What are numbers knit
By force or custom? Man who man would be,
Must rule the empire of himself; in it
Must be supreme, establishing his throne
On vanquished will, quelling the anarchy
Of hopes and fears, being himself alone.
—Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822) English Poet, Dramatist, Essayist, Novelist
I am, indeed, a king, because I know how to rule myself.
—Pietro Aretino (1492–1556) Italian Author, Playwright, Poet, Satirist
To rule self and subdue our passions is the more praiseworthy because so few know how to do it.
—Francesco Guicciardini (1483–1540) Italian Historian, Political leader
But the bravest man amongst us is afraid of himself. The mutilation of the savage has its tragic survival in the self-denial that mars our lives. We are punished for our refusals. Every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind and poisons us. The body sins once, and has done with its sin, for action is a mode of purification. Nothing remains then but the recollection of a pleasure, or the luxury of a regret. The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful. It has been said that the great events of the world take place in the brain. It is in the brain, and the brain only, that the great sins of the world take place also.
—Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) Irish Poet
Not being able to govern events, I govern myself, and apply myself to them, if they will not apply themselves to me.
—Michel de Montaigne (1533–92) French Essayist
When the fight begins within himself, a man’s worth something.
—Robert Browning (1812–89) English Poet
The first attribute that characterizes the greater man from the moron is his thicker layer of inhibition.
—Martin H. Fischer
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbow’d.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Lies but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
—William Ernest Henley (1849–1903) English Poet, Critic, Editor
Conscience whispers, but interest screams aloud.
—Jean Antoine Petit-Senn (1792–1870) Swiss Poet
Nothing makes it easier to resist temptation than a proper bringing-up, a sound set of values—and witnesses.
—Franklin P. Jones
The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence, but in the mastery, of his passions.
—Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–92) British Poet
He that would be superior to external influences must first become superior to his own passions.
—Samuel Johnson (1709–84) British Essayist
Concern should drive us into action and not into a depression. No man is free who cannot control himself.
Heaven is on the other side of that feeling you get when you’re sitting on the couch and you get up and make a triple-decker sandwich. It’s on the other side of that, when you don’t make the sandwich. It’s about sacrifice…. It’s about giving up the things that basically keep you from feeling. That’s what I believe, anyway. I’m always asking, “What am I going to give up next?” Because I want to feel.
—Jim Carrey (b.1962) Canadian Actor, Comedian
No one is in control of your happiness but you; therefore, you have the power to change anything about yourself or your life that you want to change.
—Barbara De Angelis (b.1951) American Lecturer, Author, TV Personality, Motivational Speaker
There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self. So you have to begin there, not outside, not on other people. That comes afterward, when you’ve worked on your own corner.
—Aldous Huxley (1894–1963) English Humanist, Pacifist, Essayist, Short Story Writer, Satirist
He who conquers others is strong;
—Confucius (551–479 BCE) Chinese Philosopher
He is strong who conquers others; He who conquers himself is mighty.
—Laozi (b.604BCE–d:Unknown) Chinese Philosopher
He who would govern others should first be master of himself.
—Philip Massinger (1583–1640) English Dramatist
Self-respect is the fruit of discipline, the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.
—Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907–72) American Jewish Rabbi
Those who can command themselves command others.
—William Hazlitt (1778–1830) English Essayist
Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; the hardest victory is over self.
—Aristotle (384BCE–322BCE) Ancient Greek Philosopher, Scholar