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Favourite Quotes #2017

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The more choices there are, the more you expect to find a perfect fit; yet, at the same time, the larger the array, the less likely it becomes that you picked the best item.

— Jonathan Haidt in The Happiness Hypothesis

Level: micro

You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

— Neil Gaiman in The Graveyard Book

If we don’t know what we want, we’re unlikely to get it.

— Max Tegmark in Life 3.0

A picture’s beauty does not depend on the things portrayed in it.

— Alain de Botton in How Proust Can Change Your Life

It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.

— Neil Gaiman in The Graveyard Book

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.

— Randy Pausch in The Last Lecture

If we are not regularly deeply embarrassed by who we are, the journey to self-knowledge hasn’t begun.

— Alain de Botton in The Course of Love

Think about money not as an end in itself but as a means for self-improvement.

— Geoffrey Miller in Mate

The path to happiness in a relationship is not just about finding someone who you think is going to make you happy. Rather, the reverse is equally true: the path to happiness is about finding someone who you want to make happy, someone whose happiness is worth devoting yourself to.

— Clayton Christensen in How Will You Measure Your Life?

No more be griev’d at that which thou hast done: Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud: Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun, And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud. All men make faults, and even I in this.

— William Shakespeare in Sonnets, 35

Am I free to change my mind? Of course not. It can only change me.

— Sam Harris in The Moral Landscape

Mud huts, penthouses and the Champs-Elysées don’t really determine our mood. Serotonin does.

— Yuval Noah Harari in Sapiens

Our dissatisfactions may be the result of failing to look properly at our lives rather than the result of anything inherently deficient about them.

— Alain de Botton in How Proust Can Change Your Life

I can calculate the motions of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.

— Isaac Newton in Fortune’s Formula by William Poundstone

Personalities are not a single immutable color, like white or blue, but rather illuminated screens, and the shades we reflect depend much on what is around us.

— Mohsin Hamid in Exit West

The best lies to tell are the ones people want to believe.

— Jasper Fforde in Shades of Grey

Activities connect us to others; objects often separate us.

— Jonathan Haidt in The Happiness Hypothesis

An injection of jealousy is the only thing capable of rescuing a relationship ruined by habit.

— Alain de Botton in How Proust Can Change Your Life

Women know what they want when they’ve got it, and men know what they want when it’s gone.

— Duana Welch in Love Factually

Women marry believing that their husbands will change. Men marry believing that their wives will not change. They are both wrong.

— David Buss in The Evolution of Desire

You’ve got to find the right person. And you have to be the right person.

— Duana Welch in Love Factually

It would help us pay more attention to things, lovers in particular. Deprivation quickly drives us into a process of appreciation, which is not to say that we have to be deprived in order to appreciate things, but rather that we should learn a lesson from what we naturally do when we lack something, and apply it to conditions where we don’t.

— Alain de Botton in How Proust Can Change Your Life

The final moment of success is often no more thrilling than the relief of taking off a heavy backpack at the end of a long hike. If you went on the hike only to feel that pleasure, you are a fool.

— Jonathan Haidt in The Happiness Hypothesis

Love: the sickest of Irony’s sick jokes. The place where logic and order go to die.

— Christopher Moore in Coyote Blue

Happiness is good for the body, but it is grief which develops the strengths of the mind.

— Alain de Botton in How Proust Can Change Your Life

Level: meso

Hell is other people. But so is heaven.

— Jonathan Haidt in The Happiness Hypothesis

Here’s a thing I believe about people my age: we are the children of Hogwarts, and more than anything, we just want to be sorted.

— Robin Sloan in Sourdough

People are wired to need other people.

— Duana Welch in Love Factually

As I look back on my own life, I recognize that some of the greatest gifts I received from my parents stemmed not from what they did for me—but rather from what they didn’t do for me.

— Clayton Christensen in How Will You Measure Your Life?

In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.

— Albert Camus in We Need to Talk by Celeste Headlee

Success in America doesn’t require any special talent or any kind of extra effort. You just have to be consistent and not fuck up. That’s how most people fail. They can’t stand the pressure of getting what they want, so when they see that they are getting close they engineer some sort of fuckup to undermine their success.

— Christopher Moore in Island of the Sequined Love Nun

Once the freewheeling days of school and university are over, company and warmth become dispiritingly hard to find; social life starts to revolve oppressively around couples.

— Alain de Botton in The Course of Love

We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

— Milo Yiannopoulos in Dangerous

Much literature and drama would conceivably have proved entirely unengaging, would have said nothing to us had we first encountered its subject matter over breakfast in the form of a news-in-brief. “Tragic end for Verona lovebirds: after mistakenly thinking his sweetheart dead, a young man took his life. Having discovered the fate of her lover, the woman killed herself in turn.”

— Alain de Botton in How Proust Can Change Your Life

When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.

— Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist

Our understanding of love has been hijacked and beguiled by its first distractingly moving moments. We have allowed our love stories to end way too early.

— Alain de Botton in The Course of Love

There’s nothing like doing something wrong to spur other people into doing it correctly.

— Matt Parker in Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension

Level: macro

If it’s in the news, don’t worry about it. The very definition of news is ‘something that hardly ever happens.’

— David G. Myers in Know This by John Brockman

Enjoyable as it might be while it lasts, it probably goes without saying that the life of a mere consumer lacks any real meaning and purpose.

— Douglas Murray in The Strange Death of Europe

Whereas religion asks us to believe in something, money asks us to believe that other people believe in something.

— Yuval Noah Harari in Sapiens

Active investing is a zero-sum game. The only way for one active investor to do better than average is for another active investor to do worse than average.

— William Poundstone in Fortune’s Formula

Modern business-people and lawyers are, in fact, powerful sorcerers. The principal difference between them and tribal shamans is that modern lawyers tell far stranger tales.

— Yuval Noah Harari in Sapiens

We will embarrass our descendants, just as our ancestors embarrass us. This is moral progress.

— Sam Harris in The Moral Landscape

A culture and a society are not things run for the convenience of the people who happen to be here right now, but a deep pact between the dead, the living and those yet to be born.

— Douglas Murray in The Strange Death of Europe

Without appropriation, culture as we know it would not exist. Civilization would resemble a Nickelback album.

— Milo Yiannopoulos in Dangerous

only infrmatn esentil to understandn mst b tranmitd.

— Ali Almossawi in Bad Choices

Giving a superintelligence a single open-ended goal with no constraints can therefore be dangerous: if we create a superintelligence whose only goal is to play the game Go as well as possible, the rational thing for it to do is to rearrange our Solar System into a gigantic computer without regard for its previous inhabitants and then start settling our cosmos on a quest for more computational power.

— Max Tegmark in Life 3.0

We will soon be looking at hordes of citizens of zero economic value.

— Thomas Davenport in Only Humans Need Apply

Everything that every individual has ever done in all of human history and prehistory establishes the minimum boundary of the possible. The maximum, if any, is completely unknown.

— David Buss in The Evolution of Desire

Ninety-five percent of all the species that have ever existed are now extinct, so don’t look so goddamn smug.

— Christopher Moore in Fluke

Realize that some of what is on the internet is there to harm you.

— Timothy Snyder in On Tyranny

In Closing

Work on your strengths, not your weaknesses. How many of your New Year’s resolutions have been about fixing a flaw?

— Jonathan Haidt in The Happiness Hypothesis