The Conquest of Happiness

The test is this: do you produce because you feel an urgent compulsion to express certain ideas or feelings, or are you actuated by the desire for applause? In the genuine artist the desire for applause, while it usually exists strongly, is secondary, in the sense that the artist wishes to produce a certain kind of work, and hopes that that work may be applauded, but will not alter his style even if no applause is forthcoming. The man, on the other hand, to whom the desire for applause is the primary motive, has no force within himself urging him to a particular kind of expression, and could therefore just as well do work of some wholly different kind. Such a man, if he fails to win applause by his art, had better give it up. And, speaking more generally, whatever your line in life may be, if you find that others do not rate your abilities as highly as you do yourself, do not be too sure that it is they who are mistaken.

Bertrand Russell “Chapter 8: Persecution Mania – The Conquest of Happiness”


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