Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"Seven common obstacles that people seem to face in living their best lives: (1) Have difficulty putting themselves first. (2) Their schedule does not reflect their priorities. (3) They feel drained by certain people or things. (4) Feel trapped for monetary reasons. (5) Living on adrenalin. (6) Don’t have a supportive community in their life. (7) Their spiritual well-being comes last." - Cheryl Richardson

"The perfect Way [Tao] is without difficulty save that it avoids picking and choosing. Only when you stop liking and disliking will all be clearly understood." -

"Learning to accede to smaller demands so as not to have to grant larger ones is part of the art of leadership. The difficulty is that narrow concessions may also spread into wide ones." - Aaron Wildavsky

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill, fully Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill

"Hard as it is for us to escape the effects of our own feelings, nobody seems to have difficulty in rejecting the feelings of others as merely subjective and vulnerable to interference from the demons of self-deception and self-delusion." - Felipe Fernández-Armesto

"If you like things easy, you'll have difficulty. If you like problems, you'll succeed." - Laotian Proverbs

"We know what we need to do. We may not know all the answers, but we know enough of them that we have no excuse not to act. Too many focus on the difficulty of the problem merely as a means of evading responsibility." - Paul Wellstone, fully Paul David Wellstone

"Some people carry their hearts in their heads; very many carry their heads in their hearts. The difficulty is to keep them apart, and yet both actively working together." - Author Unknown NULL

"There are too many people praying for mountains of difficulty to be removed, when what they really need is courage to climb them." - Author Unknown NULL

"He that has energy enough in his constitution to root out a vice should go a little further, and try to plant a virtue in its place; otherwise he will have his labor to renew. A strong soil that has produced weeds may be made to produce wheat with far less difficulty than it would cost to make it produce nothing." - Charles Caleb Colton

"In pulpit eloquence, the grand difficulty lies here; to give the subject all the dignity it so fully deserves, without attaching any importance to ourselves." - Charles Caleb Colton

"It is an easy and vulgar thing to please the mob, and not a very arduous task to astonish them; but essentially to benefit and to improve them is a work fraught with difficulty, and teeming with danger." - Charles Caleb Colton

"There are circumstances of peculiar difficulty and danger, where a mediocrity of talent is the most fatal quality that a man can possibly possess. Had Charles the first, and Louis the Sixteenth, been more wise or more weak, more firm or more yielding, in either case they had both of them saved their heads." - Charles Caleb Colton

"The superior man makes the difficulty to be over come his first interest; success comes only later." - Confucius, aka Kong Qiu, Zhongni, K'ung Fu-tzu or Kong Fuzi NULL

"Virtue is never tried but by some difficulty and some struggle." - Edmund Burke

"Adversity is a severe instructor, set over us by one who knows us better than we do ourselves, as he love us better too. He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper. This conflict with difficulty makes us acquainted with our object, and compels us to consider it in all its relations. It will not suffer us to be superficial." - Edmund Burke

"The most important preliminary to the task of arranging one's life so that one may live fully and comfortably within one's daily budget of 24 hours is the calm realization of the extreme difficulty of the task, of the sacrifices and the endless effort which it demands." -

"The greater the difficulty the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests." - Epicurus NULL

"However much we talk of the inexorable laws governing the life of individuals and of societies, we remain at the bottom convinced that in human affairs everything in more or less fortuitous. We do not even believe in the inevitability of our own death. Hence the difficulty of deciphering the present, of detecting the seeds of things to come as they germinate before our eyes. We are not attuned to seeing the inevitable." - Eric Hoffer

"It will be found a work of no small difficulty to dispossess a vice from the heart, where long possession begins to plead prescription." - Francis Bacon

"The Occasion of the imagined Difficulty in conceiving disinterested Desires, has probably been from the attempting to define this simple Idea, Desire. It is called an uneasy Sensation in the absence of Good. Whereas Desire is as distinct from any Sensation, as the Will is from the Understanding or Senses. This every one must acknowledge, who speaks of desiring to remove Uneasiness or Pain." - Francis Hutcheson

