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Happiness

  • Happiness is a thing of now.

  • ... happiness is more than a tool for survival—at its best moments, it becomes an act of redemption. It allows us to redeem moments that might otherwise have beeen lost to pain or despair ...

  • Happiness is seasonal, like anything else

  • There are two kinds of people in the world: those who live poor on a lot and those who live rich on a little.

  • The way to achieve happiness is to have a high standard for yourself and a medium one for everyone else.

  • Getting what you go after is success; but liking it while you are getting it is happiness.

  • Happiness is nothing but everyday living seen through a veil.

  • Success is getting what you go after; happiness is liking it after you get it.

  • Happiness consists not in having much, but in being content with little.

  • When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.

  • Happiness is like the mountain summit. It is sometimes hidden by clouds, but we know it is there.

  • ... no one has a right to consume happiness without producing it ...

  • One has to spend many years in learning how to be happy.

    • George Eliot,
    • 1844, in Gordon S. Haight, ed., The George Eliot Letters, vol. 1 ()
  • It's an illusion to think that more comfort means more happiness. Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, to be needed.

  • Happiness lies in the consciousness we have of it.

  • Happiness is a state of mind, and depends very little on outward circumstances.

  • The fact is, the secret of happiness is the sense of proportion ...

  • How rarely can happiness be really innocent and not triumphant, not an insult to the deprived.

  • A good home owes it, as an expression of thankfulness for its own happiness, to try and make up something of the lack that is in other homes.

  • People genuinely happy in their choices seem less often tempted to force them on other people than those who feel martyred and broken by their lives.

  • Happiness is a habit, to be established early. It is like the magnetic beam by which the pilots fly.

  • ... happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling.

  • ... happiness has always seemed to me a great achievement.

  • ... stop running around after happiness. If you make up your mind not to be happy there's no reason why you shouldn't have a fairly good time.

    • Edith Wharton,
    • "The Last Asset," The Hermit and the Wild Woman ()
  • ... they seemed to come suddenly upon happiness as if they had surprised a butterfly in the winter woods ...

  • I feel as if I could trust my happiness to carry me; as if it had grown out of me like wings.

  • Happiness is a work of art. Handle with care.

  • Ah, perhaps it was true — perhaps she did not know how to bear happiness. It took her by the inmost fibers, burned through her like a fever, was going to give her no rest, no peace, no time to steady and tame it in her dancing soul.

  • ... she had once thought of happiness as something bright-winged, untameable, with radiant alien eyes. Now the wings were folded and the strange guest lay asleep in her heart. She was no more afraid of it than a young mother is of her child; only perpetually conscious of it, watching it with wakeful eyes, as the mother watches while her child sleeps.

  • They had been ... happy and contented, with that negative kind of happiness and contentment which comes not from gratified ambition, but a lack of ambition itself.

  • Sorrow and frustration have their power. The world is moved by people with great discontents. Happiness is a drug. It can make men blind and deaf and insensible to reality. There are times when only sorrow can give to sorrow.

    • Winifred Holtby,
    • "Episode in West Kensington" (1932), Pavements at Anderby ()
  • You are quite, quite wrong if you think that ... I find your happiness painful. What matters is that happiness — the golden day — should exist in the world, not much to whom it comes. For all of us it is so transitory a thing, how could one not draw joy from its arrival?

  • There are three fundamentals for human happiness — love and faith, and work which will produce at least a minimum of material security. These things must be made possible for all human beings, men and women alike.

  • Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product.

  • ... every Place is Pleasant to a Chearful Mind and Lively Thoughts, which makes the Life Happy, for True Happiness Lives Within the Mind or Soul, not Without it, and whosoever build their Happiness Without it, shall Miss it when they Seek it, nay, those Buildings are like Airy Castles, which Vanish to nothing ...

  • ... the Difference betwixt a Wise man and a Fool is, that a Wise man carries his Happiness still Within him, and a Fool is alwayes Seeking it Without him, & seldom or never Meets it, the other never Seeks it, for he alwayes hath it ...

  • Happiness is the ability to recognize it.

  • ... one would suffer a great deal to be happy.

  • Happiness is mostly just the absence of pain.

    • Dorothy Thompson,
    • letter to Sinclair Lewis (1937), in Vincent Sheean, Dorothy and Red ()
  • ... that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.

  • One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness; one only stumbles upon them by chance, in a lucky hour, at the world's end somewhere, and holds fast to the days, as to fortune or fame.

  • Happiness don't ask to see who you be afore her sits down at your table. 'Er comes and sits with them as know how to welcome her and keep her the willing guest.

