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Alain de Botton quotes (showing 1-30 of 535)

“Most of what makes a book 'good' is that we are reading it at the right moment for us.”
Alain de Botton
“One rarely falls in love without being as much attracted to what is interestingly wrong with someone as what is objectively healthy.”
Alain de Botton
“The moment we cry in a film is not when things are sad but when they turn out to be more beautiful than we expected them to be.”
Alain de Botton
“Intimacy is the capacity to be rather weird with someone - and finding that that's ok with them.”
Alain de Botton
“Every fall into love involves the triumph of hope over self-knowledge. We fall in love hoping we won't find in another what we know is in ourselves, all the cowardice, weakness, laziness, dishonesty, compromise, and stupidity. We throw a cordon of love around the chosen one and decide that everything within it will somehow be free of our faults. We locate inside another a perfection that eludes us within ourselves, and through our union with the beloved hope to maintain (against the evidence of all self-knowledge) a precarious faith in our species.”
Alain de Botton, On Love
“One of the best protections against disappointment is to have a lot going on.”
Alain de Botton
“We are all more intelligent than we are capable, and awareness of the insanity of love has never saved anyone from the disease.”
Alain de Botton, On Love
“That said, deciding to avoid other people does not necessarily equate with having no desire whatsoever for company; it may simply reflect a dissatisfaction with what—or who—is available. Cynics are, in the end, only idealists with awkwardly high standards. In Chamfort's words, 'It is sometimes said of a man who lives alone that he does not like society. This is like saying of a man that he does not like going for walks because he is not fond of walking at night in the forêt de Bondy.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“To one's enemies: "I hate myself more than you ever could.”
Alain de Botton
“It is in books, poems, paintings which often give us the confidence to take seriously feelings in ourselves that we might otherwise never have thought to acknowledge.”
Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness
“It is in dialogue with pain that many beautiful things acquire their value. Acquaintance with grief turns out to be one of the more unusual prerequisites of architectural appreciation. We might, quite aside from all other requirements, need to be a little sad before buildings can properly touch us.”
Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness
“We fall in love because we long to escape from ourselves with someone as beautiful, intelligent, and witty as we are ugly, stupid, and dull. But what if such a perfect being should one day turn around and decide they will love us back? We can only be somewhat shocked-how can they be as wonderful as we had hoped when they have the bad taste to approve of someone like us?”
Alain de Botton, On Love
“Perhaps it is true that we do not really exist until there is someone there to see us existing, we cannot properly speak until there is someone who can understand what we are saying in essence, we are not wholly alive until we are loved.”
Alain de Botton, On Love
“Not being understood may be taken as a sign that there is much in one to understand.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“What we seek, at the deepest level, is inwardly to resemble, rather than physically to possess, the objects and places that touch us through their beauty.”
Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness
“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”
Alain de Botton
“Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is in front of our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, new thoughts new places. Introspective reflections which are liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape. The mind may be reluctant to think properly when thinking is all it is supposed to do.

At the end of hours of train-dreaming, we may feel we have been returned to ourselves - that is, brought back into contact with emotions and ideas of importance to us. It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestice setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, but who may not be who we essentially are.

If we find poetry in the service station and motel, if we are drawn to the airport or train carriage, it is perhaps because, in spite of their architectural compromises and discomforts, in spite of their garish colours and harsh lighting, we implicitly feel that these isolated places offer us a material setting for an alternative to the selfish ease, the habits and confinement of the ordinary, rooted world.”
Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel
“People only get really interesting when they start to rattle the bars of their cages.”
Alain de Botton
“A good half of the art of living is resilience.”
Alain de Botton
“There are things that are not spoken about in polite society. Very quickly in most conversations you'll reach a moment where someone goes, 'Oh, that's a bit heavy,' or 'Eew, disgusting.' And literature is a place where that stuff goes; where people whisper to each other across books, the writer to the reader. I think that stops you feeling lonely – in the deeper sense, lonely.”
Alain de Botton
“Booksellers are the most valuable destination for the lonely, given the numbers of books written because authors couldn't find anyone to talk to.”
Alain de Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy
“It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially moulded by the company we keep, for we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others...Being closely observed by a companion can also inhibit our observation of others; then, too, we may become caught up in adjusting ourselves to the companion's questions and remarks, or feel the need to make ourselves seem more normal than is good for our curiosity.”
Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel
“It was no longer her absence that wounded me, but my growing indifference to it. Forgetting, however calming, was also a reminder of infidelity to what I had at one time held so dear.”
Alain de Botton, On Love
“Out of the millions of people we live among, most of whom we habitually ignore and are ignored by in turn, there are always a few that hold hostage our capacity for happiness, whom we could recognize by their smell alone and whom we would rather die than be without.”
Alain de Botton, A Week at the Airport: A Heathrow Diary
“Never too late to learn some embarrassingly basic, stupidly obvious things about oneself.”
Alain de Botton
“You normally have to be bashed about a bit by life to see the point of daffodils, sunsets and uneventful nice days.”
Alain de Botton
“The difference between hope and despair is a different way of telling stories from the same facts.”
Alain de Botton
“To be loved by someone is to realize how much they share the same needs that lie at the heart of our own attraction to them. Albert Camus suggested that we fall in love with people because, from the outside, they look so whole, physically whole and emotionally 'together' - when subjectively we feel dispersed and confused. We would not love if there were no lack within us, but we are offended by the discovery of a similar lack in the other. Expecting to find the answer, we find only the duplicate of our own problem.”
Alain de Botton, On Love
“Every adult life could be said to be defined by two great love stories. The first - the story of our quest for sexual love - is well known and well charted, its vagaries form the staple of music and literature, it is socially accepted and celebrated. The second - the story of our quest for love from the world - is a more secret and shameful tale. If mentioned, it tends to be in caustic, mocking terms, as something of interest chiefly to envious or deficient souls, or else the drive for status is interpreted in an economic sense alone. And yet this second love story is no less intense than the first, it is no less complicated, important or universal, and its setbacks are no less painful. There is heartbreak here too.”
Alain de Botton, Status Anxiety
“Bad architecture is in the end as much a failure of psychology as of design. It is an example expressed through materials of the same tendencies which in other domains will lead us to marry the wrong people, choose inappropriate jobs and book unsuccessful holidays: the tendency not to understand who we are and what will satisfy us.”
Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness

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Alain de Botton
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The Art of Travel The Art of Travel
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The Consolations of Philosophy The Consolations of Philosophy
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On Love On Love
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How Proust Can Change Your Life How Proust Can Change Your Life
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