One imagines the birth of happiness to be accompanied by some great spectacular upheaval. One can imagine it flowering in the most luxurious setting. Yet happiness is born of a trifle, feeds on nothing.

Mariama Bâ, Scarlet Song

Do you know I don’t know how one can walk by a tree and not be happy at the sight of it? How can one talk to a man and not be happy in loving him! Oh, it’s only that I’m not able to express it. . . . And what beautiful things there are at every step, that even the most hopeless man must feel to be beautiful! Look at a child! Look at God’s sunrise! Look at the grass, how it grows! Look at the eyes that gaze at you and love you!

Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot

The joy of a spirit is the measure of its power.

Ninon de L’Enclos

Let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.

Okakura Kakuzō

Happiness occurs when people can give the whole of themselves to the moment being lived, when Being and Becoming are the same thing.

John Berger

Sometimes I think the people to feel saddest for are people who once knew what profoundness was, but who lost or became numb to the sensation of wonder — people who closed the doors that lead us into the secret world — or who had the doors closed for them by time and neglect and decisions made in times of weakness.

Douglas Coupland, “My Hotel Year”

It is not easy always to be joyful, to keep in mind the duty of delight.

Dorothy Day

The ability to feel is indivisible. Repress awareness of any one feeling and all feelings are dulled. . . . The same nerve endings are required for weeping and dancing, fear and ecstasy.

Sam Keen

Our brains are no longer conditioned for reverence and awe. We cannot imagine a Second Coming that would not be cut down to size by the televised evening news, or a Last Judgment not subject to pages of holier-than-thou second-guessing in The New York Review of Books.

John Updike

Even so, there were times that I saw freshness and beauty. I could smell the air, and I really loved rock ’n’ roll. Tears were warm, and girls were beautiful, like dreams.

Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance

She knew there were only small joys in life — the big ones were too complicated to be joys when you got all through — and once you realized that, it took a lot of the pressure off.

Lorrie Moore, “Joy”

There came without warning a flowing into me of that which I have come to associate with the gods. I went to the open door and looked up at the mesas with something akin to awe. It forced me out into the open where I could look up to those high places on which humans do not dwell. Then it left me — perhaps to return to those sacred places.

Edith Warner

I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ast. And that in wondering bout the big things and asting bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder . . . the more I love.

Alice Walker, The Color Purple

The human passions transform man from a mere thing into a hero, into a being that in spite of tremendous handicaps tries to make sense of life.

Erich Fromm

Live on, survive, for the earth gives forth wonders. It may swallow your heart, but the wonders keep on coming. You stand before them bareheaded, shriven. What is expected of you is attention.

Salman Rushdie, The Ground beneath Her Feet

A man is not as much as he feels he is, but he is as much as he feels.

Jean Toomer