"Life is a series of inspired follies. The difficulty is to find them to do. Never lose a chance: it doesn't come every day." - George Bernard Shaw

"Where there is no choice, we do well to make no difficulty." - George MacDonald

"The difficulty in life is the choice." - George Moore, fully George Augustus Moore

"The great difficulty in education is to get experience out of ideas." - George Santayana

"Both poetry and philosophy are prodigal of eulogy over the mind which ransoms itself by its own energy from a captivity to custom, which breaks the common bounds of empire, and cuts a Simplon over mountains of difficulty for its own purpose, whether of good or of evil." - Horace Mann

"There is but one pursuit in life which it is in the power of all to follow, and of all to attain. It is subject to no disappointments, since he that perseveres makes every difficulty an advancement, and every conquest a victory; and this is the pursuit of virtue. Sincerely to aspire after virtue is to gain her; and zealously to labor after her ways is to receive them." - James Bryant Conant

"The moment a man can really do his work, he becomes speechless about it; all words are idle to him; all theories. Does a bird need to theorize about building its nest, or boast of it when built? All good work is essentially done that way; without hesitation; without difficulty; without boasting." - John Ruskin

"Life is a score that we play at sight, not merely before we have divined the intentions of the composer, but even before we have mastered our instruments: even worse, a large part of the score has been only roughly indicated, and we must improvise the music for our particular instrument, over long passages. On these terms, the whole operation seems one endless difficulty and frustration; and indeed, were it not for the fact that some of the passages have been played so often by our predecessors that, when we come to them, we seem to recall some of the score and can anticipate the natural sequence of the notes, we might often give up in sheer despair. The wonder is not that so much cacophony appears in our actual individual lives, but that there is any appearance of harmony and progression." - Lewis Mumford

"One difficulty about achieving social improvement is that we tend to uncritically regard any advance in either differentiation or in integration as a good thing. If a new law increases freedom, it must be progress, as is a new movement that fosters the feeling of solidarity among people. yet neither of these programs is likely to improve matters without the complementary contribution of the other. Complexity requires the synergy of these dialectically opposed force; a gain in only one is likely to promote confusion and chaos. We think of social entropy as being caused by a loss of liberty or a loss of common values; but gains in either at the expense of its complement are just as dangerous." - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, native form is Csíkszentmihályi Mihály

"I am continually fascinated at the difficulty intelligent people have in distinguishing what is controversial from what is merely offensive." - Nora Ephron

"Trouble, difficulty and hardship are three great teachers. Fortunate is the person who in keeping company with them keeps his eyes, his ears and, better still, his mind open; they can teach him valuable things." - Norman Vincent Peale

"The difficulty with marriage is that we fall in love with a personality but must live with a character." -

"Acceptance is not a state of passivity or inaction. I am not saying you can't change the world, right wrongs, or replace evil with good. Acceptance is, in fact, the first step to successful action. If you don't fully accept a situation precisely the way it is, you will have difficulty changing it. Moreover, if you don't fully accept the situation, you will never really know if the situation should be changed." - Peter McWilliams, fully Peter Alexander McWilliams

"[In the cave allegory] those whose who are destitute of philosophy may be compared to prisoners in a cave, who are only able to look in one direction because they are bound, and who have a fire behind them and a wall in front. Between them and the wall there is nothing; all that they see are shadows of themselves, and of objects behind them, cast on the wall by the light of the fire. Inevitably they regard these shadows as real, and have no notion of the objects to which they are due. At last some man succeeds in escaping from the cave to the light of the sun; for the first time he sees real things, and becomes aware that he had hitherto been deceived by shadows. If he is the sort of philosopher who is fit to become a guardian, he will feel it his duty to those who were formerly his fellow prisoners to go down again into the cave, instruct them as to the truth, and show them the way up. But he will have difficulty in persuading them, because, coming out of the sunlight, he will see shadows less clearly than they do, and will seem to them stupider than before his escape." - Plato NULL

