Gordon Livingston Quotes

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If the map doesn't agree with the ground the map is wrong
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
Only bad things happen quickly, . . . Virtually all the happiness-producing processes in our lives take time, usually a long time: learning new things, changing old behaviors, building satisfying relationships, raising children. This is why patience and determination are among life’s primary virtues.
Gordon Livingston
The three components of happiness are something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
any relationship is under the control of the person who cares the least.
Gordon Livingston
The perfect is the enemy of the good.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
It is our determination to overcome fear and discouragement that constitutes the only effective antidote to the sense of powerlessness over unwanted feelings.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
Our common future will be determined by the struggle between the killers and the peacemakers.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
We are responsible for most of what happens to us.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
life consists of an effort to get the maps in our heads to conform to the ground on which we walk.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
Most of the heartbreak that life contains is a result of ignoring the reality that past behavior is the most reliable predictor of future behavior.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
We are not what we think, or what we say, or how we feel. We are what we do.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
This is the map we wish to construct in our heads: a reliable guide that allows us to avoid those who are not worthy of our time and trust and to embrace those who are. The best indications that our always-tentative maps are faulty include feelings of sadness, anger, betrayal, surprise, and disorientation.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
illuminated where I stood so I could better see myself and the world around me, and then he took that light and held it out so I could see the footholds and ledges I would need to reclaim a productive life.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
Our feelings depend mainly on our interpretation of what is happening to us and around us—our attitudes. It is not so much what occurs, but how we define events and respond that determines how we feel. The thing that characterizes those who struggle emotionally is that they have lost, or believe they have lost, their ability to choose those behaviors that will make them happy.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
The primary goal of parenting, beyond keeping our children safe and loved, is to convey to them a sense that it is possible to be happy in an uncertain world, to give them hope. We do this, of course, by example more than by anything we say to them. If we can demonstrate in our own lives qualities of commitment, determination, and optimism, then we have done our job and can use our books of child-rearing advice for doorstops or fireplace fuel. What we cannot do is expect that children who are constantly criticized, bullied, and lectured will think well of themselves and their futures.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
Many of us are afraid of risk and prefer the bland, the predictable, and the repetitive. This explains the overwhelming sense of boredom that is a defining characteristic of our age.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
The love between parents and children depends heavily on forgiveness. It is our imperfections that mark us as human and our willingness to tolerate them in our families and ourselves redeems the suffering to which all love makes us vulnerable. In happy moments such as this we celebrate the miracle of two people who found each other and created new lives together. If love can indeed overcome death, it is only through the exercise of memory and devotion. Memory and devotion . . . with it your heart, though broken, will be full and you will stay in the fight to the
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
To be happy is to take the risk of losing that happiness.
Gordon Livingston
everything in life is a good news/bad news story.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
The psychiatric profession has taken the trouble to categorize personality disorders. I often think that this section of the diagnostic manual ought to be titled “People to avoid.” The many labels contained herein—histrionic, narcissistic, dependent, borderline, and so on—form a catalogue of unpleasant persons: suspicious, selfish, unpredictable, exploitative. These are the people your mother warned you about. (Unfortunately, sometimes they are your mother.)
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
The stories of our lives, far from being fixed narratives, are under constant revision. The slender threads of causality are rewoven and reinterpreted as we attempt to explain to ourselves and others how we became the people we are.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
The good news is that we have effective treatments for the symptoms of depression; the bad news is that medication will not make you happy. Happiness is not simply the absence of despair. It is an affirmative state in which our lives have both meaning and pleasure.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
This question, “What do I owe my parents?” frequently distorts people’s lives well into, and sometimes throughout, adulthood. In fact, our children owe us nothing. It was our decision to bring them into the world. If we loved them and provided for their needs it was our task as parents, not some selfless act. We knew from the beginning that we were raising them to leave us and it was always our obligation to help them do this unburdened by a sense of unending gratitude or perpetual debt.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
What all of us hesitate to admit is that we tend to be more helpful to people who are like us.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
As much as we try, we do not control how we feel or what we think.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
When all is said and done, more is said than done.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
The three components of happiness are something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to. Think about it.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
The statute of limitations has expired on most of our childhood traumas.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
Livingstone’s tomb in Westminster Abbey was inscribed with a quotation from an unsent letter that he had written to New York Herald publisher Gordon Bennett in April 1872, which ended with the words “All I can add in my loneliness is, may Heaven’s richest blessing come down on everyone—American, English, or Turk—who will help heal the open sore of the world.
