly than men, who fail to live it worthily, but who think that they are wiser by experience, that is, by failure.
Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
In 1965, a psychologist named Martin Seligman started shocking dogs. He was trying to expand on the research of Pavlov--the guy who could make dogs salivate when they heard a bell ring. Seligman wanted to head in the other direction, and when he rang his bell, instead of providing food, he zapped the dogs with electricity. To keep them still, he restrained them in a harness during the experiment. After they were conditioned, he put these dogs in a big box with a little fence dividing it into two halves. He figured if the dog rang the bell, it would hop over the fence to escape, but it didn't. It just sat there and braced itself. They decided to try shocking the dog after the bell. The dog still just sat there and took it. When they put a dog in the box that had never been shocked before or had previously been allowed to escape and tried to zap it--it jumped the fence. You are just like these dogs. If, over the course of your life, you have experienced crushing defeat or pummeling abuse or loss of control, you convince yourself over time that there is no escape, and if escape is offered, you will not act--you become a nihilist who trusts futility above optimism. Studies of the clinically depressed show that they often give in to defeat and stop trying. . . Any extended period of negative emotions can lead to you giving in to despair and accepting your fate. If you remain alone for a long time, you will decide loneliness is a fact of life and pass up opportunities to hang out with people. The loss of control in any situation can lead to this state. . . Choices, even small ones, can hold back the crushing weight of helplessness, but you can't stop there. You must fight back your behavior and learn to fail with pride. Failing often is the only way to ever get the things you want out of life. Besides death, your destiny is not inescapable.
David McRaney (You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself)
Literary or scientific, liberal or specialist, all our education is predominantly verbal and therefore fails to accomplish what it is supposed to do. Instead of transforming children into fully developed adults, it turns out students of the natural sciences who are completely unaware of Nature as the primary fact of experience, it inflicts upon the world students of the humanities who know nothing of humanity, their own or anyone else’s.
Aldous Huxley (The Doors of Perception & Heaven and Hell)
In life, the question is not if you will have problems, but how you are going to deal with your problems. If the possibility of failure were erased, what would you attempt to achieve? The essence of man is imperfection. Know that you're going to make mistakes. The fellow who never makes a mistake takes his orders from one who does. Wake up and realize this: Failure is simply a price we pay to achieve success. Achievers are given multiple reasons to believe they are failures. But in spite of that, they persevere. The average for entrepreneurs is 3.8 failures before they finally make it in business. When achievers fail, they see it as a momentary event, not a lifelong epidemic. Procrastination is too high a price to pay for fear of failure. To conquer fear, you have to feel the fear and take action anyway. Forget motivation. Just do it. Act your way into feeling, not wait for positive emotions to carry you forward. Recognize that you will spend much of your life making mistakes. If you can take action and keep making mistakes, you gain experience. Life is playing a poor hand well. The greatest battle you wage against failure occurs on the inside, not the outside. Why worry about things you can't control when you can keep yourself busy controlling the things that depend on you? Handicaps can only disable us if we let them. If you are continually experiencing trouble or facing obstacles, then you should check to make sure that you are not the problem. Be more concerned with what you can give rather than what you can get because giving truly is the highest level of living. Embrace adversity and make failure a regular part of your life. If you're not failing, you're probably not really moving forward. Everything in life brings risk. It's true that you risk failure if you try something bold because you might miss it. But you also risk failure if you stand still and don't try anything new. The less you venture out, the greater your risk of failure. Ironically the more you risk failure — and actually fail — the greater your chances of success. If you are succeeding in everything you do, then you're probably not pushing yourself hard enough. And that means you're not taking enough risks. You risk because you have something of value you want to achieve. The more you do, the more you fail. The more you fail, the more you learn. The more you learn, the better you get. Determining what went wrong in a situation has value. But taking that analysis another step and figuring out how to use it to your benefit is the real difference maker when it comes to failing forward. Don't let your learning lead to knowledge; let your learning lead to action. The last time you failed, did you stop trying because you failed, or did you fail because you stopped trying? Commitment makes you capable of failing forward until you reach your goals. Cutting corners is really a sign of impatience and poor self-discipline. Successful people have learned to do what does not come naturally. Nothing worth achieving comes easily. The only way to fail forward and achieve your dreams is to cultivate tenacity and persistence. Never say die. Never be satisfied. Be stubborn. Be persistent. Integrity is a must. Anything worth having is worth striving for with all your might. If we look long enough for what we want in life we are almost sure to find it. Success is in the journey, the continual process. And no matter how hard you work, you will not create the perfect plan or execute it without error. You will never get to the point that you no longer make mistakes, that you no longer fail. The next time you find yourself envying what successful people have achieved, recognize that they have probably gone through many negative experiences that you cannot see on the surface. Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.
John C. Maxwell (Failing Forward)
But all these systems of ‘education’ lack provisions for freedom of experiment, for training and for expression of creative abilities by those who are to be taught. In this respect also all our pedagogues are behind the times.
James C. Scott (Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed)
The World is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time: so that the Faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and save the World from suicide.
T.S. Eliot
After that experience, I decided that the things that were more important to do were the things I was actually not focused on, and I wasn't focused on them because I was pretty much afraid of failing," he says. [quoted from Mark Roth]
Sanjay Gupta (Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that Are Saving Lives Against All Odds)
The human experience of weakness is God's blueprint for calling attention to the supremacy of his Son. When miserably failing people continue to belong to, believe in, and worship Jesus, God is happy.
Michael Spencer (Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality)
Most of us operate from a narrower frame of reference than that of which we are capable, failing to transcend the influence of our particular culture, our particular set of parents and our particular childhood experience upon our understanding.
M. Scott Peck (The Road Less Travelled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth (Classic Edition))
Experience," which is just a euphemism for heartache and heartbreak, failed love and false promises, for every time you told yourself This is the real thing and Finally I've found my way home only to end up lost in a muck or lying across rickety train tracks, praying for deliverance and not knowing if that would mean getting run over or being spared; "experience," which is a neutral word that most people know only means something good on a resume, a term that in the rest of life is more like a criminal rap sheet full of mishaps that cannot be expunged, this indelible quality made more frightening because there are no authorities keeping track, no one is forcing you to remember these things, it is all your own fault, it is only you who cannot forget; "experience," which is supposed to be the playground and peep show and life-size labyrinth of adolescence, which can, when it occurs at the right time in life...if it is delivered in moderate and judicious measure...make you a more capable lover and friend, spouse and partner.
Elizabeth Wurtzel
Preserved in discrete human inheritances—arts, literature, music, architecture, history, law, religion—culture expands the human experience of time, making both the past and the future present to creatures who otherwise experience only the present moment.
Patrick J. Deneen (Why Liberalism Failed (Politics and Culture))
Finally, this is better, that one do His own task as he may, even though he fail, Than take tasks not his own, though they seem good. To die performing duty is no ill; But who seeks other roads shall wander still.
Mahatma Gandhi (My Experiments with Truth: An Autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi)
God, help me to tell the thruth to the strong and to avoid telling lies to get the weak's applause. If you give me success, do not take away my humility. If you give me humility, do not take away my dignity. God, help me to see the other side of the medal. Don't let me blame others of treason just because they don't think they like me. God, teach me to love people as I love myself and to judge me as I judge others. Please, don't let me be proud if I succed, or fall in despair if I fall. Remind me that failure is the experience that precedes triumph. Teach me that forgiving is the most important in the strong and that revenge is the most primitive sigh in the weak. If you take away my success, let me keep my strength to succeed from failure. If I fall people, give me courage to apologize and if people fail me, give me courage to forgive them. God, if I forget you, please do not forget me.
Mahatma Gandhi
Those who favor a “grand plan” over experimentation fail to understand the role that failed experiments play in creating progress in society. Failures quickly and efficiently signal what doesn’t work, minimizing waste and redirecting scarce resources to what does work. A market economy is an experimental discovery process, in which business failures are inevitable and any attempt to eliminate them only ensures even greater failures.
Charles G. Koch (Good Profit: How Creating Value for Others Built One of the World's Most Successful Companies)
I won't tell," he said, his arms holding my waist with amateur stiffness. I smiled, thinking about the lover he'd become and all the things he'd try with me for the very first time. I'd be the sexual yardstick for his whole life: Jack would spend the rest of his days trying but failing to relive the experience of being given everything at a time when he knew nothing. Like a tollbooth in his memory, every partner he'd have afterwards would have to pass through the gate of my comparison, and it would be a losing equation. The numbers could never be as favorable as they were right now, when his naivety would be subtracted from my experience to produce the largest sum of astonishment possible.
Alissa Nutting (Tampa)
One important point many fail to understand is that the Bible was never meant to replace God; rather, it was meant to lead us into the heart of God. Too many Christians stop with the text and never go on to experience the presence of God.
A.W. Tozer (The Crucified Life: How To Live Out A Deeper Christian Experience)
Self-kindness: Being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism. Common humanity: Common humanity recognizes that suffering and feelings of personal inadequacy are part of the shared human experience—something we all go through rather than something that happens to “me” alone. Mindfulness: Taking a balanced approach to negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time. Mindfulness requires that we not “over-identify” with thoughts and feelings, so that we are caught up and swept away by negativity.
Brené Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are)
If we rely on anything else besides faith to maintain the practice of the presence of God, we will certainly fail, whether this is our feelings, or experiences, or sincerity, or good intentions, or reasonings, or plans. The reason these things will fail while faith will not fail is that all these things depend on us, while faith depends on God. It is a gift of God.
Peter Kreeft (Prayer For Beginners)
As a doc, though, I've seen what happens when people are under a lot of stress. Doesn't always bring out their best. When people are scared, they get angry. They'll do things they never thought they would. They'll bargain and compromise in order to survive; they'll chase after miracle cures and believe just about anything so long as it gives them hope. When hope fails, then watch out. Some people get brutal. They'll turn on each other; they'll become their own worst enemies.
Ilsa J. Bick (Ashes (Ashes Trilogy, #1))
This very personal relationship, ‘value,’ has two factors for a human being: first, what he can do with a thing, its use to him . . . and second, what he must do to get it, its cost to him. There is an old song which asserts ‘the best things in life are free.’ Not true! Utterly false! This was the tragic fallacy which brought on the decadence and collapse of the democracies of the twentieth century; those noble experiments failed because the people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted . . . and get it, without toil, without sweat, without tears.
Robert A. Heinlein (Starship Troopers)
Life is forgiving. Every experience, failed or successful, is never wasted. All the time spent does work towards a final goal, some known and some newly-discovered on the journey. You have to have faith in yourself, confidence in who you are and want to be, and be brave enough to take the steps towards achieving your dream.
Savi Sharma (This is Not Your Story)
Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, she defines each of these elements: Self-kindness: Being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism. Common humanity: Common humanity recognizes that suffering and feelings of personal inadequacy are part of the shared human experience—something we all go through rather than something that happens to “me” alone. Mindfulness: Taking a balanced approach to negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time. Mindfulness requires that we not “overidentify” with thoughts and feelings, so that we are caught up and swept away by negativity.
Brené Brown (Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead)
Experience teaches effectually, but brutally. It makes us acquainted with all the effects of an action, by causing us to feel them; and we cannot fail to finish by knowing that fire burns, if we have burned ourselves. For this rough teacher, I should like, if possible, to substitute a more gentle one. I mean Foresight. For this purpose I shall examine the consequences of certain economical phenomena, by placing in opposition to each other those which are seen, and those which are not seen.
Frédéric Bastiat
Something important I have learned is patience, and turning each failure into a learning experience. ..Instead of calling them "failures" I call them "lessons". Instead of saying, "I failed at that," I say, "I learned from that." Each failure has taught me something incredibly valuable and by recognizing this I can see the hand of God in my life in situations where most people would feel abandoned by Him.
Lindsey Rietzsch (Successful Failures: Recognizing the Divine Role That Opposition Plays in Life's Quest for Success)
You don't need to retire to a cloister or the desert for years on end to experience a true dark night; you don't even have to be pursuing any particular "spiritual" path. Raising a challenged child, or caring for a failing parent for years on end, is at least as purgative as donning robes and shaving one's head; to endure a mediocre work situation for the sake of the paycheck that sustains a family demands at least as much in the way of daily surrender to years of pristine silence in a monastery. No one can know in advance how and where the night will come, and what form God's darkness will take.
Tim Farrington (A Hell of Mercy: A Meditation on Depression and the Dark Night of the Soul)
In reality, at the time I was being incredibly negative and seeing things worse than they were. I was using my pessimism as a shield. It was my feeble attempt at protecting myself from the pain of failed expectations: I’d do anything to keep from being disappointed once again. But in adopting this pattern, this same barrier that kept me out of pain also kept me out of pleasure. It barred me from solutions and sealed me in a tomb of emotional death where one never experiences too much pain or too much pleasure, and where one continuously justifies one’s limited actions by stating they’re “just being realistic.
Anthony Robbins (Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!)
We are not our own any more than what we possess is our own. We did not make ourselves, we cannot be supreme over ourselves. We are not our own masters. We are God's property. Is it not our happiness thus to view the matter? Is it any happiness or any comfort, to consider that we are our own? It may be thought so by the young and prosperous. These may think it a great thing to have everything, as they suppose, their own way–to depend on no one–to have to think of nothing out of sight, to be without the irksomeness of continual acknowledgment, continual prayer, continual reference of what they do to the will of another. But as time goes on, they, as all men, will find that independence was not made for man–that it is an unnatural state–will do for a while, but will not carry us on safely to the end …'" Mustapha Mond paused, put down the first book and, picking up the other, turned over the pages. "Take this, for example," he said, and in his deep voice once more began to read: "'A man grows old; he feels in himself that radical sense of weakness, of listlessness, of discomfort, which accompanies the advance of age; and, feeling thus, imagines himself merely sick, lulling his fears with the notion that this distressing condition is due to some particular cause, from which, as from an illness, he hopes to recover. Vain imaginings! That sickness is old age; and a horrible disease it is. They say that it is the fear of death and of what comes after death that makes men turn to religion as they advance in years. But my own experience has given me the conviction that, quite apart from any such terrors or imaginings, the religious sentiment tends to develop as we grow older; to develop because, as the passions grow calm, as the fancy and sensibilities are less excited and less excitable, our reason becomes less troubled in its working, less obscured by the images, desires and distractions, in which it used to be absorbed; whereupon God emerges as from behind a cloud; our soul feels, sees, turns towards the source of all light; turns naturally and inevitably; for now that all that gave to the world of sensations its life and charms has begun to leak away from us, now that phenomenal existence is no more bolstered up by impressions from within or from without, we feel the need to lean on something that abides, something that will never play us false–a reality, an absolute and everlasting truth. Yes, we inevitably turn to God; for this religious sentiment is of its nature so pure, so delightful to the soul that experiences it, that it makes up to us for all our other losses.'" Mustapha Mond shut the book and leaned back in his chair. "One of the numerous things in heaven and earth that these philosophers didn't dream about was this" (he waved his hand), "us, the modern world. 'You can only be independent of God while you've got youth and prosperity; independence won't take you safely to the end.' Well, we've now got youth and prosperity right up to the end. What follows? Evidently, that we can be independent of God. 'The religious sentiment will compensate us for all our losses.' But there aren't any losses for us to compensate; religious sentiment is superfluous. And why should we go hunting for a substitute for youthful desires, when youthful desires never fail? A substitute for distractions, when we go on enjoying all the old fooleries to the very last? What need have we of repose when our minds and bodies continue to delight in activity? of consolation, when we have soma? of something immovable, when there is the social order?
