in 1871, Mark Twain was born as Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri, U.S. He was a writer, and lecturer. He was called the “greatest American humorist of his age.” He wrote the now classic novels, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
He wrote some great stuff that is still read by millions today. He also had some great quotes that continue to live on because of the wisdom in them. Mark Twain was a funny, witty, and wise guy. I hope the below quotes will astonish, enlighten, and amuse you.
“I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”
We walk around all our lives thinking about things that will never happen. We worry, dread, and fear what hasn’t happened and what probably never will.
Our minds are out of control. Our heads are filled with negative thoughts that have no bearing in reality, even if we think they do.
Eliminating bad thoughts is possible, through methods such as EFT and The Work. It’s not easy, but worth it.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
We want safety. We want to be secure, but the best life experiences come when we drop those notions and go after what we truly want, whether it feels safe or not.
I’ve battled with this myself, and I often stop myself from doing things because it feels unsafe. I worry too much about the future.
In reality, we can’t know what the future will bring. Even if you have millions in the bank, you may lose it tomorrow. Not even the wealthiest on this planet are secure.
“When people do not respect us we are sharply offended; yet in his private heart no man much respects himself.”
Imagine that something negative happened to you. Maybe someone said something to you that you thought was wrong.
How often do you replay what happened over and over and over again when it’s all over?
We disrespect ourselves by replaying bad thoughts in our mind, which leads to feeling bad, and treating everyone (including ourselves) around us badly.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
Going after your dreams can feel like an overwhelming task, but that’s because you’re trying to visualize something in your head that cannot be visualized.
Mark Twain is right on in breaking things into small pieces. It works because you can hold an image in your head of what the end result looks like. Instead of thinking “I need to start an online business,” a better thought would be “I need to start a blog.”
That is, if you want to go down that route. Break things down, and simplify!
“When angry, count to four. When very angry, swear.”
A good and funny quote, but to me it sends the message to not make decisions when you’re angry. People are foolish when they are angry. They snap at others and only create more trouble in their life. Next time you’re angry, either use methods such as The Work or EFT, like I mentioned above, or just count to four, or better yet, ten.
Calm down, and sleep on your decision.
“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living; the world owes you nothing; it was here first.”
Have you ever felt like you deserved something, but didn’t get it? I know I certainly have. That thought does us no good, even if we think we did deserve whatever it is that we didn’t get. It keeps you stuck instead of moving forward. So what if things didn’t go perfectly? You adjust and you keep on going.
Who knows, maybe that setback wasn’t a setback after all. The negative events in my life have a tendency to blossom into positive ones.
“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear.”
Successful people aren’t fearless; no one is. It’s easy to believe that if you got rid of your fears, everything would be fine, but that’s just an excuse for not getting started. You will always have a smidgen of fear when diving into the unknown. Don’t let it stop you; instead use it as fuel to keep going.
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I have just read your essay, and I must apologise – I have absolutely no idea what it said.
When you hold this essay in your hands in a few weeks’ time, I know that you will look immediately at the mark I’ve written at the top of the first page. You will make assumptions about yourself, your work – perhaps even your worth – based on this number. I want to tell you not to worry about it.
How to survive marking dissertations
When I was a student, I assumed – as you probably do now – that my work was meticulously checked and appraised, with the due consideration it deserved, by erudite scholars who perhaps wore tweed.
I wonder now if it was actually marked by someone like me: a semi-employed thirtysomething on a zero-hours contract, sitting at home in pyjamas, staring at a hopeless pile of marking, as hopes of making it to the shops for a pint of milk today fade.
Your essay is one of 20 or so I’ve tackled in one sitting this afternoon. They are beginning to blur into one; a profusion of themes and things “to be noted” and endless variations on the phrase “It is interesting that...”.
I’m reading something you wrote on page two and I’m wondering if I just read an explanation of this concept on page one, or if that was in someone else’s essay. I have to go back a page, eyes swimming, and check.
Your essay does not stand alone, but becomes amalgamated with the others I’ve read so far today, all talking about the same things, with varying degrees of clarity. Your words are diluted by the ones that came before, they are lost on me even before I begin.
It should not be like this. In an ideal world, I would spend my morning carefully marking three essays at most, giving them the thought they deserve. I would spend the early afternoon wandering around a meadow picking flowers – something, anything, to clear my head so I can approach the next batch with a fresh outlook and enthusiasm.
Academic workload: a model approach
But I do not have that kind of time. I have academic work of my own; I have a job interview to prepare for; at various points of the year, I have additional employment to help tide me over. (And I’m only a part-time lecturer, I’m aware that my colleagues in full-time jobs have a lot more of this to do.)
I have cleared this bit of space in my schedule to read your essays, and I have come at them genuinely excited to see what you have found out this term, and to tell you how you can improve. I try to be thorough and write actual comments on your essay, even though I’m aware that I could probably get away with a few ticks, question marks and a cryptic “needs improvement”.
I’ve been at it all day and it is 6.20 pm. There are 11 unmarked essays. I could carry on, but I can’t make sense of anything you say any more. I have to force myself to understand anything other than the clearest, nicest writing; the kind of writing that takes me by the hand and shows me round all your ideas. (Dear student, please note: I am not so exhausted that I can’t spot nice writing. Do us both a favour and spend time on your essay. Make it good. Edit, polish, relieve my boredom and let me award you a first.)
I know that I should go back and reread a few essays to compare the marks I’ve given, but there isn’t time. I would like to look up the references you cite, to tell you if there are other gems in those books you may have missed, or suggest other interpretations, but there’s no chance. I also have a life – washing to do, family to spend time with, that sort of thing.
In this letter (which I’ve written with an aching hand) I ask three things of you:
- Work hard on your essays. Help people like me. It’ll open your mind, and it’ll make me happy. And I really, really want to give you a first.
- Don’t think that if you just waffle on for three pages to bring your essay up to the required word count, I won’t notice. I will.
- Do not get too upset – or complacent – because of whatever mark you’ve got. Don’t take it too personally. I’ve tried my best to be consistent and fair, and other lecturers will moderate my marking, but really, by a certain stage, I’m just pulling numbers out of the air. (55? 58? I don’t know)
Teaching at a university means constant pressure - for about £5 an hour
Your essay does not stand alone; it’s either going to impress me or sap my energy, and if it does the latter, it affects how I read the ones which come afterwards. Too many awful essays and I can’t concentrate anymore.
The books on your reading list will tell you everything about the subject that you need to know; read them. There are also books in the library with titles like How to Write an Essay; make use of them. If you don’t understand something, come along to my office hour. I’ve gone on about it all term, and you know where that is.
All the best,
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