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Quotes of the day: Norman Cousins

Published Tuesday, June 23, 2015 @ 8:21 PM EDT
Jun 23 2015

Norman Cousins (June 24, 1915 – November 30, 1990) was an American political journalist, author, professor, and world peace advocate. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A book is like a piece of rope; it takes on meaning only in connection with the things it holds together.

Cynicism is intellectual treason.

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies within us while we live.

Death is not the ultimate tragedy in life. The ultimate tragedy is to die without discovering the possibilities of full growth.

Governments are not built to perceive large truths. Only people can perceive great truths. Governments specialize in small and intermediate truths. They have to be instructed by their people in great truths.

He who keeps his cool best wins.

Hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally without having to go outdoors.

History is a vast early-warning system.

If something comes to life in others because of you, then you have made an approach to immortality.

If the United Nations is to survive, those who represent it must bolster it; those who advocate it must submit to it; and those who believe in it must fight for it.

Inevitably, an individual is measured by his or her largest concerns.

It makes little difference how many university courses or degrees a person may own. If he cannot use words to move an idea from one point to another, his education is incomplete.

Life is an adventure in forgiveness.

Man is not imprisoned by habit. Great changes in him can be wrought by crisis- once that crisis can be recognized and understood.

Optimism doesn't wait on facts. It deals with prospects. Pessimism is a waste of time.

People are never more insecure than when they become obsessed with their fears at the expense of their dreams.

People who develop the habit of thinking of themselves as world citizens are fulfilling the first requirement of sanity in our time.

Respect for the fragility and importance of an individual life is still the mark of an educated man.

The biggest and most pertinent lesson in history-at least for democracies-is that they cannot take their existence for granted.

The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started.

The eternal quest of the individual human being is to shatter his loneliness.

The human body experiences a powerful gravitational pull in the direction of hope. That is why the patient's hopes are the physician's secret weapon. They are the hidden ingredients in any prescription.

The individual is capable of both great compassion and great indifference. He has it within his means to nourish the former and outgrow the latter.

The main failure of education is that it has not prepared people to comprehend matters concerning human destiny.

The message from the moon which we have flashed to the far corners of this planet is that no problem need any longer be considered insoluble.

The tragedy of life is in what dies inside a man while he lives- the death of genuine feeling, the death of inspired response, the awareness that makes it possible to feel the pain or the glory of other men in yourself.

There is a tendency to mistake data for wisdom, just as there has always been a tendency to confuse logic with values, intelligence with insight.

War is an invention of the human mind. The human mind can invent peace with justice.

We will not have peace by afterthought.

What a man really says when he says that someone else can be persuaded by force, is that he himself is incapable of more rational means of communication.

What was most significant about the lunar voyage was not that men set foot on the moon but that they set eye on the earth.

Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences.

Your heaviest artillery will be your will to live. Keep that big gun going.


(June 24 is also the birthday of Ambrose Bierce and Henry Ward Beecher.)

Categories: Norman Cousins, Quotes of the day


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