Aldous Huxley (Brave New World)
Like chess masters and firefighters, premodern villagers relied on things being the same tomorrow as they were yesterday. They were extremely well prepared for what they had experienced before, and extremely poorly equipped for everything else. Their very thinking was highly specialized in a manner that the modern world has been telling us is increasingly obsolete. They were perfectly capable of learning from experience, but failed at learning without experience. And that is what a rapidly changing, wicked world demands—conceptual reasoning skills that can connect new ideas and work across contexts. Faced with any problem they had not directly experienced before, the remote villagers were completely lost. That is not an option for us. The more constrained and repetitive a challenge, the more likely it will be automated, while great rewards will accrue to those who can take conceptual knowledge from one problem or domain and apply it in an entirely new one.
David Epstein (Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World)
What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore? I’m probably hopelessly out of date but my advice is get real-world experience: Be a cowboy. Drive a truck. Join the Marine Corps. Get out of the hypercompetitive “life hack” frame of mind. I’m 74. Believe me, you’ve got all the time in the world. You’ve got ten lifetimes ahead of you. Don’t worry about your friends “beating” you or “getting somewhere” ahead of you. Get out into the real dirt world and start failing. Why do I say that? Because the goal is to connect with your own self, your own soul. Adversity. Everybody spends their life trying to avoid it. Me too. But the best things that ever happened to me came during the times when the shit hit the fan and I had nothing and nobody to help me. Who are you really? What do you really want? Get out there and fail and find out.
Timothy Ferriss (Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World)
Whenever a person says to you that they are as innocent as lambs in all concerning money, look well after your own money, for they are dead certain to collar it, if they can. Whenever a person proclaims to you 'In worldly matters I'm a child,' you consider that that person is only a crying off from being held accountable, and that you have got that person's number, and it's Number One. Now, I am not a poetical man myself, except in a vocal way, when it goes round a company, but I'm a practical one, and that's my experience. So's this rule. Fast and loose in one thing, Fast and loose in everything. I never knew it fail. No more will you. Nor no one.
Charles Dickens (Bleak House)
It is not that suffering or failure might happen, or that it will only happen to you if you are bad (which is what religious people often think), or that it will happen to the unfortunate, or to a few in other places, or that you can somehow by cleverness or righteousness avoid it. No, it will happen, and to you! Losing, failing, falling, sin, and the suffering that comes from those experiences—all of this is a necessary and even good part of the human journey.
Richard Rohr (Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life)
There are times the lies get to me, times I weary of battering myself against the obstacles of denial, hatred, fear-induced stupidity, and greed, times I want to curl up and fall into the problem, let it sweep me away as it so obviously sweeps away so many others. I remember a spring day a few years ago, a spring day much like this one, only a little more sun, and warmer. I sat on this same couch and looked out this same window at the same ponderosa pine. I was frightened, and lonely. Frightened of a future that looks dark, and darker with each passing species, and lonely because for every person actively trying to shut down the timber industry, stop abuse, or otherwise bring about a sustainable and sane way of living, there are thousands who are helping along this not-so-slow train to oblivion. I began to cry. The tears stopped soon enough. I realized we are not so outnumbered. We are not outnumbered at all. I looked closely, and saw one blade of wild grass, and another. I saw the sun reflecting bright off the needles of pine trees, and I heard the hum of flies. I saw ants walking single file through the dust, and a spider crawling toward the corner of the ceiling. I knew in that moment, as I've known ever since, that it is no longer possible to be lonely, that every creature on earth is pulling in the direction of life--every grasshopper, every struggling salmon, every unhatched chick, every cell of every blue whale--and it is only our own fear that sets us apart. All humans, too, are struggling to be sane, struggling to live in harmony with our surroundings, but it's really hard to let go. And so we lie, destroy, rape, murder, experiment, and extirpate, all to control this wildly uncontrollable symphony, and failing that, to destroy it.
Derrick Jensen
Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again; you shall never be so afraid of a tumble. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Melody Beattie (The Language of Letting Go: Hazelden Meditation Series)
Erikson maintained that, in later years, we experience a sense of integrity if we believe we have lived meaningful lives. This sense of integrity gives us a feeling of completeness so that we can better accept our approaching deaths. But if we have unresolved regrets about the past—if we think that we made poor choices or failed to accomplish important goals—we feel depressed and hopeless, which leads us to despair.
Lori Gottlieb (Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed)
Thought and science are therefore raising problems which their terms of study can never answer, many of which are doubtless problems only for thought. The trisection of an angle is similarly an insoluble problem only for compass and straight-edge construction, and Achilles cannot overtake the tortoise so long as their progress is considered piecemeal, endlessly having the distance between them. However, as it is not Achilles but the method of measurement which fails to catch up with the tortoise, so it is not man but his method of thought which fails to find fulfillment in experience.
Alan W. Watts (Nature, Man and Woman)
Never fail to have this attitude of mind, go forward without hurry, learn the essence of things through frequent experiences, taking advantage of every occasion. Fight against all kinds of people and be aware of their mind. Follow a road that is a thousand leagues long one step at a time. Be without haste and be convinced that all these practices are the duty of a bushi. Be victorious today over what you were yesterday; tomorrow be victorious over your clumsiness and then also over your skill. Practice in accordance with what I have written without letting your mind deviate from the way.
Miyamoto Musashi (The Complete Book of Five Rings)
Yet I’ve come to understand that the way I will truly honor my mother’s memory is not with a big act, but through my daily choices: to be compassionate with myself, even when my will is weak and my body fails me; to give myself freely to those I love, even when it means my heart may be broken; and to live fully and completely while I have the chance—just as my mother did.
Camille Pagán (Life and Other Near-Death Experiences)
How we hate to admit that we would like nothing better than to be the slave! Slave and master at the same time! For even in love the slave is always the master in disguise. The man who must conquer the woman, subjugate her, bend her to his will, form her according to his desires—is he not the slave of his slave? How easy it is, in this relationship, for the woman to upset the balance of power! The mere threat of self-dependence, on the woman’s part, and the gallant despot is seized with vertigo. But if they are able to throw themselves at one another recklessly, concealing nothing, surrendering all, if they admit to one another their interdependence, do they not enjoy a great and unsuspected freedom? The man who admits to himself that he is a coward has made a step towards conquering his fear; but the man who frankly admits it to every one, who asks that you recognize it in him and make allowance for it in dealing with him, is on the way to becoming a hero. Such a man is often surprised, when the crucial test comes, to find that he knows no fear. Having lost the fear of regarding himself as a coward he is one no longer: only the demonstration is needed to prove the metamorphosis. It is the same in love. The man who admits not only to himself but to his fellowmen, and even to the woman he adores, that he can be twisted around a woman’s finger, that he is helpless where the other sex is concerned, usually discovers that he is the more powerful of the two. Nothing breaks a woman down more quickly than complete surrender. A woman is prepared to resist, to be laid siege to: she has been trained to behave that way. When she meets no resistance she falls headlong into the trap. To be able to give oneself wholly and completely is the greatest luxury that life affords. Real love only begins at this point of dissolution. The personal life is altogether based on dependence, mutual dependence. Society is the aggregate of persons all interdependent. There is another richer life beyond the pale of society, beyond the personal, but there is no knowing it, no attainment possible, without firs traveling the heights and depths of the personal jungle. To become the great lover, the magnetiser and catalyzer, the blinding focus and inspiration of the world, one has to first experience the profound wisdom of being an utter fool. The man whose greatness of heart leads him to folly and ruin is to a woman irresistible. To the woman who loves, that is to say. As to those who ask merely to be loved, who seek only their own reflection in the mirror, no love however great, will ever satisfy them. In a world so hungry for love it is no wonder that men and women are blinded by the glamour and glitter of their own reflected egos. No wonder that the revolver shot is the last summons. No wonder that the grinding wheels of the subway express, though they cut the body to pieces, fail to precipitate the elixir of love. In the egocentric prism the helpless victim is walled in by the very light which he refracts. The ego dies in its own glass cage…
Henry Miller (Sexus (The Rosy Crucifixion, #1))
Whether I am believed or not, I will repeat that Vladimir Soloviov, who held that Dostoevsky was a prophet, is wrong, and that N. K. Mikhailovsky, who calls him a cruel talent and a grubber after buried treasure, is right. Dostoevsky grubs after buried treasure no doubt about that. And, therefore, it would be more becoming in the younger generation that still marches under the flag of pious idealism if, instead of choosing him as a spiritual leader, they avoided the old sorcerer, in whom only those gifted with great shortsightedness or lack of experience in life could fail to see the dangerous man.
Lev Shestov
While others allow failure to define them, others allow lack or abundance to define them. You cannot define yourself that way! You may have failed in the past but that is not the end of the world. You may be living in poverty but poverty is not your destiny. Please hear me out; do not attach value to your bad life experiences. Learn from them but do not lose focus. Your focus must be on your assignment; which is the ultimate reason for your existence.
D.S Mashego
The gospel can fill our hearts with God’s love so that you can handle it when your spouse fails to love you as he or she should. That frees us to see our spouse’s sins and flaws to the bottom—and speak of them—and yet still love and accept our spouse fully. And when, by the power of the gospel, our spouse experiences that same kind of truthful yet committed love, it enables our spouses to show us that same kind of transforming love when the time comes for it.
Timothy J. Keller (The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God)
Bringing people into existence as well as failing to bring people into existence can be regretted. However, only bringing people into existence can be regretted for the sake of the person whose existence was contingent on our decision. This is not because those who are not brought into existence are indeterminate. Instead it is because they never exist. We can regret, for the sake of an indeterminate but existent person that a benefit was not bestowed on him or her, but we cannot regret, for the sake of somebody who never exists and thus cannot thereby be deprived, a good that this never existent person never experiences. One might grieve about not having had children, but not because the children that one could have had have been deprived of existence. Remorse about not having children is remorse for ourselves—sorrow about having missed childbearing and child-rearing experiences. However, we do regret having brought into existence a child with an unhappy life, and we regret it for the child’s sake, even if also for our own sakes. The reason why we do not lament our failure to bring somebody into existence is because absent pleasures are not bad.
David Benatar (Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence)
You see, we are so afraid to fail, to make mistakes, not only in examinations but in life. To make a mistake is considered terrible because we will be criticized for it, somebody will scold us. But, after all, why should you not make a mistake? Are not all the people in the world making mistakes? And would the world cease to be in this horrible mess if you were never to make a mistake? If you are afraid of making mistakes you will never learn. The older people are making mistakes all the time, but they don’t want you to make mistakes, and thereby they smother your initiative. Why? Because they are afraid that by observing and questioning everything, by experimenting and making mistakes you may find out something for yourself and break away from the authority of your parents, of society, of tradition. That is why the ideal of success is held up for you to follow; and success, you will notice, is always in terms of respectability.
Jiddu Krishnamurti (Think on These Things)
It was as if a vital evolutionary advantage had been bestowed centuries ago on those members of the species who lived in a state of concern about what was to happen next. These ancestors might have failed to savour their experiences appropriately, but they had at least survived and shaped the character of their descendants, while their more focused siblings, at one with the moment and with the place where they stood, had met violent ends on the horns of unforeseen bison.
Alain de Botton (The Art of Travel)
Everybody tries to protect this vulnerable two three four five six seven eight year old inside, and to acquire skills and aptitudes for dealing with the situations that threaten to overwhelm it... Usually, that child is a wretchedly isolated undeveloped little being. It’s been protected by the efficient armour, it’s never participated in life, it’s never been exposed to living and to managing the person’s affairs, it’s never been given responsibility for taking the brunt. And it’s never properly lived. That’s how it is in almost everybody. And that little creature is sitting there, behind the armour, peering through the slits. And in its own self, it is still unprotected, incapable, inexperienced... And in fact, that child is the only real thing in them. It’s their humanity, their real individuality, the one that can’t understand why it was born and that knows it will have to die, in no matter how crowded a place, quite on its own. That’s the carrier of all the living qualities. It’s the centre of all the possible magic and revelation. What doesn’t come out of that creature isn’t worth having, or it’s worth having only as a tool—for that creature to use and turn to account and make meaningful... And so, wherever life takes it by surprise, and suddenly the artificial self of adaptations proves inadequate, and fails to ward off the invasion of raw experience, that inner self is thrown into the front line—unprepared, with all its childhood terrors round its ears. And yet that’s the moment it wants. That’s where it comes alive—even if only to be overwhelmed and bewildered and hurt. And that’s where it calls up its own resources—not artificial aids, picked up outside, but real inner resources, real biological ability to cope, and to turn to account, and to enjoy. That’s the paradox: the only time most people feel alive is when they’re suffering, when something overwhelms their ordinary, careful armour, and the naked child is flung out onto the world. That’s why the things that are worst to undergo are best to remember. But when that child gets buried away under their adaptive and protective shells—he becomes one of the walking dead, a monster. So when you realise you’ve gone a few weeks and haven’t felt that awful struggle of your childish self—struggling to lift itself out of its inadequacy and incompetence—you’ll know you’ve gone some weeks without meeting new challenge, and without growing, and that you’ve gone some weeks towards losing touch with yourself.
Ted Hughes (Letters of Ted Hughes)
Patients with complex trauma may at times develop extreme reactions to something the therapist has said or not said, done or not done. It is wise to anticipate this in advance, and perhaps to note this anticipation in initial communications with the patient. For example, one may say something like, "It is likely in our work together, there will be a time or times when you will feel angry with me, disappointed with me, or that I have failed you. We should except this and not be surprised if and when it happens, which it probably will." It is also vital to emphasize to the patient that despite the diagnosis and experience of dividedness, the whole person is responsible and will be held responsible for the acts of any part. p174
Elizabeth F. Howell (The Dissociative Mind)
Our near and distant predecessors might be forgiven for exterminating the last woolly mammoth, the ultimate dodo, the final sea cow, and the last living monk seal for lack of understanding the consequences of their actions. But who will forgive us if we fail to learn from past and present experiences, to forge new values, new relationships, a new level of respect for the natural systems that keep us alive?
Sylvia A. Earle (The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean's Are One)
Humans are often more stupid than they realize. Because of our weaknesses are so easily exploited. Just like a child's clumsy fingers messing up the buttons on a shirt. It's easy to mock someone who buttoned his shirt wrongly. It's easy to mock someone who had buttoned wrongly yet remains oblivious to it. But there are also people who completely fail to realize that they buttoned them all wrongly. Just a moment's error, a wrong choice, traps us on the road of no return. But who can reprimand them for that? Why can't humans be lonely? Why can't we yearn for those right by our side? On such a cold lonely night, who can stand to bear it alone? Imagine the fright when we realize the severity of our mistakes. Whoever said love was a happy affair?
