attributed to Mark Twain

Now that there is a cease-fire that actually seems to be holding, we can think about things that have been on hold for a bit. Here is something that I heard during a lecture for the seniors at the Beit Avot in Tzfat on aging well:

(Hey! It’s never too early to learn about how to enjoy my golden years!)

It’s important to be in a good mood and to worry about someone else’s mood.

That is what I wrote down when I heard it quoted in Hebrew, in the name of Mark Twain.

This sounded like some very good advice, albeit most likely said differently. So I started now looking to see what he actually said, or, of course, if he said it at all. After all, here is something else that perhaps he said:

Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

Or this, while I’m at it:

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.

After a bit of searching (and annoying people around me with constant calling out of fascinating quotes that I had found), this is the closest to what I think it must be:

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

Again, I first heard this in terms of how to age gracefully. The woman giving the lecture was an occupational therapist; she was coming up with suggestions here of how to get over yourself. How do you let things go in order to live among people? How do you resolve issues easily? How do you remember that you are a mature person and not a kindergartner? How indeed.

This is what she suggested, if they get into a tussle with another resident:

“You say to the other person, ‘Perhaps I was wrong. Can we talk about it?’ and then talk.”

Maybe better than Twain himself. But let’s see how many seniors take this to heart. After all, at their age, many of them probably think that they deserve their hurt feelings, that they are right without a doubt, the kindergartner part above, notwithstanding.

The saddest thing is that we don’t expect seniors living in an artificial environment necessarily to rise above the pettiness of children. After all, as they have had so much taken away from them, their privacy, their health, their families, we know they need to hold onto their own sense of dignity however they can.

Do we need to impose our definition of dignity upon them?

Oh, and can we/should we transpose the political situation in Israel with seniors?

Perhaps I am wrong. Can we talk about it?

By the way, Twain also said this:

The power which a man’s imagination has over his body to heal it or make it sick is a force which none of us is born without. The first man had it, the last one will possess it. If left to himself, a man is most likely to use only the mischievous half of the force—the half which invents imaginary ailments for him and cultivates them; and if he is one of these—very wise people, he is quite likely to scoff at the beneficent half of the force and deny its existence. And so, to heal or help that man, two imaginations are required: his own and some outsider’s. The outsider, B, must imagine that his incantations are the healing-power that is curing A, and A must imagine that this is so. I think it is not so, at all; but no matter, the cure is effected, and that is the main thing. The outsider’s work is unquestionably valuable; so valuable that it may fairly be likened to the essential work performed by the engineer when he handles the throttle and turns on the steam; the actual power is lodged exclusively in the engine, but if the engine were left alone it would never start of itself. Whether the engineer be named Jim, or Bob, or Tom, it is all one—his services are necessary, and he is entitled to such wage as he can get you to pay. Whether he be named Christian Scientist, or Mental Scientist, or Mind Curist, or King’s-Evil Expert, or Hypnotist, it is all one; he is merely the Engineer; he simply turns on the same old steam and the engine does the whole work.


Oh, and also this:;)

In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.


One thought on “attributed to Mark Twain

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s