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Quotations About Self-Indulgence

Updated on October 19, 2016
Colleen Swan profile image

A lover of the written word Colleen has a Master's degree in English literature and enjoys finding unique and poignant quotes

Comfort and Indolence

Quote by Theodore L. Cuyler
Quote by Theodore L. Cuyler | Source


What is self-indulgence? To a large degree the answer is individual and relative to one’s own circumstances. As an example, a man claims it is vital for him to take a tipple of whisky every hour in order to ease his anxiety. A woman justifies phoning a help-line continuously throughout each day in order to cope with her life’s travail’s. In the first case the man is destroying his heath, while in the second, the woman is taking help-liners’ time from others because her needs are greater than theirs. Perhaps these two people would regard each-other as self-indulgent.

We might interpret it as the feeding of our personal desires to the detriment of ourselves or others; however, many would associate it with the synonyms: greed, avarice, intemperance, gluttony, decadence, wastefulness, sloth, lack of compassion.

Each of us sets our own boundaries, yet it is part of human nature to yield to temptation or commit errors resulting in excessive behavior for which we then feel guilty or ashamed.

Excessive self-indulgence tends to breed self-contempt and create disdain in others. Fear of this scorn can urge the hedonist to avoid the company of those who do not savor the same or similar vices. Georges Courteline in his book “The Philosophy" wrote of excess: If we had to tolerate in others all that we permit in ourselves, life would become completely unbearable.

  • The following extracts and quotations are indicative of the many synonyms that we associate with this subject.

From the 1827 book “Guesses at Truth” by two brothers: Julius Charles Hare and Augustus William Hare

  • Chapter 27: Principle of our nature

The germ of idolatry is contained in the proneness of man's feelings and imagination to take their impressions from outward objects, rather than from the dictates of reason; under the control of which they can scarcely be brought, without a great impairing of their energies. It may possibly have been in part from a merciful indulgence to this principle of our nature that God vouchsafed to show himself in the flesh.

  • Chapter 334: Consummation of weakness

Pride in former ages may have been held in too good repute: vanity is so now. Pride, which is the fault of greatness and strength, is sneered at and abhorred: to vanity, the froth and consummation of weakness, every indulgence is shown.

  • Chapter 196: Excess and alias

Excessive indulgence to others, especially to children is in fact only self-indulgence under an alias.

  • Chapter 197: Skepticism is pampered

When zeal subsides, such a weight is found to be inconvenient; and men loosen the articles which press the hardest, until they slip off one after another. Skepticism however, like other things, is enlarged and pampered by indulgence.

And Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: If a man has a strong faith he can indulge in the luxury of skepticism.

Keeping Excess in Check

Life is always a discipline, for the lower animals as well as for men; it is so dangerous that only by submitting to some sort of discipline can we become equipped to live in any true sense at all. H. Ellis: Essays of love and virtue.

The man of "modern ideas," the conceited ape, is excessively dissatisfied with himself -- this is perfectly certain. He suffers, and his vanity wants him only "to suffer with his fellows." Friedrich Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil chapter 222.

He, who requires much from himself and little from others, will keep himself from being the object of resentment. Confucius

To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short. Confucius

The dinosaur’s eloquent lesson is that if some bigness is good, an overabundance of bigness is not necessarily better. Eric Johnston

The more you let yourself go, the less other’s let you go. Nietzsche

Pardon one excess and you encourage the commission of many. Le Bethany Jones

Even moderation ought not to be practiced to excess. Unknown

Craving All Things Pleasant

Quote by Aristotle
Quote by Aristotle | Source

The Pitfalls of Pampering

At times, however, too much adulation can become an insidious hazard. Thus, during a TV interview, model and actress Cheryl Tieg admitted that, growing accustomed to her every whim being met, she caught herself thinking, where’s my limousine? Why is that paid-help taking so long getting my cup of coffee? As a result, she consciously put a stop to her own escalating sense of privilege.