  • No temper could be more cheerful than hers, or possess, in a greater degree, that sanguine expectation of happiness which is happiness itself.

  • A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.

  • Talk happiness. The world is sad enough / Without your woe. No path is wholly rough. / Look for the places that are smooth and clear ...

  • Contentment comes when sought, / While Happiness pursued was never caught.

  • New happiness too must be learned to bear.

  • Happiness is an immunity.

  • One cannot revoke a true happiness.

  • Happiness cannot fly on one wing, I cannot be happy while you are not.

    • Sylvia Townsend Warner,
    • 1940, in Susanna Pinney, ed., I'll Stand by You: Selected Letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner and Valentine Ackland ()
  • No one's happiness but my own is in my power to achieve or to destroy.

  • Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.

  • If happiness comes at all: which is by no means prearranged; it comes by the way, while you are seeking for something else. Something outside yourself, beyond yourself: in a brief absorption of self-forgetfulness.

  • It is not an easy thing to be happy. It takes all the brains, and all the soul, and all the goodness we possess. We may fail of our happiness, strive we ever so bravely; but we are less likely to fail if we measure with judgment our chances and our capabilities.

  • The gospel of cheerfulness, I had almost said the gospel of amusement, is preached by people who lack experience to people who lack vitality. There is a vague impression that the world would be a good world if it were only happy, that it would be happy if it were amused, and that it would be amused if plenty of artificial recreation — that recreation for which we are now told every community stands responsible — were provided for its entertainment.

  • It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.

  • ... happiness consists in the full employment of our faculties in some pursuit ...

  • ... though pleasure may be purchasable, happiness cannot be bought for a price.

  • Happiness is a hardy annual.

  • Life may take away happiness. But it can't take away having had it.

  • Grandpa says we've got everything to make us happy but happiness.

  • We didn't talk so much about happiness in my day. When it came, we were grateful for it, and, I suppose, a little went farther than it does nowadays. We may have been all wrong in our ideas, but we were brought up to think other things more important than happiness.

  • ... one of the greatest hindrances to happiness in the present day is our tendency to standardize our conception of it.

  • No mockery in this world ever sounds to me as hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness. ... Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, and tilled with manure.

  • Tranquillity is contagious, peace is contagious. One only thinks of the contagiousness of illness, but there is the contagion of serenity and joy.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1942, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 3 ()
  • Happiness puts on as many shapes as discontent, and there is nothing odder than the satisfactions of one's neighbor.

  • A sure way to lose happiness, I found, is to want it at the expense of everything else.

    • Bette Davis,
    • with Michael Herskowitz, This 'N That ()
  • ... I take it for pure magic, this life of mine. Surely nobody was ever so happy before.

  • Happiness goes like the wind, but what is interesting stays.

  • All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough.

  • The right to happiness is fundamental.

    • Anna Pavlova,
    • in Arthur Henry Franks, ed., Pavlova: A Biography ()
  • When, a small child, ... I thought that success spelled happiness. I was wrong. Happiness is like a butterfly which appears and delights us for one brief moment, but soon flits away.

    • Anna Pavlova,
    • "Pages of My Life," in Arthur Henry Franks, ed., Pavlova: A Biography ()
  • Happiness is a tide: it carries you only a little way at a time; but you have covered a vast space before you know that you are moving at all.

  • One never again quite trusts human happiness, I find, after one has experienced great misery.

  • I have a true happiness / and a happiness betrayed, / the one like a rose, / the other like a thorn.

  • Why should we need extra time in which to enjoy ourselves? If we expect to enjoy our life, we will have to learn to be joyful in all of it, not just at stated intervals when we can get time or when we have nothing else to do.

  • It's never too late to have a happy childhood.

  • Happiness is good health and a bad memory.

    • Ingrid Bergman,
    • in Charlotte Chandler, Ingrid: Ingrid Bergman, A Personal Biography ()
  • But happiness isn't like unhappiness. You recover from it!

  • ... the genius for happiness is still so rare, is indeed on the whole the rarest genius. To possess it means to approach life with the humility of a beggar, but to treat it with the proud generosity of a prince; to bring to its totality the deep understanding of a great poet and to each of its moments the abandonment and ingenuousness of a child ...

    • Ellen Key,
    • title essay, The Morality of Women ()
  • My heart is like a singing bird / ... / Because the birthday of my life / Is come, my love is come to me.

  • Happiness, like misfortunes, never comes alone.

