Quotes on Satisfaction
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17. Diversion; Life; Satisfaction
"Surely life, if it be not long, is tedious, since we are forced to call in the assistance of so many trifles to rid us of our time, of that time which never can return."
Johnson: Letter to Baretti (June 10, 1761)
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20. Disappointment; Reality; Satisfaction
"The excesses of hope must be expiated by pain; and expectations improperly indulged, must end in disappointment. If it be asked, what is the improper expectation which it is dangerous to indulge, experience will quickly answer, that it is such expectation raised as is dictated not by reason, but by desire; expectations raised, not by the common occurrences of life, but by the wants of the expectant; an expectation that requires the common course of things to be changed, and the general rules of action to be broken."
Johnson: Letter to Baretti (June 10, 1761)
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21. Patronage; Satisfaction; Vanity
"Every man believes that mistresses are unfaithful, and patrons capricious; but he excepts his own mistress, and his own patron. We have all learned that greatness is negligent and contemptuous, and that in Courts life is often languished away in ungratified expectation; but he that approaches greatness, or glitters in a Court, imagines that destiny has at last exempted him from the common lot."
Boswell: Life
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160. Battle of the Sexes; Satisfaction
"Women (says Dr. Johnson) give great offence by a contemptuous spirit of non-compliance on petty occasions. The man calls his wife to walk with him in the shade, and she feels a strange desire just at that moment to sit in the sun: he offers to read her a play, or sing a song, and she calls in the children to disturb them, or advises him to sieze that opportunity of settling the family accounts. Twenty such tricks will the faithfullest wife in the world not refuse to play, and then look astonished when the fellow fetches in a mistress."
Piozzi: Anecdotes
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161. Diversion; Satisfaction
"Why, life must be filled up (says Johnson), and the man who is not capable of intellectual pleasures must content himself with such as his senses can afford."
Piozzi: Anecdotes
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182. Conversation; Diversion; Satisfaction; Stimulation
"You hunt in the morning (says he), and crowd to the public rooms at night, and call it diversion; when your heart knows it is perishing with poverty of pleasures, and your wits get blunted for want of some other mind to sharpen them upon. There is in this world no real delight (excepting those of sensuality), but exchange of ideas in conversation; and whoever has once experienced the full flow of London talk, when he retires to country friendships and rural sports, must either be contented to turn baby again and play with the rattle, or he will pine away like a great fish in a little pond, and die for want of his usual food."
Piozzi: Anecdotes
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222. Happiness; Life; Satisfaction
"That man is never happy for the present is so true, that all his relief from unhappiness is only forgetting himself for a little while. Life is a progress from want to want, not from enjoyment to enjoyment."
Boswell: Life
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237. Happiness; Satisfaction; Wealth
[Entering the estate of Lord Scarsdale, Boswell describes a long list of assets indicating great wealth.] Boswell: "One should think that the proprietor of all this must be happy." Johnson: "Nay, Sir, all this excludes but one evil -- poverty."
Boswell: Life
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238. London; Satisfaction
"Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."
Boswell: Life
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265. Hope; Satisfaction
His Lordship mentioned a charitable establishment in Wales, where people are maintained, and supplied with every thing, upon the condition of their contributing the weekly produce of their labour; and he said, they grow quite torpid for want of property. Johnson: "They have no object for hope. Their condition cannot be better. It is rowing without a port."
Boswell: Life
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295. Eating; Satisfaction
At the inn where we stopped he was exceedingly dissatisfied with some roast mutton we had for dinner. ... He scolded the waiter, saying, "It is as bad as bad can be: it is ill-fed, ill-killed, ill-kept, and ill-drest."
Boswell: Life
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312. Letters; Satisfaction
"I suffered you to escape last post without a letter, but you are not to expect such indulgence very often; for I write not so much because I have anything to say, as because I hope for an answer; and the vacancy of my life makes a letter of great value."
