Quotes, like Zen koans, can nudge us out of our mental ruts and dead ends. They can lead to breakthroughs in our thinking. Ah-ha!

“What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?”

- E. M. Forster

“I’d come to the country to do my Thoreau bit, so I needed an office that looked out onto the woods for inspiration. I converted one of the bedrooms into my workspace and through its windows watched the wildlife appear each morning with the sunrise. Many were the days I would sit in wonder, coffee in hand, for hours.”

- David Mixner

“There's a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they're absolutely free. Don't miss so many of them.”

- Jo Walton

“Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

- Albert Einstein

“The earth has music for those who listen.”

- George Santayana

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves.”

- Herman Hesse

“Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” 

― Albert Einstein

“The earth has music for those who listen.” 

― George Santayana

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves.” 

- Herman Hesse

"Do not let your free will, the most valuable thing you possess, be taken away."

- Helmuth Hubener

"Other people will call me a rebel, but I just feel like I'm living my life and doing what I want to do. Sometimes people call that rebellion, especially when you're a woman."

- Joan Jett

"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."

- Albert Camus

"Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion."

- Edward Abbey

"Truth is so obscured nowadays, and lies so well established, that unless we love the truth we shall never recognize it."

- Blaise Pascal

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality."

- Martin Luther King

“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”

- Thucydides

“No matter how many plans you make or how much in control you are, life is always winging it.”

- Carroll Bryant

“Humour is a spontaneous, wonderful bit of an outburst that just comes. It's unbridled, it's unplanned, it's full of suprises.”

- Erma Bombeck

“Plans are invitation to disappointment.”

- Derek Landy

"Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal."

- Albert Camus

"The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well."

- Alfred Adler

"Be silly. Be honest. Be kind."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"So, at one extreme you have indigenous, tribal societies trying to stem the race to disaster. At the other extreme, the richest, most powerful societies in world history, like the United States and Canada, are racing full-speed ahead to destroy the environment as quickly as possible."

- Noam Chomsky

"The plain fact is that we are starving people, not deliberately in the sense that we want them to die, but wilfully in the sense that we prefer their death to our own inconvenience."

— Victor Gollancz

“It is the consumers of the rich nations of the temperate northern regions of the world who are primarily responsible for the ongoing loss of natural wealth in the tropics."

- Jonathan Loh

“No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”

- Confucius

“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans”

- John Lennon

“Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing”

- Lao Tzu

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”

- Socrates

"We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."

- Native American Proverb

"There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew."

- Marshall McLuhan

"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority."

- E. B. White

"Real freedom is having nothing. I was freer when I didn't have a cent."

- Mike Tyson

"May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right."

- Peter Marshall

"Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don't believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others."

- Coretta Scott King

"What is now proved was once only imagined."

- William Blake

"Life is trying things to see if they work."

- Ray Bradbury

"Imagination is the living power and prime agent of all human perception."

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“The health of soil, plant, animal, and humans is one and indivisible.”

- Lady Eve Balfour

“The healing of the land and the purification of the human spirit is the same process.”

- Masanobu Fukuoka

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”

- Rachel Carson

"Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness."

- George Sand

"I would much rather have regrets about not doing what people said, than regretting not doing what my heart led me to, and wondering what life had been like if I'd just been myself."

- Brittany Renée

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did."

- Mark Twain

"In antiquity slaves were, in all honesty called slaves. In the middle ages, they took the name of serfs. Nowadays they are called wage earners."

- Michael Bakunin

"Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do."

—Oscar Wilde

"Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost any evil you'd care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working."

- Bob Black

“The greatest and most powerful revolutions often start very quietly, hidden in the shadows. Remember that.”

- Richelle Mead

“Societies in decline have no use for visionaries.”

- Anaïs Nin

"Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit others to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever."

- Audre Lorde

"Do our individual actions make a difference? They give us the force to keep going." 

- Martha Uvalle

"We no longer live life. We consume it."

― Vicki Robin

‎"A tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me!... Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all."

~ Herman Hesse

"Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth."

- Buddha

"I give you this to take with you: Nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you can begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting."

