Cover of book Teach Yourself to Live: The classic guide to finding happiness

Teach Yourself to Live: The classic guide to finding happiness

by: Charles Garfield Lott Du Cann

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107 Highlights | 2 Notes
  • Experience, though the best of teachers, is often an expensive and cruel one.
  • Still, a book can help to a varying degree, dependent upon what a reader brings to it. It may stimulate or suggest. It may inspire or inspirit.
  • What are life-facts? The first is Yourself. The second is Existence. The third is the limited nature of Yourself and your Existence. That is to say YOU EXIST ON TERMS. Those three things are inexorable, desperate facts unwilled by you and which you are completely powerless to alter.
  • If you are not a Beethoven, a Michel Angelo, a Shakespeare, a Newton, or an Einstein, all the Universities and studying in the world will not make you one.
  • Recognise, then, that both in body and mind You are You, and not a better or worse Anybody Else. You are limited by Yourself. You can make the Best of Yourself—
  • And the first step in knowing oneself is to know one’s own limitations as well as one’s powers.
  • As this Self is a body and a mind, not merely one or the other, you have a twofold task. You must take care, great care, of both. For they are all you have and are. Sacrifice neither one to the other, as athletes and students often do. Cultivate them both to the height of their powers so that each functions to your best advantage.
  • But, like one’s money, one’s time should never be habitually frittered away, nor should it be lost in large and fruitless expenditures, bringing no harvest.
  • Reflecting upon that strange circumstance may lead you to see that you start your working-life in debt to others.
  • Old age requires comfort, even luxury. It requires a sufficiency of hard cash. It needs an interest in life—something to live for, something to do, be, and think.
  • There are terms imposed on you as an individual. And it is of the highest importance to your welfare that you find out what these are.
  • Each of us is highly idiosyncratic. We have what doctors call a constitution. Learn what you can do and what you cannot, what you like and what you dislike, what is meat and drink for your body and your mind and what is poison or useless to them. Never—whatever you do—struggle against the laws of your own being. It
  • Do you really think that it is not the same with your mind? That it has not its own cast of temper, its own strengths and weaknesses, its capacities and non-capacities? Of course it has.
  • They do not sleep to advantage. They eat and drink to their damnation (as religious folk say). They hunger and thirst after trying to be someone else, quite other than themselves. They strain themselves to unhappiness and despair, against the laws of their own being, kicking against the pricks. So they lose their lives in futility and frustration.
  • To know Yourself as the Greek Socrates taught is the beginning of wisdom for yourself. 5. Self-cultivation of both body and mind to the height of their powers is the answer to the whole problem of life.
  • For personality is not what you seem to others—a vulgar error. It is not even what you seem to yourself. It is what you, in fact, are.
  • Strengthen your will so that it completely dominates both your mind and your body, and you become a thousand times more effective for every purpose in life. You
  • Most folk are the slaves of body or mind, or both. Resolve to make both body and mind your servants.
  • Every time your will gains a victory over your body or mind it strengthens itself and its authority. Every time it suffers a defeat by either body or mind it weakens its authority.
  • Let the tasks you set your Will be attainable ones. And by degrees, make them harder. And do not give up in despair because of failures. Persist.
  • For the truth is the world judges by appearance. Appeal to its eyes and you gain its heart. And once the heart is gained, the mind goes with
  • My counsel is to use all these adjuncts to living, alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee, luxurious food, in strict moderation. If you find you slip into excess, give up any one of them that betrays you. Here indeed is one of the finest exercises for strengthening your will-power, because its victories in these fields benefit your body as well as your mind.
  • It also deserves education, which really means improving the mind in two ways: knowledge and skill. Each of us lives in this little
  • The happiness or unhappiness, the satisfaction or dissatisfaction you experience in life, comes not from objective things and circumstances outside yourself, but from the sum total of your ideas, thoughts, sensations, and desires about those things.
  • They lived in the spacious realms of themselves.
  • An innate cheerfulness or geniality is a great blessing wherewith to face the hazards of life. Fortunately if it be not innate, it can be, and should be, cultivated.
  • For the only way to train the mind is to use it persistently on what interests it and on what it is desired to master.
  • To make thought generative so that original thought is born, or to make thought incarnate in action, is more difficult.
  • Possessions, however rich or rare, may be in some directions almost as disadvantageous as advantageous to their owner.
  • Never buy, or even possess as a gift, what is neither (a) useful, nor (b) beautiful, nor (c) rare, nor (d) of sentimental value to yourself.