Yuuri Eda (恋とは呼べない 3)
Religion would have you take its word for it. That is why all religions ultimately fail. Spirituality, on the other hand, will always succeed. Religion asks you to learn from the experience of others. Spirituality urges you to seek your own. Religion cannot stand Spirituality. It cannot abide it. For Spirituality may bring you to a different conclusion than a particular religion—and this no known religion can tolerate. Religion encourages you to explore the thoughts of others and accept them as your own. Spirituality invites you to toss away the thoughts of others and come up with your own.
Neale Donald Walsch (The Complete Conversations with God)
nobody but you nobody can save you but yourself. you will be put again and again into nearly impossible situations. they will attempt again and again through subterfuge, guise and force to make you submit, quit and /or die quietly inside. nobody can save you but yourself and it will be easy enough to fail so very easily but don’t, don’t, don’t. just watch them. listen to them. do you want to be like that? a faceless, mindless, heartless being? do you want to experience death before death? nobody can save you but yourself and you’re worth saving. it’s a war not easily won but if anything is worth winning then this is it. think about it. think about saving your self. your spiritual self. your gut self. your singing magical self and your beautiful self. save it. don’t join the dead-in-spirit. maintain your self with humor and grace and finally if necessary wager your self as you struggle, damn the odds, damn the price. only you can save your self. do it! do it! then you’ll know exactly what I am talking about.
Charles Bukowski
1If it frightens you, do it.   2Don't settle. Every time you settle, you get exactly what you settled for.   3Put yourself first.   4No matter what happens, you will handle it.   5Whatever you do, do it 100%.   6If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got.   7You are the only person on this planet responsible for your needs, wants, and happiness.   8Ask for what you want.   9If what you are doing isn't working, try something different. 10Be clear and direct. 11Learn to say "no." 12Don't make excuses. 13If you are an adult, you are old enough to make your own rules. 14Let people help you. 15Be honest with yourself. 16Do not let anyone treat you badly. No one. Ever. 17Remove yourself from a bad situation instead of waiting for the situation to change. 18Don't tolerate the intolerable — ever. 19Stop blaming. Victims never succeed. 20Live with integrity. Decide what feels right to you, then do it. 21Accept the consequences of your actions. 22Be good to yourself. 23Think "abundance." 24Face difficult situations and conflict head on. 25Don't do anything in secret. 26Do it now. 27Be willing to let go of what you have so you can get what you want. 28Have fun. If you are not having fun, something is wrong. 29Give yourself room to fail. There are no mistakes, only learning experiences. 30Control is an illusion. Let go; let life happen. It
Robert A. Glover (No More Mr. Nice Guy)
I fail to remember ever having made an effort — no trace of struggle is detectable in my life, I am the opposite of a heroic nature. To “want” something, to “strive” for something, to have an “end,” a “desire” in mind — I know none of this from my experience. Even at this moment I look out upon my future — a broad future! — as upon a smooth sea: no desire ripples upon it. Not in the least do I want anything to be different from what it is; I myself do not want to be any different ... But thus I have always lived.
Friedrich Nietzsche (Ecce Homo)
In other words, our constitution was designed by people who were idealistic but not ideological. There's a big difference. You can have a philosophy that tends to be liberal or conservative but still be open to evidence, experience, and argument. That enables people with honest differences to find practical, principled compromise. On the other hand, fervent insistence on an ideology makes evidence, experience, and arguments irrelevant: If you possess the absolute truth, those who disagree are by definition wrong, and evidence of success or failure is irrelevant. There is nothing to learn from the experience of other countries. Respectful arguments are a waste of time. Compromise is weakness. And if your policies fail, you don't abandon them; instead, you double down, asserting that they would have worked if only they had been carried to their logical extreme.
Bill Clinton (Back to Work: Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy)
He asked what I made of the other students, so I told him. They were OK, but they were all very similar; they struggled to have different opinions because they’d never failed at anything or been nobodies, and they thought they would always win. But this isn’t most people’s experience of life. He asked me what could be done about it. I told him the answer was to send them all out for a year to do some dead-end job like working in a chicken-processing plant or spreading muck with a tractor. It would do more good than a gap year in Peru. He laughed and thought this tremendously witty. It wasn’t meant to be funny.
James Rebanks (The Shepherd's Life: A People's History of the Lake District)
Wisdom is really the key to wealth. With great wisdom, comes great wealth and success. Rather than pursuing wealth, pursue wisdom. The aggressive pursuit of wealth can lead to disappointment. Wisdom is defined as the quality of having experience, and being able to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting. Wisdom is basically the practical application of knowledge. Rich people have small TVs and big libraries, and poor people have small libraries and big TVs. Become completely focused on one subject and study the subject for a long period of time. Don't skip around from one subject to the next. The problem is generally not money. Jesus taught that the problem was attachment to possessions and dependence on money rather than dependence on God. Those who love people, acquire wealth so they can give generously. After all, money feeds, shelters, and clothes people. They key is to work extremely hard for a short period of time (1-5 years), create abundant wealth, and then make money work hard for you through wise investments that yield a passive income for life. Don't let the opinions of the average man sway you. Dream, and he thinks you're crazy. Succeed, and he thinks you're lucky. Acquire wealth, and he thinks you're greedy. Pay no attention. He simply doesn't understand. Failure is success if we learn from it. Continuing failure eventually leads to success. Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly. Whenever you pursue a goal, it should be with complete focus. This means no interruptions. Only when one loves his career and is skilled at it can he truly succeed. Never rush into an investment without prior research and deliberation. With preferred shares, investors are guaranteed a dividend forever, while common stocks have variable dividends. Some regions with very low or no income taxes include the following: Nevada, Texas, Wyoming, Delaware, South Dakota, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Panama, San Marino, Seychelles, Isle of Man, Channel Islands, Curaçao, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Monaco, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Bermuda, Kuwait, Oman, Andorra, Cayman Islands, Belize, Vanuatu, and Campione d'Italia. There is only one God who is infinite and supreme above all things. Do not replace that infinite one with finite idols. As frustrated as you may feel due to your life circumstances, do not vent it by cursing God or unnecessarily uttering his name. Greed leads to poverty. Greed inclines people to act impulsively in hopes of gaining more. The benefit of giving to the poor is so great that a beggar is actually doing the giver a favor by allowing the person to give. The more I give away, the more that comes back. Earn as much as you can. Save as much as you can. Invest as much as you can. Give as much as you can.
H.W. Charles (The Money Code: Become a Millionaire With the Ancient Jewish Code)
To be or not to be! Hamlet!! I beg to differ! How much more limiting could that question be? How much more restraining could it ever get? Do we only have two possible answers to a question? Do we only have two things to choose from? Are our options so restricted? Are we so grounded? Have we gone color blind? When did our retinas stop seeing the colors of a rainbow? Why do we print our experiences in duotone? In a game of multiple choice questions, how many answers could be correct? What number of choices do we have? Who gives us the options? When do we have to submit our selections? Who decides if we passed or failed?
Marwa Rakha (The Poison Tree - Planted and Grown in Egypt)
The new atheists show a disturbing lack of understanding of or concern about the complexity and ambiguity of modern experience, and their polemic entirely fails to mention the concern for justice and compassion that, despite their undeniable failings, has been espoused by all three of the monotheisms. Religious fundamentalists also develop an exagerrated view of their enemy as the epitome of evil. This tendency makes critique of the new atheists too easy. They never discuss the work of such theologians as Bultmann or Tillich, who offer a very different view of religion and are closer to mainstream tradition than any fundamentalist. Unlike Feurerbach, Marx and Freud, the new atheists are not theologically literate. As one of their critics has remarked, in any military strategy it is essential to confront the enemy at its strongest point; failure to do so means that their polemic remains shallow and lacks intellectual depth. It is also morally and intellectually conservative. Unlike Feurerback, Marx, Ingersoll or Mill, these new Atheists show little concern about the poverty, injustice and humiliation that has inspired many of the atrocities they deplore; they show no yearning for a better world. Nor, like Nietzsche , Sartre or Camus, do they compel their readers to face up to the pointlessness and futility that ensue when people lack the resources to create a sense of meaning. They do not appear to consider the effect of such nihilism on people who do not have privileged lives and absorbing work.
Karen Armstrong (The Case for God)
Outside and inside, life and soul, appear as parallels in “case history” and “soul history.” A case history is a biography of historical events in which one took part: family, school, work, illness, war, love. The soul history often neglects entirely some or many of these events, and spontaneously invents fictions and “inscapes” without major outer correlations. The biography of the soul concerns experience. It seems not to follow the one-way direction of the flow of time, and it is reported best by emotions, dreams, and fantasies … The experiences arising from major dreams, crises, and insights give definition to the personality. They too have “names” and “dates” like the outer events of case history; they are like boundary stones, which mark out one’s own individual ground. These marks can be less denied than can the outer facts of life, for nationality, marriage, religion, occupation, and even one’s own name can all be altered … Case history reports on the achievements and failures of life with the world of facts. But the soul has neither achieved nor failed in the same way … The soul imagines and plays – and play is not chronicled by report. What remains of the years of our childhood play that could be set down in a case history? … Where a case history presents a sequence of facts leading to diagnosis, soul history shows rather a concentric helter-skelter pointing always beyond itself … We cannot get a soul history through a case history.
James Hillman (Suicide and the Soul)
One of the most common platitudes we heard was that “words failed.” But words were not failing us at all. It was not true that there was no way to describe our experience. We had plenty of language to talk to each other about the horror of what was happening, and talk we did. If there was a communication problem it was that there were too many words; they were far too heavy and too specific to be inflicted upon others. If something was failing it was the functionality of routine, platitudinous language—the comforting clichés were now inapplicable and perfectly useless. We instinctively protected other people from the knowledge we possessed; we let them think that words failed, because we knew they didn’t want to be familiar with the vocabulary we used daily. We were sure they didn’t want to know what we did; we didn’t want to know it either.
Aleksandar Hemon (The Book of My Lives)
The Rules For Being Human 1. You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period of this time around. 2. You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called Life. Each day in this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid. 3. There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial and error: Experimentation. The “failed” experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately “works.” 4. A lesson is repeated until learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next lesson. 5. Learning lessons does not end. There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned. 6. “There” is no better than “here.” When your “there” has become a “here,” you will simply obtain another “there” that will again look better than “here.” 7. Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself. 8. What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours. 9. Your answers lie inside you. The answers to Life’s questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen and trust. 10. You will forget all this. Chérie Carter-Scott
Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit)
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Ordinary moments make the life. This is what she knew to be trustworthy and this is what I learned, eventually, from those years we spent together. No leaps or falls. I inhale the little drizzly details of the past and know who I am. What I failed to know before is clearer now, filtered up through time, an experience belonging to no one else, not remotely, no one, anyone, ever. I watch her use the roller to remove lint from her cloth coat. Define coat, I tell myself. Define time, define space.
Don DeLillo (Zero K)
And when one day Rambert told him that he liked waking up at four in the morning and thinking of his beloved Paris, the doctor guessed easily enough, basing this on his own experience, that that was his favorite time for conjuring up pictures of the woman from whom he now was parted. This was, indeed, the hour when he could feel surest she was wholly his. Till four in the morning one is seldom doing anything and at that hour, even if the night has been a night of betrayal, one is asleep. Yes, everyone sleeps at that hour, and this is reassuring, since the great longing of an unquiet heart is to possess constantly and consciously the loved one, or, failing that, to be able to plunge the loved one, when a time of absence intervenes, into a dreamless sleep timed to last unbroken until the day they meet again.
Albert Camus (The Plague)
This is what grace does. It rescues us from our spiritual blindness. It releases us from our bondage to our rationalism and materialism. Grace gives us the faith to be utterly assured of what we cannot see. It frees us from refusing to believe in anything we cannot experience with our physical senses. But grace does more. It connects us to the invisible One in an eternal love relationship that fills us with joy we have never known before and gives us rest of heart that we would have though impossible. And that grace is still rescuing us, because we still tend to forget what is important, real, and true. We still tend to look to the physical world for our comfort. We still fail to remember in given moments that we really do have a heavenly Father. Grace has done a wonderful thing for us and continues to do more and more.
Paul David Tripp (New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional)
When we encounter a friend who's depressed or afraid, we automatically try to take that distress away and to cheer the person up. While we may be operating with the best of intentions, this Band-Aid approach only reinforces the condition. Unless people experience their pain completely and begin to undrstand it, they will not only fail to overcome it, they'll also lose the opportunity of using it to advance their own growth. Pain can get you somewhere, and that somewhere can be a life-enhancing experience. We all tend to forget that pain can signal change. Alleviating the symptoms of pain in someone, without helping them to get at its underlying source, robs them of an important to for self-exploration. It's also a way of placating that reinforces the person'S need to cave in and succumb to another. This attitude undermines healthy character development and contributes to psychospiritual, moral, and ultimately social decay.
Adele von Rust McCormick (Horse Sense and the Human Heart)
A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person's faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection. Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts — not only their own but their friends' and neighbors'. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them. Only if you struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide the grounds for your beliefs to skeptics, including yourself, that are plausible rather than ridiculous or offensive. And, just as important for our current situation, such a process will lead you, even after you come to a position of strong faith, to respect and understand those who doubt.
Timothy J. Keller
Dr. Kristin Neff is a researcher and professor at the University of Texas at Austin. She runs the Self-Compassion Research Lab, where she studies how we develop and practice self-compassion. According to Neff, self-compassion has three elements: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness. Here are abbreviated definitions for each of these: Self-kindness: Being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism. Common humanity: Common humanity recognizes that suffering and feelings of personal inadequacy are part of the shared human experience—something we all go through rather than something that happens to “me” alone. Mindfulness: Taking a balanced approach to negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time. Mindfulness requires that we not “over-identify” with thoughts and feelings, so that we are caught up and swept away by negativity.
Brené Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection)
Poetic Terrorism WEIRD DANCING IN ALL-NIGHT computer-banking lobbies. Unauthorized pyrotechnic displays. Land-art, earth-works as bizarre alien artifacts strewn in State Parks. Burglarize houses but instead of stealing, leave Poetic-Terrorist objects. Kidnap someone & make them happy. Pick someone at random & convince them they're the heir to an enormous, useless & amazing fortune--say 5000 square miles of Antarctica, or an aging circus elephant, or an orphanage in Bombay, or a collection of alchemical mss. ... Bolt up brass commemorative plaques in places (public or private) where you have experienced a revelation or had a particularly fulfilling sexual experience, etc. Go naked for a sign. Organize a strike in your school or workplace on the grounds that it does not satisfy your need for indolence & spiritual beauty. Graffiti-art loaned some grace to ugly subways & rigid public monuments--PT-art can also be created for public places: poems scrawled in courthouse lavatories, small fetishes abandoned in parks & restaurants, Xerox-art under windshield-wipers of parked cars, Big Character Slogans pasted on playground walls, anonymous letters mailed to random or chosen recipients (mail fraud), pirate radio transmissions, wet cement... The audience reaction or aesthetic-shock produced by PT ought to be at least as strong as the emotion of terror-- powerful disgust, sexual arousal, superstitious awe, sudden intuitive breakthrough, dada-esque angst--no matter whether the PT is aimed at one person or many, no matter whether it is "signed" or anonymous, if it does not change someone's life (aside from the artist) it fails. PT is an act in a Theater of Cruelty which has no stage, no rows of seats, no tickets & no walls. In order to work at all, PT must categorically be divorced from all conventional structures for art consumption (galleries, publications, media). Even the guerilla Situationist tactics of street theater are perhaps too well known & expected now. An exquisite seduction carried out not only in the cause of mutual satisfaction but also as a conscious act in a deliberately beautiful life--may be the ultimate PT. The PTerrorist behaves like a confidence-trickster whose aim is not money but CHANGE. Don't do PT for other artists, do it for people who will not realize (at least for a few moments) that what you have done is art. Avoid recognizable art-categories, avoid politics, don't stick around to argue, don't be sentimental; be ruthless, take risks, vandalize only what must be defaced, do something children will remember all their lives--but don't be spontaneous unless the PT Muse has possessed you. Dress up. Leave a false name. Be legendary. The best PT is against the law, but don't get caught. Art as crime; crime as art.
