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Happiness is an emotional or affective state that is characterized by feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction. As a state and a subject, it has been pursued and commented on extensively throughout world history.
- Happiness, whether consisting in pleasure or virtue, or both, is more often found with those who are highly cultivated in their minds and in their character, and have only a moderate share of external goods, than among those who possess external goods to a useless extent but are deficient in higher qualities.
- Reason, Observation and Experience — the Holy Trinity of Science — have taught us that happiness is the only good; that the time to be happy is now, and the way to be happy is to make others so.
- Robert G. Ingersoll, "The Gods" (1876) as published in The Gods and Other Lectures (1879).
- I shall take the heart... for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.
- In all this world there is nothing so beautiful as a happy child.
- It is not the smallest use to try to make people good, unless you try at the same time — and they feel that you are trying — to make them happy. And you rarely can make another happy, unless you are happy yourself.
- Dinah Craik, A Woman's Thoughts About Women (1858), Ch. 10.
- Happiness! Can any human being undertake to define it for another?
- Dinah Craik, A Woman's Thoughts About Women (1858), Ch. 10.
- I fear, the inevitable conclusion we must all come to is, that in the world happiness is quite indefinable. We can no more grasp it than we can grasp the sun in the sky or the moon in the water. We can feel it interpenetrating our whole being with warmth and strength; we can see it in a pale reflection shining elsewhere; or in its total absence, we, walking in darkness, learn to appreciate what it is by what it is not.
- Dinah Craik, A Woman's Thoughts About Women (1858), Ch. 10.
- Happiness is not an end — it is only a means, and adjunct, a consequence. The Omnipotent Himself could never be supposed by any, save those who out of their own human selfishness construct the attributes of Divinity, to be absorbed throughout eternity in the contemplation of His own ineffable bliss, were it not identical with His ineffable goodness and love.
- Dinah Craik, A Woman's Thoughts About Women (1858), Ch. 10.
- The only way to make people good, is to make them happy.
- Dinah Craik, A Woman's Thoughts About Women (1858), Ch. 11.
- To have been happy, madame, adds to calamity.
- Beaumont and Fletcher, The Fair Maid of the Inn (licensed 22 January 1626; 1647), Act I, scene 1, line 250.
- Happiness lies only in a divine unrest; and if you are lapped in comfort you stagnate and miss it.
- John Buchan, A Lodge in the Wilderness (1906), Chapter I.
- Happiness lies in the fulfilment of the spirit through the body.
- Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave (1945), Part I.
- Domestic Happiness, thou only bliss
Of Paradise that hast survived the Fall!
- William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book III, line 41.
- Thus happiness depends, as Nature shows,
Less on exterior things than most suppose.
- William Cowper in Table Talk (1817) line 246.
- Happiness in the ordinary sense is not what one needs in life, though one is right to aim at it. The true satisfaction is to come through and see those whom one loves come through.
- E. M. Forster, Selected Letters: Letter 216, to Florence Barger, 11 February 1922.
- Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
- Mahatma Gandhi, as quoted in Humor, Play, & Laughter : Stress-proofing Life with Your Kids (1998) by Joseph A. Michelli, p. 88.
- Still to ourselves in every place consign'd,
Our own felicity to make or find.
- Oliver Goldsmith, The Traveller (1764), line 431.
- It is the law of life that if you are kind to someone you feel happy. If you are cruel you are unhappy. And if you hurt someone, you will be hurt back.
- Freud's prescription for personal happiness as consisting of work and love must be taken with the proviso that the work has to be loved, and the love has to be worked at.
- Sydney J. Harris, Pieces of Eight (1982).
- Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained. Follow some other object, and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne in The American Notebooks (1851).
- The great end of all human industry, is the attainment of happiness. For this were arts invented, sciences cultivated, laws ordained, and societies modelled, by the most profound wisdom of patriots and legislators. Even the lonely savage, who lies exposed to the inclemency of the elements and the fury of wild beasts, forgets not, for a moment, this grand object, of his being.
- David Hume, "The Stoic", Essays, Moral, Political and Literary, part 1, essay 16, in The Philosophical Works of David Hume (1826), vol. 3, p. 167.
- Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.