  • Life at best is short, and it is not worth while to spend it in accumulating very much more than your life-needs at the sacrifice of more worth-while activities.
  • No: what is so dangerous to you is the habitual small extravagances, each so small that, despising them as trifling, you think them of no consequence.
  • For personal budgets are quite as important to the individual as the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s budget is to the nation.
  • Now livelihood is not life.
  • Some, indeed, make such an utter sacrifice that, apart from their working careers, they can scarcely be said to have any life at all.
  • “Equality of opportunity”—that canting phrase of the politicians—does not really exist in life at all.
  • Look well, then, to the opportunities ready to your hand. Do not despise them, if small. Do not spend time sighing after greater ones. Rather grasp the nearest and best to hand.
  • The great Italian Machiavelli, tutor of princes and kings, who knew more of life, human-nature, and polity than most men, has some pregnant verses on “Opportunity” which you should read.
  • A great question is what would you like to do as your life-work?
  • Most people are capable of one livelihood only. And in most cases it is perhaps wisest for them to concentrate on one only.
  • Frances Trollope, who, at 54 (finding herself with a sick and unsuccessful husband and a family of consumptive children and no money) started to write novels before breakfast daily.
  • by the same method of early-morning rising and pre-breakfast working.
  • Trollope’s Autobiography.
  • There is also the pleasure that arises from self activity to one’s fullest powers.
  • Leisure’s true purpose is for relaxation and rest—using those two words in their widest meaning. A change of occupation can be a real relaxation and repose, even though it may involve strenuous muscular or mental activity.
  • like. But activity is better than passivity, and the acquisition of “skills” is worth much.
  • Never sacrifice too much life to livelihood. In
  • It depends mostly upon you. Not as you may be tempted to believe, upon “the other fellow”—be that other fellow a man or a woman.
  • Every person you encounter is potentially a friend, an enemy, or an indifferentist. That is true of every one you meet. Some may not fall and fit exactly into one of those clear-cut categories.
  • Do not imagine that there is a single exception to the rule
  • How then shall we turn the average person into a friend? The answer to this is “By the art of pleasing”. Yes. It is as simple as that.
  • On this fascinating subject here is another of Chesterfield’s words of wisdom, “I can promise you”, he says, “that if you make a man like himself better he will like you very well.” Subtle, is it not?
  • Never wound another’s personal vanity. He
  • People, as they indeed say, cannot bear to be “made to look small”, i.e., to be humiliated in the eyes of their fellows. Or even in their own eyes.
  • Get people’s eyes pleased and you gain their hearts. Gain their hearts and you gain their heads. Then you have gained all.
  • Make yourself your own Public Relations Officer:
  • Turning human-liabilities into human-assets is quite as interesting and rewarding as turning business-liabilities into business-assets.
  • Two things you will find are required of you by almost all these groups. One is your money. The other is your time. Two of the most precious things you possess.
  • One is: what will be required from me in money, time, and the like, through joining it? The other is: what benefits (if any) shall I get out of it? The word “benefits” is used in its widest sense, for even if you unselfishly join a society like one for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, you get the benefit of advancing a worthy cause and fulfilling your laudable desire to assist good against evil.
  • Nevertheless, no human being past childhood ought to be so poor that he, or she, does not possess at least a room of his or her very own.
  • A place of one’s own—where one can be alone—is essential.
  • The point is that your little routine-environment, whatever it be, must be suited to your nature.
  • Now if you are a born administrator and organiser, this dealing with necessary trifles may be meat and drink to your spirit.
  • In modern life it is not the facilities, but the energy and enterprise to take advantage of them, that most people lack.
  • It is enough that we follow faithfully our nature and our business. This, and this only, is the great thing.
  • Certainly he had no purpose in life beyond living.
  • The right habit is of course: “Give full attention to what you do at the time you do it.”
  • We are often flickering in the draughts of circumstance or our own fatigue, listlessness, or ill-health, and sometimes almost extinguished to a faint spark.
  • Hesitate and postpone even a small matter, and what happens? An uneasiness, purely psychological, arises and gnaws at the mind. The mental tranquillity is impaired. And—strangely enough—when the morrow comes, one tends to hesitate again, and to hesitate still more.
  • It teaches us to regard our gifts and possessions as trust-property of which we are only the temporary custodians rather than permanent owners.
  • Like the rest of life, old age needs interests.
  • So if you have a light occupation, such as books to read, a garden to tend, a collection to increase, light social activities to pursue, or anything of a similar kind, you are well provided for in old age. The
  • “What shall I do with my old age?” is a sensible question to ask and to answer in early manhood or womanhood.