Hakim Bey (TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone (New Autonomy))
How do I get my point heard? How do I get it noticed? How do I get to belong in the discussion? I am sure it is something some men feel too, but if there’s one thing that bonds women of all backgrounds, of all political colours, in all kinds of business and profession, it is the classic experience of the failed intervention; you’re at a meeting, you make a point, then a short silence follows, and after a few awkward seconds some man picks up where he had just left off: ‘What I was saying was …’ You might as well never have opened your mouth, and you end up blaming both yourself and the men whose exclusive club the discussion appears to be.
Mary Beard (Women & Power: A Manifesto)
Charlotte Joko Beck, Zen teacher and author, teaches that the “secret” of spiritual life is the capacity to “… return to that which we have spent a lifetime hiding from, to rest in the bodily experience of the present moment—even if it is a feeling of being humiliated, of failing, of abandonment, of unfairness.” Through the sacred art of pausing, we develop the capacity to stop hiding, to stop running away from our experience. We begin to trust in our natural intelligence, in our naturally wise heart, in our capacity to open to whatever arises. Like awakening from a dream, in the moment of pausing our trance recedes and Radical Acceptance becomes possible.
Tara Brach (Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha)
I had a lot of disasters in the kitchen, even during the long period when I was cooking under my mother's supervision and with the benefit of her experience. I still fail all the time, in particular when I turn to baking. After hundreds of attempts, following dozens of different formulas, I don't think I have ever made what I would consider to be a completely successful pie crust. Disaster is somehow part of the appeal of cooking for me. If that first Velvet Crumb Cake had turned out to be a flop, I don't know if I would have pursued my interest in cooking. But cooking entails stubbornness and a tolerance--maybe even a taste--for last-minute collapse. You have to be able to enjoy the repeated and deliberate following of a more of less lengthy, more or less complicated series of steps whose product is very likely--after all that work, with no warning, right at the end--to curdle, sink, scorch, dry up, congeal, burn, or simply taste bad.
Michael Chabon (Manhood for Amateurs)
I feel more strongly with every recurring year that our country has no tradition which does it so much honour and which it should guard so jealously as that of its hospitality. It is a tradition that is unique as far as my experience goes (and I have visited not a few places abroad) among the modern nations. Some would say, perhaps, that with us it is rather a failing than anything to be boasted of. But granted even that, it is, to my mind, a princely failing, and one that I trust will long be cultivated among us. Of one thing, at least, I am sure. As long as this one roof shelters the good ladies aforesaid- and I wish from my heart it may do so for many and many a long year to come- the tradition of genuine warm-hearted courteous Irish hospitality, which our forefathers have handed down to us and which we must hand down to our descendants, is still alive among us.
James Joyce (The Dead)
It seemed to Jack that if an ordinary human being, his own son, no one particular, could have this purity of mind, then perhaps the isolated deeds of virtue at which people marveled in later life were not really isolated at all; perhaps they were the natural continuation of the innocent goodness that all people brought into the world at their birth. If this was true, then his fellow-human beings were not the rough, flawed creatures that most of them supposed. Their failings were not innate, but were the result of where they had gone wrong or been coarsened by their experiences; in their hearts they remained perfectible.
Sebastian Faulks (Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War)
Genuine forgiveness and reconciliation are two-person transactions that are enabled by apologies. Some, particularly within the Christian worldview, have taught forgiveness without an apology. They often quote the words of Jesus, “If you do not forgive men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Thus, they say to the wife whose husband has been unfaithful and continues in his adulterous affair, “You must forgive him, or God will not forgive you.” Such an interpretation of Jesus’ teachings fails to reckon with the rest of the scriptural teachings on forgiveness. The Christian is instructed to forgive others in the same manner that God forgives us. How does God forgive us? The Scriptures say that if we confess our sins, God will forgive our sins. Nothing in the Old or New Testaments indicates that God forgives the sins of people who do not confess and repent of their sins. While a pastor encourages a wife to forgive her erring husband while he still continues in his wrongdoing, the minister is requiring of the wife something that God Himself does not do. Jesus’ teaching is that we are to be always willing to forgive, as God is always willing to forgive, those who repent… While a pastor encourages a wife to forgive her erring husband while he still continues in his wrongdoing, the minister is requiring of the wife something that God Himself does not do. Jesus’ teaching is that we are to be always willing to forgive, as God is always willing to forgive, those who repent…
Gary Chapman (The Five Languages of Apology: How to Experience Healing in All Your Relationships)
What is love? Is it a lightning bolt that instantaneously unites two souls in utter infatuation and admiration through the meeting of a simple innocent stare? Or is it a lustful seed that is sown in a dark dingy bar one sweaty summer's night only to be nurtured with romantic rendezvous as it matures into a beautiful flower? Is it a river springing forth, creating lifelong bonds through experiences, heartaches, and missed opportunities? Or is it a thunderstorm that slowly rolls in, climaxing with an awesome display of unbridled passion, only to succumb to its inevitable fade into the distance? I define love as education.... It teaches us to learn from our opportunities, and made the stupidest of decisions for the rightest of reasons. It gives us a hint of what "it" should be and feel like, but then encourages us to think outside the box and develop our own understanding of what "it" could be. Those that choose to embrace and learn from love's educational peaks and valleys are the ones that will eventually find true love, that one in a million. Those that don't are destined to be consumed with the inevitable ring around the rosy of fake I love you's and failed relationships. I have been lucky enough to have some of the most amazing teachers throughout my romantic evolution and it is to them that I dedicate this book. The lessons in life, passion and love they taught me have helped shape who I am today and who I will be tomorrow. To the love that stains my heart, but defines my soul....I thank you.....
Ivan Rusilko (Appetizers (The Winemaker's Dinner, #1))
There's a characteristically brilliant Peanuts strip which opens with Linus sitting on the living-room floor, anxiously clutching his mouth. Lucy enters and asks what's wrong. "I'm aware of my tongue," he explains. "It's an awful feeling! Every now and then I become aware that I have a tongue inside my mouth, and then it starts to feel lumped up... I cant's help it... I can't put it out of my mind... I keep thinking about where my tongue would be if I weren't thinking about it, and then I can feel it sort of pressing against my teeth." Loudly declaring this the dumbest thing she's ever heard, Lucy scowls away. But a few steps down the corridor, she stops dead in her tracks. She clutches her own mouth. Suddenly she's aware of her tongue too. She runs back and chases him round the room, shouting, "You blockhead!" with her gigantic booming gob. Occasionally, late at night, while I'm trying to sleep and failing, I experience someting similar - except instead of being aware of my tongue, I'm aware of my entire body, the entire world, and the whole of reality itself. It's like waking from a dream, or a light going on, or a giant "YOU ARE HERE" sign appearing in the sky. The mere fact that I'm actually real and actually breathing suddenly hits me in the head with a thwack. It leaves me giddy. It causes a brief surge of clammy, bubbling anxiety, like the opening stages of a panic attack. The moment soon passes, but while it lasts it's strangely terrifying.
Charlie Brooker (The Hell of It All)
It is their mores, then, that make the Americans of the United States...capable of maintaining the rule of democracy.... Too much importance is attached to laws and too little to mores.... I am convinced that the luckiest of geographical circumstances and the best of laws cannot maintain a constitution in spite of mores, whereas the latter can turn even the most unfavorable circumstances...to advantage.... If I have not succeeded in making the reader feel the importance I attach to the practical experience of the Americans, to their habits, laws, and, in a word, their mores, I have failed in the main object of my work. -Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in American
Naomi Wolf (Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries)
How do people get to this clandestine Archipelago? Hour by hour planes fly there, ships steer their course there, and trains thunder off to it--but all with nary a mark on them to tell of their destination. And at ticket windows or at travel bureaus for Soviet or foreign tourists the employees would be astounded if you were to ask for a ticket to go there. They know nothing and they've never heard of the Archipelago as a whole or any one of its innumerable islands. Those who go to the Archipelago to administer it get there via the training schools of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Those who go there to be guards are conscripted via the military conscription centers. And those who, like you and me, dear reader, go there to die, must get there solely and compulsorily via arrest. Arrest! Need it be said that it is a breaking point in your life, a bolt of lightning which has scored a direct hit on you? That it is an unassimilable spiritual earthquake not every person can cope with, as a result of which people often slip into insanity? The Universe has as many different centers as there are living beings in it. Each of us is a center of the Universe, and that Universe is shattered when they hiss at you: "You are under arrest." If you are arrested, can anything else remain unshattered by this cataclysm? But the darkened mind is incapable of embracing these dis­placements in our universe, and both the most sophisticated and the veriest simpleton among us, drawing on all life's experience, can gasp out only: "Me? What for?" And this is a question which, though repeated millions and millions of times before, has yet to receive an answer. Arrest is an instantaneous, shattering thrust, expulsion, somer­sault from one state into another. We have been happily borne—or perhaps have unhappily dragged our weary way—down the long and crooked streets of our lives, past all kinds of walls and fences made of rotting wood, rammed earth, brick, concrete, iron railings. We have never given a thought to what lies behind them. We have never tried to pene­trate them with our vision or our understanding. But there is where the Gulag country begins, right next to us, two yards away from us. In addition, we have failed to notice an enormous num­ber of closely fitted, well-disguised doors and gates in these fences. All those gates were prepared for us, every last one! And all of a sudden the fateful gate swings quickly open, and four white male hands, unaccustomed to physical labor but none­theless strong and tenacious, grab us by the leg, arm, collar, cap, ear, and drag us in like a sack, and the gate behind us, the gate to our past life, is slammed shut once and for all. That's all there is to it! You are arrested! And you'll find nothing better to respond with than a lamblike bleat: "Me? What for?" That's what arrest is: it's a blinding flash and a blow which shifts the present instantly into the past and the impossible into omnipotent actuality. That's all. And neither for the first hour nor for the first day will you be able to grasp anything else.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation V-VII)
Many people in this room have an Etsy store where they create unique, unreplicable artifacts or useful items to be sold on a small scale, in a common marketplace where their friends meet and barter. I and many of my friends own more than one spinning wheel. We grow our food again. We make pickles and jams on private, individual scales, when many of our mothers forgot those skills if they ever knew them. We come to conventions, we create small communities of support and distributed skills--when one of us needs help, our village steps in. It’s only that our village is no longer physical, but connected by DSL instead of roads. But look at how we organize our tribes--bloggers preside over large estates, kings and queens whose spouses’ virtues are oft-lauded but whose faces are rarely seen. They have moderators to protect them, to be their knights, a nobility of active commenters and big name fans, a peasantry of regular readers, and vandals starting the occasional flame war just to watch the fields burn. Other villages are more commune-like, sharing out resources on forums or aggregate sites, providing wise women to be consulted, rabbis or priests to explain the world, makers and smiths to fashion magical objects. Groups of performers, acrobats and actors and singers of songs are traveling the roads once more, entertaining for a brief evening in a living room or a wheatfield, known by word of mouth and secret signal. Separate from official government, we create our own hierarchies, laws, and mores, as well as our own folklore and secret history. Even my own guilt about having failed as an academic is quite the crisis of filial piety--you see, my mother is a professor. I have not carried on the family trade. We dwell within a system so large and widespread, so disorganized and unconcerned for anyone but its most privileged and luxurious members, that our powerlessness, when we can summon up the courage to actually face it, is staggering. So we do not face it. We tell ourselves we are Achilles when we have much more in common with the cathedral-worker, laboring anonymously so that the next generation can see some incremental progress. We lack, of course, a Great Work to point to and say: my grandmother made that window; I worked upon the door. Though, I would submit that perhaps the Internet, as an object, as an aggregate entity, is the cathedral we build word by word and image by image, window by window and portal by portal, to stand taller for our children, if only by a little, than it does for us. For most of us are Lancelots, not Galahads. We may see the Grail of a good Classical life, but never touch it. That is for our sons, or their daughters, or further off. And if our villages are online, the real world becomes that dark wood on the edge of civilization, a place of danger and experience, of magic and blood, a place to make one’s name or find death by bear. And here, there be monsters.
Catherynne M. Valente
I personally believe mavericks are people who write their own rulebook. They are the ones who act first and talk later. They are fiercely independent thinkers who know how to fight the lizard brain (to use Seth Godin’s term). I don’t believe many are born, rather they are products of an environment, or their experiences. They are usually the people that find the accepted norm does not meet their requirements and have the self-confidence, appetite, independence, degree of self reliance and sufficient desire to carve out their own niche in life. I believe a maverick thinker can take a new idea, champion it, and push it beyond the ability of a normal person to do so. I also believe the best mavericks can build a team, can motivate with their vision, their passion, and can pull together others to accomplish great things. A wise maverick knows that they need others to give full form to their views and can gather these necessary contributors around them. Mavericks, in my experience, fall into various categories – a/ the totally off-the-wall, uncontrollable genius who won’t listen to anyone; b/ the person who thinks that they have the ONLY solution to a challenge but prepared to consider others’ views on how to conquer the world &, finally, the person who thinks laterally to overcome problems considered to be irresolvable. I like in particular the third category. The upside is that mavericks, because of their different outlook on life, often sees opportunities and solutions that others cannot. But the downside is that often, because in life there is always some degree of luck in success (i.e. being in the right place at the right time), mavericks that fail are often ridiculed for their unorthodox approach. However when they succeed they are acclaimed for their inspiration. It is indeed a fine line they walk in life.
Ziad K. Abdelnour (Economic Warfare: Secrets of Wealth Creation in the Age of Welfare Politics)
At the core of this grief is our longing to belong. This longing is wired into us by necessity. It assures our safety and our ability to extend out into the world with confidence. This feeling of belonging is rooted in the village and, at times, in extended families. It was in this setting that we emerged as a species. It was in this setting that what we require to become fully human was established. Jean Liedloff writes, "the design of each individual was a reflection of the experience it expected to encounter." We are designed to receive touch, to hear sounds and words entering our ears that soothe and comfort. We are shaped for closeness and for intimacy with our surroundings. Our profound feelings of lacking something are not reflection of personal failure, but the reflection of a society that has failed to offer us what we were designed to expect. Liedloff concludes, "what was once man's confident expectations for suitable treatment and surroundings is now so frustrated that a person often thinks himself lucky if he is not actually homeless or in pain. But even as he is saying, 'I am all right,' there is in him a sense of loss, a longing for something he cannot name, a feeling of being off-center, of missing something. Asked point blank, he will seldom deny it.