    • Madame de Sévigné,
    • 1676, Letters of Madame de Sévigné to Her Daughter and Her Friends, vol. 4 ()
  • How little has situation to do with happiness!

  • ... happy people have got something to give to the world.

  • To the happy all things come: happiness can even bring the dead back to life. It is our resentments, our dreariness, our hate and envy, unrecognized by us, which keeps us miserable. Yet these things are in our heads, not out of our hands; we own them. We can throw them out if we choose.

  • He loved being happy! He loved happiness like I love tea.

  • ... the only people who are truly happy are the people we do not know very well ...

  • Happiness is the one great beautifier.

  • We have lived through the era when happiness was a warm puppy, and the era when happiness was a dry martini, and now we have come to the era when happiness is 'knowing what your uterus looks like.'

    • Nora Ephron,
    • "Vaginal Politics" (1972), Crazy Salad: Some Things About Women ()
  • ... there is everything here needed for happiness, but just one thing — the faculty of being happy! And that unfortunately, I had never much of in my best days; and in the days that are, it is lost to me altogether!

    • Jane Welsh Carlyle,
    • letter (1859), in Alexander Carlyle, ed., New Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle, vol. 2 ()
  • We cannot make bargains for blisses, / Nor catch them like fishes in nets; / And sometimes the thing our life misses, / Helps more than the thing which it gets.

    • Alice Cary,
    • "Nobility," The Poetical Works of Alice and Phoebe Cary ()
  • There is nothing so difficult to describe as happiness. Whether some feeling of envy enters into the mind upon hearing of it, or whether it is so calm, so unassuming, so little ostentatious in itself, that words give an imperfect idea of it, I know not. It is easier to enjoy it, than define it. ... and is oftener found at home, when home has not been embittered by dissensions, suspicions and guilt, than any where else upon earth. Yes, it is in home and in those who watch there for us.

  • Happiness is the moment when you cease to make an inventory of joys; it is a glow, a brightness — never a list ...

  • ... we are all given the ingredients of happiness, but the mixing is left to ourselves.

  • If you haven't been happy very young, you can still be happy later on, but it's much harder. You need more luck.

  • I believe that happiness consists in having a destiny in keeping with our abilities. Our desires are things of the moment, often harmful even to ourselves; but our abilities are permanent, and their demands never cease.

  • Interested people are happy people.

  • Another May new buds and flowers shall bring; / Ah, why has happiness — no second Spring?

  • It is not swinish to be happy unless one is happy in swinish ways.

  • Happiness is to take up the struggle in the midst of the raging storm and not to pluck the lute in the moonlight or recite poetry among the blossoms.

    • Ding Ling,
    • "Thoughts on March 8" (1942), in I Myself Am a Woman: Selected Writings of Ding Ling ()
  • ... happiness is the result of an attitude of mind. I believe you can build it out of small things ...

  • The only way to win happiness is to give it. The more we give, the more we have.

  • If you don't develop your skill at enjoying what you have, you won't be any happier when you get more.

  • Happiness is not an acquisition — it is a skill. We do not experience happiness because of what we get. We experience happiness because of how we live each moment.

  • When I look for happiness, I lose it. When I stop looking, and surrender to where I am, I find it.

  • For me, being rich means to possess — apart from the tenderness of a loved one and my friends — a bit of ground, a car that runs, good health, and the freedom not to work when I don't want to, or cannot.

    • Colette,
    • 1927, in Robert Phelps, trans., Letters From Colette ()
  • I am never completely unhappy, because I ask so little of life ... You can't imagine how little it takes to satisfy me.

    • Colette,
    • in Robert Phelps, ed., Belles Saisons: A Colette Scrapbook ()
  • Happiness is a question of changing your troubles ...

    • Colette,
    • 1937, in Robert Phelps, ed., Belles Saisons: A Colette Scrapbook ()
  • Be happy. It's one way of being wise.

    • Colette,
    • letter, in Robert Phelps, ed., Belles Saisons: A Colette Scrapbook ()
  • There's only one standard by which to measure happiness, and that is if it brings you mental peace.

  • One day my life will end; and lest / Some whim should prompt you to review it, / Let her who knows the subject best / Tell you the shortest way to do it; / Then say, 'Here lies one doubly blest.' / Say, 'She was happy.'

  • ... you already possess all you need to be genuinely happy.

  • Shall I tell you what those words have really come to mean? 'Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Comfort.' But happiness has escaped their grasp, to judge by all the usual signs.

  • ... being made happy isn't receiving something new, it's being made to understand what we have.

  • He who never sacrificed a present to a future good or a personal to a general one can speak of happiness only as the blind do of colors.

