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The Conquest of Happiness

The happy man is the man who lives objectively, who has free affections and wide interests, who secures his happiness through these interests and affections and through the fact that they, in turn, make him an object of interest and affection to many others. To be the recipient of affection is a potent cause of happiness, but the man who demands affection is not the man upon whom it is bestowed. The man who receives affection is, speaking broadly, the man who gives it. But it is useless to attempt to give it as a calculation, in the way in which one might lend money at interest, for a calculated affection is not genuine and is not felt to be so by the recipient.

Bertrand Russell “Chapter 17: The Happy Man – The Conquest of Happiness”
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The Conquest of Happiness

Another not uncommon victim of persecution mania is a certain type of philanthropist who is always doing good to people against their will, and is amazed and horrified that they display no gratitude. Our motives in doing good are seldom as pure as we imagine them to be.

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

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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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The Master and Margarita

First of all let us reveal the secret which the master did not wish to reveal to Ivanushka. His beloved’s name was Margarita1 Nikolaevna. Everything the master told the poor poet about her was the exact truth. He described his beloved correctly. She was beautiful and intelligent. To that one more thing must be added: it can be said with certainty that many women would have given anything to exchange their lives for the life of Margarita Nikolaevna. The childless thirty-year-old Margarita was the wife of a very prominent specialist, who, moreover, had made a very important discovery of state significance. Her husband was young, handsome, kind, honest, and adored his wife. The two of them, Margarita and her husband, occupied the entire top floor of a magnificent house in a garden on one of the lanes near the Arbat. A charming place! Anyone can be convinced of it who wishes to visit this garden. Let them inquire of me, and I will give them the address, show them the way – the house stands untouched to this day.

Mikhail Bulgakov “The Master and Margarita (Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky)”

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BHAGAVAD GITA

56. He whose mind is not shaken by adversity, who does not hanker after pleasures, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady wisdom.

57. He who is everywhere without attachment, on meeting with anything good or bad, who neither rejoices nor hates, his wisdom is fixed.

from “II Sankhya Yoga, Bhagavad Gita (By Sri Swami Sivananda)”

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As I Walked Out One Evening

The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.’

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

from W. H. Auden “As I Walked Out One Evening”

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Sputnik Sweetheart

 

Sumire couldn’t work out what she meant. Knife and fork poised in mid-air, she gave it some thought. “Sputnik? You mean the first satellite the Soviets sent up, in the fifties? Jack Kerouac was an American novelist. I guess they do overlap in terms of generation…”

from Haruki Murakami “Sputnik Sweetheart (Translated by Philip Gabriel)”