Francis Weller (The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief)
You make out with a boy because he’s cute, but he has no substance, no words to offer you. His mouth tastes like stale beer and false promises. When he touches your chin, you offer your mouth up like a flower to to be plucked, all covered in red lipstick to attract his eye. When he reaches his hand down your shirt, he stops, hand on boob, and squeezes, like you’re a fruit he’s trying to juice. He doesn’t touch anything but skin, does not feel what’s within. In the morning, he texts you only to say, “I think I left the rest of my beer at your place, but it’s cool, you can drink it. Last night was fun.” You kiss a girl because she’s new. Because she’s different and you’re twenty two, trying something else out because it’s all failed before. After spending six weekends together, you call her, only to be answered by a harsh beep informing you that her number has been disconnected. You learn that success doesn’t come through experimenting with your sexuality, and you’re left with a mouth full of ruin and more evidence that you are out of tune. You fall for a boy who is so nice, you don’t think he can do any harm. When he mentions marriage and murder in the same sentence, you say, “Okay, okay, okay.” When you make a joke he does not laugh, but tilts his head and asks you how many drinks you’ve had in such a loving tone that you sober up immediately. He leaves bullet in your blood and disappears, saying, “Who wants a girl that’s filled with holes?” You find out that a med student does. He spots you reading in a bar and compliments you on the dust spilling from your mouth. When you see his black doctor’s bag posed loyally at his side, you ask him if he’s got the tools to fix a mangled nervous system. He smiles at you, all teeth, and tells you to come with him. In the back of his car, he covers you in teethmarks and says, “There, now don’t you feel whole again.” But all the incisions do is let more cold air into your bones. You wonder how many times you will collapse into ruins before you give up on rebuilding. You wonder if maybe you’d have more luck living amongst your rubble instead of looking for someone to repair it. The next time someone promises to flood you with light to erase your dark, you insist them you’re fine the way you are. They tell you there’s hope, that they had holes in their chest too, that they know how to patch them up. When they offer you a bottle in exchange for your mouth, you tell them you’re not looking for a way out. No, thank you, you tell them. Even though you are filled with ruins and rubble, you are as much your light as you are your dark.
Lora Mathis
Most of us operate from a narrower frame of reference than that of which we are capable, failing to transcend the influence of our particular culture, our particular set of parents and our particular childhood experience upon our understanding. It is no wonder, then, that the world of humanity is so full of conflict. We have a situation in which human beings, who must deal with each other, have vastly different views as to the nature of reality, yet each one believes his or her own view to be the correct one since it is based on the microcosm of personal experience. And to make matters worse, most of us are not even fully aware of our own world views, much less the uniqueness of the experience from which they are derived.
M. Scott Peck
This paying attention is the foundational act of empathy, of listening, of seeing, of imagining experiences other than one's own, of getting out of the boundaries of one's own experience. There's a currently popular argument that books help us feel empathy, but if they do so they do it by helping us imagine that we are people we are not. Or to go deeper within ourselves, to be more aware of what it means to be heartbroken, or ill, or six, or ninety-six, or completely lost. Not just versions of our self rendered awesome and eternally justified and always right, living in a world in which other people only exist to help reinforce our magnificence, though those kinds of books and movies exist in abundance to cater to the male imagination. Which is a reminder that literature and art can also help us fail at empathy if it sequesters us in the Big Old Fortress of Magnificent Me.
Rebecca Solnit (The Mother of All Questions)
Thus, by science I mean, first of all, a worldview giving primacy to reason and observation and a methodology aimed at acquiring accurate knowledge of the natural and social world. This methodology is characterized, above all else, by the critical spirit: namely, the commitment to the incessant testing of assertions through observations and/or experiments — the more stringent the tests, the better — and to revising or discarding those theories that fail the test. One corollary of the critical spirit is fallibilism: namely, the understanding that all our empirical knowledge is tentative, incomplete and open to revision in the light of new evidence or cogent new arguments (though, of course, the most well-established aspects of scientific knowledge are unlikely to be discarded entirely). . . . I stress that my use of the term 'science' is not limited to the natural sciences, but includes investigations aimed at acquiring accurate knowledge of factual matters relating to any aspect of the world by using rational empirical methods analogous to those employed in the natural sciences. (Please note the limitation to questions of fact. I intentionally exclude from my purview questions of ethics, aesthetics, ultimate purpose, and so forth.) Thus, 'science' (as I use the term) is routinely practiced not only by physicists, chemists and biologists, but also by historians, detectives, plumbers and indeed all human beings in (some aspects of) our daily lives. (Of course, the fact that we all practice science from time to time does not mean that we all practice it equally well, or that we practice it equally well in all areas of our lives.)
Alan Sokal
We therapists often make inaccurate assumptions about people living with DID and DDNOS. They often appear to be “just like us,” so we often assume their experience of life reflects our own. But this is profoundly untrue. It results in a communication gap, and, as a consequence, treatment errors. Because the dominant culture is one of persons with a single sense of self, most with multiple “selves” have learned to hide their multiplicity and imitate those who are singletons (that is, have a single, non-fragmented personality). Therapists who do not understand this sometimes describe their clients' alters without acknowledging their dissociation, saying only that they have different “moods.” In overlooking dissociation, this description fails to recognize the essential truth of such disorders, and of the alters. It was difficult for me to comprehend what life was like for my first few dissociative clients.
Alison Miller (Healing the Unimaginable: Treating Ritual Abuse and Mind Control)
Looking back now, success seems foreordained. It wasn't. No colonists in the history of the world had defeated their mother country on the battlefield to win their independence. Few republics had managed--or even attempted--to govern an area bigger than a city-state. Somehow, in defiance to all precedent, Washington, Hamilton, and the other founders pulled off both. Their deliriously unlikely success--first as soldiers, then as statesmen--tends to obscure the true lessons of the American Revolution. The past places no absolute limit on the future. Even the unlikeliest changes can occur. But change requires hope--in the case of both those unlikely victories, the hope that the American people could defy all expectation to overcome their differences and set each other free. in the summer of 1788, Alexander Hamilton carried this message to Poughkeepsie, where he pleaded with New York's leaders to trust in the possibilities of the union, and vote to ratify the new federal Constitution. Yes, he conceded, the 13 newborn states included many different kinds of people. But this did not mean that the government was bound to fail. It took an immigrant to fully understand the new nation, and to declare a fundamental hope of the American experiment: Under wise government, these diverse men and women "will be constantly assimilating, till they embrace each other, and assume the same complexion.
Jeremy McCarter (Hamilton: The Revolution)
THE WISDOM OF SURRENDER It is the quality of your consciousness at this moment that is the main determinant of what kind of future you will experience, so to surrender is the most important thing you can do to bring about positive change. Any action you take is secondary. No truly positive action can arise out of an unsurrendered state of consciousness. To some people, surrender may have negative connotations, implying defeat, giving up, failing to rise to the challenges of life, becoming lethargic, and so on. True surrender, however, is something entirely different. It does not mean to passively put up with whatever situation you find yourself in and to do nothing about it. Nor does it mean to cease making plans or initiating positive action. SURRENDER IS THE SIMPLE but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. The only place where you can experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation.
Eckhart Tolle (Practicing the Power of Now: Essential Teachings, Meditations, and Exercises from the Power of Now)
As for the danger of alienating people with good intentions — well, one of the things that I learned from RaceFail (and also from general experience) was that people with good intentions are the ones to fear most. The overt racists are easy to deal with. You can spot them coming a mile away. But the well-intentioned people are scarier. They might not intend harm, but in most cases they haven’t thought about all the racist (and other “-ist”) messages they’ve absorbed from society. They haven’t done the basic groundwork necessary to purge themselves of that passively-absorbed “-ism”. So they say the most incredibly hurtful, self-absorbed, and utterly useless things, then compound the problem by getting upset when they’re called on it. I liken these people to sleeper agents — they seem OK at first, but then they suddenly “activate” and stab you in the back, and then they come out of their fugue and freak because there’s blood on their hands and they don’t know how it got there and they refuse to accept that they’re the ones who put it there, OMG, OMG. Meanwhile, you’re on the floor bleeding out, unnoticed because of their histrionics. The rage of RaceFail made many of these well-intentioned sleeper agents wake up. So while yes, I think the anger risked alienating some of them, I’m fine with that. They were always dangerous; I haven’t lost anything by their alienation. The ones who wake up are a gain (or they will be, once they shift from “not causing harm” anymore to “actually trying to help”).
N.K. Jemisin
Perhaps the reader is astonished by the frankness with which I expose and emphasize my mediocrity; let him remember that frankness is the virtue most appropriate to a defunct. In life, the watchful eye of public opinion, the conflict of interests, the struggle of greed against greed oblige a man to hide his old rags, to conceal the rips and patches, to withhold from the world the revelations that he makes to his own conscience; and the greatest reward comes when a man, in so deceiving others, manages at the same time to deceive himself, for in such case he spares himself shame, which is a painful experience, and hypocrisy, which is a hideous vice. But in death, what a difference! what relief! what freedom! How glorious to throw away your cloak, to dump your spangles in a ditch, to unfold yourself, to strip off all your paint and ornaments, to confess plainly what you were and what you failed to be! For, after all, you have no neighbors, no friends, no enemies, no acquaintances, no strangers, no audience at all. The sharp and judicial eye of public opinion loses its power as soon as we enter the territory of death. I do not deny that it sometimes glances this way and examines and judges us, but we dead folk are not concerned about its judgment. You who still live, believe me, there is nothing in the world so monstrously vast as our indifference.
Machado de Assis (Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas)
Taking deep breaths, I gathered my power until I could feel it crackling in my fingertips. "Let him go!" I commanded in what I hoped was my most "I am a powerful demon" voice. Probably would've been better if my voice hadn't cracked on the last word. I released the magic in my hands, which felt kind of like snapping a giant rubber band. A bolt of power flew from my fingertips, crashing into a nearby tree with a thunderous crack. There was a bright flash like lightning, and a branch fell to the ground. The ghouls startled, which meant the one holding Archer jerked his head back even farther. The smallest one made a noise that might have been distress, but they certainly didn't seem under my control. And they weren't letting Archer go. Okay, so my first experiment with necromancy was an epic fail.Take two. I fought panic and frustration. Shooting off my magic at the ghouls was no good, but what else was I supposed to try? "Think,Sophie," I muttered under my breath. "Yeah,please do that," Archer replied, his voice slightly strangled. The ghoul holding him had wrapped a hand around Archer's throat. The thing's expression wasn't threatening, just curious, like he was little kid trying to see what would happen if he just kept squeezing. I slammed my eyes shut. Okay, they were dead. Yucky dead things. That smelled like-okay, those thoughts were not helpful.
Rachel Hawkins (Demonglass (Hex Hall, #2))
Wiseman speculated that what we call luck is actually a pattern of behaviors that coincide with a style of understanding and interacting with the events and people you encounter throughout life. Unlucky people are narrowly focused, he observed. They crave security and tend to be more anxious, and instead of wading into the sea of random chance open to what may come, they remain fixated on controlling the situation, on seeking a specific goal. As a result, they miss out on the thousands of opportunities that may float by. Lucky people tend to constantly change routines and seek out new experiences. Wiseman saw that the people who considered themselves lucky, and who then did actually demonstrate luck was on their side over the course of a decade, tended to place themselves into situations where anything could happen more often and thus exposed themselves to more random chance than did unlucky people. The lucky try more things, and fail more often, but when they fail they shrug it off and try something else. Occasionally, things work out.
David McRaney (You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself)
Having DID is, for many people, a very lonely thing. If this book reaches some people whose experiences resonate with mine and gives them a sense that they aren't alone, that there is hope, then I will have achieved one of my goals. A sad fact is that people with DID spend an average of almost seven years in the mental health system before being properly diagnosed and receiving the specific help they need. During that repeatedly misdiagnosed and incorrectly treated, simply because clinicians fail to recognize the symptoms. If this book provides practicing and future clinicians certain insight into DID, then I will have accomplished another goal. Clinicians, and all others whose lives are touched by DID, need to grasp the fundamentally illusive nature of memory, because memory, or the lack of it, is an integral component of this condition. Our minds are stock pots which are continuously fed ingredients from many cooks: parents, siblings, relatives, neighbors, teachers, schoolmates, strangers, acquaintances, radio, television, movies, and books. These are the fixings of learning and memory, which are stirred with a spoon that changes form over time as it is shaped by our experiences. In this incredibly amorphous neurological stew, it is impossible for all memories to be exact. But even as we accept the complex of impressionistic nature of memory, it is equally essential to recognize that people who experience persistent and intrusive memories that disrupt their sense of well-being and ability to function, have some real basis distress, regardless of the degree of clarity or feasibility of their recollections. We must understand that those who experience abuse as children, and particularly those who experience incest, almost invariably suffer from a profound sense of guilt and shame that is not meliorated merely by unearthing memories or focusing on the content of traumatic material. It is not enough to just remember. Nor is achieving a sense of wholeness and peace necessarily accomplished by either placing blame on others or by forgiving those we perceive as having wronged us. It is achieved through understanding, acceptance, and reinvention of the self.
Cameron West (First Person Plural: My Life as a Multiple)
Most of us are pseudo-scholars...for we are a very large and quite a powerful class, eminent in Church and State, we control the education of the Empire, we lend to the Press such distinction as it consents to receive, and we are a welcome asset at dinner-parties. Pseudo-scholarship is, on its good side, the homage paid by ignorance to learning. It also has an economic side, on which we need not be hard. Most of us must get a job before thirty, or sponge on our relatives, and many jobs can only be got by passing an exam. The pseudo-scholar often does well in examination (real scholars are not much good), and even when he fails he appreciates their inner majesty. They are gateways to employment, they have power to ban and bless. A paper on King Lear may lead somewhere, unlike the rather far-fetched play of the same name. It may be a stepping-stone to the Local Government Board. He does not often put it to himself openly and say, "That's the use of knowing things, they help you to get on." The economic pressure he feels is more often subconscious, and he goes to his exam, merely feeling that a paper on King Lear is a very tempestuous and terrible experience but an intensely real one. ...As long as learning is connected with earning, as long as certain jobs can only be reached through exams, so long must we take the examination system seriously. If another ladder to employment were contrived, much so-called education would disappear, and no one be a penny the stupider.
E.M. Forster (جنبه‌های رمان)
For example, in order to identify these schemas or clarify faulty relational expectations, therapists working from an object relations, attachment, or cognitive behavioral framework often ask themselves (and their clients) questions like these: 1. What does the client tend to want from me or others? (For example, clients who repeatedly were ignored, dismissed, or even rejected might wish to be responded to emotionally, reached out to when they have a problem, or to be taken seriously when they express a concern.) 2. What does the client usually expect from others? (Different clients might expect others to diminish or compete with them, to take advantage and try to exploit them, or to admire and idealize them as special.) 3. What is the client’s experience of self in relationship to others? (For example, they might think of themselves as being unimportant or unwanted, burdensome to others, or responsible for handling everything.) 4. What are the emotional reactions that keep recurring? (In relationships, the client may repeatedly find himself feeling insecure or worried, self-conscious or ashamed, or—for those who have enjoyed better developmental experiences—perhaps confident and appreciated.) 5. As a result of these core beliefs, what are the client’s interpersonal strategies for coping with his relational problems? (Common strategies include seeking approval or trying to please others, complying and going along with what others want them to do, emotionally disengaging or physically withdrawing from others, or trying to dominate others through intimidation or control others via criticism and disapproval.) 6. Finally, what kind of reactions do these interpersonal styles tend to elicit from the therapist and others? (For example, when interacting together, others often may feel boredom, disinterest, or irritation; a press to rescue or take care of them in some way; or a helpless feeling that no matter how hard we try, whatever we do to help disappoints them and fails to meet their need.)