  • ... happiness, unlike grief, does not clamor for a chronicler.

  • Fill the cup of happiness for others, and there will be enough overflowing to fill yours to the brim.

    • Rose Pastor Stokes,
    • 1901, in Herbert Stokes and David L. Sterling, eds., "I Belong to the Working Class": The Unfinished Autobiography of Rose Pastor Stokes ()
  • Life is not always what one wants it to be, but to make the best of it as it is, is the only way of being happy.

  • If you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy for life, love what you do.

  • Happiness is in its highest degree the sister of goodness.

  • You may think that all your happiness depends upon obtaining one particular thing in life; later on, you praise the Lord that you didn't get it.

  • ... she had been too happy in the morning. When that happened, you always ate dust in the afternoon.

  • How do they who think they are unhappy differ from they who actually are?

  • The only failure is not knowing how to be happy.

  • I think now happiness is a thing you practice like music until you have skill in striking the right notes on time. We have no vocation for it. And I had no practice, not a day when I was free from care and one great anxiety — and one must be free to be happy. I know that much about it by having missed it.

  • ... I always thought that if I ever got good reviews I'd be happy. It's so empty. It's never what I wanted, ever. All I wanted was just what everybody else wants, you know — to be loved.

  • It seems a strange fact that it is almost more important for us to be happy ourselves than to try to make other people happy. By being happy we confer untold benefits upon our fellow men.

  • The trouble is not that we are never happy — it is that happiness is so episodical.

    • Ruth Benedict,
    • in Margaret Mead, An Anthropologist at Work: Writings of Ruth Benedict ()
  • ... we passed our brightest days in tranquillity and happiness. If that were a crime, 'tis a crime I am yet fond of ...

    • Héloïse,
    • letter to Peter Abelard (12th cent.), in C.K. Scott Moncrief, trans., The Letters of Abelard and Heloise ()
  • ... whoever is happy will make others happy too. He who has courage and faith will never perish in misery!

  • We Indian people, we look at the people more poor, more low, more hard than us, and we be thanking God we are not them. So we are happy. But you white people, you are looking at the peoples above you all of the times and you are thinking, why aren't I be them? Why am I not having that moneys and things? And so you are unhappy all of the time.

  • The happiest people are those who are too busy to notice.

  • For if you measure out and water down your happiness, the time comes when it ceases to act as a tonic. No, she thought, if you want to be happy, you must let yourself go, you must take a full dose.

  • ... no stair is steep to happy feet!

  • Life was resumed, and anxious living blew away as if it had not been. I could not breathe deep enough or long enough. It was a return to happiness.

    • Sarah Orne Jewett,
    • "William's Wedding," The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories ()
  • The bliss e'en of a moment still is bliss.

  • Happiness is transparent. ... That is its virtue.

  • [Slogan of her 'Trouble Bureau' for needy artists and musicians:] Happiness is a change of trouble.

  • To view your life as blessed does not require you to deny your pain. It simply demands a more complicated vision, one in which a condition or event is not either good or bad but is, rather, both good and bad, not sequentially but simultaneously.

  • All happiness is a form of innocence.

  • ... we sometimes forget the influence of action upon thought. ... Smile, whistle, sing, play the part you want to be until you become the part you play.

  • ... happiness is a duty, not only because of its effect upon us but because of its influence upon others.

  • ... even though disease and sorrow are all about us, health and happiness are the normal state of man.

  • ... any pursuit of happiness contrary to the common good is doomed to failure.

  • The trouble with happiness is that it never notices itself.

  • Happiness for the average person may be said to flow largely from common sense — adapting oneself to circumstances — and a sense of humor.

  • [Song popularized by/associated with her:] A little of what you fancy does you good.

  • Happiness is the secret of beauty. But who knows the secret of happiness? The wise woman keeps her cosmetics at hand.

  • One should not seek happiness, but rather happy people.

  • I am of Popes mind that Health, Peace, and Competance, come as near to Happyness as is Atainable in this Life, and I am in a good measure In possession of all three at Present, if they are at Times a Litle Infringd ocationaly or by Accedent, I View it as the common Lot of all and am not much Disturbed.

    • Jane Franklin,
    • to her brother Benjamin Franklin (1785), in Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin ()
  • It is not our circumstances that create our discontent or contentment. It is us.

  • People who are really happy do not concern themselves with convincing others of the fact.

  • There is no such thing as the pursuit of happiness, but there is the discovery of joy.

  • ... it is a mistake to think we can make people happy in our way. Every one must be happy in his own.