Johnson: Letter to Richard Brocklesby
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365. Satisfaction; Scotland; Taverns/Inns
[Of an inn in Scotland, SJ wrote...] "Of the provisions the negative catalogue was very copious. Here was no meat, no milk, no bread, no eggs, no wine. We did not express much satisfaction."
Johnson: Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland
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367. Eating; Manners; Satisfaction; Scotland
"At the tables where a stranger is received, neither plenty nor delicacy is wanting. ... Every kind of flesh is undoubtedly excelled by the variety and emulation of English markets; but that which is not best may be yet very far from bad, and he that shall complain of his fare in the Hebrides, has improved his delicacy more than his manhood."
Johnson: Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland
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374. Life; Misery; Satisfaction
"Misery is caused for the most part, not by a heavy crush of disaster, but by the corrosion of less visible evils, which canker enjoyment, and undermine security. The visit of an invader is necessarily rare, but domestic animosities allow no cessation."
Johnson: Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland
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403. Life; Satisfaction
"To improve the golden moment of opportunity, and catch the good that is within our reach, is the great art of life. Many wants are suffered, which might once have been supplied; and much time is lost in regretting the time which had been lost before."
Johnson: The Patriot
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439. Humanity; Life; Satisfaction
"The Europeans ... are less unhappy than we, but they are not happy. Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured, and little to be enjoyed."
Johnson: Rasselas [Imlac]
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.
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447. Envy; Happiness; Hope; Satisfaction
"Envy is commonly reciprocal. We are long before we are convinced that happiness is never to be found, and each believes it possessed by others to keep alive the hope of obtaining it for himself."
Johnson: Rasselas
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.
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455. Appearance; Poverty; Satisfaction
"Poverty has, in large cities, very different appearances: it is often concealed in splendor, and often in extravagance. It is the care of a very great part of mankind to conceal their indigence from the rest; they support themselves by temporary expedients, and every day is lost in contriving for the morrow."
Johnson: Rasselas [the princess Nekayah]
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.
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460. Marriage; Satisfaction; Solitude

"Many other evils infest private life. Some are the slaves of servants whom they have trusted with their affairs. Some are kept in continual anxiety by the caprice of rich relations, whom they cannot please and dare not offend. Some husbands are imperious, and some wives perverse: and as it is always more easy to do evil than good, though the wisdom or virtue of one can very rarely make many happy, the folly or vice of one may often make many miserable." [Princess Nekayah]

"If such be the general effect of marriage," said the prince, "I shall, for the future, think it dangerous to connect my interest with another, lest I should be unhappy by my partner's fault."

"I have met," said the princess, "with many who live single for that reason; but I have never found that their prudence ought to raise envy. They dream away their time without friendship, without fondness, and are driven to rid themselves of the day, for which they have no use, by childish amusements or vicious delights. They act as beings under the constant sense of some known inferiority, that fills their minds with rancor; and their tongues with censure. They are peevish at home, and malevolent abroad; and, as the outlaws of human nature, make it their business and their pleasure to disturb that society which debars them from its priveleges."

Johnson: Rasselas
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.
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462. Celibacy; Charity; Involvement; Marriage; Satisfaction; Stoicism; Solitude
"To live without feeling or exciting sympathy, to be fortunate without adding to the felicity of others, or afflicted without tasting the balm of pity, is a state more gloomy than solitude; it is not retreat, but exclusion from mankind. Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures."
Johnson: Rasselas [Princess Nekayah]
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.
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468. Marriage; Satisfaction
"I know not ... whether marriage be more than one of the innumerable modes of human misery. When I see and reckon the various forms of connubial infelicity, the unexpected causes of lasting discord, the diversities of temper, the oppositions of opinion, the rude collisions of contrary desire where both are urged by violent impulses, the obstinate contests of disagreeable virtues where both are supported by consciousness of good intention, I am sometimes disposed to think, with the severer casuists of most nations, that marriage is rather permitted than approved, and that none, but by the instigation of a passion too much indulged, entangle themselves with indissoluble compacts."
Johnson: Rasselas [Princess Nekayah]
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.
