Quotes February 2013 (Alain De Botton edition)

I’ve just finished a huge swath of . So I’m doing a special quote list of his quotes I liked. Note: A LOT of these come from , which is one of the best that I follow. Bolded quotes are my personal favorites:

“Fault finding without any interest in improvement: cynicism.”

“In love, rather than being idealised as perfect, it seems better to be recognised as deeply flawed – but treated hopefully.”

“Important truths of the age aren’t uttered for fear of the wilful distortions and attacks they’d immediately suffer in the media.” 

“Insomnia is all the thoughts you escaped from having in the day, returning for revenge and their full due.”

“The problem isn’t so much finding good ideas (there is no shortage) as embedding the ones we have into everyday practice.”

“When trying to decode the ‘weird’ behaviour of others, think of the most basic emotions: Fear, Envy, Guilt…”

“How special and omnipresent an adult needs to be is a measure of how invisible they were once made to feel.”

“At a certain point, a ‘boring evening’ becomes one of the most exciting prospects.”

“Being funny should be an incidental byproduct of trying to get to something truthful, not a destination in itself.” 

“Anyone else feel that ache of a needy, fragile, mortal ego adrift in a vast and wholly indifferent universe?”

“Cynicism: disappointing yourself thoroughly before the world gets a chance to do it for you at a time of its own choosing.”

“With many problems, the best you can do is move from feeling individually persecuted to (via art/conversation) collectively sad.”

“So long as we continue to have such trouble telling each other what we really feel, there’ll be room for literature.”

“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough.”

“Almost all nastiness stems from fragility, sadness, disappointment: an impossible thing to believe when you’re in the line of fire.”

“Mind-body issue: people are so proud to go to the gym; so ashamed to go to a therapist.”

“So easy to settle on feeling misunderstood; so much harder to spell things out.”

“Irony: a way of sliding over emotions without having to feel them.”

“If more people thought for themselves, a good reputation would be far less important.”

“Now the age your parents were at when, as a child, you imagined they knew what was going on, you realize you don’t know what is going on.”

“Parenting: to make them feel so special, they’ll later have the strength to deal with insignificance.”

“Serial philanderers: they are loyal – to the emotions that accompany the start of love.”

“Most of us still caged within careers chosen for us by our not entirely worldly 18-22 year old selves.”

“She was so competitive about seeming good & kind, she would have fought to the death to prove she was nicer than you.”

“As parents know, flattering someone (‘you’re such a good brother’) has its role in enhancing the trait that’s as yet only half there.”

“Definition of good, emotionally-adept parenting: that the child grows up with no wish whatever to become a writer.”

“The double betrayal of a liberal arts education: it neither properly teaches you how to live – nor how to make a living.”

“The need to be liked by people you don’t know (or like) should be treated as an illness like any other.”

“Like the good parent, the lover should first wonder: ‘perhaps they’re sad and scared rather than mean’.”

“When it finally happens, happiness chiefly feels worrying.”

“Great social climbers don’t just cynically exploit the powerful to get to the top: they sincerely fall in love with them.”

“The challenge of modern relationships: how to prove more interesting than the other’s smartphone.”

“Marriage isn’t a vow to stop being interested in other people; more about how to handle that interest.”

“We study biology, physics, movements of glaciers. Where are the classes on envy, feeling wronged, despair, bitternes?”

“Behind almost every inconvenience; a new business waiting to be born.”

“Power replaces sex for the old and the committed.”

“Getting to the top has an unfortunate tendency to persuade people that the system is OK after all.”

“Reputation a bit like a table: one or two marks and everyone notices: a whole host of scratches and it all blends in.”

“Compatibility is an achievement of love, not a precondition.”

“It would be so much easier if we’d stop being mean when, mainly, we’re just hurt.”

“The fear of saying something stupid (which stupid people never have) has censored far more good ideas than bad ones.”

“How aloof and uninterested a parental figure must usually have been for someone to grow up deeply charming.”

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”

“Previous generations messed up kids through harshness, neglect. This one: through perfectionist over-attentiveness and ‘kindness’.”

“We should keep a careful diary of our moments of envy: they are our covert guides to what we should try to do next.”

“Always assume that the most cheerful ‘normal’ person may inwardly be fighting immense anxiety and an urge to end it all.”

“The best way to cheer someone up is to be so dark as to exceed their worst fears – and so raise a compensatory laugh.”

“To have a chance to achieve something that will one day be in the news, we have to spend quite a lot of time away from the news.”

“The only people we can still think of as normal are those we don’t yet know very well.”

“The best vaccine against anger: to watch others in its throes.”

“Really polite people don’t seem ‘polite’; just kind.”

“A capacity to appreciate life’s small moments: related to an underlying darker sense that the whole can never be made perfect.”

“The media insists on taking what someone didn’t mean to say as being far closer to the truth than what they did.”

“The hope on picking up a book: it will tell us what we already feel and intuit but haven’t had time to think.”

“How much time we’d save if we transferred emotional knowledge across generations, as we do science or money.”

“A strong desire not to be alone: a sure sign one is incubating a difficult message to tell oneself.”

“Unnatural to expect that learning to be happy should be any easier than, say, learning to play the violin or require any less practice.”

“Gaffe-focused journalism: revenge of intelligent people who know true evils are out there but lack the access/time to get to them.”

“Decadence: a forgetting of how privilege is gained, which heralds its loss.”

“Where there’s an attention seeking partner, an attention denying partner can’t be far behind – and vice versa.”

“People who are plain horrible are so much more survivable than those who also mix in a bit of real love with their abuse.”

“Weakness is principally attractive in the strong.”

“Bitterness: anger that forgot where it came from.”

“Good books put a finger on emotions that are deeply our own – but that we could never have described on our own.”

“An intuition: the unconscious mind has reasons the conscious part still has to catch up with.”

“Proper success for intellectuals should be that their special insights become the common-sense of the next generation.”