Tyler Cowen wrote the in Average is Over that:
“The more information that’s out there, the greater the returns to just being willing to sit down and apply yourself. Information isn’t what’s scarce; it’s the willingness to do something with it.”
Action is underappreciated as a way out of most of our problems–and as a path to most of the rewards in life. Our life rarely lacks satisfaction because we haven’t studied enough. It’s often because we let ourselves get caught up in overthinking, over-learning, and BS busywork.
The following quotes will attack your complacency from every angle, with the goal of pushing you toward your most potent possible action. Going through my notes this morning to collect these definitely did this for me! I hope reading them will be as productive for you.
Do you have any quotes you’d add to the list? Either leave them in a comment below or tweet them at me. I’m always collecting good quotes!
Let’s kick off with a beefy quote from Sarah Bakewell’s At the Existentialist Cafe. From here on out things will get short and tweetable. Enjoy!
For [Simone de Beauvoir], a man who wants to stop and navel-gaze is not as good a model as the one who commits himself to keep going. Why do we imagine that wisdom lies in inactivity and detachment, she asks? If a child says, “I don’t care about anything,” that is not the sign of a wise child but of a troubled and depressed one. Similarly, adults who withdraw from the world soon get bored. Even lovers, if they retreat to their private love nest for too long, lose interest in each other. We do not thrive in satiety and rest. Human existence means “transcendence”, or going beyond, not “immanence”, or reposing passively inside oneself. It means constant action until the day one runs out of things to do–a day that is unlikely to come as long as you have breath. For Beauvoir and Sartre, this was the big lesson of the war years: the art of life lies in getting things done. — Sarah Bakewell, At the Existentialist Cafe
Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.— Benjamin Disraeli
Remember you have not a sinew whose law of strength is not action; not in faculty of body, mind, or soul, whose law of improvement is not energy.—E. B. Hall
Our grand business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.—Thomas Carlyle
Every noble activity makes room for itself.—Ralph Waldo Emerson
A right act strikes a chord that extends through the whole universe, touches all moral intelligence, visits every world, vibrates along its whole extent, and conveys its vibrations to the very bosom of God!— Thomas Binney
The Pythian Apollo’s dictate “Know thyself!” is interpreted by Cicero as an admonition to learn the strength of one’s body and spirit (nostri vim corporis animique) and to follow the way of life that enabled one to make fullest use of that force. One learned through the contest the strengths of one’s body and spirit. “No man,” Seneca declares, “is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity. For he is not permitted to prove himself” — Carlin A. Barton, Roman Honor
“Ambition means tying your well-being to what other people say or do… Sanity means tying it to your own actions.” Marcus Aurelius [Read more…]