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470. Marriage; Satisfaction
"Such is the common process of marriage. A youth and maiden exchange meeting by chance, or brought together by artifice, exchange glances, reciprocate civilities, go home, and dream of one another. Having little to divert attention, or diversify thought, they find themselves uneasy when they are apart, and therefore conclude that they shall be happy together. They marry, and discover what nothing but voluntary blindness had before concealed; they wear out life in altercations, and charge nature with cruelty."
Johnson: Rasselas [Rasselas]
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.
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479. Ambition; Discontent; Satisfaction
"It [the pyramids] seems to have been erected only in compliance with that hunger of imagination which preys incessantly upon life, and must be always appeased by some employment. Those who have already all that they can enjoy must enlarge their desires. He that has built for use till use is supplied, must begin to build for vanity, and extend his plan to the utmost power of human performance, that he may not be soon reduced to form another wish."
Johnson: Rasselas [Imlac]
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.
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480. Ambition; Satisfaction; Vanity
"I consider this mighty structure [the pyramid] as a monument to the insufficiency of human enjoyments. A king, whose power is unlimited, and whose treasures surmount all real and imaginary wants, is compelled to solace, by the erection of a Pyramid, the satiety of dominion and tastelessness of pleasures, and to amuse the tediousness of declining life, by seeing thousands laboring without end, and one stone, for no purpose, laid upon another. Whoever thou art that, not content with a moderate condition, imaginest happiness in royal magnificence, and dreamest that command or riches can feed the appetite of novelty with perpetual gratifications, survey the Pyramids, and confess thy folly."
Johnson: Rasselas [Imlac]
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.
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494. Diversion; Fancy; Satisfaction; Solitude

"He who has nothing external that can divert him must find pleasure in his own thoughts, and must conceive himself what he is not; for who is pleased with what he is? He then expiates in boundless futurity, and culls from all imaginable conditions that which for the present moment he should most desire, amuses his desires with impossible enjoyments, and confers upon his pride unattainable dominion. The mind dances from scene to scene, unites all pleasures in all combination, and riots in delights which nature and fortune, with all their bounty, cannot bestow.

"In time some particular train of ideas fixes the attention; all other intellectual gratifications are rejected; the mind, in weariness or leisure, recurs constantly to the favorite conception, and feasts on the luscious falsehood whenever she is offended with the bitterness of truth. By degrees the reign of fancy is confirmed; she grows first imperious, and in time despotic. Then fictions begin to operate as realities, false opinions fasten upon the mind, and life passes in dreams of rapture or of anguish."

Johnson: Rasselas [Imlac]
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.
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509. Satisfaction; Solitude
"It may be laid down as a position which will seldom deceive, that when a man cannot bear his own company there is something wrong. He must fly from himself, either because he feels a tediousness in life from the equipoise of an empty mind, which, having no tendency to one motion more than another but as it is impelled by some external power, must always have recourse to foreign objects; or he must be afraid of the intrusion of some unpleasing ideas, and, perhaps, is struggling to escape from the remembrance of a loss, the fear of calamity, or some other thought of great horror."
Johnson: Rambler #5 (April 3, 1750)
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532. Anger; Old Age; Satisfaction
"Nothing is more despicable than the old age of a passionate man.* When the vigour of youth fails him, and his amusements pall with frequent repetition, his occasional rage sinks by decay of strength into peevishness; that peevishness, for want of novelty and variety, becomes habitual; the world falls off from around him, and he is left, as Homer expresses it, to devour his own heart in solitude and contempt."
Johnson: Rambler #11 (April 24, 1750)
*"Passionate man": those easily and regularly angered. (See #526, then use your browser's back button to return here.)
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533. Hope; Imagination; Pleasure; Satisfaction
"The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope."
Johnson: Rambler #2 (March 24, 1750)
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549. Envy; Satisfaction
"All envy is proportionate to desire; we are uneasy at the attainments of another, according as we think our own happiness would be advanced by the addition of that which he withholds from us; and therefore whatever depresses immoderate wishes will, at the same time, set the heart free from the corrosion of envy, and exempt us from that vice which is, above most others, tormenting to ourselves, hateful to the world, and productive of mean artifices and sordid projects."
