20 Quotes from Writers about Happiness

Today is International Day of Happiness, so we’ve compiled 20 of our favourite quotes from writers about happiness, joy, pleasure, and related emotions. We hope you enjoy them!

‘Happiness in the ordinary sense is not what one needs in life, though one is right to aim at it. The true satisfaction is to come through and see those whom one loves come through.’  – E. M. Forster

‘One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other.’ – Jane Austen

‘What is there given by the gods more desirable than a happy hour?’ – Catullus

‘Happiness, to some elation; / Is to others, mere stagnation.’ – Amy Lowell

‘There may be Peace without Joy, and Joy without Peace, but the two combined make Happiness.’ – John Buchan

‘There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.’ – Samuel Johnson

‘The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books.’ – Katherine Mansfield

‘Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained. Follow some other object, and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it.’ – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Cat smiling

‘A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.’ – Helen Keller

‘It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.’ – Chuck Palahniuk

‘Happiness lies in the consciousness we have of it, and by no means in the way the future keeps its promises.’ – George Sand

‘Oh, frabjous day! Callooh. Callay! / He chortled in his joy.’ – Lewis Carroll

‘Nothing thicker than a knife’s blade separates happiness from melancholy.’ – Virginia Woolf

‘The mere chink of cups and saucers tunes the mind to happy repose.’ – George Gissing

‘If only we’d stop trying to be happy we’d have a pretty good time.’ – Edith Wharton

‘Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.’ – Ernest Hemingway

‘One has to spend so many years in learning how to be happy. I am just beginning to make some progress in the science, and I hope to disprove Young’s theory that “as soon as we have found the key of life it opes the gates of death.” Every year strips us of at least one vain expectation, and teaches us to reckon some solid good in its stead. I never will believe that our youngest days are our happiest. What a miserable augury for the progress of the race and the destination of the individual if the more matured and enlightened state is the less happy one!’ – George Eliot

‘Hold him alone truly fortunate who has ended his life in happy well-being.’ – Aeschylus

‘Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.’ – Oscar Wilde

‘If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.’ – J. R. R. Tolkien

Image: Smiling Cat; author, Yumi Kimura, 2009; Wikimedia Commons.


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  2. “I certainly wasn’t happy. Happiness has to do with reason, and only reason earns it. What I was given was the thing you can’t earn, and can’t keep, and often don’t even recognize at the time; I mean joy.” —Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

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  4. “Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, and tilled with manure. Happiness is a glory shining far down upon us out of Heaven. She is a divine dew which the soul, on certain of its summer mornings, feels dropping upon it from the amaranth bloom and golden fruitage of Paradise.” – Charlotte Bronte, Villette

  5. thanks for liking my short story! i like this post :)

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  7. Love the quotes and have fallen in love with the smiling cat. Thank you!

  8. He who binds to himself a joy
    Does the wingèd life destroy;
    But he who kisses the joy as it flies
    Lives in eternity’s sunrise.

    William Blake

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  10. Am happy that you decided to post this!

  11. Pingback: 20 Quotations from Writers about Happiness | gorgeousvalentine

  12. ‘A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.’ – Helen Keller
    I truly agree! Will reblog this.

  13. Reblogged this on Read It & Weep.

  14. The cat says it all. Live Long and Prosper should be added.

  15. I enjoyed all these quotes and really agree with George Elliot….so much to be happy about if you have it in, or make it your nature at any age.

  16. Reblogged this on Claire Elizabeth Cruddas and commented:
    I liked this:-)

  17. Reblogged this on Tintobear and commented:
    Couldn’t not share this!

  18. I agree with hitandrun1964 – this cat made /me/ happy. Thank you :)

  19. The cat is fabulous and makes me smile. What a wonderful face. All cats are perfect so it’s no surprise that I fell in love with this one, but s/he’s smiling so contentedly…adorable.

  20. Lovely! Thank you 😃

  21. Reblogged this on Introspective Seeker and commented:
    Such a great post!! Happy, happy, happy International Happiness Day!!

  22. Reblogged this on Halley Does.

  23. Made me happy to read these quotes, especially after a nice discussion on happiness in my writing group this morning.

  24. Good post; my last blog was also about “happiness”!

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  26. I like the Oscar but am drawn to the Helen Keller. I’m in a hard won happy place at the moment and her words mean something to me.

  27. Happiness, happiness / The greatest gift that I possess. /
    I thank the Lord that I’ve been blessed / With more than my share of happiness.

    — as sung by Ken Dodd

  28. Reblogged this on i hope you'll understand and commented:
    That freaking kitty. I’m squealing.

  29. Oscar Wilde gets my vote! He must have known some of the same kind of people I know! :)

  30. Thank you so much for this post! It definitely brought a smile to my Thursday!!! My favorite is Tolkien’s!!!!

  31. Well done!

  32. Ah a reason for a day of happiness, forgive me if I share one of my favourites :) It makes me think of you.
    “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”
    ― Aristotle
    Blessings, Susan x

  33. Reblogged this on Margarita Morris and commented:
    Well I’m very happy today because I’m celebrating my 21st wedding anniversary. Here are some thoughts from the Interesting Literature blog on the subject of happiness!

  34. You always have great posts! I love seeing them in my feed because I know I’m in for something good.

  35. I didn’t know there was such a thing as International Day of Happiness. Just by coincidence, today I posted a review of a book called Happiness. I love these quotes!

  36. Reblogged this on The Writing Catalog and commented:
    Nice quotes here.

  37. And sometimes just a smiling cat can get you there!

  38. That cat is gorgeous!