Latest Commonplace Additions


Between Stimulus and Response

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Freedom is the individual’s capacity to know that he is the determined one, to pause between stimulus and response and thus to throw his weight, however slight it may be, on the side of one particular response among several possible ones.

Indeed I would define mental health as the capacity to be aware of the gap between stimulus and response, together with the capacity to use this gap constructively.

Rollo May, 1963

From the article Freedom and Responsibility Re-Examined


Four Sentences that Lead to Wisdom

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There are four sentences that lead to wisdom. Do with them what you will.

  • I am sorry.
  • I was wrong.
  • I don’t know.
  • I need help.

Louise Penny

From the book The Madness of Crowds


Economies that make us thrive

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Today we have economies that need to grow, whether or not they make us thrive; what we need are economies that make us thrive, whether or not they grow.

Kate Raworth, 2017

From the book Doughnut Economics: 7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist


Exponential growth in a finite world

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Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.

Kenneth Boulding, 1973

From Congressional Hearings on Energy Reorganization Act of 1973


No Philosophy of Family Life

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In other words, while social conservatives have a philosophy of family life they can’t operationalize, because it no longer is relevant, progressives have no philosophy of family life at all, because they don’t want to seem judgmental. The sexual revolution has come and gone, and it’s left us with no governing norms of family life, no guiding values, no articulated ideals. On this most central issue, our shared culture often has nothing relevant to say—and so for decades things have been falling apart.

David Brooks, March 2020

From the article The Nuclear Family was a Mistake


The great primeval contract of eternal society

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Society… is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born. Each contract of each particular State is but a clause in the great primeval contract of eternal society, linking the lower with the higher natures, connecting the visible and invisible world, according to a fixed compact sanctioned by the inviolable oath whith holds all physical and all moral natures, each in their appointed place.

Edmund Burke

From the book Reflections on the Revolution in France


We need governments to provide clear pathways

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Capitalism has the power to shape society and act as a powerful catalyst for change. But businesses can’t do this alone, and they cannot be the climate police. That will not be a good outcome for society. We need governments to provide clear pathways and a consistent taxonomy for sustainability policy, regulation, and disclosure across markets. When we harness the power of both the public and private sectors, we can achieve truly incredible things. This is what we must do to get to net zero.

Larry Fink, 2022

From the letter Letter to CEOs from Larry Fink in 2022


Your company’s purpose is its north star

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It’s never been more essential for CEOs to have a consistent voice, a clear purpose, a coherent strategy, and a long-term view. Your company’s purpose is its north star in this tumultuous environment. Putting your company’s purpose at the foundation of your relationships with your stakeholders is critical to long-term success.

Larry Fink, 2022

From the letter Letter to CEOs from Larry Fink in 2022


Workers demanding more from their employers

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Workers demanding more from their employers is an essential feature of effective capitalism. It drives prosperity and creates a more competitive landscape for talent, pushing companies to create better, more innovative environments for their employees – actions that will help them achieve greater profits for their shareholders. Companies that deliver are reaping the rewards.

Larry Fink, 2022

From the letter Letter to CEOs from Larry Fink in 2022


The Power of Stakeholder Capitalism

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Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics. It is not a social or ideological agenda. It is not “woke.” It is capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relationships between you and the employees, customers, suppliers, and communities your company relies on to prosper. This is the power of capitalism.

Larry Fink, 2022

From the letter Letter to CEOs from Larry Fink in 2022


Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation

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In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.

Steve Jobs, January 24, 2000

From the interview Apple's One-Dollar-a-Year Man


Art has to transform life itself

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I really believe that art is capable of the total transformation of the world, and of life itself, and nothing less is really acceptable. So I mean if art is going to have any excuse for – beyond being a leisure-class plaything – it has to transform life itself.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 1994


We make money to make more movies

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We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.