Edward Teyber (Interpersonal Process in Therapy: An Integrative Model)
No priest, no theologian stood at the manger of Bethlehem. And yet all Christian theology has its origin in the wonder of all wonders: that God became human. Holy theology arises from knees bent before the mystery of the divine child in the stable. Without the holy night, there is no theology. “God is revealed in flesh,” the God-human Jesus Christ — that is the holy mystery that theology came into being to protect and preserve. How we fail to understand when we think that the task of theology is to solve the mystery of God, to drag it down to the flat, ordinary wisdom of human experience and reason! Its sole office is to preserve the miracle as miracle, to comprehend, defend, and glorify God’s mystery precisely as mystery. This and nothing else, therefore, is what the early church meant when, with never flagging zeal, it dealt with the mystery of the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ…. If Christmas time cannot ignite within us again something like a love for holy theology, so that we—captured and compelled by the wonder of the manger of the son of God—must reverently reflect on the mysteries of God, then it must be that the glow of the divine mysteries has also been extinguished in our heart and has died out.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (God Is In the Manger)
In the original form of the word, to worry someone else was to harass, strangle, or choke them. Likewise, to worry oneself is a form of self-harassment. To give it less of a role in our lives, we must understand what it really it is. Worry is the fear we manufacture—it is not authentic. If you choose to worry about something, have at it, but do so knowing it’s a choice. Most often, we worry because it provides some secondary reward. There are many variations, but a few of the most popular follow. Worry is a way to avoid change; when we worry, we don’t do anything about the matter. Worry is a way to avoid admitting powerlessness over something, since worry feels like we’re doing something. (Prayer also makes us feel like we’re doing something, and even the most committed agnostic will admit that prayer is more productive than worry.) Worry is a cloying way to have connection with others, the idea being that to worry about someone shows love. The other side of this is the belief that not worrying about someone means you don’t care about them. As many worried-about people will tell you, worry is a poor substitute for love or for taking loving action. Worry is a protection against future disappointment. After taking an important test, for example, a student might worry about whether he failed. If he can feel the experience of failure now, rehearse it, so to speak, by worrying about it, then failing won’t feel as bad when it happens. But there’s an interesting trade-off: Since he can’t do anything about it at this point anyway, would he rather spend two days worrying and then learn he failed, or spend those same two days not worrying, and then learn he failed? Perhaps most importantly, would he want to learn he had passed the test and spent two days of anxiety for nothing? In Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman concludes that worrying is a sort of “magical amulet” which some people feel wards off danger. They believe that worrying about something will stop it from happening. He also correctly notes that most of what people worry about has a low probability of occurring, because we tend to take action about those things we feel are likely to occur. This means that very often the mere fact that you are worrying about something is a predictor that it isn’t likely to happen!
Gavin de Becker (The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence)
The neurotic exhausts himself not only in self-preoccupations like hypochondrial fears and all sorts of fantasies, but also in others: those around him on whom he is dependent become his therapeutic work project; he takes out his subjective problems on them. But people are not clay to be molded; they have needs and counter-wills of their own. The neurotic's frustration as a failed artist can't be remedied by anything but an objective creative work of his own. Another way of looking at it is to say that the more totally one takes in the world as a problem, the more inferior or "bad" one is going to feel inside oneself. He can try to work out this "badness" by striving for perfection, and then the neurotic symptom becomes his "creative" work; or he can try to make himself perfect by means his partner. But it is obvious to us that the only way to work on perfection is in the form of an objective work that is fully under your control and is perfectible in some real ways. Either you eat up yourself and others around you, trying for perfection; or you objectify that imperfection in a work, on which you then unleash your creative powers. In this sense, some kind of objective creativity is the only answer man has to the problem of life. In this way he satisfies nature, which asks that he live and act objectively as a vital animal plunging into the world; but he also satisfies his own distinctive human nature because he plunges in on his own symbolic terms and not as a reflex of the world as given to mere physical sense experience. He takes in the world, makes a total problem out of it, and then gives out a fashioned, human answer to that problem. This, as Goethe saw in Faust, is the highest that man can achieve.
Ernest Becker (The Denial of Death)
It little profits that an idle king, By this still hearth, among these barren crags, Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole Unequal laws unto a savage race, That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me. I cannot rest from travel; I will drink life to the lees. All times I have enjoyed Greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those that loved me, and alone; on shore, and when Through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades Vexed the dim sea. I am become a name; For always roaming with a hungry heart Much have I seen and known---cities of men And manners, climates, councils, governments, Myself not least, but honored of them all--- And drunk delight of battle with my peers, Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. I am part of all that I have met; Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades Forever and forever when I move. How dull it is to pause, to make an end. To rust unburnished, not to shine in use! As though to breathe were life! Life piled on life Were all too little, and of one to me Little remains; but every hour is saved From that eternal silence, something more, A bringer of new things; and vile it were For some three suns to store and hoard myself, And this gray spirit yearning in desire To follow knowledge like a sinking star, Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. This is my son, my own Telemachus, To whom I leave the scepter and the isle--- Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill This labor, by slow prudence to make mild A rugged people, and through soft degrees Subdue them to the useful and the good. Most blameless is he, centered in the sphere Of common duties, decent not to fail In offices of tenderness, and pay Meet adoration to my household gods, When I am gone. He works his work, I mine. There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail; There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners, Souls that have toiled, and wrought, and thought with me--- That ever with a frolic welcome took The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed Free hearts, free foreheads---you and I are old; Old age hath yet his honor and his toil. Death closes all; but something ere the end, Some work of noble note, may yet be done, Not unbecoming men that strove with gods. The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks; The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends. 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world. Push off, and sitting well in order smite the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths Of all the western stars, until I die. It may be that the gulfs will wash us down; It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles, And see the great Achilles, whom we knew. Though much is taken, much abides; and though We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are--- One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Alfred Tennyson
If you don’t drink coffee, you should think about two to four cups a day. It can make you more alert, happier, and more productive. It might even make you live longer. Coffee can also make you more likely to exercise, and it contains beneficial antioxidants and other substances associated with decreased risk of stroke (especially in women), Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. Coffee is also associated with decreased risk of abnormal heart rhythms, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.12, 13 Any one of those benefits of coffee would be persuasive, but cumulatively they’re a no-brainer. An hour ago I considered doing some writing for this book, but I didn’t have the necessary energy or focus to sit down and start working. I did, however, have enough energy to fix myself a cup of coffee. A few sips into it, I was happier to be working than I would have been doing whatever lazy thing was my alternative. Coffee literally makes me enjoy work. No willpower needed. Coffee also allows you to manage your energy levels so you have the most when you need it. My experience is that coffee drinkers have higher highs and lower lows, energywise, than non–coffee drinkers, but that trade-off works. I can guarantee that my best thinking goes into my job, while saving my dull-brain hours for household chores and other simple tasks. The biggest downside of coffee is that once you get addicted to caffeine, you can get a “coffee headache” if you go too long without a cup. Luckily, coffee is one of the most abundant beverages on earth, so you rarely have to worry about being without it. Coffee costs money, takes time, gives you coffee breath, and makes you pee too often. It can also make you jittery and nervous if you have too much. But if success is your dream and operating at peak mental performance is something you want, coffee is a good bet. I highly recommend it. In fact, I recommend it so strongly that I literally feel sorry for anyone who hasn’t developed the habit.
Scott Adams (How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life)
It is not that I am a genius or exceptionally gifted, not by any means. Quite the contrary. What Happened (I shall try to explain it) is that every mind is shaped by its own experiences and memories and knowledge, and what makes it unique is the grand total and extremely personal nature of the collection of all the data that have made it what it is. Each person possesses a mind with powers that are, whether great or small, always unique, powers that belong to them alone. This renders them capable of carrying out a feat, whether grandiose or banal, that only they could have carried out. In this case, all others had failed because they had counted on the simple quantitative progression of intelligence and ingenuity, when what was required was an unspecified quantity, but of the appropriate quality, of both. My own intelligence is quite minimal, a fact that I have ascertained at great cost to myself. It has been just barely adequate to keep me afloat in the tempestuous waters of life. Yet, its quality is unique; not because I decided it would be, but rather because that is how it must be.
César Aira
The Dialectical Dilemma for the Patient The borderline individual is faced with an apparently irreconcilable dilemma. On the one hand, she has tremendous difficulties with self-regulation of affect and subsequent behavioral competence. She frequently but somewhat unpredictably needs a great deal of assistance, often feels helpless and hopeless, and is afraid of being left alone to fend for herself in a world where she has failed over and over again. Without the ability to predict and control her own well-being, she depends on her social environment to regulate her affect and behavior. On the other hand, she experiences intense shame at behaving dependently in a society that cannot tolerate dependency, and has learned to inhibit expressions of negative affect and helplessness whenever the affect is within controllable limits. Indeed, when in a positive mood, she may be exceptionally competent across a variety of situations. However, in the positive mood state she has difficulty predicting her own behavioral capabilities in a different mood, and thus communicates to others an ability to cope beyond her capabilities. Thus, the borderline individual, even though at times desperate for help, has great difficulty asking for help appropriately or communicating her needs. The inability to integrate or synthesize the notions of helplessness and competence, of noncontrol and control, and of needing and not needing help can lead to further emotional distress and dysfunctional behaviors. Believing that she is competent to “succeed,” the person may experience intense guilt about her presumed lack of motivation when she falls short of objectives. At other times, she experiences extreme anger at others for their lack of understanding and unrealistic expectations. Both the intense guilt and the intense anger can lead to dysfunctional behaviors, including suicide and parasuicide, aimed at reducing the painful emotional states. For the apparently competent person, suicidal behavior is sometimes the only means of communicating to others that she really can’t cope and needs help; that is, suicidal behavior is a cry for help. The behavior may also function as a means to get others to alter their unrealistic expectations—to “prove” to the world that she really cannot do what is expected.
Marsha M. Linehan (Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder (Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Disorders))
Children inherit the qualities of the parents, no less than their physical features. Environment does play an important part, but the original capital on which a child starts in life is inherited from its ancestors. I have also seen children successfully surmounting the effects of an evil inheritance. That is due to purity being an inherent attribute of the soul. Polak and I had often very heated discussions about the desirability or otherwise of giving the children an English education. It has always been my conviction that Indian parents who train their children to think and talk in English from their infancy betray their children and their country. They deprive them of the spiritual and social heritage of the nation, and render them to that extent unfit for the service of the country. Having these convictions, I made a point of always talking to my children in Gujarati. Polak never liked this. He thought I was spoiling their future. He contended, with all the vigour and love at his command, that, if children were to learn a universal language like English from their infancy, they would easily gain considerable advantage over others in the race of life. He failed to convince me. I do not now remember whether I convinced him of the correctness of my attitude, or whether he gave me up as too obstinate. This happened about twenty years ago, and my convictions have only deepened with experience. Though my sons have suffered for want of full literary education, the knowledge of the mother-tongue that they naturally acquired has been all to their and the country’s good, inasmuch as they do not appear the foreigners they would otherwise have appeared. They naturally became bilingual, speaking and writing English with fair ease, because of daily contact with a large circle of English friends, and because of their stay in a country where English was the chief language spoken.
Mahatma Gandhi (Gandhi: An autobiography)
A classmate from elementary school had married and divorced. Yamada was now raising two children on his own and going gray, which made her laugh. Kazumi, who had been living with a man, went home to her family. Yuusuke, who was trying to become a public servant, failed his test. Yamazaki, who was making erotic games, had all his dreams destroyed. "I'm testing my own talent. It doesn't have to be an erotic game, but I'll do. . . I'll do something!" When he proclaimed this, drunk from sake, his future already was set as a dairy farmer, chasing after cows. I no longer could see how he could escape it. At reunions and parties, everyone laughed and made a big fuss. Those events were fun, as was karaoke. Everyone had a good time and seemed sure that the future would be perfect: We could become anything! We could do anything! We could become happy! These things were true—but steadily, very steadily, at a speed so terribly slow we didn't even notice it, we were being run down. There was nothing we could do, even if we were in trouble, defeated, of crying. Every one of us eventually had some terrible experiences. The only difference was whether it would happen sooner or later; but in the end, we all would fall into some really unbearable situation. I was scared. I was scared of all sorts of things.
Tatsuhiko Takimoto (Welcome to the N.H.K.)
Hypercritical, Shaming Parents Hypercritical and shaming parents send the same message to their children as perfectionistic parents do - that they are never good enough. Parents often deliberately shame their children into minding them without realizing the disruptive impact shame can have on a child's sense of self. Statements such as "You should be ashamed of yourself" or "Shame on you" are obvious examples. Yet these types of overtly shaming statements are actually easier for the child to defend against than are more subtle forms of shaming, such as contempt, humiliation, and public shaming. There are many ways that parents shame their children. These include belittling, blaming, contempt, humiliation, and disabling expectations. -BELITTLING. Comments such as "You're too old to want to be held" or "You're just a cry-baby" are horribly humiliating to a child. When a parent makes a negative comparison between his or her child and another, such as "Why can't you act like Jenny? See how she sits quietly while her mother is talking," it is not only humiliating but teaches a child to always compare himself or herself with peers and find himself or herself deficient by comparison. -BLAMING. When a child makes a mistake, such as breaking a vase while rough-housing, he or she needs to take responsibility. But many parents go way beyond teaching a lesson by blaming and berating the child: "You stupid idiot! Do you think money grows on trees? I don't have money to buy new vases!" The only thing this accomplishes is shaming the child to such an extent that he or she cannot find a way to walk away from the situation with his or her head held high. -CONTEMPT. Expressions of disgust or contempt communicate absolute rejection. The look of contempt (often a sneer or a raised upper lip), especially from someone who is significant to a child, can make him or her feel disgusting or offensive. When I was a child, my mother had an extremely negative attitude toward me. Much of the time she either looked at me with the kind of expectant expression that said, "What are you up to now?" or with a look of disapproval or disgust over what I had already done. These looks were extremely shaming to me, causing me to feel that there was something terribly wrong with me. -HUMILIATION. There are many ways a parent can humiliate a child, such as making him or her wear clothes that have become dirty. But as Gershen Kaufman stated in his book Shame: The Power of Caring, "There is no more humiliating experience than to have another person who is clearly the stronger and more powerful take advantage of that power and give us a beating." I can personally attest to this. In addition to shaming me with her contemptuous looks, my mother often punished me by hitting me with the branch of a tree, and she often did this outside, in front of the neighbors. The humiliation I felt was like a deep wound to my soul. -DISABLING EXPECTATIONS. Parents who have an inordinate need to have their child excel at a particular activity or skill are likely to behave in ways that pressure the child to do more and more. According to Kaufman, when a child becomes aware of the real possibility of failing to meet parental expectations, he or she often experiences a binding self-consciousness. This self-consciousness - the painful watching of oneself - is very disabling. When something is expected of us in this way, attaining the goal is made harder, if not impossible. Yet another way that parents induce shame in their children is by communicating to them that they are a disappointment to them. Such messages as "I can't believe you could do such a thing" or "I am deeply disappointed in you" accompanied by a disapproving tone of voice and facial expression can crush a child's spirit.