Johnson: Rambler #17 (May 15, 1750)
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564. Affectation; Satisfaction
"Every thing future is to be estimated by a wise man, in proportion to the probability of attaining it, and its value when attained; and neither of these considerations will much contribute to the encouragement of affectation. For, if the pinnacles of fame be, at best, slippery, how unsteady must his footing be who stands upon pinnacles without foundation!"
Johnson: Rambler #20 (May 26, 1750)
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572. Choice; Satisfaction; Self-Confidence
"...if we make the praise or blame of others the rule of our conduct, we shall be distracted by a boundless variety of irreconcilable judgments, be held in perpetual suspense between contrary impulses, and consult forever without determination."
Johnson: Rambler #23 (June 5, 1750)
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575. Learning; Satisfaction; Self-Knowledge
"When a man employs himself upon remote and unnecessary subjects, and wastes his life upon questions which cannot be resolved, and of which the solution would conduce very little to the advancement of happiness; when he lavishes his hours in calculating the weight of the terraqueous globe, or in adjusting successive systems of worlds beyond the reach of the telescope; he may be very properly recalled from his excursions by this precept [Know Thyself], and reminded that there is a nearer being with which it is his duty to be more acquainted; and from which his attention has been hitherto withheld by studies to which he has no other motive than vanity or curiosity."
Johnson: Rambler #24 (June 9, 1750)
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596. Greed; Satisfaction
"...in time, want is enlarged without bounds; an eagerness for increase of possessions deluges the soul, and we sink into the gulfs of insatiability, only because we do not sufficiently consider that all real need is very soon supplied, and all real danger of its invasion easily precluded; that the claims of vanity, being without limits, must be denied at last; and that the pain of repressing them is less pungent before they have been long accustomed to compliance."
Johnson: Rambler #38 (July 28, 1750)
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611. Boredom; Satisfaction; Solitude
Telling the tale of a young woman spending the summer in the country, uncomfortable with her surroundings: "Thus am I condemned to solitude; the day moves slowly forward, and I see the dawn with uneasiness, because I consider that night is at a great distance. I have tried to sleep by a brook, but find its murmurs ineffectual; so that I am forced to be awake at least twelve hours, without visits, without cards, without laughter, and without flattery. I walk because I am disgusted with sitting still, and sit down because I am weary with walking. I have no motive to action, nor any object of love, or hate, or fear, or inclination. I cannot dress with spirit, for I have neither rival nor admirer. I cannot dance without a partner, nor be kind, or cruel, without a lover."
Johnson: Rambler #42 (August 11, 1750); given to the character of "Euphelia"
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622. Anger; Marriage; Satisfaction
"Wives and husbands are ... incessantly complaining of each other; and there would be reason for imagining that almost every house was infested with perverseness or oppression beyond human sufferance, did we not know upon how small occasions some minds burst into lamentations and reproaches, and how naturally every animal revenges his pain upon those who happen to be near, without any nice examination of its cause. We are always willing to fancy ourselves within a little of happiness, and when, with repeated efforts, we cannot reach it, persuade ourselves that it is intercepted by an ill-paired mate, since, if we could find any other obstacle, it would be our own fault that it was not removed."
Johnson: Rambler #45 (August 21, 1750)
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944. Ambition; Extravagance; Satisfaction
"The desires of man increase with his acquisitions; every step which he advances brings something within his view, which he did not see before, and which, as soon as he sees it, he begins to want. Where necessity ends, curiosity begins; and no sooner are we supplied with every thing that nature can demand, than we sit down to contrive artificial appetites."
Johnson: Idler #30 (November 11, 1758)
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945. Extravagance; Satisfaction
"By ... restlessness of mind, every populous and wealthy city is filled with innumerable employments, for which the greater part of mankind is without a name; with artificers, whose labour is exerted in producing such petty conveniences, that many shops are furnished with instruments of which the use can hardly be found without inquiry, but which he that once knows them quickly learns to number among necessary things."
