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43 Famous Writers Share Their Secrets About Happiness


On Fighting & Happiness

Happiness can be elusive for many of us. As writers, happiness can be an especially big issue because we have to suffer many problems to get where we want to be. Endless rejection is obviously top of the list, but so are the constant put-downs. Many of us have loved ones who don’t understand what we do, telling us writing is not a ‘real job’. That’s just for starters!

I don’t mind admitting I was deeply unhappy for many years. Life felt like a neverending battle. As soon as one thing was dealt with, another would start dragging me down.

Oh, I talked the talk very well! I spent aeons trying to convince myself …

  • Reading self-help books
  • Writing gratitude diaries
  • Going on seminars

You name it. I did everything you’re supposed to do … Yet nothing seemed to change.

I felt like a fraud

Bang2writers at events like LondonSWF would tell me how inspiring I was, which of course was great … But THEN I felt like a fraud … And the destructive, vicious circle would begin again. 

Many of us believe ‘happy’ is some kind of destination. I was the same for many years. I thought that if I could just get [THIS THING DONE] then I would be happy.

But it doesn’t work like that. Happiness is not a destination, but a state of being. A subtle difference, but crucial. 

Happiness, not battles

Very little has changed in real terms in my life since those dark days. I still have to work hard at being positive. I still do what I’m supposed to do … And yes, sometimes I still do question whether it’s all worth it.

But that’s life … Because you see, one thing that has changed and that’s my mindset.

I FOUGHT everything that happened to me before … because to me, life was a battle. I was a warrior, so it made sense. But being a warrior meant I became exhausted. I quite literally burnt out.

So I stopped fighting all the time. Sure, when it’s useful to be a warrior I’ll be one.

But if I don’t need to? I won’t.

I will manage situations less chaotically. I’ll be more mindful of myself. I will delegate to others, literally and emotionally.

It’s about context and balance

I need to engage with my needs, as well as everyone else’s. I cannot protect my loved ones or do other things I need to do by trying to head off trouble at every curve. It doesn’t work.

I’m a work in progress. There’s loads of work I need to do on myself yet, but that sense of utter dread and desperation is gone. I feel like a weight is off my shoulders, for the first time since I was a child.

Depression is a stealer of joy, so don’t let it suck the life from you.

Think about what YOU need and HOW you can engage with that, so you might feel happy, too.

You got this.


43 Famous Writers On Happiness:

1) J.M Barrie

“The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one does.”

2) Anne Frank

“Whoever is happy will make others happy.”

3) Dean Koontz

“No one can grant you happiness. Happiness is a choice we all have the power to make.”

4) Robert Louis Stevenson

“There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.”

5) Edith Wharton

“If only we’d stop trying to be happy we’d have a pretty good time.”

6) Aldous Huxley

“Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities.”

7) Aristotle

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.”

8) Daphne Du Maurier

“Happiness is not a possession to be prized, it is a quality of thought, a state of mind.”

9) Leo Tolstoy

“Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly.”

10) G.K Chesterton

“It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.” 


11) Charlotte Bronté

“Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.”

12) Robert Anthony

“Most people would rather be certain they’re miserable, than risk being happy.”

13) William James

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. ”

14) Sarah Addison Allen

“Happiness is a risk. If you’re not a little scared, then you’re not doing it right.”

15) J.R.R Tolkien

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

16) Marianne Williamson

“Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called “All the Things That Could Go Wrong.”

17) George Orwell

“Happiness can exist only in acceptance.”

18) Aeschylus

“Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times.”

19) Louisa May Alcott

“The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.”

20) George R.R. Martin

“Laughter is poison to fear.”

21) Alexandre Dumas

“Happiness is like those palaces in fairytales whose gates are guarded by dragons: We must fight in order to conquer it.”

22) Honoré de Balzac

“All happiness depends on courage and work.”


23) Epictetus

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will. ”

24) Dale Carnegie

“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”

25) Jane Austen

“It is well to have as many holds upon happiness as possible.”

26) Stephen R. Covey

“Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice.”

27) Nathaniel Hawthorne

“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.”

28) Robert Frost

“Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length.”

29) Jodie Picoult

“A mathematical formula for happiness: Reality divided by Expectations. There were two ways to be happy: improve your reality or lower your expectations.”

30) Chuck Palahniuk

“The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.”

31) Martha Washington

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.”

32) Mark Twain

“The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer somebody else up.”


33) Virginia Woolf

“Nothing thicker than a knife’s blade separates happiness from melancholy.”

34) William Shakespeare

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”

35) Charles Dickens

“Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes.”

36) Deepak Chopra

“Be happy for no reason, like a child. If you are happy for a reason, you’re in trouble, because that reason can be taken from you.”

37) Napoleon Hill

“Happiness is found in doing, not merely possessing. ”

38) Jacqueline Carey

“It is my observations, though, that happiness limits the amount of suffering one is willing to inflict upon others.”

39) Malori Howell

“The decision is mine, and I choose happiness.”

40) Steve Maraboli

“A grateful mindset can set you free from the prison of disempowerment and the shackles of misery.”

And finally, my favourites:

41) Carrie Jones

“The secret of happiness is freedom, the secret of freedom is courage.”

42) Hunter S. Thompson

“So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”

43) Helen Keller

“A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.”

Good Luck!

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1 thought on “43 Famous Writers Share Their Secrets About Happiness”

  1. I also like the quote from Madame Charles de Gaulle who, on being asked the secret of a long and successful marriage, replied: ‘a penis’. It was only upon later reflection that the interviewer realised this was her French accent getting to grips with the English word ‘happiness’. I suppose, though, happiness is different things to different people!

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