Beverly Engel (The Nice Girl Syndrome: Stop Being Manipulated and Abused -- And Start Standing Up for Yourself)
Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it...We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes. In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be 'healing.' A Certain forward movement will prevail. The worst days will be the earliest days. We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the funeral, after which this hypothetical healing will take place. When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to 'get through it,' rise to the occasion, exhibit the 'strength' that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death. We anticipate needing to steel ourselves for the moment: will I be able to greet people, will I be able to leave the scene, will I be able even to get dressed that day? We have no way of knowing that this will not be the issue. We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion. Nor can we know ahead of the fact the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.
Joan Didion
Though our castes and institutions are apparently linked with our religion, they are not so. These institutions have been necessary to protect us as a nation, and when this necessity for self-preservation will no more exist, they will die a natural death. But the older I grow, the better I seem to think of these time-honored institutions of India. There was a time when I used to think that many of them were useless and worthless; but the older I grew, the more I seem to feel a diffidence in cursing any one of them, for each one of them is the embodiment of the experience of centuries. A child of but yesterday, destined to die the day after tomorrow, comes to me and asks me to change all my plans; and if I hear the advice of that baby and change all my surroundings according to his ideas, I myself should be a fool, and no one else. Much of the advice that is coming to us from different countries is similar to this. Tell these wiseacres: "I will hear you when you have made a society yourselves. You cannot hold on to one idea for two days, you quarrel and fail; you are born like moths in the spring and die like them in five minutes. You come up like bubbles and burst like bubbles too. First form a stable society like ours. First make laws and institutions that remain undiminished in their power through scores of centuries. Then will be the time to talk on the subject with you, but till then, my friend, you are only a giddy child.
Swami Vivekananda (The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 3)
We are all mysteries, to those who love us and also to ourselves. When you find someone who embraces you, loves and desires you every moment, accepts your mysteries and flaws without judgement, you’ve struck gold. How delicious is the thought that this mysterious complex creature, chooses to share a life with you? Too many of us undervalue ourselves by digging too deep into the mistakes we have made or dwelling on when we failed at something like relationships, responsibilities, careers, whatever it might be. All those experiences make up the mystery and story of who we are. We are complex beings, all together in this fucked up but beautiful world. Whatever the mistakes or failures of someone’s murky past that leads them to your door should be experiences you are grateful for and that is cause for celebration. All of us have had experiences, good and bad, and those make up the intricate tapestry of who we are. I often feel insecure in so many ways, fragile and easily broken even when I know that is only a self-defeating perception that sometimes rears its ugly head. I am doing what I love, and deeply in love with someone with whom I want to share my future and write our own magical mystery story. I guess what I am trying to say is don’t dig so deep that you end up cutting your roots and the lifeblood that feeds and makes you. Match your energy and vibration with what you envision. Believe. You deserve love and success, so go for it.
Riitta Klint
Rearview Mirror Syndrome One of the most crippling causes of mediocrity in life is a condition I call Rearview Mirror Syndrome (RMS). Our subconscious minds are equipped with a self-limiting rearview mirror, through which we continuously relive and recreate our past. We mistakenly believe that who we were is who we are, thus limiting our true potential in the present, based on the limitations of our past.   As a result, we filter every choice we make—from what time we will wake up in the morning to which goals we will set to what we allow ourselves to consider possible for our lives—through the limitations of our past experiences. We want to create a better life, but sometimes we don’t know how to see it any other way than how it’s always been.   Research shows that on any given day, the average person thinks somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 thoughts. The problem is that ninety-five percent of our thoughts are the same as the ones we thought the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that. It’s no wonder most people go through life, day after day, month after month, year after year, and never change the quality of their lives.   Like old, worn baggage, we carry stress, fear, and worry from yesterday with us into today. When presented with opportunities, we quickly check our rearview mirror to assess our past capabilities. “No, I’ve never done anything like that before. I’ve never achieved at that level. In fact, I’ve failed, time and time again.”   When presented with adversity, we go back to our trusty rearview mirror for guidance on how to respond. “Yep, just my luck. This crap always happens to me. I’m just going to give up; that’s what I’ve always done when things get too difficult.”   If you are to move beyond your past and transcend your limitations, you must stop living out of your rearview mirror and start imagining a life of limitless possibilities. Accept the paradigm:  my past does not equal my future. Talk to yourself in a way that inspires confidence that not only is anything possible, but that you are capable and committed to making it so. It’s not even necessary to believe it at first. In fact, you probably won’t believe it. You might find it uncomfortable and that you resist doing it. That’s okay. Repeat it to yourself anyway, and your subconscious mind will begin to absorb the positive self-affirmations. (More on how to do this in Chapter 6:  The Life S.A.V.E.R.S.)   Don’t place unnecessary limitations on what you want for your life. Think bigger than you’ve allowed yourself to think up until this point. Get clear on what you truly want, condition yourself to the belief that it’s possible by focusing on and affirming it every day, and then consistently move in the direction of your vision until it becomes your reality. There is nothing to fear, because you cannot fail—only learn, grow, and become better than you’ve ever been before.   Always remember that where you are is a result of who you were, but where you go depends entirely on who you choose to be, from this moment on.
Hal Elrod (The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life: Before 8AM)
I thought at first that she was just dead. Just darkness. Just a body being eaten by bugs. I thought about her a lot like that, as something’s meal. What was her—green eyes, half a smirk, the soft curves of her legs—would soon be nothing, just the bones I never saw. I thought about the slow process of becoming bone and then fossil and then coal that will, in millions of years, be mined by humans of the future, and how they would heat their homes with her, and then she would be smoke billowing out of a smokestack, coating the atmosphere. I still think that, sometimes, think that maybe ‘the afterlife’ is just something we made up to ease the pain of loss, to make our time in the labyrinth bearable. Maybe she was just matter, and matter gets recycled. But ultimately I do not believe that she was only matter. The rest of her must be recycled, too. I believe now that we are greater than the sum of our parts. If you take Alaska’s genetic code and you add her life experiences and the relationships she had with people, and then you take the size and shape of her body, you do not get her. There is something else entirely. There is a part of her greater than the sum of her knowable parts. And that part has to go somewhere, because it cannot be destroyed. Although no one will ever accuse me of being much of a science student, one thing I learned from science classes is that energy is never created and never destroyed. And if Alaska took her own life, that is the hope I wish I could have given her. Forgetting her mother, failing her mother and her friends and herself—those are awful things, but she did not need to fold into herself and self-destruct. Those awful things are survivable, because we are as indestructible as we believe ourselves to be. When adults say, ‘Teenagers think they are invincible’ with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.
John Green (Looking for Alaska)
On a relatively unfrequented, stony beach there is a great rock which juts out over the sea. After a climb, an ascent from one jagged foothold to another, a natural shelf is reached where one person can stretch at length, and stare down into the tide rising and falling below, or beyond to the bay, where sails catch light, then shadow, then light, as they tack far out near the horizon. The sun has burned these rocks, and the great continuous ebb and flow of the tide has crumbled the boulders, battered them, worn them down to the smooth sun-scalded stones on the beach which rattle and shift underfoot as one walks over them. A serene sense of the slow inevitability of the gradual changes in the earth’s crust comes over me; a consuming love, not of a god, but of the clean unbroken sense that the rocks, which are nameless, the waves which are nameless, the ragged grass, which is nameless, are all defined momentarily through the consciousness of the being who observes them. With the sun burning into rock and flesh, and the wind ruffling grass and hair, there is an awareness that the blind immense unconscious impersonal and neutral forces will endure, and that the fragile, miraculously knit organism which interprets them, endows them with meaning, will move about for a little, then falter, fail, and decompose at last into the anonomous [sic] soil, voiceless, faceless, without identity. From this experience I emerged whole and clean, bitten to the bone by sun, washed pure by the icy sharpness of salt water, dried and bleached to the smooth tranquillity that comes from dwelling among primal things. From this experience also, a faith arises to carry back to a human world of small lusts and deceitful pettiness. A faith, naïve and child like perhaps, born as it is from the infinite simplicity of nature. It is a feeling that no matter what the ideas or conduct of others, there is a unique rightness and beauty to life which can be shared in openness, in wind and sunlight, with a fellow human being who believes in the same basic principles.
Sylvia Plath
Things I've Learned in 18 Years of Life   1) True love is not something found, rather [sic] something encountered. You can’t go out and look for it. The person you marry and the person you love could easily be two different people. So have a beautiful life while waiting for God to bring along your once-in-a-lifetime love. Don't allow yourself to settle for anything less than them. Stop worrying about who you're going to marry because God's already on the front porch watching your grandchildren play.   2) God WILL give you more than you can handle, so you can learn to lean on him in times of need. He won't tempt you more than you can handle, though. So don't lose hope. Hope anchors the soul.   3) Remember who you are and where you came from. Remember that you are not from this earth. You are a child of heaven, you're invaluable, you are beautiful. Carry yourself that way.   4) Don't put your faith in humanity, humanity is inherently flawed. We are all imperfect people created and loved by a perfect God. Perfect. So put your faith in Him.   5) I fail daily, and that is why I succeed.   6) Time passes, and nothing and everything changes. Don't live life half asleep. Don't drag your soul through the days. Feel everything you do. Be there physically and mentally. Do things that make you feel this way as well.   7) Live for beauty. We all need beauty, get it where you can find it. Clothing, paintings, sculptures, music, tattoos, nature, literature, makeup. It's all art and it's what makes us human. Same as feeling the things we do. Stay human.   8) If someone makes you think, keep them. If someone makes you feel, keep them.   9) There is nothing the human brain cannot do. You can change anything about yourself that you want to. Fight for it. It's all a mental game.   10) God didn’t break our chains for us to be bound again. Alcohol, drugs, depression, addiction, toxic relationships, monotony and repetition, they bind us. Break those chains. Destroy your past and give yourself new life like God has given you.   11) This is your life. Your struggle, your happiness, your sorrow, and your success. You do not need to justify yourself to anyone. You owe no one an explanation for the choices that you make and the position you are in. In the same vein, respect yourself by not comparing your journey to anyone else's.   12) There is no wrong way to feel.   13) Knowledge is everywhere, keep your eyes open. Look at how diverse and wonderful this world is. Are you going to miss out on beautiful people, places, experiences, and ideas because you are close-minded? I sure hope not.   14) Selfless actions always benefit you more than the recipient.   15) There is really no room for regret in this life. Everything happens for a reason. If you can't find that reason, accept there is one and move on.   16) There is room, however, for guilt. Resolve everything when it first comes up. That's not only having integrity, but also taking care of your emotional well-being.   17) If the question is ‘Am I strong enough for this?’ The answer is always, ‘Yes, but not on your own.’   18) Mental health and sanity above all.   19) We love because He first loved us. The capacity to love is the ultimate gift, the ultimate passion, euphoria, and satisfaction. We have all of that because He first loved us. If you think about it in those terms, it is easy to love Him. Just by thinking of how much He loves us.   20) From destruction comes creation. Beauty will rise from the ashes.   21) Many things can cause depression. Such as knowing you aren't becoming the person you have the potential to become. Choose happiness and change. The sooner the better, and the easier.   22) Half of happiness is as simple as eating right and exercising. You are one big chemical reaction. So are your emotions. Give your body the right reactants to work with and you'll be satisfied with the products.
Scott Hildreth (Broken People)
It’s no one’s fault really,” he continued. “A big city cannot afford to have its attention distracted from the important job of being a big city by such a tiny, unimportant item as your happiness or mine.” This came out of him easily, assuredly, and I was suddenly interested. On closer inspection there was something aesthetic and scholarly about him, something faintly professorial. He knew I was with him, listening, and his grey eyes were kind with offered friendliness. He continued: “Those tall buildings there are more than monuments to the industry, thought and effort which have made this a great city; they also occasionally serve as springboards to eternity for misfits who cannot cope with the city and their own loneliness in it.” He paused and said something about one of the ducks which was quite unintelligible to me. “A great city is a battlefield,” he continued. “You need to be a fighter to live in it, not exist, mark you, live. Anybody can exist, dragging his soul around behind him like a worn-out coat; but living is different. It can be hard, but it can also be fun; there’s so much going on all the time that’s new and exciting.” I could not, nor wished to, ignore his pleasant voice, but I was in no mood for his philosophising. “If you were a negro you’d find that even existing would provide more excitement than you’d care for.” He looked at me and suddenly laughed; a laugh abandoned and gay, a laugh rich and young and indescribably infectious. I laughed with him, although I failed to see anything funny in my remark. “I wondered how long it would be before you broke down and talked to me,” he said, when his amusement had quietened down. “Talking helps, you know; if you can talk with someone you’re not lonely any more, don’t you think?” As simple as that. Soon we were chatting away unreservedly, like old friends, and I had told him everything. “Teaching,” he said presently. “That’s the thing. Why not get a job as a teacher?” “That’s rather unlikely,” I replied. “I have had no training as a teacher.” “Oh, that’s not absolutely necessary. Your degrees would be considered in lieu of training, and I feel sure that with your experience and obvious ability you could do well.” “Look here, Sir, if these people would not let me near ordinary inanimate equipment about which I understand quite a bit, is it reasonable to expect them to entrust the education of their children to me?” “Why not? They need teachers desperately.” “It is said that they also need technicians desperately.” “Ah, but that’s different. I don’t suppose educational authorities can be bothered about the colour of people’s skins, and I do believe that in that respect the London County Council is rather outstanding. Anyway, there would be no need to mention it; let it wait until they see you at the interview.” “I’ve tried that method before. It didn’t work.” “Try it again, you’ve nothing to lose. I know for a fact that there are many vacancies for teachers in the East End of London.” “Why especially the East End of London?” “From all accounts it is rather a tough area, and most teachers prefer to seek jobs elsewhere.” “And you think it would be just right for a negro, I suppose.” The vicious bitterness was creeping back; the suspicion was not so easily forgotten. “Now, just a moment, young man.” He was wonderfully patient with me, much more so than I deserved. “Don’t ever underrate the people of the East End; from those very slums and alleyways are emerging many of the new breed of professional and scientific men and quite a few of our politicians. Be careful lest you be a worse snob than the rest of us. Was this the kind of spirit in which you sought the other jobs?