― Judith Minty

"There's only one reason why you're not experiencing bliss at this present moment, and it's because you're thinking or focusing on what you don't have....But, right now you have everything you need to be in bliss."

- Anthony de Mello

"If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul."

- Rabbi Harold Kushner

“Utopia is on the horizon. I move two steps closer; it moves two steps further away. I walk another ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps further away. As much as I may walk, I'll never reach it. So what's the point of utopia? The point is this: to keep walking.”

- Eduardo Hughes Galeano

“I am not particularly interested in saving time; I prefer to enjoy it.”

- Eduardo Hughes Galeano

“In this world of ours, a world of powerful centers and subjugated outposts, there is no wealth that must not be held in some suspicion.”

- Eduardo Hughes Galeano

"Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours."

- Swedish Proverb

“We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can't speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees.”

- Qwatsinas

Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people. -

- Garrison Keillor

"Doing the right thing has power."

- Laura Linney

"A true hero is not someone who thinks about doing what is right, but one that simply does what is right without thinking!"

- Kevin Heath

"Kindness is an inner desire that makes us want to do good things even if we do not get anything in return. It is the joy of our life to do them. When we do good things from this inner desire, there is kindness in everything we think, say, want and do."

- Emanuel Swedenborg

“Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves.”

– Edwin Way Teale

“Small rooms or dwellings discipline the mind, large ones weaken it.”

– Leonardo Da Vinci

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”

– Hans Hofmann

"The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof."

― Barbara Kingsolver

"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A word of optimism and hope. A 'you can do it' when things are tough."

- Richard M. DeVos

"Hunger is the best sauce in the world."

- Cervantes

"Edible, adj.: Good to eat, and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man to a worm."

- Ambrose Bierce

"More die in the United States of too much food than of too little."

- John Kenneth Galbraith

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”

― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

“To find yourself, think for yourself.”

― Socrates

“The proverb warns that, 'You should not bite the hand that feeds you.' But maybe you should, if it prevents you from feeding yourself.”

― Thomas Stephen Szasz

"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"So, I have just one wish for you - the good luck to be somewhere where you are free to maintain your integrity, and where you do not feel forced by your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on, to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom." - Richard Feynman

"There is pleasure when a sore is scratched, but to be without sores is more pleasurable still. Just so, there are pleasures in worldly desires, but to be without desires is more pleasurable still." - Nagarjuna

"Fear is the first natural enemy that must be overcome on the path to knowledge."

"No matter how frightening learning is, it is more terrible to think of a person without knowledge."

"Seek and see the marvels all around you."

- all from The Teachings of Don Juan, Carlos Castaneda

"The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible." - Bertrand Russell

"Any idiot can be complicated. It takes a genius to be simple." - Pete Seeger

“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.” - Paulo Coelho

"Researchers estimate that 20% - 30% of Americans have voluntarily reduced their incomes and their consumption because of new personal priorities, and are happy with the change." 

"Those who participate in voluntary simplicity question how modern society defines 'the good life' and advocate for less materialistic lifestyles."

"Voluntary simplicity involves limiting material consumption and seeking satisfaction through the noncommercial and nonmaterial aspects of life."

- all from Complicated Simplicity, Sandlin/Walther, 2009

“To live fully, we must learn to use things and love people, and not love things and use people.”
― John Powell

“All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.”
― Noam Chomsky

“Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence - those are the three pillars of Western prosperity. If war, waste, and moneylenders were abolished, you'd collapse. And while you people are over-consuming, the rest of the world sinks more and more deeply into chronic disaster.”
― Aldous Huxley

"Come, behold this world, how it resembles an ornamented chariot, in which fools flounder, but for the wise there is no attachment to it." - Dhammapada

"If a man take no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand." - Confucius

"Everything in life is speaking, is audible, is communicating, in spite of its apparent silence." - Hazrat Inayat Khan

“If you live for having it all, what you have is never enough.” - Vicki Robin

“Are these things really better than the things I already have? Or am I just trained to be dissatisfied with what I have now?” - Chuck Palahniuk