Moderation Overreached by Greed

Moderation has been created a virtue to limit the ambition of great men, and to console undistinguished people for their want of fortune and their lack of merit. LA Rochefoucauld

What nature requires is obtainable, and within easy reach. It’s for the superfluous we sweat. Seneca

People who are greedy have extra-ordinary capacities for waste; they must, they take in too much. Norman Mailer

Men hate the individual whom they call avaricious only because nothing can be gained from him. Voltaire

There are four layers of chocolate, the first is taste, the second is approval, the third is persuasion, and the fourth is the proposal. Antonio Forage

Moderation, after all, is only the belief that you will be a better man tomorrow than you were yesterday. Murray Campion

Subdue your appetites, my dears, and you’ve conquered human nature. Charles Dickens

Take Only What You Need

Bible: proverbs 25.16
Bible: proverbs 25.16 | Source

Perception and Individual Valuation

No estimate is more in danger of erroneous than those by which a man computes the force of his own genius. Samuel Johnson

To refuse the sweets of life because they once must leave us, is as preposterous as to wish to have been born old, because we one day must be old. William Congreve

Remember that there is always a limit to self-indulgence but none to self-restraint, and let us daily progress in that direction. Mahatma Gandhi

It is enough that we set out to mold the motley stuff of life into some form of our own choosing; when we do the performance is itself the wage. Learned Hand

A man is a kind of inverted thermometer, the bulb uppermost, and the column of self-valuation is all the time going up and down. Oliver Wendell Holmes

Let a man’s talents or virtues be what they may, we only feel satisfaction in his society as he is satisfied in himself. William Hazlitt

It is circumstance and proper measure that give an action its character, and make it either good or bad. Plutarch

Desires of Flesh and Mind

Ephesians 2:3
Ephesians 2:3 | Source

Presumption: A Desire for Status

Man desires to be free and he desires to feel important. This places him in a dilemma, for the more he emancipates himself from necessity the less important he feels. W. H. Auden

A sick man that gets talking about himself, a woman that gets talking about her baby, and an author that begins reading out of his own book, never know when to stop. Oliver Wendell Holmes

The extreme pleasure we take in speaking of ourselves should make us apprehensive that it gives hardly any to those who listen to us. LA Rochefoucauld

Glory consists of two parts: the one in setting too great a value upon ourselves, and the other in setting too little a value upon others. Montaigne

It astounds us to come upon other egoists, as though we alone had the right to be selfish, and be filled with eagerness to live. Jules Renard

Hypocrisy and Veracity

Bible: Matthew 23.25
Bible: Matthew 23.25 | Source

Conceit and Exaggeration

What is an obstacle in our loving men is the love they have for themselves, which is touchy, exclusive, inordinate, and tragic. We could never love them as much as that. Paul Geraldy

The dangerous ones are those who stop you every time you want to turn around, whom instead of patting your hand, insist that you feel their guts. And the more they suffer, the more they make you suffer, the happier they are. Jean Anouilh

Sentimentality is the emotional promiscuity of those who have no sentiment. Norman Mailer

All I ask of life is a constant and exaggerated sense of my own importance. Unknown

Exaggeration is a prodigality of the judgment which shows the narrowness of one’s knowledge or one’s taste. Baltasar Gracian

The trouble with a lot of self-made men is that they worship their creator. Waldo E. Martin

Those who do things in a noble spirit of self-sacrifice are to be avoided at all costs. Unknown

Beware of the Mighty

Bible proverbs 23:1
Bible proverbs 23:1 | Source

Boasting Masked as Compassion

In a restaurant, I once heard a posh-sounding man sighing to his dinner companion, “I sometimes wonder what life must be like for those who are not educated or intellectual, and cannot articulate their wishes and needs on the level you and I can. If only we could find a way that might help at least one such sufferer.” Terence Brant

Waste and Pleasure of Extravagance

Dry happiness is like dry bread. We eat, but we do not dine. I wish for the superfluous, for the useless, for the extravagant, for the too much, for that which is not good for anything. Victor Hugo

Adhere to your own act, and congratulate yourself if you have done something strange and extravagant, and broken the monotony of a decorous age. Ralph Waldo Emerson

If the things that produce the pleasures of the dissolute were able to drive away from their minds their fears about what is above them and about death and pain, and to teach them the limit of desires, we would have no reason to find fault with the dissolute. Epicurus

Lethargy and Mendacity

Moderation is the languor and indolence of the soul, as ambition is its ardor and activity. LA Rochefoucauld

Self-denial surely means something far greater than some slight and insignificant lessening of our self-indulgences. James Hudson Taylor: Bible Studies

