Responsible for a higher standard



Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life.

Edward L. Bernays, quoted in Are You Happy?, a 1986 book by Dennis Wholey


When I first came upon this sentiment, I was struck by the intriguing choice of words. But it was only after reading the entire observation that I realized how masterfully Bernays-the father of public relations-had expressed the danger of “either-or” thinking when applied to work and play. Here’s the entire observation (which, by the way, is commonly misattributed to Pablo Picasso):


Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life, a dichotomy in which you hate what you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time. Look for a situation in which your work will give you as much happiness as your spare time.


Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you . . .


Look for a situation in which your work will give you as much happiness as your spare time.


Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you . . .


Never excuse yourself to yourself.


Never pity yourself.


Be a hard master to yourself, but lenient to everybody else.


Henry Ward Beecher, in an 1878 letter to his son Herbert In the letter, written as Herbert was leaving home for the first time to take a job, a concerned Beecher also implored his son to work on a problem that had become worrisome:


I beseech you to correct one fault severe speech of others; never speak evil of any man, no matter what the facts may be.


Never forget that Life can only be nobly inspired and rightly lived if you take it bravely, gallantly, as a splendid Adventure, in which you are setting out into an unknown country, to face many a danger, to meet many a joy, to find many a comrade, to win and lose many a battle.


Annie Besant, quoted in a 1924 article in The Theosophist



Never mistake knowledge for wisdom.


One helps you make a living and the other helps you make a life.

Sandra Carey


If you don’t like it, stop doing it.


Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy.

Johnny Carson


Carson offered this advice in a 1976 commencement address at NorfolkHigh School in Nebraska. Carson, who had graduated from the school in 1943, was thrilled to be invited back to his home town to speak to graduates. His proud parents were in attendance, as was one of his former teachers, Miss Jenny Walker, who had said to him when he was a high school senior, “You have a fine sense of humor and I think you will go far in the entertainment world.” After the speech, Carson took questions from the audience. When asked what he was proudest of, he said, “Giving a commencement address like this has made me as proud as anything I’ve ever done.” As the Q&A session ended and Carson prepared to leave, he was so moved by the prolonged applause, he added one final thought, a lovely expansion on his earlier advice about working only in a job that is enjoyable: If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself. And if you like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined. I thank you all very much.


Never do reluctantly that which you must do inevitably.

Harlon B. Carter

Never stand begging for that which you have the power to earn.


Miguel de Cervantes, in Don Quixote (1605)


Never forget the difference between things of importance and trifles; yet remember that trifles have also their value.


Susan Fennimore Cooper, in Elinor Wyllys (1846)


Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.


Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.


St. Frances de Sales

Never apologize for showing feeling.


When you do so, you apologize for truth.


Benjamin Disraeli, from a character in Contarini Fleming (1832)



Never place loyalty to institutions and things above loyalty to yourself.


Dr. Wayne Dyer, in Pulling Your Own Strings (1978)




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