Walt Disney


A strange magic in human-made things

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There can be a strange magic in human-made things. Not in all of them: not in plastic bottles or Q-Tips or batteries; but in those that are interwoven with our pasts, with our homes, with our great loves. These are things that have been mysteriously imbued with humanity — our own or other people’s.

J. K. Rowling, 24 Dec 2021

From the article J. K. Rowling on the Magic of 'Things'


The fundamental goodness of human nature

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The fundamental goodness of human nature, like the mystery of the Trinity, Grace, and the Incarnation, is an essential element of Christian faith. This basic core of goodness is capable of unlimited development; indeed, becoming transformed into Christ and deified.

Our basic core of goodness is our true Self. Its center of gravity is God. The acceptance of our basic goodness is a quantum leap in the spiritual journey.

God and our true Self are not separate. Though we are not God, God and our true Self are the same thing…

The disintegrating and dying of our false self is our participation in the passion and death of Jesus. The building of our new self, based on the transforming power of divine love, is our participation in His risen life.

Thomas Keating, 2004

From the book Founations for Centering Prayer and the Christian Contemplative Life


The Team, The Team, The Team

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We want the Big Ten championship and we’re gonna win it as a Team. They can throw out all those great backs, and great quarterbacks, and great defensive players, throughout the country and in this conference, but there’s gonna be one Team that’s gonna play solely as a Team. No man is more important than The Team. No coach is more important than The Team. The Team, The Team, The Team, and if we think that way, all of us, everything that you do, you take into consideration what effect does it have on my Team? Because you can go into professional football, you can go anywhere you want to play after you leave here. You will never play for a Team again. You’ll play for a contract. You’ll play for this. You’ll play for that. You’ll play for everything except the team, and think what a great thing it is to be a part of something that is, The Team. We’re gonna win it. We’re gonna win the championship again because we’re gonna play as team, better than anybody else in this conference, we’re gonna play together as a team. We’re gonna believe in each other, we’re not gonna criticize each other, we’re not gonna talk about each other, we’re gonna encourage each other. And when we play as a team, when the old season is over, you and I know, it’s gonna be Michigan again, Michigan.

Bo Schembechler, 1983

From the speech The Team, The Team, The Team


Immigration is tough, and it always has been

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Immigration is tough. It always has been because, on the one hand, I think we are naturally a people that wants to help others. And we see tragedy and hardship and families that are desperately trying to get here so that their kids are safe, and they’re in some cases fleeing violence or catastrophe. At the same time, we’re a nation state. We have borders. The idea that we can just have open borders is something that … as a practical matter, is unsustainable.

Barack Obama, 18 Sep 2021

From ABC News Interview with Barack Obama on 18 Sep 2021


The increase of wealth is not boundless

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The increase of wealth is not boundless. A stationary condition of capital and population implies no stationary state of human improvement. There would be as much scope as ever for all kinds of mental culture, and moral and social progress; as much room for improving the art of living, and much more likelihood of it being improved, when minds ceased to be engrossed by the art of getting on.

John Stuart Mill, 1848


Invest in your employees

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I give them [other business owners] the same advice my grandfather had when he was starting the business [Dick’s Drive-Ins]. A business, first step, is it has to make a profit. The next step is to invest in your employees. They’ll take better care of your customers, which will help you earn more profit. When they move on from your business and do other things, they’re evangelists for your company and that helps you make more profit. Once that virtuous cycle is going, you can also invest in your community because if your community is thriving, your business will thrive. And so for these businesses that come to us asking what they should do first, the biggest thing I tell them is to talk to your employees. Ask them what it is that your employee population would want. Talk to them! Start with that. And if you can’t do it for everybody or everything that they would want, just do some part of it, then work your way up from there.

Jasmine Donovan, 5 Oct 2021

From the interview How does Dick’s Drive-In pay workers $19 an hour with a menu completely under $5?


Learn why the world wags and what wags it

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You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorders of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then – to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.

T. H. White

From the book The Once and Future King

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