While watching the recent TV adaptation of Shogun last week, I had to pause to jot down a Profound Quote. It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then I read (or hear) something that inspires me, or reflects my view of the world, or otherwise makes me want to remember it.

When this happens, I add the quote to my “Book of Wisdom”.

My “Book of Wisdom” is just what you’d imagine. It’s a lined journal that I use only for quotes of this sort. It sits on the desk in my office, patiently waiting for me to add new nuggets of insight.

Because I only started the “Book of Wisdom” during Covid Times, there’s not yet a lot in it. I thought it might be fun to share what I’ve added so far. Let’s do it! (Note that if there aren’t “quotes” around a quote, then it’s just a personal insight that I’ve added to the “Book of Wisdom”.)


“Writers block is a phony, made-up excuse for not doing your work.” — Jerry Seinfeld

“You can never be happy until you’re grateful.” — Douglas Tsoi

“Nobody is coming to save you. You have to save yourself. While you’re saving yourself, others can lend a hand — but it’s up to you. Nobody else can take you from self-sabotage to self-care. You have to do it yourself.” — Diania Merriam

Diania’s quote — which came during one of our monthly Zoom calls — is reminiscent of this quote from Malcolm X: “Any time you beg another man to set you free, you will never be free. Freedom is something that you have to do for yourselves.”

“The better I feel on my own, the better my relationship with myself, the better my relationship with my partner.” — Diania Merriam

Perfectionism is me deliberately choosing to fail without trying instead of allowing possible failure to occur from my efforts.

“An imperfect plan you’ll stick with is better than a perfect plan you won’t…” — Paula Plan

I like Paula’s quote because it echoes one of my mantras of personal finance: The perfect is the enemy of the good.

“The great and glorious masterpiece of man is how to live with a purpose.” — Montaigne

“What’s the positive for you in using alcohol or pot? Why are you using it?” — Tom Drake, 10 October 2020

“How can you restructure everything so that you have a maximally fulfilling life?” — Todd Tresidder, 05 February 2021

After Todd asked me that, I made big changes. Who I am today and the things that I’m choosing to do are a direct answer to his question.

“I never saw him more alive than when he was dying.” — Diania Merriam, about her grandfather

“Optimism is rare, and deadly when combined with competence.” — Peter Adeney (aka Mr. Money Mustache)

Your actions have the power to change your feelings. And, in fact, actions are generally the source of feelings, not the other way around. — a key insight from cognitive-behavioral therapy I often forget

“The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of a proactive person. Reactive people are driven by their feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values — carefully thought about, selected, and internalized values.” — Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” — Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

“None of the modern machines, none of the modern paraphernalia…have any power except over the people who choose to use them.” — G.K. Chesterton, The Daily News, 21 July 1906

“Don’t do anything you don’t want to do.” — Douglas Tsoi’s advice to me

“You just need to have the courage to eliminate everything that doesn’t directly feed what you really want.” — James Clear

“At the center of your being, you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” — falsely attributed to Lao Tzu, true origin unknown

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.” — Rumi (although it feels apocryphal)

“The small man builds cages for everyone he knows while the sage, who has to duck his head when the moon is low, keeps dropping keys all night long for the beautiful rowdy prisoners.” — very loose translation of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky

“Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching toward infinity. We cherish books even if unread, their mere presence exudes comfort, their ready access assurance.” — Edward Norton

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is the experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” — Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instead set about remedying them — every day begin the task anew.” — St. Frances de Sales

“People are always going to judge you anyway, so you might as well do what you want.” — Taylor Swift

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.” — very loose translation of Rumi by Coleman Barks

“I don’t know what the solution is other than completely disengaging.” — J.D. Roth (28 January 2021) re: mental health and online presence

“This isn’t what I was in the mood for, but it’ll do just fine.” — J.D. Roth, mantra for contentment

“If freedom is all you ever live for, you will never be free of yourself.” — Mariko, episode five of Shogun (2024)


That last piece of wisdom is something I really needed to hear at this point in my life: “If freedom is all you ever live for, you will never be free of yourself.”

Since childhood, I’ve struggled with self-discipline. Despite occasional stretches of focused discipline, I’ve mostly been impulsive and self-indulgent. I don’t practice deferred gratification. I have no restraint. I do what I want when I want. I get what I want when I want. This isn’t all bad, of course, but it is a problem when it interferes with my ability to pursue my professed values.

Anyhow, hearing Mariko say that in Shogun was like a mini epiphany, a prompt that it’s time to institute some guardrails to my life.

One Reply to “The book of wisdom.”

  1. Jennifer says:

    I love these quotes, especially the “Nobody is coming to save you…” by Diania Merriam.

    I do something similar with quotes I like but I save them to my phone either in screenshots or Notes.

    One of my favorite quotes (don’t know who said it) is “Upset is the result of an unmet expectation.” It made me realize that if you don’t share your expectations, they are likely to be unmet. So, start sharing your expectations of others (or even yourself) and you are less likely to be upset if/when they are unmet.

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