On the power of writing things down
“Writing bridges conscious and subconscious mind. It is a psycho-neuromuscular activity and literally imprints the brain.”
–Stephen Covey in The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness
On work that doesn’t pay
“Don’t be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.”
–Arthur Miller, playwright and essayist (1915-2005)
On privacy and sharing online
“[J]ust the perception, let alone the reality, of being watched results in feelings of low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. Whether observed by a supervisor at work or Facebook friends, people are inclined to conform and demonstrate less individuality and creativity. Their performance of tasks suffers and they have elevated pulse rates and levels of stress hormones.
An analogy in the psychological literature is that privacy is like sleep. Just as being unconscious for a portion of the day is restorative, so is being unselfconscious. The arousal associated with being observed and the implicit judgment drain cognitive resources. We worry about how we are perceived, which inhibits our ability to explore our thoughts and feelings so we can develop as individuals.”
–Kate Murphy for The New York Times
“In any endeavor, whether writing a book, starting a business, designing a house, or creating a recipe, narrowing the options is one of the hardest things to do. Self-editing is one of the most difficult forms of self discipline.
“In this age of information abundance and overload, those who get ahead will be the folks who figure out what to leave out, so they can concentrate on what’s really important to them. Nothing is more paralyzing than the idea of limitless possibilities. The idea that you can do anything is absolutely terrifying.
“The way to get over creative block is to simply place some constraints on yourself. It seems contradictory, but when it comes to creative work, limitations mean freedom. Write a song on your lunch break. Paint a painting with only one color. Start a business without any start-up capital.”
— Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist
On slowing down
The urgency of slowing down — to find the time and space to think — is nothing new, of course, and wiser souls have always reminded us that the more attention we pay to the moment, the less time and energy we have to place it in some larger context. ‘Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries,’ the French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote in the 17th century, ‘and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.’ He also famously remarked that all of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone.
— Pico Iyer in The Joy of Quiet for The New York Times
On changing the world
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
“I get up every morning determined both to change the world and to have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning the day difficult.”
— E.B. White, writer (1899-1985)
On starting a business
“Opportunities that don’t pay off are like ‘shiny objects.’ Be selective and stay focused.”
On house remodeling
“Renovation is a lot like childbirth. When it’s over, you forget what it was like.”
— Phyllis Rose
On managing people
“That’s what leadership is about: helping people find moments of greatness within themselves, and attaching those to a common cause that allows work to be done.”
On the everyday
“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.”
— Helen Adams Keller, lecturer and author (1880-1968)
“Failure is an integral part of the process of innovation and, ultimately, progress.”
— Sarika Bansal for The New York Times
On the beauty of decay
“As the Japanese know, there is much unnoticed beauty in wabi-sabi—the old, the worn, the tumble-down, those things beginning their transformation into something else. We can embrace this process of devolution: embellish it when strength avails, learn to love it.
There is beauty in weathered and unpainted wood, in orchards overgrown, even in abandoned cars being incorporated into the earth. … Let us embrace decay, for it is the source of all new life and growth.”
On blessings in disguise
“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”
— M. Scott Peck, psychiatrist and author (1936-2005)