- Perfect happiness I believe was never intended by the deity to be the lot of any one of his creatures in this world; but that he has very much put in our power the nearness of our approaches to it, is what I as stedfastly believe.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Page (July 15, 1763); in Julian P. Boyd, ed., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (1950), vol. 1, p. 10. Jefferson used the spelling "beleive". This letter was written in hopes that John Page would talk to Belinda, a young woman with whom Jefferson, then 20, was infatuated. Jefferson was normally cool and level-headed, but Belinda had a devastating effect on his poise, leaving him tongue-tied and stammering. Saul K. Padover, Jefferson (1942), chapter 2, p. 20.
- We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
- We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
- The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have past at home in the bosom of my family…. public emploiment contributes neither to advantage nor happiness. It is but honorable exile from one's family and affairs.
- Thomas Jefferson, secretary of state, letter to Francis Willis, Jr. (April 18, 1790); in Julian P. Boyd, ed., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (1961), vol. 16, p. 353. Willis served in Congress 1791–1793.
- Believing that the happiness of mankind is best promoted by the useful pursuits of peace, that on these alone a stable prosperity can be founded, that the evils of war are great in their endurance, and have a long reckoning for ages to come, I have used my best endeavors to keep our country uncommitted in the troubles which afflict Europe, and which assail us on every side.
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Young Republicans of Pittsburg (December 2, 1808), in H. A. Washington, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (1871), vol. 8, p. 142.
- The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.
- Thomas Jefferson Letter "to the Republican Citizens of Washington County, Maryland" (31 March 1809).
- Morality is not properly the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness.
- Only when the happiness is past and we look back on it we do suddenly realize — sometimes with astonishment — how happy we had been.
- How simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. … All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness is a simple, frugal heart.
- Once more I realized to what an extent earthly happiness is made to the measure of man. It is not a rare bird which we must pursue at one moment in heaven, at the next in our minds. Happiness is a domestic bird found in our own courtyards.
- Most people measure their happiness in terms of physical pleasure and material possession. Could they win some visible goal which they have set on the horizon, how happy they could be! Lacking this gift or that circumstance, they would be miserable. If happiness is to be so measured, I who cannot hear or see have every reason to sit in a corner with folded hands and weep. If I am happy in spite of my deprivations, if my happiness is so deep that it is a faith, so thoughtful that it becomes a philosophy of life, — if, in short, I am an optimist, my testimony to the creed of optimism is worth hearing.
- Helen Keller in Optimism (1903).
- A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.
- To be strong
Is to be happy!
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Christus, The Golden Legend (1872), Part II, line 731.
- The rays of happiness, like those of light, are colorless when unbroken.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh: A Tale (1849), Chapter XIII.
- Three ounces are necessary, first of Patience, Then, of Repose & Peace; of Conscience
A pound entire is needful;
of Pastimes of all sorts, too,
Should be gathered as much as the hand can hold;
Of Pleasant Memory & of Hope three good drachms
There must be at least. But they should moistened be
With a liquor made from True Pleasures which rejoice the heart. Then of Love's Magic Drops, a few—
But use them sparingly, for they may bring a flame
Which naught but tears can drown,
Grind the whole and mix therewith of Merriment, an ounce
To even. Yet all this may not bring happiness
Except in your Orisons you lift your voice
To Him who holds the gift of health.
- Margaret of Navarre, in Marie West King, ed., Recipe for a Happy Life, Written by Margaret of Navarre in the Year Fifteen Hundred, p. 1 (1911). A modern "happy home recipe", author unknown, includes: "4 cups of love, 2 cups of loyalty, 3 cups of forgiveness, 1 cup of friendship, 5 spoons of hope, 2 spoons of tenderness, 4 quarts of faith, 1 barrel of laughter. Take love and loyalty, mix thoroughly with faith. Blend it with tenderness, kindness and understanding. Add friendship and hope, sprinkle abundantly with laughter. Bake it with sunshine. Serve daily with generous helpings".
- Happiness exists on earth, and it is won through prudent exercise of reason, knowledge of the harmony of the universe, and constant practice of generosity.
- Happiness is surely the best teacher of good manners: only the unhappy are churlish in deportment.
- Christopher Morley, Where the Blue Begins (1922).
- Oh happiness! our being's end and aim!
Good, Pleasure, Ease, Content! whate'er thy name;
That something still which prompts th' eternal sigh,
For which we bear to live, or dare to die.
- Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man (1733-34), Epistle IV, line 1.
- Fix'd to no spot is Happiness sincere;
'Tis nowhere to be found, or ev'rywhere;
'Tis never to be bought, but always free.
- Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man (1733-34), Epistle IV, line 15.
- Heaven to mankind impartial we confess,
If all are equal in their happiness;
But mutual wants this happiness increase,
All nature's difference keeps all nature's peace.
- Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man (1733-34), Epistle IV, line 53.
- Perfect the Will, the Mind, Feeling, their corporeal organs and their material tools; be useful to yourselves, to your own ones, and to others; and Happiness, insofar as it exists on this earth, will come of itself."
- The nicest thing about being happy is that you think you'll never be unhappy again.
- The key to self-generated happiness (the only reliable kind) is the refusal to take oneself too seriously.
- Happiness is the only sanction of life; where happiness fails, existence remains a mad and lamentable experiment.
- George Santayana in The Life of Reason (1905).
- The greatest happiness you can have is knowing that you do not necessarily require happiness.
- William Saroyan, My Heart's in the Highlands (1939).
- But, O, how bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man's eyes!
- Would I were with him, wheresome'er he is, either in heaven or in hell.
- Happiness does not depend on the size or content of a goal, but on the strength of the desire to have it.
- Simon Soloveychik, Parenting for Everyone (1989).
- Happiness is possible only in a relationship with a partner. Imagine that some fellow who has lived his life as a singer goes to an uninhabited island and sings as loudly as possible. If there is no one there to hear him, he will not be happy. To realize that we exist for the sake of others is the great achievement that changes our lives. When we realize that our life is not ours alone but is meant to be for the sake of the other, we begin to follow a path different from the one we were on. Just as singing to yourself will not make you happy, there is no joy without a partner. Even the smallest and most trivial thing can bring you happiness when you do it for another.
- To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.
- The secret of happiness is to face the fact that the world is horrible, horrible, horrible.
- Bertrand Russell, in conversation with Mrs. Alan Wood, quoted in Alan Wood's Bertrand Russell, the Passionate Sceptic (Allen and Unwin, 1957), pp. 236-7.
- Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do
- Happiness is only real when shared.
- True happiness ne'er entered at an eye;
True happiness resides in things unseen.
- Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night VIII, line 1,021.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 350-52.
- Hold him alone truly fortunate who has ended his life in happy well-being.
- Æschylus, Agamemnon, 928.
- 'Twas a jolly old pedagogue, long ago,
Tall and slender, and sallow and dry;
His form was bent, and his gait was slow,
His long thin hair was white as snow,
But a wonderful twinkle shone in his eye.
And he sang every night as he went to bed,
"Let us be happy down here below;
The living should live, though the dead be dead,"
Said the jolly old pedagogue long ago.
- George Arnold, The Jolly Old Pedagogue.
- Real happiness is cheap enough, yet how dearly we pay for its counterfeit.
- Hosea Ballou, Manuscript, Sermons.
- La massima felicita divisa nel maggior numero.
- The greatest happiness of the greatest number.
- Cesare Beccaria, Trattato dei Delitti e delle Pene (Treatise of Crimes and of Punishment), Introduction (1764).
- Priestly was the first (unless it was Beccaria) who taught my lips to pronounce this sacred truth—that the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation.
- Jeremy Bentham, Volume X, p. 142.
- Quid enim est melius quam memoria recte factorum, et libertate contentum negligere humana?
- Oh, Mirth and Innocence! Oh, Milk and Water!
Ye happy mixtures of more happy days!
- Lord Byron, Beppo (1818), Stanza 80.
- * * * all who joy would win
Must share it,—Happiness was born a twin.
- There comes
For ever something between us and what
We deem our happiness.
- Lord Byron, Sardanapalus, Act I, scene 2.
- Quid datur a divis felici optatius hora?
- What is there given by the gods more desirable than a happy hour?
- Catullus, Carmina, LXII. 30.
- The message from the hedge-leaves,
Heed it, whoso thou art;
Under lowly eaves
Lives the happy heart.
- John Vance Cheney, The Hedge-bird's Message.
- In animi securitate vitam beatam ponimus.
- We think a happy life consists in tranquillity of mind.
- Cicero, De Natura Deorum, I. 20.
- Le bonheur semble fait pour être partagé.
- Happiness seems made to be shared.
- Pierre Corneille, Notes par Rochefoucauld.
- If solid happiness we prize,
Within our breast this jewel lies,
And they are fools who roam;
The world has nothing to bestow,
From our own selves our bliss must flow,
And that dear hut,—our home.
- Nathaniel Cotton, The Fireside.
- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others,
And in their pleasure takes joy, even as though t'were his own.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Distichs.
- Das beste Glück, des Lebens schönste Kraft
- The highest happiness, the purest joys of life, wear out at last.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Iphigenia auf Tauris, IV. 5. 9.
- Now happiness consists in activity: such is the constitution of our nature: it is a running stream, and not a stagnant pool.
- John Mason Good, The Book of Nature, Series III, Lecture VII.
- The loss of wealth is loss of dirt,
As sages in all times assert;
The happy man's without a shirt.
- John Heywood, Be Merry Friends.
- And there is ev'n a happiness
That makes the heart afraid.
- Thomas Hood, Ode to Melancholy.
- Fuge magna, licet sub paupere tecto
Reges et regum vita procurrere amicos.
- Avoid greatness; in a cottage there may be more real happiness than kings or their favorites enjoy.
- Horace, Epistles, I. 10. 32.
- Non possidentem multa vocaveris
Recte beatum; rectius occupat
Nomen beati, qui Deorum
Muneribus sapienter uti,
Duramque callet pauperiem pati,
Pejusque leto flagitium timet.
- You will not rightly call him a happy man who possesses much; he more rightly earns the name of happy who is skilled in wisely using the gifts of the gods, and in suffering hard poverty, and who fears disgrace as worse than death.
- Horace, Carmina, IX, Book 4. 9. 45.
- That Action is best which procures the greatest Happiness for the greatest Numbers; and that worst, which, in like manner, occasions misery.
- Frances Hutcheson, Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue (1725). Treatise II, Section 3. An Inquiry concerning Moral Good and Evil.
- Upon the road to Romany
It's stay, friend, stay!
There's lots o' love and lots o' time
To linger on the way;
Poppies for the twilight,
Roses for the noon,
It's happy goes as lucky goes,
To Romany in June.
- Wallace Irwin, From Romany to Rome.
- Happiness consists in the multiplicity of agreeable consciousness.
- Ducimus autem
Hos quoque felices, qui ferre incommoda vitæ,
Nec jactare jugum vita didicere magistra.
- We deem those happy who, from the experience of life, have learned to bear its ills, without being overcome by them.
- Juvenal, Satires, XII. 20.
- On n'est jamais si heureux, ni si malheureux, qu'on se l'imagine.
- We are never so happy, nor so unhappy, as we suppose ourselves to be.
- François de La Rochefoucauld, Maximes.
- A sound Mind in a sound Body, is a short but full description of a happy State in this World.
- John Locke, Thoughts Concerning Education.
- Happiness, to some elation;
Is to others, mere stagnation.
- Amy Lowell, Happiness.
- Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it,
We are happy now because God wills it.
- James Russell Lowell, The Vision of Sir Launfal, Prelude to Part I, line 61.
- Sive ad felices vadam post funera campos,
Seu ferar ardentem rapidi Phlegethontis ad undam,
Nec sine te felix ero, nec tecum miser unquam.
- Heaven would not be Heaven were thy soul not with mine, nor would Hell be Hell were our souls together.
- Baptista Mantuanus, Eclogue, III. 108.
- Neminem, dum adhuc viveret, beatum dici debere arbitrabatur.
- He (Solon) considered that no one ought to be called happy as long as he was alive.
- Valerius Maximus, Book VII. 2. Ext. 2. Same in Sophocles—Œdipus Rex. End. Herodotus—Clio. 32. Solon to Cræsus. Repeated by Cræsus to Cyrus when on his funeral pyre, thus obtaining his pardon.
- And feel that I am happier than I know.
- No eye to watch and no tongue to wound us,
All earth forgot, and all heaven around us.
- Thomas Moore, Come o'er the Sea.
- The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance;
The wise grows it under his feet.
- James Oppenheim, The Wise.
- Dicique beatus
Ante obitum nemo supremaque funera debet.
- Before he is dead and buried no one ought to be called happy.
- Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book III. 136.
- Thus we never live, but we hope to live; and always disposing ourselves to be happy, it is inevitable that we never become so.
- Blaise Pascal, Thoughts, Chapter V, Section I.
- Said Scopas of Thessaly, "But we rich men count our felicity and happiness to lie in these superfluities, and not in those necessary things."
- Plutarch, Morals, Volume II. Of the Love of Wealth.
- Le bonheur des méchants comme un torrent s'écoule.