"Those who have not found their true wealth, which is the radiant joy of Being and the deep, unshakable peace that comes with it, are beggars, even if they have great material wealth." - Eckhart Tolle

"You can't consume much if you sit still and read books." - Aldous Huxley

“Anyone who thinks consumption can expand forever on a finite planet is either insane or an economist.” – E.F. Schumacher

“For the majority of contemporary Americans, the essence of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness centers on a relentless personal quest to acquire, consume, to indulge, and to shed whatever constraints might interfere with those endeavors.” - Andrew Bacevich

"We're not running out of fossil fuels. We're running out of environment." -- Paul Ehrlich

"We may find that, while we're drastically cutting our energy consumption, we're actually raising our standard of living." -- David R. Brower

"We don’t know how to use energy or what to use it for. And we cannot restrain ourselves. Our time is characterized as much by the abuse and waste of human energy as it is by the abuse and waste of fossil fuel energy." -- Wendell Berry

"Material blessings, when they pay beyond the category of need, are weirdly fruitful of headache."  ~ Philip Wylie

I like to walk about among the beautiful things that adorn the world; but private wealth I should decline, or any sort of personal possessions, because they would take away my liberty.  ~ George Santayana

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” - Leonardo da Vinci

"We are like islands in the sea - separate on the surface, but connected in the deep." - William James

"The required success criteria for the twenty-first century are social cohesion, a respect for all of nature and the maintenance of the integrity of fundamental ecological systems." - Robert Theobald

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” - Lao Tzu

"I thought of that while riding my bike." -Albert Einstein, on the theory of relativity

"When I go biking I am mentally far far away from civilization. The world is breaking someone else's heart." - Diane Ackerman

“The great renewal of the world will perhaps consist in this, that man and maid, freed of all false feelings and reluctances, will seek each other not as opposites, but as brother and sister, as neighbors, and will come together as human beings.” - Rainer Maria Rilke

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” - Wendell Berry

“To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, to plant seeds, and watch the renewal of life - this is the commonest delight of the race, the most satisfactory thing a man can do” - Charles Dudley

"One should pay attention to even the smallest crawling creature for these too may have a valuable lesson to teach us." - Black Elk

"I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who overcomes his enemies; for the hardest victory is victory over self." - Aristotle

"What does it take? It takes for us to tell ourselves the truth. It takes for us to tell ourselves the truth. That's what it takes. Not to lie to ourselves." - John Trudell

"Earth has limited resources, and we can't run a linear manufacturing process forever. The best way to be efficient is to reuse what we already have." - Self-Repair Manifesto

“A city is successful not when it’s rich but when its people are happy.” — Enrique Pe–alosa, Mayor, Bogotá, Colombia

“In recent years, psychologists studying measures of life satisfaction have largely confirmed the old adage that money can’t buy happiness—at least not for people who are already affluent.” - WorldWatch Institute

"In my experience, the more people have, the less likely they are to be contented. Indeed, there is abundant evidence that depression is a 'disease of affluence', a disorder of modern life in the industrialized world." - Andrew Weil
"Less is a possibility." - Douglas Coupland

"It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get."  - Confucius

“By shifting our mind-set we can actually recognize the coming post-cheap oil era as an opportunity rather than a threat, and design the future low carbon age to be thriving, resilient and abundant.” - R Hopkins & P. Lipman

"There's hidden sweetness in the stomach's emptiness."
- Rumi

“Man is an over-complicated organism. If he is doomed to extinction he will die out for want of simplicity.” - Ezra Pound

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain 

"The basic philosophy around Transitions Towns is to create a community that is appealing and exciting to live in not only because of its low impact on the environment but because of the cohesiveness of the community itself." - Karen Laharty

"Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn." - Henry David Thoreau

"I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one’s self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime, if we will live simply and wisely."  - Henry David Thoreau

"Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated."  - Confucius

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."
— Robert Brault

“As beautiful as simplicity is, it can become a tradition that stands in the way of exploration."
– Laura Nyro

“Nature is pleased with simplicity.” — Isaac Newton 

"I expect to pass through life but once.  If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again."  ~ Amish saying

"A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think." — Eleanor Roosevelt 

"A balance of giving and receiving is essential to keeping your energy, mood and motivation at a consistently high level." - Doreen Virtue.