There are people so proficient in embellishment that they cannot accept to be the lesser of anyone in their field or profession who has the gift of candid captivation. Hence their drawn weapon is mendacious indulgence. Isobel Bronte

Such is the weakness of our nature, that when men are a little exalted in their condition they immediately conceive they have additional senses, and their capacities enlarged not only above other men, but above human comprehension itself. Richard Steele

Without a sense of proportion there can be neither good taste nor genuine intelligence, nor perhaps moral integrity. Eric Hoffer

The Power of Pretentiousness

Romans 16:18
Romans 16:18 | Source

Idle and Soul-Obsessed

Initially, Chef and restaurateur Gabrielle Hamilton viewed her kitchen work as secondary to her innate creative writing ability. Having struggled through a series of restaurant jobs, Ms. Hamilton felt her dream validated by her acceptance into a writing program at a prestigious university. Still, she soon became disenchanted with the narcissistic gloom which seemed to pervade the department. She recounts:

“I could not find the fun or the urgency in the eventless and physically idle academic life. It was so lethargic, and impractical and luxurious. I adored reading and writing and having my brain crushed, but those soft, ghostly people lounging around the lounge, agonizing over their texts, endlessly theorizing over experiences they would never have, make me ache to break out of those leather chairs, to put my shoes and socks back on and get back into the kitchen, which I increasingly found practical and satisfying.”

Source: Blood, Bones and Butter: Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton.

Undoubtedly, the gritty, hands-on experience chronicled by Ms. Hamilton has found a far wider readership than has the work of those soul-obsessed questers.

Resisting Temptation

It is good to be without vices, but it is not good to be without temptation. Walter Bagehot

Blessed is he who has never been tempted; for he knows not the frailty of his rectitude. Christopher Morley

The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself. Oscar Wilde

Resistance is always easier if you believe it likely you’ll get another chance another day, and they say that as you grow older temptation will avoid you. Gerald Hudson

It is easy to have everything you want if you have learnt to do without the things you cannot get. Elbert Hubbard


I conclude with two extracts that encompass both the perception of self-indulgence wrapped in myth and religious philosophical ideals, and that which is in truth a simplistic concept.

  • Andre Gide wrote in the “Reflections on Literature and Morality”

In my present insistence on high standards you will see that there is less self-indulgence than resolve and application. I do not let the Christian monopolize the ideal of perfection. I have my own virtue, which I am constantly cultivating and refining by teaching myself not to tolerate in me or my surroundings anything but the exquisite.

  • Tom Robbins wrote in the “Jitterbug Perfume”

The unhappy person resents it when you try to cheer him up, because that means he has to stop dwelling on himself and start paying attention to the universe. Unhappiness is the ultimate form of self-indulgence. When you're unhappy, you get to pay a lot of attention to yourself. You get to take yourself oh so very seriously.

On a light hearted note

Do you have a vice that you need to control?

See results


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    • Colleen Swan profile imageAUTHOR

      Colleen Swan 

      5 years ago from County Durham

      Thank you Manatita for your kind words. True, there are many interpretations about this trait.

    • manatita44 profile image


      5 years ago from london

      Excellent Hub and well presented with some lofty quotes to back it up.

      A big one, Self-Indulgence and it's good that you gave differing explanations of this special trait. Many blessings to you and family.

    • Colleen Swan profile imageAUTHOR

      Colleen Swan 

      5 years ago from County Durham

      Thank you Gilbert. Yes we all have our vices and like to spot them in others. The subject is quite complex and this hub took some while to compose. Once started I had to finish.

    • rebelogilbert profile image

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      5 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      I liked your example, Colleen, of the kitchen cook who took a try at writing. She didn't care for the attitudes and faults of people she had to hang out with and returned back to the kitchen. I beg to differ for a good reason. No person on earth is going to stop her from writing if that is what she really wants to do. Strength and desire has to come from within. She felt more comfortable cooking. I'm probably a little self-indulgent.

    • Colleen Swan profile imageAUTHOR

      Colleen Swan 

      5 years ago from County Durham

      Hi, Self discipline is admirable, but yes I also have those days when something has to give.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I have strict control in everything I do for most of the month and tend to stray for some days.


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