"The greatest difficulty is that men do not think enough of themselves, do not consider what it is that they are sacrificing when they follow in a herd, or when they cater for their establishment." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"I count him a great man who inhabits a higher sphere of thought, into which other men rise with labor or difficulty; he has but to open his eyes to see things in a true light and in large relations, whilst they must make painful corrections and keep vigilant eye on many sources of error." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Wisdom is not found with those who dwell at their ease; rather nature, when she adds brain, adds difficulty." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Nothing is comparable to the pleasure of an active and prevailing thought - a thought prevailing over the difficulty and obscurity of the object, and refreshing the soul with new discoveries and images of things; and thereby extending the bounds of apprehension, and as it were enlarging the territories of reason." -

"Voices of the glorified urge us onward. they who have passed from the semblances of time to the realities of eternity call upon us to advance. The rest that awaits us invites us forward. We do not pine for our rest before God wills it. We long for no inglorious rest. We are thankful rather for the invaluable training of difficulty, the loving discipline of danger and strife. Yet in the midst of it all the prospect of rest invites us heavenward. Through all, and above all, God cries, “Go forward!” “Come up higher.”" - William Jones, fully Sir William Jones of Nayland, aka Trinity Jones

"An obstinate man does not hold opinions, but they hold him; for when he is once possest with an error it is like a devil, only cast out with great difficulty. Whatsoever he lays hold on, like a drowning man, he never loses, though it do but help to sink him the sooner. His ignorance is abrupt and inaccessible, impregnable both by art and nature, and will hold out to the last, though it has nothing but rubbish to defend." -

"It is not to taste sweet things, but to do noble and true things, and vindicate himself under God’s heaven as a God-made man, that the poorest son of Adam dimly longs. Show him the way of doing that, the dullest day-drudge kindles into a hero. They wrong man greatly who say he is to be seduced by ease. Difficulty, abnegation, martyrdom, death, are the allurements that act on the heart of man. Kindle the inner genial life of him, you have a flame that burns up all lower considerations." - Thomas Carlyle

"They wrong man greatly who say he is to be seduced by ease. Difficulty, abnegation, martyrdom, death, are the allurements that act on the heart of man. Kindle the inner genial life of him, you have a flame that burns up all lower considerations. Not happiness, but something higher; one sees this even in the frivolous classes, with their “point of honor” and the like. Not by flattering our appetites - no, by awakening the heroic that slumbers in every heart can any religious gain follow." - Thomas Carlyle

"I find no difficulty in imagining that, at some former period, this universe was not in existence, and that it made its appearance in consequence of the volition of some pre-existing Being." - Thomas Henry Huxley, aka T.H. Huxley and Darwin's Bulldog

"Grace is the absence of everything that indicates pain or difficulty, hesitation or incongruity." - William Hazlitt

"The great difficulty in philosophy is to come to every question with a mind fresh and unshackled by former theories, though strengthened by exercise and information." - William Hazlitt

"A person who is goal oriented will be able to overcome difficulties that others are unable to cope with. The stronger one is motivated to reach a certain goal, the easier it is for him to tolerate and even ignore difficulties. Hence a person who is strongly goal oriented to do good deeds will easily be able to minimize the amount of difficulty he experiences in doing those deeds." - Zelig Pliskin

"Duty is above all consequences, and often, at a crisis of difficulty, commands us to throw them overboard. It commands us to look neither to the right, nor to the left, but straight onward. Hence every act of duty is an act of faith. It is performed in the assurance that God will take care of the consequences, and will so order the course of the world, that, whatever the immediate results may be, His word shall not return to Him void." - Aubrey de Vere, fully Aubrey Albericus de Vere NULL

"Men govern nothing with more difficulty than their tongues, and can moderate their desires more than their words." -

"Neither acquiescence in skepticism nor acquiescence in dogma is what education should produce. What it should produce is a belief that knowledge is attainable in a measure, though with difficulty; that much of what passes for knowledge at any given time is likely to be more or less mistaken, but that the mistakes can be rectified by care and industry... Knowledge, like other good things, is difficult, but not impossible; the dogmatist forgets the difficulty, the skeptic denies the possibility. Both are mistaken, and their errors, when widespread, produce social disaster." - Bertrand Russell, fully Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell