Living

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Living is the action of experiencing life, and is sometimes used in the sense of being active and seeking fulfillment, rather than merely being alive.

Quotes[edit]

  • It is not well for a man to pray, cream; and live skim milk.
  • Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.
    • The Bible, Deuteronomy 8:3.
  • Never complain and never explain.
    • Benjamin Disraeli, in John Morley, The Life of William Ewart Gladstone (1903, reprinted 1968), vol. 1, p. 123.
  • Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
    • Max Ehrmann, "Desiderata", The Poems of Max Ehrmann (1948), p. 165. There has been confusion about the authorship of this poem. In 1956, the rector of St. Paul's Church in Baltimore, Maryland, used the poem in a collection of mimeographed inspirational material for his congregation. Someone printing it later said it was found in Old St. Paul's Church, Baltimore, dated 1692. The year 1692 is the founding date of the church and has nothing to do with the poem, which was written in 1927. It was widely distributed with the 1692 date. A copy of it was found on the bedside table of Adlai Stevenson's New York apartment after his death in 1965. He had been planning to use it on his Christmas cards identifying it as an ancient poem. The Stevenson connection helped bring the poem to the attention of the public.—Fred D. Cavinder, "Desiderata," TWA Ambassador, August 1973, p. 14–15.
  • The riders in a race do not stop short when they reach the goal. There is a little finishing canter before coming to a standstill. There is time to hear the kind voice of friends and to say to one's self: "The work is done." But just as one says that, the answer comes: "The race is over, but the work never is done while the power to work remains." The canter that brings you to a standstill need not be only coming to rest. It cannot be while you still live. For to live is to function. That is all there is in living.
    • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., radio address (March 8, 1931); reported in Harry C. Shriver, ed., Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, His Book Notices and Uncollected Letters and Papers (1936), p. 142. "Justice Holmes' first and only radio address, delivered upon his ninetieth birthday, in response to felicitations from Chief Justice Hughes and the American Bar" (footnote 14, p. 142). Twenty or thirty years earlier, Holmes had said, "Life is action, the use of one's powers. As to use them to their height is our joy and duty, so it is the one end that justifies itself …" "Life is a roar of bargain and battle; but in the very heart of it there rises a mystic spiritual tone that gives meaning to the whole, and transmutes the dull details into romance …" "Man is born a predestined idealist, for he is born to act…. To act is to affirm the worth of an end and to persist in affirming the worth of an end is to make an ideal". Holmes, Speeches (1913), p. 85, 96, 97, as cited by Shriver, footnote 15, p. 142.
  • A Decalogue of Canons for observation in practical life.
    1. Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.
    2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
    3. Never spend your money before you have it.
    4. Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
    5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst and cold.
    6. We never repent of having eaten too little.
    7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
    8. How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened.
    9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
    10. When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.
    • Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Jefferson Smith (February 21, 1825); reported in Paul L. Ford, ed., Writings of Thomas Jefferson vol. 10 (1899), p. 341.
  • 1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
    2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
    3. You cannot help small men up by tearing big men down.
    4. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
    5. You cannot lift the wage-earner up by pulling the wage-payer down.
    6. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
    7. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
    8. You cannot establish sound social security on borrowed money.
    9. You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence.
    10. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.
    • Reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations as erroneously attributed to Abraham Lincoln. Since the 1940s these "Ten Points" attributed to Lincoln have been widely reprinted. They have appeared in such places as magazines, Christmas cards, and the Congressional Record. The Library of Congress and Lincoln scholars believe that any connection made between Lincoln and the "Ten Points" is spurious.
  • I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.
    • Jack London, in Irving Shepard, ed., Jack London's Tales of Adventure (1956), Introduction, p. vii. This is generally known as London's Credo. He is known to have said these words, just two months before his death, to a group of friends with whom he was discussing life and living. The Bulletin, San Francisco, California (December 2, 1916), part 2, p. 1.
  • More will sometimes be demanded of you than is reasonable. Bear it meekly, and exhaust your time and strength in performing your duties, rather than in vindicating your rights. Be silent, even when you are misrepresented. Turn aside when opposed, rather than confront opposition with resistance. Bear and forbear, not defending yourselves, so much as trusting to your works to defend you. Yet, in counselling you thus, I would not be understood to be a total non-resistant;—a perfectly passive, non-elastic sand-bag, in society; but I would not have you resist until the blow be aimed, not so much at you, as, through you, at the sacred cause of human improvement, in which you are engaged,—a point at which forbearance would be allied to crime.
    • Horace Mann, remarks at the dedication of the Bridgewater State Normal Schoolhouse, Bridgewater, Massachusetts (August 19, 1846); in Louis Filler, ed., Horace Mann on the Crisis in Education (1965), p. 167.
  • Man is born to live, not to prepare for life.
  • Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die; and none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joy of life and the duty of life. Both life and death are parts of the same Great Adventure.
    • Theodore Roosevelt, The Great Adventure (vol. 19 of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, national ed.), chapter 1, opening sentences, p. 243 (1926). Douglas MacArthur, speech, July 14, 1935, at the annual reunion of veterans of the Rainbow (42d) Infantry Division, World War I, said, "Only those are fit to live who are not afraid to die."—A Soldier Speaks: Public Papers and Speeches of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, p. 70 (1965).
  • If you had to define stress, it would not be far off if you said it was the process of living. The process of living is the process of having stress imposed on you and reacting to it.
    • Stanley J. Sarnoff, Man Under Stress, conference no. 7, University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (November 15–17, 1963), p. 100.
  • Every one lives by selling something, whatever be his right to it.
  • The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.
  • Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
    • Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson (vol. 14 of The Writings of Mark Twain, 1894, reprinted 1968), chapter 6, epigraph, p. 56.
  • Four things a man must learn to do
    If he would make his record true:
    To think without confusion clearly;
    To love his fellow-men sincerely;
    To act from honest motives purely;
    To trust in God and Heaven securely.
    • Henry Van Dyke, "Four Things," Poems, vol. 1 (vol. 9 of The Works of Henry Van Dyke, 1920), p. 277.
  • It costs so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the enlightenment, or the courage, to pay the price…. One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover, and yet demand no easy return of love. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, but apt always to the total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying.
    • Morris West, The Shoes of the Fisherman (1963), p. 254.

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