"To achieve sustainable development and a higher quality of life for all people, states should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption..." - Principle 8, The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992

"To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong." - Joseph Chilton Pearce

"The great essentials for happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for." - Joseph Addison

"Loneliness is the poverty of self, solitude is the richness of self." - May Sarton

"Every great movement in history owed its existence, and its development, to the cooperation of many different people." - Christopher Dawson

"Some people have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy."  - Abraham H. Maslow 

“Speed is the disease of our times. If we cut speed and relax with what’s going on in our life right now, kindness and patience will come about.” - Sakyong Miphan Rinpoche

"The decline of Empire has begun and the revolution against it is in progress." - from Empire, M. Hardt and A. Negri

"Our standard of living must decline to reflect years of reckless consumption and the disintegration of our industrial base. Only by swallowing this tough medicine now will our sick economy ever recover." - Peter Schiff
"Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth!"                - Katherine Mansfield

K. Mansfield
"Think of it. We are blessed with technology that would be indescribable to our forefathers. We have the wherewithal, the know-it-all to feed everybody, clothe everybody, and give every human on Earth a chance.

We know now what we could never have known before -- that we have the option for all humanity to make it successfully on this planet in this lifetime. Whether it is to be Utopia or Oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race right up to the final moment."


"The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines." - Charles Kuralt

"Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion."  - Jack Kerouac

"There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving; and that is your own self." - Aldous Huxley

"We used to build civilizations. Now we build shopping malls." - Bill Bryson

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature— the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter." - Rachel Carson

"How can we disarm greed and envy? Perhaps by being much less greedy and envious ourselves; perhaps by resisting the temptation of letting our luxuries become needs; and perhaps by even scrutinizing our needs to see if they cannot be simplified and reduced." - E.F. Schumacher, from Small is Beautiful

"A monk asked Chao-chau 'If a poor man comes, what should one give him?' 'He lacks nothing,' answered the master. - Zen mondo

"The wise set no high value on a thing simply because it is hard to get." - Tao de Ching

"You cannot do right in one department of life while occupied doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole." - Mahatma Gandhi

"Those who grasp lose." - Tao te Ching

H.D. Thoreau
"Tell your hopes to the wind, give your wishes to the waters, and sow your dreams in the earth... let the Universe astonish you with its harvest of blessings." - Anon

"If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you'll be unhappy for the rest of your life." - Abraham Maslow

"Advertisers know how to get to the money in your pockets. They are trained to have you seek fulfillment outside yourself, for your dreams to include their products, their view of life - for their dream to become your dream."
- Jim Merkel

"The power of one man or one woman doing the right thing for the right reason, and at the right time, is the greatest influence in our society."
---Jack Kemp 

The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say, "If the culture doesn't work, I don't buy it."
---Morrie Schwartz

'If you think you're too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito'. - African proverb

"I love stuff as much as the next guy, but I’ve come to understand that, regardless of the cost of acquiring it, the price of having it is freedom."
- Colleen Wainwright

"Once you accept your own death, all of a sudden you're free to live. You no longer care about your reputation. You no longer care except so far as your life can be used tactically to promote a cause you believe in."
- Saul Alinsky 

"I think we should look forward to death more than we do. Of course everybody hates to go to bed or miss anything, but dying is really the only chance we'll get to rest."

- Florynce Kennedy

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao-tzu

"Add a step forward to it." A Spartan mother to her son when he complained that his sword was too short.

“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
- Mitch Albom

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."

