— Karen Blixen
The road less traveled p. 42
The difficulty we have in accepting responsibility for our behavior lies in the desire to avoid the pain of the consequences of that behavior.”
The road less traveled p. 19
Delaying gratification is a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with. It is the only decent way to live.”
The Road less traveled p. 17 – 18
I have stated that discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems. It will become clear that these tools are techniques of suffering, means by which we experience the pain of problems in such a way as to work them through and solve them successfully, learning and growing in the process. When we teach ourselves and our children discipline, we are teaching them and ourselves how to suffer and also how to grow.
What are these tools, these techniques of suffering, these means of experiencing the pain of problems constructively that I call discipline. There are four: delaying of gratification, acceptance of responsibility, dedication to truth, and balance.”
The Road Less Traveled p. 15
Life is difficult.
This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult — once we truly understand and accept it — then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.
Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult. Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy. They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them, or else upon their families, their tribe, their class, their nation, their race or even their species, and not upon others. I know about this moaning because I have done my share.
Life is a series of problems. Do we want to moan about them or solve them? Do we want to teach our children to solve them?
Discipline is the basic set of tools we require to solve life’s problems. Without discipline we can solve nothing.”
Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.”
There are more things on this earth than money and profits (or losses), and one must develop a philosophy of life. The reason I say this is because sooner or later everyone runs into seemingly impossible trouble, and one must have a way of surviving those troubles until the sun rises.”
As an old Buddhist saying goes,
Pain is a part of life. Suffering is optional.”
“Another thing, of course, is that life will have terrible blows in it, horrible blows, unfair blows. And some people recover and others don’t.
And there I think the attitude of Epictetus is the best. He said that every missed chance in life was an opportunity to behave well, every missed chance in life was an opportunity to learn something, and that your duty was not to be submerged in self-pity, but to utilize the terrible blow in constructive fashion. That is a very good idea. You may remember the epitaph which Epictetus left for himself: “Here lies Epictetus, a slave maimed in body, the ultimate in poverty, and the favored of the gods.”
I’ve got a final little idea because I’m all for prudence as well as opportunism. [He talked about his grandfather, Judge Munger, who under spent his income all his life and left his grandmother in comfortable circumstances, which he had to because there were no pensions for federal judges back then. Along the way, he bailed out Charlie’s uncle’s bank back in the ‘30s by taking over 1/3 of his good assets in exchange for bad assets of the bank.
He remembered his grandfather’s example in college when he came across] Housman’s poem:
The thoughts of others
Were light and fleeting,
Of lovers’ meeting
Or luck or fame.
Mine were of trouble,
And mine were steady,
So I was ready
When trouble came.
You can say, who wants to go through life anticipating trouble? Well I did. All my life I’ve gone through life anticipating trouble. And here I am, going along in my 84th year and like Epictetus, I’ve had a favored life. It didn’t make me unhappy to anticipate trouble all the time and be ready to perform adequately if trouble came. It didn’t hurt me at all. In fact it helped me.”