Johnson: Idler #30 (November 11, 1758)
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946. Boredom; Diversion; Idleness; Satisfaction; Time; Wealth
"Money and time are the heaviest burdens of life, and ... the unhappiest of all mortals are those who have more of either than they know how to use. To set himself free from these incumbrences, one hurries to Newmarket; another travels over Europe; one pulls down his house and calls architects about him; another buys a seat in the country, and follows his hounds over hedges and through rivers; one makes collections of shells; and another searches the world for tulips and carnations."
Johnson: Idler #30 (November 11, 1758)
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1,068. Ambition; Extravagance; Satisfaction
"All the attainments possible in our present state are evidently inadequate to our capacities of enjoyment; conquest serves no purpose but that of kindling ambition, discovery has no effect but of raising expectation; the gratification of one desire encourages another; and after all our labours, studies, and inquiries, we are continually at the same distance from the contemplation of our schemes, have still some wish importunate to be satisfied, and some faculty restless and turbulent for want of its enjoyment."
Johnson: Rambler #103 (March 12, 1751)
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1,074. Satisfaction
"The desires of mankind are much more numerous than their attainments, and the capacity of imagination much larger than actual enjoyment. Multitudes are therefore unsatisfied with their allotment."
Johnson: Rambler #104 (March 16, 1751)
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1,097. Life; Satisfaction
"Many of our hours are lost in a rotation of petty cares, in a constant recurrence of the same employments; many of our provisions for ease or happiness are always exhausted by the present day; and a great part of our existence serves no other purpose than that of enabling us to enjoy the rest."
Johnson: Rambler #108 (March 30, 1751)
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1,107. Life; Satisfaction
"A perpetual conflict with natural desires seems to be the lot of our present state."
Johnson: Rambler #111 (April 9, 1751)
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1,174. Satisfaction
"None are so hard to please as those whom satiety of pleasure makes weary of themselves."
Johnson: Rambler #128 (June 8, 1751)
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1,202. Boredom; Diversion; Satisfaction
"To be able to procure its own entertainments, and to subsist upon its own stock, is not the prerogative of every mind. There are, indeed, understandings so fertile and comprehensive, that they can always feed reflection with new supplies, and suffer nothing from the preclusion of adventitious amusements; as some cities have within their own walls enclosed ground enough to feed their inhabitants in a siege. But others live only from day to day, and must be constantly enabled, by foreign supplies, to keep out the encroachments of languor and stupidity."
Johnson: Rambler #135 (July 2, 1751)
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1,331. Life; Mortality; Satisfaction
"That life is short we are all convinced, and yet suffer not that conviction to repress our projects or limit our expectations; that life is miserable we all feel, and yet we believe that the time is near when we shall feel it no longer. But to hope happiness and immortality is equally vain. Our state may indeed be more or less imbittered as our duration may be more or less contracted; yet the utmost felicity which we can ever attain will be little better than alleviation of misery, and we shall always feel more pain from our wants than pleasure form our enjoyments."
Johnson: Rambler #165 (October 15, 1751)
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1,395. Satisfaction
"The reigning error of mankind is that we are not content with the conditions on which the goods of life are granted. No man is insensible of the value of knowledge, the advantages of health, or the convenience of plenty, but every day shows us those on whom the conviction is without effect."
Johnson: Rambler #178 (November 30, 1751)
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1,468. Happiness; Satisfaction
"The fountain of content must spring up in the mind; and ... he, who has so little knowledge of human nature, as to seek happiness by changing any thing, but his own dispositions, will waste his life in fruitless efforts, and multiply the griefs which he purposes to remove."
Johnson: Rambler #6 (April 7, 1750)
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1,470. Happiness; Hope; Memory; Satisfaction
"It seems to be the fate of man to seek all his consolations in futurity. The time present is seldom able to fill desire or imagination with immediate enjoyment, and we are forced to supply its deficiencies by recollection or anticipation."