"We are possessed by the things we possess. When I like an object, I always give it to someone. It isn't generosity--it's only because I want others to be enslaved by objects, not me."
- Jean Paul Sartre

"It's possible to have too much in life.  Too many clothes jade our appreciation for new ones; too much money can put us out of touch with life; too much free time can dull the edge of the soul.  We need sometimes to come very near the bone so that we can taste the marrow of life rather than its superfluities."
- Joan Chittister

"Our desires always increase with our possessions. The knowledge that something remains yet unenjoyed impairs our enjoyment of the good before us." - Samuel Johnson

"Live lightly on the Earth." - Tsunesaburo Makiguchi

"Happiness is not easy to come by. It is hard to find it within ourselves, and impossible to find it anywhere else." -Nicholas Chamfort 

“What's all this stuff about motivation? I say, if you need motivation, you probably need more than motivation. You probably need chemical intervention or brain surgery. Actually, if you ask me, this country could do with a little less motivation. The people who are causing all the trouble seem highly motivated to me.” - George  Carlin

"Western civilization is a loaded gun pointed at the head of this planet." - Terence McKenna

“They deem me mad because I will not sell my days for gold, and I deem them mad because they think my days have a price.” - Kahlil Gibran

"Anyone who confesses to being content with what is sufficient, and unwilling to work and earn and consume beyond that level of sustenance, is thought to be dangerously antisocial and morally impaired by Sloth." 
 - Wade Rowland

"We share this planet, our home, with millions of species. Justice and sustainability both demand that we do not use more resources than we need." - Vandana Shiva

"We are caged by our cultural programming. Culture is a mass hallucination, and when you step outside the mass hallucination you see it for what it's worth." - Terence McKenna

"The worst of particularities is to withhold oneself; the worst of ignorance is not to act; the worst lie is to steal away." - Charles Pequy

Opeteca-Wanawaywin (1842-1886)

"When a person behaves in keeping with his conscience, when he tries to speak the truth and when he tries to behave as a citizen, even under conditions where citizenship is degraded - it may not lead to anything, yet it might. But what surely will not lead to anything is when a person calculates whether it will lead to something or not." - Vaclav Havel

"When the stranger says, 'What is the meaning of this city? Do you huddle together because you love each other?' What will you answer? 'We all dwell together to make money from each other', or, 'This is a community.'" - T.S. Elliot

“Economic things only matter insofar as they make people happier.” - Andrew Oswald

"Consumption distracts people. You cannot control your own population by force, but it can be distracted by consumption." - Noam Chomsky

"Capitalism denies the right to live. You have only the right to remain on the labour market." - Noam Chomsky

"All the money, all the prestige in the world will never make up for the loss of your freedom." - George Monbiot

"Of fame or life which do you hold more dear?
Of life or wealth to which would you adhere?
Keep life and lose the other things;
keep them and lose your life --
which brings sorrow and pain more near?
Thus we may see who clings to fame rejects what is more great.
Who loves large stores gives up the richer state.
Who is content need fear no shame.
Mahatma GandhiWho knows to stop incurs no blame.
From danger free
long live shall he."

- adapted by Ellen Kei Hua

"The opposite of consumption is not thrift - it is generosity."
- Raj Patel

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." - Mahatma Gandhi

"If we, as a society, lose our voice completely, and corporations start doing all the talking, then we'll be utterly lost. To some degree, this has already happened. Our ability to envision a future collectively has already been severely compromised.". ~ Kalle Lasn 

"Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get."  - W.P. Kinsella

"We have no right to luxuries while the poor want bread." - Thomas Day

"The greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances." 
- Martha Washington
"One is happy as a result of one's own efforts once one knows the necessary ingredients of happiness: simple tastes, a certain degree of courage, self denial to a point, love of work, and above all, a clear conscience." - George Sand

"What do you want most to do? That's what I have to keep asking myself, in the face of difficulties." - Katherine Mansfield 

"At times, the biggest challenge in embracing simplicity will be the vague feeling of isolation that comes with it, since private sacrifice doesn’t garner much attention in the frenetic world of mass culture." - Rolf Potts

“Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing…”  – Walt Whitman

“I have in my mind that seemingly wealthy, but most terribly impoverished class of all who have accumulated dross, but know not how to use it, or get rid of it, and thus have forged their own golden or silver fetters.”  - Henry David Thoreau