Robert W. Harms (Land of Tears: The Exploration and Exploitation of Equatorial Africa)
manual of virtuous character traits that describes qualities to nurture in ourselves and to seek in our friends and lovers. At the top of the list would be kindness, a willingness to give of oneself to another. This most desirable of virtues governs all the others, including a capacity for empathy and love. Like other forms of art, we may find it hard to define, but when we are in its presence, we feel it.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
for one morning Susi came running at the top of his speed and gasped out, "An Englishman! I see him!" and off he darted to meet him. The American flag at the head of a caravan told of the nationality of the stranger. Bales of goods, baths of tin, huge kettles, cooking pots, tents, &c, made me think "This must be a luxurious traveller, and not one at his wits' end like me." (28th October, 1871.) It was Henry Moreland Stanley, the travelling correspondent of the New York Herald, sent by James Gordon Bennett, junior, at an expense of more than 4000l., to obtain accurate information about Dr. Livingstone if living, and if dead to bring home my bones. The news he had to tell to one who had been two full years without any tidings from Europe made my whole frame thrill. The
David Livingstone (The Last Journals of David Livingstone, in Central Africa, from 1865 to His Death: 1869-1873)
Why do people not seem to understand that criticism begets anger and unhappiness?
Livingston, Gordon
If we believe it is better to build than destroy, better to live and let live, better to be than to be seen, then we might have a chance, slowly, to find a satisfying way through life, this flicker of consciousness between two great silences.
Livingston, Gordon
Finally, if the person I’m talking to appears wedded determinedly to the past and unwilling to contemplate a better future, I grow impatient. It is misplaced kindness to offer only sympathy, even where it is clearly justified. It is hope that I’m really selling. If, after extended effort, I cannot persuade someone to buy, I am wasting both our time by continuing.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
Mental health is a function of choice. The more choices we are able to exercise, the happier we are likely to be. Those who are most unwell or discouraged suffer from a sense that their choices have been limited, sometimes by external circumstances or illness, most often by the many ways we restrict ourselves. The primary variable in this regard is tolerance of risk. If we take counsel of our fears, particularly our fear of change, it is hard to choose a life that makes us happy. Is it anxiety or lack of imagination that restricts us?
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
The list of paradoxes is endless: the relentless pursuit of pleasure brings pain; the greatest risk is not taking any. My personal favorite is the truth that everything in life is a good news/bad news story. The long-sought promotion brings more money and more headaches; our dream vacation puts us in debt; experience has taught us well, but now we are too old to use the knowledge; youth is wasted on the young. Impermanence mocks us. Our efforts—to learn, to acquire, to hold on to what we have—all eventually come to naught. This is the final and controlling paradox: Only by embracing our mortality can we be happy in the time we have. The intensity of our connections to those we love is a function of our knowledge that everything and everyone is evanescent. Our ability to experience any pleasure requires either a healthy denial or courageous acceptance of the weight of time and the prospect of ultimate defeat.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
Before we can do anything, we must be able to imagine it.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
Certainly it is true that understanding who we are depends on paying attention to the history of our lives. This is why any useful psychotherapy includes telling this story. Somewhere between ignoring the past and wallowing in it there is a place where we can learn from what has happened to us, including the inevitable mistakes we have made, and integrate this knowledge into our plans for the future. Inevitably, this process requires some exercises in forgiveness—that is, giving up some grievance to which we are entitled.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
If this formulation appears to be overly analytical and to ignore the mysterious process of “falling in love,” that is because in my experience the “chemistry” that causes us to choose one person over all other possibilities can be seen in retrospect as a combination of readiness, lust, and hope rather than an indefinable but powerful union of two souls. I would be more ready to believe in the latter if there was more evidence of its persistence over time.
