The conquest of happiness

is an excellent book by Bertrand Russell (isbn 0415378478). As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages:
It will be found that a quiet life is characteristic of great men, and that their pleasures have not been of the sort that would look exciting to the outward eye. No great achievement is possible without persistent work.
Worry is a form of fear, and all forms of fear produce fatigue.

Every kind of fear grows worse by not being looked at.
More and more it becomes possible to choose our companions on account of congeniality rather than on account of mere propinquity.
Like the heroes of Valhalla who spent every day hunting a certain wild boar, which they killed every evening but which miraculously came to life again in the morning…
Fundamental happiness depends more than anything else upon what may be called a friendly interest in persons and things.

To like many people spontaneously and without effort is perhaps the greatest of all sources of personal happiness.

The secret of happiness is this: let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile.
The more things a man is interested in, the more opportunities of happiness he has.
Events only become experiences through the interest that we take in them.
In the best kind of affection a man hopes for a new happiness rather than for escape from an old unhappiness.
Work, therefore, is desirable, first and foremost, as a preventive of boredom, for the boredom that a man feels when he is doing necessary though uninteresting work is as nothing in comparison with the boredom that he feels when he has nothing to do with his days.
Two chief elements make work interesting: first, the exercise of skill, and second, construction.

All skilled work can be pleasurable, provided the skill required is either variable or capable of indefinite improvement.
We may distinguish construction from destruction by the following criterion. In construction the initial stage of affairs is comparatively haphazard, while the final state of affairs embodies a purpose; in destruction the reverse is the case: the initial state of affairs embodies a purpose, while the final state of affairs is haphazard.
Destruction is of course necessary very often as a preliminary to subsequent construction; in that case it is part of a whole which is constructive.
Few things are so likely to cure the habit of hatred as the opportunity to do constructive work of an important kind.
I should seek to make young people vividly aware of the past, vividly realising that the future of man will in all likelihood be immeasurably longer than his past, profoundly conscious of the minuteness of the planet upon which we live and of the fact that life on this planet is only a temporary incident; and at the same time with these facts which tend to emphasise the insignificance of the individual I should present quite another set of facts designed to impress upon the mind of the young the greatness of which the individual is capable, and the knowledge that throughout all the depths of stellar space nothing of equal value is known to us.
Happiness must be, for most men and women, an achievement rather than a gift of the gods, and in this achievement effort, both inward and outward, must play a great part.
The only man totally indifferent to power is the man totally indifferent to his fellow-men.
It is better to do nothing than to do harm. Half the useful work in the world consists of combating the harmful work.

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