Quote of the Day About Living to Work and Optimism

We are living in a dessert age. We want things to be sweet; too many of us work to live and live to be happy. Nothing wrong with that; it just does not promote high productivity [at a national level]. You want high productivity? Then you should live to work and get happiness as a by-product.

Not easy. The people who live to work are a small and fortunate elite. But it is an elite open to newcomers, self-selected, the kind of people who accentuate the positive. In this world, the optimists have it, not because they are always right but because they are positive. Even when wrong, they are positive, and that is the way of achievement, correction, improvement, and success. Educated, eyes-open optimism pays; pessimism can only offer the empty consolation of being right.

-David Landes, “Culture Makes Almost All the Difference” in Culture Matters

4 Responses to Quote of the Day About Living to Work and Optimism

  1. alex says:

    I’m not sure the French would agree with this. They tend to take the longest vacations, have the most holidays and longest lunches yet, the country is the most productive in the world. They live to live well and work is a byproduct of that.

  2. Ben Casnocha says:

    Alex — France is not the most productive country in the world.

  3. Amy says:

    Great quote, thank you so much for sharing it.

  4. The words in bold reminded me of a comment from Stephen Colbert at a commencement address this spring:

    “[S]ay ‘yes’ as often as you can… Now will saying ‘yes’ get you in trouble at times? Will saying ‘yes’ lead you to doing some foolish things? Yes it will. But don’t be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying ‘yes’ begins things. Saying ‘yes’ is how things grow. Saying ‘yes’ leads to knowledge. ‘Yes’ is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say ‘yes.'”

    (emphasis mine)

    (from link to knox.edu)

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