Johnson: Rambler #203 (February 25, 1752)
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1,471. Memory; Satisfaction
"So full is the world of calamity that every source of pleasure is polluted, and every retirement of tranquility disturbed. When time has supplied us with events sufficient to employ our thoughts, it has mingled them with so many disasters that we shrink from their remembrance, dread their intrusion upon our minds, and fly from them as from enemies that pursue us with torture."
Johnson: Rambler #203 (February 25, 1752)
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1,481. Satisfaction
"Such is the emptiness of human enjoyment, that we are always impatient of the present. Attainment is followed by neglect, and possession by disgust; and the malicious remark of the Greek epigrammatist on marriage may be applied to every other course of life, that its two days of happiness are the first and the last."
Johnson: Rambler #207 (March 10, 1752)
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1,485. Satisfaction
"So certainly is weariness the concomitant of our undertakings that every man, in whatever he is engaged, consoles himself with the hope of change; if he has made his way by assiduity to public employment, he talks among his friends of the delight of retreat: if by the necessity of solitary application he is secluded from the world, he listens with a beating heart to distant noises, longs to mingle with living beings, and resolves to take hereafter his fill of diversions, or display his abilities on the universal theatre, and enjoy the pleasure of distinction and applause."
Johnson: Rambler #207 (March 10, 1752)
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1,575. Change; Life; Satisfaction
"Such ... is the state of life, that none are happy but by the anticipation of change; the change itself is nothing; when we have made it, the next wish is to change again."
Johnson: Rasselas (said by the Princess Nekayeh)
Note: If you haven't read it yet, please read this note of caution regarding quotes from Rasselas.
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1,593. Desire; Satisfaction
"Many of our miseries are merely comparative: we are often made unhappy, not by the presence of any real evil, but by the absence of some fictitious good; of something which is not required by any real want of nature, which has not in itself any power of gratification, and which neither reason nor fancy would have prompted us to wish, did we not see it in the possession of others."
Johnson: Adventurer #111 (November 27, 1753)
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1,631. Delusion; Life; Satisfaction
"The world, in its best state, is nothing more than a larger assembly of beings, combining to counterfeit happiness which they do not feel, employing every art and contrivance to embellish life, and to hide their real condition from the eyes of one another."
Johnson: Adventurer #120 (December 29, 1753)
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1,633. Satisfaction
"Affliction is inseparable from our present state; it adheres to all the inhabitants of this world, in different proportions indeed, but with an allotment which seems very little regulated by our own conduct."
Johnson: Adventurer #120 (December 29, 1753)
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1,649. Complacency; Satisfaction
"In order to the right conduct of our lives, we must remember, that we are not born to please ourselves. He that studies simply his own satisfaction, will always find the proper business of his station too hard or easy for him."
Johnson: Adventurer #128 (January 26, 1754)
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1,681. Desires; Satisfaction; Simplicity
"That curiosity which always succeeds ease and plenty, was undoubtedly given us as a proof of capacity which our present state is not able to fill, as a preparative for some better mode of existence, which shall furnish employment for the whole soul, and where pleasure shall be adequate to our powers of fruition."
Johnson: Idler #37 (December 30, 1758)
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1,775. Happiness; Satisfaction; Wealth
"No sooner do we sit down to enjoy our acquisitions, than we find them insufficient to fill up the vacuities of life."
Johnson: Idler #73 (September 8, 1759)
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1,788. Competition; Satisfaction
"The supernumerary hours have indeed a great variety both of pleasure and pain. The stranger, gazed on by multitudes at her first appearance in the Park, is perhaps on the highest summit of female happiness; but how great is the anguish when the novelty of another face draws her worshippers away! The heart may leap for a time under a fine gown; but the sight of a gown yet finer puts an end to rapture."
Johnson: Idler #80 (October 27, 1759)
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1,823. Disappointment; Evaluation; Expectations; Old Age; Satisfaction
"He that in the latter part of his life too strictly inquires what he has done, can very seldom receive from his own heart such an account as will give him satisfaction."
Johnson: Idler #88 (December 22, 1759)
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