Jeremy Clarkson on Mid-Life

“But he’ll stick with her, they’ll get married and for his 60th birthday, when he should be settling down with a book on fly-fishing, he’ll get as a present a new baby.”

~ Jeremy Clarkson / The Times, January 21st, 2018

Tsunetomo Yamamoto on the Shortness of Life

“Human life is truly a short affair. It is better to live doing the things that you like. It is foolish to live within this dream of a world seeing unpleasantness and doing only things that you do not like.”

~ Tsunetomo Yamamoto / Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

Penelope Lively on Memory

“I have learned to be suspicious of memory–my own, anyone’s–but to accord it considerable respect. Whether accurate or not, it can subvert a life.”

~ Penelope Lively / Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time

Penelope Lively on Life

“I think it’s only later in life that you begin to realize just how contingent life is and the extraordinary way in which one’s own life has been dependent on decisions made in one direction or another.”

~ Penelope Lively

Musonius Rufus on Life

“…the more one pushes the intelligent person away from the life he was born for, the more he inclines towards it.”

~ King, Cynthia. Musonius Rufus: Lectures and Sayings (p. 89). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

William Irvine on a Good Life

“The most important reason for adopting a philosophy of life, though, is that if we lack one, there is a danger that we will mislive—that we will spend our life pursuing goals that aren’t worth attaining or will pursue worthwhile goals in a foolish manner and will therefore fail to attain them.”

~ Irvine, William B. / A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy (p. 203). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

David Brooks on Work

Furthermore, living a great life is more important than producing great work. A life devoted to one thing is a stunted life, while a pluralistic life is an abundant one.

~ David Brooks / New York Times, 29 July 2019

Professor Green on Success

I thought success would bring me happiness – fuck me, was I wrong. Attaching your happiness to your goals is like a game of pin the tail on the donkey. You’re happy for a second, then you pin your happiness on something or, worse, someone else.

~ Professor Green / Guardian, 27th July 2019

Charlie Munger on Learning

I believe in the discipline of mastering the best that other people have ever figured out. I don’t believe in just sitting down and trying to dream it all up yourself. Nobody’s that smart.

~ Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger on Learning

I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up and boy does that help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.

~ Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger on Ideas

“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.”

~ Charlie Munger

Ralph Waldo Emerson on Happiness

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Michael Lewis on Achievement

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

Finding a path through life that doesn’t violate my inner sense of self…

~ Michael Lewis / Financial Times, December 15, 2017

Meg Wolitzer on Drive

What drives you on?

I said in The Ten-Year Nap that I feel like work is the anti-death. So I think it’s about mortality.

~ Meg Wolitzer / Financial Times, February 22, 2019

Helen Pattison on Life

Do you believe in an afterlife?

No, and I think that’s why you have to make this one count.

~ Helen Pattison / Financial Times, March 22nd 2019

Rudyard Kipling on Miseries

“Small miseries, like small debts, hit us in so many places, and meet us at so many turns and corners, that what they want in weight, they make up in number, and render it less hazardous to stand the fire of one cannon ball, than a volley composed of such a shower of bullets.”

~ Rudyard Kipling

Hilary Mantel on Changing

“All of us can change. All of us can change for the better, at any point. I believe this, but what is certainly true is that we can be made foreign to ourselves, suddenly, by illness, accident, misadventure, or hormonal caprice.”

~ Hilary Mantel / Giving up the Ghost


Janan Ganesh On Failure

“For many people, failure will be just that, not a nourishing experience or a bridge to something else. It will be a lasting condition, and it will sting a fair bit.

Look again at that list of names who have minted smarmy epigrams about the utility of failure. It is, you realise, a kind of winner’s wisdom. Those who overcome setbacks to achieve epic feats tend to universalise their atypical experience. Amazingly bad givers of advice, they encourage people to proceed with ambitions that are best sat on, and despise “quitters” when quitting is often the purest common sense.”

~ Janan Ganesh / Financial Times, March 15th 2019

Kurt Vonnegut on Mistakes

“That is my principal objection to life, I think: It’s too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes.”

~ Kurt Vonnegut / Deadeye Dick