“Very many people spend money in ways quite different from those that their natural tastes would enjoin, merely because the respect of their neighbors depends upon their possession of a good car and their ability to give good dinners. As a matter of fact, any man who can obviously afford a car but genuinely prefers travels or a good library will in the end be much more respected than if he behaved exactly like everyone else.” – Bertrand Russell

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot

"If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito." - African Proverb

"God respects me when I work, and loves me when I sing and dance." - Sufi expression

"The training to obey the work and consumer ethic has taken place against the grain and in the face of enormous resistance. We now look upon that resistance as not just futile, but immoral. The Luddites are dismissed as criminally obtuse, and anyone who confesses to being content with what is sufficient and unwilling to work and earn and consume beyond that level of sustenance is dangerously antisocial and morally impaired by Sloth." - Wade Rowland

"If you are afraid of death, you are afraid of life, for living your life leads to death. Until you face death and see its beauty, you will be afraid to really live." - Granny D

"It is absurd for an individual to doubt his sensing of external things, yet man is easily caught by illusions."  - Aristotle

"The mind can go in a thousand directions.
But on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.
With each step, a gentle wind blows.
With each step, a flower blooms."
- Thich Nhat Hanh

"Contrary to popular stereotypes, seeking simplicity doesn’t require that you become a monk, a subsistence forager, or a wild-eyed revolutionary. Nor does it mean that you must unconditionally avoid the role of consumer. Rather, simplicity merely requires a bit of personal sacrifice: an adjustment of your habits and routines within consumer society itself." - Rolf Potts

"Manifest plainness,
Embrace simplicity,
Reduce selfishness,
Have few desires."
- Lao-tzu

"Dying is no big deal. Living is the trick." - Red Smith

"Our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them.... Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually, needlessly poor all their lives because they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have." -- Henry David Thoreau 

"Because of the dogma of workerism, unemployment is a problem rather than the boon to humanity that it should be." - Len Bracken

"The exploitation of cuteness, convenience or fashion manipulates people's reactions and emotions unscrupulously, it represents the engineering of desire. To put it differently: convenience is the enemy of excellence; fashion is the enemy of integrity; cuteness is the enemy of beauty." - Victor Papanek

"The citizen's job is to be rude - to pierce the comfort of professional intercourse by boorish expressions of doubt." - John Ralston Saul

"Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don't complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!" - Bob Marley

"The more you chase money, the harder it is to catch it." - Mike Tatum


"There is a joy in going without things, a fine tang in eliminating the superfluous." - Elbert Hubbard

"To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury; and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasion, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common.  This is to be my symphony."  - William Henry Channing

"We need new ideas, we need to combine the existing new ideas, we need to challenge advertising and growth-led models. Degrowth is a challenge to economic growth and GDP-led models of development, which means that we produce and consume less and share more." - Francois Schneider.

"We are vainly trying to return to a bubble economy, of the sort that once handed us the illusion of wealth, rather than confront the stark reality that lies ahead." - Chris Hedges

"We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it."  —Wendell Berry

"I experience true freedom when I accept, understand, and move on from the conditioning of the past." - Deepak Chopra

"Bread deals with living things, with giving life, with growth, with the seed, the grain that nurtures.  It is not coincidence that we say bread is the staff of life." - Lionel Poilane

"Widespread caffeine use explains a lot about the twentieth century." - Greg Egan

“If I have a right to life I have a right to living space… I wasn’t born with dollars in my pocket. I shouldn’t have to chase the big buck all my life just for a place to live.” - Barbara Oke.

The cultivation and expansion of needs is the antithesis of wisdom. It is also the antithesis of freedom and peace. Every increase of needs tends to increase one's dependence on outside forces, over which one cannot have control, and therefore increases existential fear.
- E.F. Schumacher, 1973

"I did study the art of being a barber because I wanted to figure out what my routine would be. Do you start in the front or back? Top or bottom? Swivel the chair or walk around? What I did discover is there's no such thing as the perfect haircut! - Sean Patrick Thomas

"Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear. - Aesop

"There can be no peace as long as there is grinding poverty, social injustice, inequality, oppression, environmental degradation, and as long as the weak and small continue to be trodden by the mighty and powerful." - 14th Dalai Lama

"Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas." - Paul Samuelson

"I was taught that the human brain was the crowning glory of evolution so far, but I think it's a very poor scheme for survival." - Kurt Vonnegut

"If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought."
-Peace Pilgrim

"The unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates

"Beer. Now there's a temporary solution." - Homer Simpson

"Home is where one starts from." - T.S. Eliot

"I could eat my own weight in sushi." - Mikey Way

"The heart surrenders everything to the moment. The mind judges and holds back." - Ram Dass

"People living deeply have no fear of death." - Anais Nin

"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book." - Irish Proverb

"Happiness does not come from having much, but from being attached to little." - Venerable Cheng Yen

"A Big Mac - the communion wafer of consumption."
- John Ralston Saul

"If a global civilization can self-organize from our current chaos, it will be founded on cooperation rather than winner-take-all competition, sufficiency rather than surfeit, communal solidarity rather than individual elitism, and reasserting the sacred nature of all earthly life." - Daniel Pinchbeck
"The stage is now set for direct competition for grain between the 800 million people who own automobiles (using grain for biofuel), and the world's two billion poorest people (using grain for food)." - Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute

"Guess who wins."  - Gwynne Dyer

“By shifting our mind-set we can actually recognize the coming post-cheap oil era as an opportunity rather than a threat, and design the future low carbon age to be thriving, resilient and abundant.” - R Hopkins & P. Lipman

"A paradox is something that does not make sense. In the case of a koan, it is how we think that does not make sense. Once our mind is capable of seeing things more simply, there ceases to be a paradox." 


  1. "Happiness is not easy to come by. It is hard to find it within ourselves, and impossible to find it anywhere else." -Nicholas Chamfort

  2. Hilly,

    Thanks for being the first reader to post a quote in a comment. Congratulations! All I can send in the way of a prize is good vibes. Use them well.

  3. As a huge fan of paradox I've always been partial to the quote... "We are as rich as our ability to do without things."

    Not sure where this quote comes from, but I like where it's going!

    I also love the comic strip philosopher Ziggy, who observed "the best things in life aren't things."

  4. Savoring Servant,

    I love these quotes. Words to live by.

    Thank you for sharing.

  5. I found this quote from Professor Sut Jhally, of the Media Educaton Foundation. (He has a very interesting video, here's the summary: http://hope.journ.wwu.edu/tpilgrim/j190/adendofworldvidsum.html)

    "The problem of capitalism is not one of production, but instead one of consumption. It invented the institution of advertising to solve this problem." -Sut Jhally

    Thank you for this web page.
    Cheers from Mexico.

    1. Mauricio,

      That is a great quote. Thank you for sharing it and the link to the video.

      We are happy that you are with us.

      Cheers from Canada

  6. He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of Nature -- Socrates

    Optimism: A cheerful frame of mind that enables a tea kettle to sing, though in hot water up to its neck -- fortune cookie

    If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come -- Chinese proverb

  7. Gregg, I think that DeVos quote beginning with "Few things..." was originally "a *word* of optimism." I found it that way on a page dedicated to quotes from him, and I did find it elsewhere as *world,* too, but *word* makes more sense in the context, don't you think?

    Thank you for this unusual and focused collection of quotes, from which I'm gleaning quite a few for my own pages. One might coin a saying these days along the lines of Hilly's happiness quote above, about the scarcity of pithy quotes, but you have managed to collect a bunch anyway.

    1. Thank you so much - I do believe you are correct. I made the correction based on your information.

  8. Oh, and I wanted to mention a specific offering or two here: This one: "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T.S. Eliot -- I was just trying to remember exactly last week when describing a friend of mine who is always "going too far," and accomplishing much! I know I have it in my collection but of course I couldn't run to the computer to check the wording. I was happy to find it right here and copied it again.

    And this one made me laugh: "You can't consume much if you sit still and read books." I think Huxley lived in an era when snacking was uncommon among those who were wealthy enough to have regular meals, or at least considered bad manners. Nowadays many people love nothing so much as eating and reading at the same time. I for one should try harder to keep the spirit and activity of consumption as far as possible from my reading.


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