E.R. Braithwaite (To Sir, With Love)
Physiological stress, then, is the link between personality traits and disease. Certain traits — otherwise known as coping styles — magnify the risk for illness by increasing the likelihood of chronic stress. Common to them all is a diminished capacity for emotional communication. Emotional experiences are translated into potentially damaging biological events when human beings are prevented from learning how to express their feelings effectively. That learning occurs — or fails to occur — during childhood. The way people grow up shapes their relationship with their own bodies and psyches. The emotional contexts of childhood interact with inborn temperament to give rise to personality traits. Much of what we call personality is not a fixed set of traits, only coping mechanisms a person acquired in childhood. There is an important distinction between an inherent characteristic, rooted in an individual without regard to his environment, and a response to the environment, a pattern of behaviours developed to ensure survival. What we see as indelible traits may be no more than habitual defensive techniques, unconsciously adopted. People often identify with these habituated patterns, believing them to be an indispensable part of the self. They may even harbour self-loathing for certain traits — for example, when a person describes herself as “a control freak.” In reality, there is no innate human inclination to be controlling. What there is in a “controlling” personality is deep anxiety. The infant and child who perceives that his needs are unmet may develop an obsessive coping style, anxious about each detail. When such a person fears that he is unable to control events, he experiences great stress. Unconsciously he believes that only by controlling every aspect of his life and environment will he be able to ensure the satisfaction of his needs. As he grows older, others will resent him and he will come to dislike himself for what was originally a desperate response to emotional deprivation. The drive to control is not an innate trait but a coping style. Emotional repression is also a coping style rather than a personality trait set in stone. Not one of the many adults interviewed for this book could answer in the affirmative when asked the following: When, as a child, you felt sad, upset or angry, was there anyone you could talk to — even when he or she was the one who had triggered your negative emotions? In a quarter century of clinical practice, including a decade of palliative work, I have never heard anyone with cancer or with any chronic illness or condition say yes to that question. Many children are conditioned in this manner not because of any intended harm or abuse, but because the parents themselves are too threatened by the anxiety, anger or sadness they sense in their child — or are simply too busy or too harassed themselves to pay attention. “My mother or father needed me to be happy” is the simple formula that trained many a child — later a stressed and depressed or physically ill adult — into lifelong patterns of repression.
Gabor Maté (When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress)
The unexamined life is surely worth living, but is the unloved life worth examining? It seems a strange question until one realizes how much of our so-called mental life is about the lives we are not living, the lives we are missing out on, the lives we could be leading but for some reason are not. What we fantasize about, what we long for, are the experiences, the things and the people that are absent. It is the absence of what we need that makes us think, that makes us cross and sad. We have to be aware of what is missing in our lives - even if this often obscures both what we already have and what is actually available - because we can survive only if our appetites more or less work for us. Indeed, we have to survive our appetites by making people cooperate with our wanting. We pressurize the world to be there for our benefit. And yet we quickly notice as children - it is, perhaps, the first thing we do notice - that our needs, like our wishes, are always potentially unmet. Because we are always shadowed by the possibility of not getting what we want, we lean, at best, to ironize our wishes - that is, to call our wants wishes: a wish is only a wish until, as we say, it comes true - and, at worst, to hate our needs. But we also learn to live somewhere between the lives we have and the lives we would like.(…) There is always what will turn out to be the life we led, and the life that accompanied it, the parallel life (or lives) that never actually happened, that we lived in our minds, the wished-for life (or lives): the risks untaken and the opportunities avoided or unprovided. We refer to them as our unloved lives because somewhere we believe that they were open to us; but for some reason - and we might spend a great deal of our lived lives trying to find and give the reason - they were not possible. And what was not possible all too easily becomes the story of our lives. Indeed, our lived lives might become a protracted mourning for, or an endless tantrum about, the lives we were unable to live. But the exemptions we suffer, whether forced or chosen, make us who we are. As we know more now than ever before about the kinds of lives it is possible to live - and affluence has allowed more people than ever before to think of their lives in terms of choices and options - we are always haunted by the myth of our potential, of what we might have it in ourselves to be or do. So when we are not thinking, like the character in Randall Jarrell's poem, that "The ways we miss our lives is life", we are grieving or regretting or resenting our failure to be ourselves as we imagine we could be. We share our lives with the people we have failed to be. We discover these unloved lives most obviously in our envy of other people, and in the conscious 9and unconscious) demands we make on our children to become something that was beyond us. And, of course, in our daily frustrations. Our lives become an elegy to needs unmet and desires sacrificed, to possibilities refused, to roads not taken. The myth of our potential can make of our lives a perpetual falling-short, a continual and continuing loss, a sustained and sometimes sustaining rage; though at its best it lures us into the future, but without letting us wonder why such lures are required (we become promising through the promises made to us). The myth of potential makes mourning and complaining feel like the realest things we eve do; and makes of our frustration a secret life of grudges. Even if we set aside the inevitable questions - How would we know if we had realized our potential? If we don't have potential what do we have? - we can't imagine our lives without the unloved lives they contain. We have an abiding sense, however obscure and obscured, that the lives we do lead are informed by the lives that escape us. That our lives are defined by loss, but loss of what might have been; loss, that is, of things never experienced.
Adam Phillips (Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life)
Mustapha Mond paused, put down the first book and, picking up the other, turned over the pages. “Take this, for example,” he said, and in his deep voice once more began to read: “’A man grows old; he feels in himself that radical sense of weakness, of listlessness, of discomfort, which accompanies the advance of age; and, feeling thus, imagines himself merely sick, lulling his fears with the notion that this distressing condition is due to some particular cause, from which, as from an illness, he hopes to recover. Vain imaginings! That sickness is old age; and a horrible disease it is. They say that it is the fear of death and of what comes after death that makes men turn to religion as they advance in years. But my own experience has given me the conviction that, quite apart from any such terrors or imaginings, the religious sentiment tends to develop as we grow older; to develop because, as the passions grow calm, as the fancy and sensibilities are less excited and less excitable, our reason becomes less troubled in its working, less obscured by the images, desires and distractions, in which it used to be absorbed; whereupon God emerges as from behind a cloud; our soul feels, sees, turns towards the source of all light; turns naturally and inevitably; for now that all that gave to the world of sensations its life and charms has begun to leak away from us, now that phenomenal existence is no more bolstered up by impressions from within or from without, we feel the need to lean on something that abides, something that will never play us false-a reality, an absolute and everlasting truth. Yes, we inevitably turn to God; for this religious sentiment is of its nature so pure, so delightful to the soul that experiences it, that it makes up to us for all our other losses.”’ Mustapha Mond shut the book and leaned back in his chair. “One of the numerous things in heaven and earth that these philosophers didn’t dream about was this” (he waved his hand), “us, the modern world. ’You can only be independent of God while you’ve got youth and prosperity; independence won’t take you safely to the end.’ Well, we’ve now got youth and prosperity right up to the end. What follows? Evidently, that we can be independent of God. ’The religious sentiment will compensate us for all our losses.’ But there aren’t any losses for us to compensate; religious sentiment is superfluous. And why should we go hunting for a substitute for youthful desires, when youthful desires never fail? A substitute for distractions, when we go on enjoying all the old fooleries to the very last? What need have we of repose when our minds and bodies continue to delight in activity? of consolation, when we have soma? of something immovable, when there is the social order?
Aldous Huxley (Brave New World)
Man knows himself as body, and what he knows of spirit comes through grace. The poet would call it inspiration. But the spirit bloweth where it listeth. Man has no control over his inspiration. If a piece of music or a poem has moved him once, he can never be certain that it will happen again. But man hates to think that he has no control over the spirit. It would discourage him too much. He likes to believe that he can summon the spirit by some ordinary act. Instead of striving to prepare himself for it through discipline and prayer, he tries to summon it arbitrarily through some physical act—drinking Düsseldorf beer, for instance. . . Stein said, chuckling: Which is the way all good Düsseldorfers summon the spirit, since our Dunkelbier is the best in Germany. The priest laughed with him, and for a moment Sorme had a curious impression that he was listening to an argument between two undergraduates instead of two men in their late sixties. He shrank deeper into his armchair, wanting them to forget his presence. The priest stopped laughing first, and Sorme had a glimpse of the tiredness that always lay behind his eyes. Stein also became grave again. He said: Very well. But what has this to do with the murderer? It has to do with sex. For sex is the favourite human device for summoning the spirit. And since it is also God's gift of procreation, it nearly always works. . . unlike music and poetry. Or beer, Stein said. Quite. But even sex is not infallible. And man hates to think that he has no power over the spirit. The more his physical methods fail him, the more voraciously he pursues them. His attempts to summon the spirit become more and more frenzied. If he is a drinker, he drinks more, until he has more alcohol than blood in his veins. If he is a sensualist, he invents sexual perversions. Ah, Stein said. There are many other ways, of course—the lust for money and power, for instance. All depend upon man's refusal to face the fact that the spirit bloweth where it listeth, that no physical act can be guaranteed to summon it. . .
Colin Wilson (Ritual in the Dark)
I'd like to repeat the advice that I gave you before, in that I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, Ron, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty. And so, Ron, in short, get out of Salton City and hit the Road. I guarantee you will be very glad you did. But I fear that you will ignore my advice. You think that I am stubborn, but you are even more stubborn than me. You had a wonderful chance on your drive back to see one of the greatest sights on earth, the Grand Canyon, something every American should see at least once in his life. But for some reason incomprehensible to me you wanted nothing but to bolt for home as quickly as possible, right back to the same situation which you see day after day after day. I fear you will follow this same inclination in the future and thus fail to discover all the wonderful things that God has placed around us to discover. Don't settle down and sit in one place. Move around, be nomadic, make each day a new horizon. You are still going to live a long time, Ron, and it would be a shame if you did not take the opportunity to revolutionize your life and move into an entirely new realm of experience. You are wrong if you think Joy emanates only or principally from human relationships. God has placed it all around us. It is in everything and anything we might experience. We just have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living. My point is that you do not need me or anyone else around to bring this new kind of light in your life. It is simply waiting out there for you to grasp it, and all you have to do is reach for it. The only person you are fighting is yourself and your stubbornness to engage in new circumstances.
Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild)
What, in fact, do we know about the peak experience? Well, to begin with, we know one thing that puts us several steps ahead of the most penetrating thinkers of the 19th century: that P.E’.s are not a matter of pure good luck or grace. They don’t come and go as they please, leaving ‘this dim, vast vale of tears vacant and desolate’. Like rainbows, peak experiences are governed by definite laws. They are ‘intentional’. And that statement suddenly gains in significance when we remember Thorndike’s discovery that the effect of positive stimuli is far more powerful and far reaching than that of negative stimuli. His first statement of the law of effect was simply that situations that elicit positive reactions tend to produce continuance of positive reactions, while situations that elicit negative or avoidance reactions tend to produce continuance of these. It was later that he came to realise that positive reactions build-up stronger response patterns than negative ones. In other words, positive responses are more intentional than negative ones. Which is another way of saying that if you want a positive reaction (or a peak experience), your best chance of obtaining it is by putting yourself into an active, purposive frame of mind. The opposite of the peak experience—sudden depression, fatigue, even the ‘panic fear’ that swept William James to the edge of insanity—is the outcome of passivity. This cannot be overemphasised. Depression—or neurosis—need not have a positive cause (childhood traumas, etc.). It is the natural outcome of negative passivity. The peak experience is the outcome of an intentional attitude. ‘Feedback’ from my activities depends upon the degree of deliberately calculated purpose I put into them, not upon some occult law connected with the activity itself. . . . A healthy, perfectly adjusted human being would slide smoothly into gear, perform whatever has to be done with perfect economy of energy, then recover lost energy in a state of serene relaxation. Most human beings are not healthy or well adjusted. Their activity is full of strain and nervous tension, and their relaxation hovers on the edge of anxiety. They fail to put enough effort—enough seriousness—into their activity, and they fail to withdraw enough effort from their relaxation. Moods of serenity descend upon them—if at all—by chance; perhaps after some crisis, or in peaceful surroundings with pleasant associations. Their main trouble is that they have no idea of what can be achieved by a certain kind of mental effort. And this is perhaps the place to point out that although mystical contemplation is as old as religion, it is only in the past two centuries that it has played a major role in European culture. It was the group of writers we call the romantics who discovered that a man contemplating a waterfall or a mountain peak can suddenly feel ‘godlike’, as if the soul had expanded. The world is seen from a ‘bird’s eye view’ instead of a worm’s eye view: there is a sense of power, detachment, serenity. The romantics—Blake, Wordsworth, Byron, Goethe, Schiller—were the first to raise the question of whether there are ‘higher ceilings of human nature’. But, lacking the concepts for analysing the problem, they left it unsolved. And the romantics in general accepted that the ‘godlike moments’ cannot be sustained, and certainly cannot be re-created at will. This produced the climate of despair that has continued down to our own time. (The major writers of the 20th century—Proust, Eliot, Joyce, Musil—are direct descendants of the romantics, as Edmund Wilson pointed out in Axel’s Castle.) Thus it can be seen that Maslow’s importance extends far beyond the field of psychology. William James had asserted that ‘mystical’ experiences are not mystical at all, but are a perfectly normal potential of human consciousness; but there is no mention of such experiences in Principles of Psychology (or only in passing).
Colin Wilson (New Pathways in Psychology: Maslow & the Post-Freudian Revolution)
Patriotism,” said Lymond, “like honesty is a luxury with a very high face value which is quickly pricing itself out of the spiritual market altogether. [...] It is an emotion as well, and of course the emotion comes first. A child’s home and the ways of its life are sacrosanct, perfect, inviolate to the child. Add age; add security; add experience. In time we all admit our relatives and our neighbours, our fellow townsmen and even, perhaps, at last our fellow nationals to the threshold of tolerance. But the man living one inch beyond the boundary is an inveterate foe. [...] Patriotism is a fine hothouse for maggots. It breeds intolerance; it forces a spindle-legged, spurious riot of colour.… A man of only moderate powers enjoys the special sanction of purpose, the sense of ceremony; the echo of mysterious, lost and royal things; a trace of the broad, plain childish virtues of myth and legend and ballad. He wants advancement—what simpler way is there? He’s tired of the little seasons and looks for movement and change and an edge of peril and excitement; he enjoys the flowering of small talents lost in the dry courses of daily life. For all these reasons, men at least once in their lives move the finger which will take them to battle for their country.… “Patriotism,” said Lymond again. “It’s an opulent word, a mighty key to a royal Cloud-Cuckoo-Land. Patriotism; loyalty; a true conviction that of all the troubled and striving world, the soil of one’s fathers is noblest and best. A celestial competition for the best breed of man; a vehicle for shedding boredom and exercising surplus power or surplus talents or surplus money; an immature and bigoted intolerance which becomes the coin of barter in the markets of power— [...] These are not patriots but martyrs, dying in cheerful self-interest as the Christians died in the pleasant conviction of grace, leaving their example by chance to brood beneath the water and rise, miraculously, to refresh the centuries. The cry is raised: Our land is glorious under the sun. I have a need to believe it, they say. It is a virtue to believe it; and therefore I shall wring from this unassuming clod a passion and a power and a selflessness that otherwise would be laid unquickened in the grave. [...] “And who shall say they are wrong?” said Lymond. “There are those who will always cleave to the living country, and who with their uprooted imaginations might well make of it an instrument for good. Is it quite beyond us in this land? Is there no one will take up this priceless thing and say, Here is a nation, with such a soul; with such talents; with these failings and this native worth? In what fashion can this one people be brought to live in full vigour and serenity, and who, in their compassion and wisdom, will take it and lead it into the path?
Dorothy Dunnett (The Game of Kings (The Lymond Chronicles, #1))