  • IT is a good general rule in life: Get the best of anything. People are apt to say: “I cannot afford it.” But the truth is that we cannot afford anything less than the best—because the second-best or something worse than that is, in the long term and in a sensible view, so much more expensive.
  • Do not confound “the best” necessarily with “the most expensive”.
  • Above all, in seeking the best, you need to educate yourself to perceive fine distinctions.
  • A questioning, analytical mind is a great weapon in life. You can acquire it. This is entirely a matter of habit. Observe keenly. Pay attention. Question everything until you thoroughly understand it.
  • pure Buddhism was the noblest of religions in as much as it held out no promises either of reward or punishment to mankind; that in it virtue was its own and only reward; that it believed in no supernatural Being or Beings; that it required no priest or temple; and, above all, that it respected life even in its humblest forms and forbade the killing of any living sentient creature.
  • The maxim of choosing the best certainly should be applied to one’s sustenance in such bodily matters as food, drink, sleep and the like.
  • “In the practical business of living, choose and cleave to the best in everything, remembering that the best in this connection means the best for you.”
  • Not being adventurous, we do not have adventures. For “adventures are to the adventurous” as Disraeli said.
  • Seek experiences of all kinds. Go everywhere and see everything. Talk with everyone. Be curious and satisfy your curiosities. Know how others live, the rich no less than the poor. Keep your eyes and ears open. Then you will not fail to be interested and enjoy yourself.
  • Experience does not consist merely of the things dealt with above. There is such a thing as what the Book of Common Prayer calls “estates of life”.
  • Marriage is one such estate of life. So is fatherhood or motherhood. Grand-parentage (a foolishly neglected estate) is yet another. These are natural estates. Also there are artificial “estates of life” which you may take upon yourself, other than your ordinary avocations, such as becoming a Councillor, an MP, or entering public or semi-public life in some form or another. That
  • The main feature of marriage is often forgotten. It is not sex, vitally important though that is. It is not even affection or love. It is the fact that in marriage one’s life is no longer entirely one’s own. It is a shared existence through the identification of marriage with cohabitation.
  • godparent. This relation of godparent and godchild has largely become degraded into a merely nominal and conventional one in modern times.
  • He, or she, will cultivate lifelong, or certainly youth-long relations with the godchild, to the friendship and enrichment of both their lives.
  • “The hand that feeds us is in great danger of being bitten”.
  • It may be both refreshing and constructive to consider the opposite idea
  • it can be said plainly (and it requires to be said) that self-regard, self-preservation, and self-aggrandisement, are duties and not mere vices.
  • What are the laws of mental hygiene applicable to yourself?
  • Find out by testing it, under what conditions your brain works best, easiest, and most willingly. It may be an hour on rising in the morning. It may be under the stimulus of artificial light in the quietude of night.
  • For how long can you work mentally to the best advantage?
  • Do not waste feeling, passion and mental power upon objects unworthy of them. We
  • One selfish duty we owe ourselves is never to worry. Not even about anything.
  • Self-esteem is a further selfish duty to be cultivated. According to Pythagoras, we should “respect
  • “Don’t ‘learn to do’ (anything): Learn by doing.” (This, indeed, is how one learns most swiftly and effectively.)
  • “Let subjects choose you: not you them.” (Accordingly, you will follow your bent, the most fruitful way of progress and success.)
  • “Only learn when not knowing comes to be a nuisance to you.” (In this way the clogging and cluttering-up that makes so many minds ineffective, is avoided, and you learn swiftly and surely what is needful under the pressure of necessity.) Perhaps on the subject
    Note: Tms5
  • But it is far more important to successful living to “read” oneself and other people than to read books.
  • This ancient book is one not to be merely read but pondered over and re-read again and again.
  • Wisdom or the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Justice or the giving of every man his due. Fortitude or the enduring of life’s labour and pain. Temperance or moderation in all things.
  • We must live as a social animal, but yet at times as on a mountain. We
  • But The Art of Worldly Wisdom of Gracián, translated into English by Joseph Jacobs, should not be neglected by students in the art of living.
    Note: To read
  • “Never talk of yourself”, a common mistake most of us make:
  • Mastery of temper; coolness of mind; serenity of countenance; grace and charm of manner; activity; diligence; order; method; despatch; the perfect control of oneself and command of others, were the lessons of this aristocrat.
  • You will discover more truth by your eyes than your ears. Make people like themselves better, and they will like you. Keep an open face but close thoughts.