  • There can be no individual happiness but that which harmonizes with the happiness of society; there may be virtue without felicity, but there can be no felicity without virtue.

  • Happiness hangs by a hair.

  • Too much good fortune can make you smug and unaware. Happiness should be like an oasis, the greener for the desert that surrounds it.

  • I used to think it was great to disregard happiness, to press on to a high goal, careless, disdainful of it. But now I see that there is nothing so great as to be capable of happiness ...

    • Anne Gilchrist,
    • in Anne Burrows Gilchrist and Walt Whitman, The Letters of Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman ()
  • I am an eternal optimist. Being happy is a choice. And you can make that choice every day, if you want to.

  • ... the sun never again shone as in the first days / of my existence.

    • Noémia de Sousa,
    • "Poem of Distant Childhood," in Kathleen Weaver, ed., Penguin Book of Women Poets ()
  • The end for which we all more or less strive is happiness. Our differences in behavior are due to our different notions of what happiness is.

  • Happiness, to some, elation; / Is, to others, mere stagnation.

    • Amy Lowell,
    • "Happiness." Sword Blades and Poppy Seeds ()
  • Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.

  • So often, happiness is the extent to which we balance our grandiose expectations with reality.

  • One must never look for happiness. One meets it by the way — but it is always going in the opposite direction.

  • I hope you find, as I did, that happiness comes from noticing and enjoying the little things in life.

  • It is only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day-to-day basis.

  • It may be that true happiness lies in the conviction that one has irremediably lost happiness. Then we can begin to move through life without hope or fear, capable of finally enjoying all the small pleasures, which are the most lasting.

    • Maria-Louisa Bombal,
    • "The Tree," in Zoila Nelken and Rosalie Torres-Rioseco, eds., Short Stories of Latin America ()
  • By 'happiness' I do not mean worldly success or outside approval, though it would be priggish to deny that both these things are most agreeable. I mean the inner consciousness, the inner conviction that one is doing well the thing that one is best fitted to do by nature.

    • Edith Sitwell,
    • "A Self Developed Person" (1936), in Elizabeth Salter and Allanah Harper, eds., Edith Sitwell: Fire of the Mind ()
  • Fairy tales can come true, / It can happen to you / If you're young at heart.

  • Happiness, you'll find, is the greatest magnet in the world.

  • Happiness is, in truth, a very cheap thing, when the heart will be contented to traffic with nature — art has quite a different price.

  • So few grains of happiness / measured against all the dark / and still the scales balance.

  • Happiness is excitement that has found a settling down place, but there is always a little corner that keeps flapping around.

  • ... we all of us deserve happiness or none of us does.

  • The only people I know who are happy are people I don't know well.

    • Helen Telushkin,
    • in Joseph Telushkin, ed., Uncommon Sense: The World's Fullest Compendium of Wisdom ()
  • ... happiness depends more upon the state of mind — and body, perhaps — than upon circumstances and events.

  • I believe that we're as happy in life as we make up our minds to be.

  • It isn't easy to be a person who sometimes has to try to preserve your happiness at the expense of your fun.

  • I am still determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions, and not on our circumstances. We carry the seeds of the one or the other about with us in our minds wherever we go.

    • Martha Washington,
    • 1789, in Samuel Griswold Goodrich, Lives of Celebrated Women ()
  • Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn't people feel as free to delight in whatever sunlight remains to them?

  • True happiness consists ... in making others happy.

  • Happiness is not perfected until it is shared.

    • Jane Porter,
    • in Philip Sidney and Jane Porter, Aphorisms of Sir Philip Sidney, With Remarks by Miss Porter ()
  • It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness. / ... / You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit / for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it, / and in that way, be known.

    • Naomi Shihab Nye,
    • "So Much Happiness," Winds Under the Words: Selected Poems ()
  • As our lives have become increasingly isolated, with little time for friends and socializing, we have professionalized contentment, paying experts to give us the advice that used to come from our confidantes and communities. In a culture that loves consumerism, happiness has become the ultimate consumer product.

  • In a culture that both insists that we have complete control over our happiness and too often equates unhappiness with inadequacy, social media gives us an unprecedented ability to craft and present a happy front. This shifts the business of bliss away from how happy we feel to the perhaps more culturally urgent matter of how happy we look.

  • Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be.

  • Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.

    • Helen Keller,
    • in Harold Bolce, "Away From Ancient Altars," Cosmopolitan Magazine ()
  • Our power of being happy lies a good deal in ourselves, I believe.

  • One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.