- The happiness of the wicked flows away as a torrent.
- Jean Racine, Athalie, II. 7.
- Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address (4 March 1933).
- Happiness lies in the consciousness we have of it, and by no means in the way the future keeps its promises.
- George Sand, Handsome Lawrence, Chapter III.
- Des Menschen Wille, das ist sein Glück.
- The will of a man is his happiness.
- Friedrich Schiller, Wallenstein's Lager, VII. 25.
- O mother, mother, what is bliss?
O mother, what is bale?
Without my William what were heaven,
Or with him what were hell?
- Walter Scott, translation of a ballad of Bürger's.
- Non potest quisquam beate degere, qui se tantum intuetur, qui omnia ad utilitates suas convertit; alteri vivas oportet, si vis tibi vivere.
- No man can live happily who regards himself alone, who turns everything to his own advantage. Thou must live for another, if thou wishest to live for thyself.
- Seneca, Epistolæ Ad Lucilium, XLVIII.
- Ye seek for happiness—alas, the day!
Ye find it not in luxury nor in gold,
Nor in the fame, nor in the envied sway
For which, O willing slaves to Custom old,
Severe taskmistress! ye your hearts have sold.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, Revolt of Islam, Canto XI, Stanza 17.
- Magnificent spectacle of human happiness.
- Sydney Smith, America, Edinburgh Review, (July, 1824).
- Mankind are always happier for having been happy; so that if you make them happy now, you make them happy twenty years hence by the memory of it.
- Sydney Smith, Lecture on Benevolent Affections.
- Be happy, but be happy through piety.
- Anne Louise Germaine de Staël, Corinne (1807), Book XX, Chapter III.
- Wealth I ask not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me;
All I ask, the heavens above,
And the road below me.
- Robert Louis Stevenson, The Vagabond.
- For it stirs the blood in an old man's heart;
And makes his pulses fly,
To catch the thrill of a happy voice,
And the light of a pleasant eye.
- Nathaniel Parker Willis, Saturday Afternoon, Stanza 1.
- True happiness is to no spot confined.
If you preserve a firm and constant mind,
'Tis here, 'tis everywhere.
- John Huddlestone Wynne, History of Ireland.
- We're charm'd with distant views of happiness,
But near approaches make the prospect less.
- Thomas Yalden, Against Enjoyment, line 23.
Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)
- Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
- The sacrifices required in the Christian life are necessary to emancipate the soul, and raise it above its servile dependence on condition. They are losses of mere happiness, and for just that reason they are preparations of joy.
- Horace Bushnell, p. 297.
- Happiness is not the end of duty, it is a constituent of it. It is in it and of it; not an equivalent, but an element.
- Henry Giles, p. 297.
- It is a great truth, wonderful as it is undeniable, that all our happiness — temporal, spiritual, and eternal — consists in one thing; namely, in resigning ourselves to God, and in leaving ourselves with Him, to do with us and in us just as He pleases.
- Madame Guyon, p. 297.
- There is something better for us in the world than happiness. We will take happiness as the incident of this, gladly and gratefully. We will add a thousand fold to the happiness of the present in the fearlessness of the future which it brings; but we will not place happiness first, and thus cloud our heads with doubts, and fill our hearts with discontent. In the blackest soils 'grow the richest flowers, and the loftiest and strongest trees spring heavenward among the rocks.
- Josiah Gilbert Holland, p. 296.
- When we are not too anxious about happiness and unhappiness, but devote ourselves to the strict and unsparing performance of duty, then happiness comes of itself — nay, even springs from the midst of a life of troubles and anxieties and privations.
- Wilhelm von Humboldt, p. 297.
- In vain do they talk of happiness who never subdued an impulse in obedience to a principle. 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.
- Horace Mann, p. 297.
- Happiness is neither within us nor without us, it is the union of ourselves with God.
- Blaise Pascal, p. 297.
- The soul's calm sunshine.
- Alexander Pope, p. 298.
- Happiness is not perfected until it is shared.
- Jane Porter, p. 298.
- Brethren, happiness is not our being's end and aim. The Christian's aim is perfection, not happiness; and every one of the sons of God must have something of that spirit which marked his Master.
- Frederick William Robertson, p. 296.
- So long as you do not quarrel with sin, you will never be a truly happy man.
- J. C. Ryle, p. 297.
- Beware what earth calls happiness; beware
All joys, but joys that never can expire.
- Edward Young, p. 298.