Gordon Livingston (The Thing You Think You Cannot Do: Thirty Truths You Need to Know Now About Fear and Courage)
When we think about the things that alter our lives in a moment, nearly all of them are bad: phone calls in the night, accidents, loss of jobs or loved ones, conversations with doctors bearing awful news. In fact, apart from a last-second touchdown, unexpected inheritance, winning the lottery, or a visitation from God, it is hard to imagine sudden good news. Virtually all the happiness-producing processes in our lives take time, usually a long time: learning new things, changing old behaviors, building satisfying relationships, raising children. This is why patience and determination are among life’s primary virtues.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
But when my spirits were at their lowest ebb, the good Samaritan was close at hand, for one morning Susi came running at the top of his speed and gasped out, "An Englishman! I see him!" and off he darted to meet him. The American flag at the head of a caravan told of the nationality of the stranger. Bales of goods, baths of tin, huge kettles, cooking pots, tents, &c, made me think "This must be a luxurious traveller, and not one at his wits' end like me." (28th October, 1871.) It was Henry Moreland Stanley, the travelling correspondent of the New York Herald, sent by James Gordon Bennett, junior, at an expense of more than 4000l., to obtain accurate information about Dr. Livingstone if living, and if dead to bring home my bones. The news he had to tell to one who had been two full years without any tidings from Europe made my whole frame thrill. The terrible fate that had befallen France, the telegraphic cables successfully laid in the Atlantic, the election of General Grant, the death of good Lord Clarendon—my constant friend, the proof that Her Majesty's Government had not forgotten me in voting 1000l. for supplies, and many other points of interest, revived emotions that had lain dormant in Manyuema.
David Livingstone (The Last Journals of David Livingstone, in Central Africa, from 1865 to His Death, Volume II (of 2), 1869-1873 Continued By A Narrative Of His Last Moments ... From His Faithful Servants Chuma And Susi)
Having a positive past depends very little on what events actually occurred. What happened to you doesn’t matter as much as what story you decide to tell yourself about what happened. What happened to you doesn’t matter as much as what emotions you feel about what happened. We get to choose what story we attach. Grief expert and psychiatrist Gordon Livingston, M.D., said, “The stories of our lives, far from being fixed narratives, are under constant revision. Psychologically, the past, present, and future exist together here and now. Our present state is largely what determines those critical past narratives. With deliberate practice, you can develop the skill of positively reframing any past experience into a gain. With practice, you can get better and quicker at converting pain into growth and purpose. This is what psychologists call post-traumatic growth. Can you feel genuinely glad you went through your hardest moments? Without those, you wouldn’t know what you now know or be who you are.
Benjamin P. Hardy (Be Your Future Self Now: The Science of Intentional Transformation)
To imagine that we are solely, or even primarily, responsible for the successes and failures of our children is a narcissistic myth.
Gordon Livingston (Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now)
do not understand Englishmen at all,” Stanley wrote. “Either they suspect me of some self-interest, or they do not believe me. . . . For the relief of Livingstone I was called an impostor; for the crossing of Africa I was called a pirate.” Nor was there enthusiasm in the United States for Congo colonization. James Gordon Bennett, Jr., in New York, now wanted to send Stanley off in search of the North Pole.
Adam Hochschild (King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa)
Richard Bach, the author of Illusions and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, who said, “You are never given a wish without the power to make it come true.” The positive energy formula was inspired by the formula E + R = 0, which Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles, shared with me.
Jon Gordon (The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy (Jon Gordon))