The mind, a key focus for philosophers and psychologists, is difficult to clearly define. It is our set of mental processes — but “mental” simply means relating to or taking place in the mind. The mind is clearly a product of the brain’s activities, and yet our mind has the power to change how our brains function. Our mind can perceive our own mind, and the minds of others. What have some thinkers said about the mind?

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If a man will comprehend the richness and variety of the universe, and inspire his mind with a due measure of wonder and awe, he must contemplate the human intellect not only on its heights of genius but in its abysses of ineptitude….

— A. E. Housman

People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

— Abraham Lincoln

Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.

— Anna Freud

It is foolish to wish for beauty. Sensible people never either desire it for themselves or care about it in others. If the mind be but well cultivated, and the heart well disposed, no one ever cares for the exterior.

— Anne Brontë, Agnes Grey

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

— Aristotle, Metaphysics

Sometimes we drug ourselves with dreams of new ideas. The head will save us. The brain alone will set us free. But there are no new ideas waiting in the wings to save us as women, as human. There are only old and forgotten ones, new combinations, extrapolations and recognitions from within ourselves — along with the renewed courage to try them out.

— Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, 1984

A woman past forty should make up her mind to be young; not her face.

— Billie Burke

I don’t think the human mind can comprehend the past and the future. They are both just illusions that can manipulate you into thinking there’s some kind of change.

— Bob Dylan

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

— Bob Samples, interpreting Albert Einstein

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

— Buddha

Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a polluted mind, suffering will follow you, as the wheels of the oxcart follow the footsteps of the ox. Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a pure mind, happiness will follow you, as a shadow clings to a form.

— Buddha

We must learn that competence is better than extravagance, that worth is better than wealth, that the golden calf we have worshiped has no more brains than that one of old which the Hebrews worshiped. So beware of money and of money’s worth as the supreme passion of the mind. Beware of the craving for enormous acquisition.

— C. A. Bartol

The creative mind plays with the object it loves.

— Carl Jung

It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor.

— Cicero

When the heart is right, the mind and the body will follow.

— Coretta Scott King

I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea. There is not any part of me that is alone and absolute except my mind, and we shall find that the mind has no existence by itself, it is only the glitter of the sun on the surfaces of the water.

— D. H. Lawrence

By linking a wide range of disciplines together, we offer this definition of one aspect of the mind as the emergent, self-organizing, embodied, and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information. This view enables us to see energy and information flow as the fundamental element of a system from which the mind arises.

Where is this system? This flow occurs both within the body, including its brain, as well as in the sharing of energy and information between an individual and others and the environment in which the person lives.

What kind of system is this? The characteristics of this system include that it is open, capable of being chaotic, and non-linear, meaning that small inputs lead to large and difficult to predict results. Complex systems have emergent properties that arise from the interaction of the elements of the system; one of those processes is self-organization. And so the proposal is that one aspect of mind is this embodied and relational process that emerges from, and then regulates, energy and information flow within an individual (the embodied aspect) and between the individual and the world around (the relational aspect).

— Daniel J. Siegel, interview by Ashley Ford for Psychiatric Times

By offering a definition of the mind, we can see how the mind is both within us and between us, within the body and the brain, and within the relational connections we have with one another and the world around us. Our work as clinicians is greatly aided with this definition. It allows us to work with our relationships and our embodied brains in trying to move an individual’s life toward more integration in a range of domains — from how we connect with one another with respect, to how we link different aspects of our brain to each other.

— Daniel J. Siegel, interview with Ashley Ford for Psychiatric Times

Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them.

— David Hume

Beauty is no quality in things themselves: It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them; and each mind perceives a different beauty.

— David Hume

The body keeps the score: If the memory of trauma is encoded in the viscera, in heartbreaking and gut-wrenching emotions, in autoimmune disorders and skeletal/muscular problems, and if mind/brain, visceral communication is the royal road to emotion regulation, this demands a radical shift in our therapeutic assumptions…. The challenge of recovery is to reestablish ownership of your body and your mind — of your self. This means feeling free to know what you know and feel what you feel without becoming overwhelmed, enraged, ashamed, or collapsed.

— Dr. Bessel van der Kolk

The first and simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind, is curiosity.

— Edmund Burke

The ultimate aim of the human mind, in all its efforts, is to become acquainted with Truth.

— Eliza Farnham

The truest greatness lies in being kind, the truest wisdom in a happy mind.

— Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Above all things physical, it is more important to be beautiful on the inside – to have a big heart and an open mind and a spectacular spleen.

— Ellen DeGeneres

Heaven is so far of the Mind
That were the Mind dissolved—
The Site—of it—by Architect
Could not again be proved—
‘Tis vast—as our Capacity—
As fair—as our idea—
To Him of adequate desire
No further ’tis, than Here—

— Emily Dickinson

The Brain — is wider than the Sky —
For — put them side by side —
The one the other will contain
With ease — and You — beside —

The Brain is deeper than the sea —
For — hold them — Blue to Blue —
The one the other will absorb —
As Sponges — Buckets — do —

The Brain is just the weight of God —
For — Heft them — Pound for Pound —
And they will differ — if they do —
As Syllable from Sound —

— Emily Dickinson

Though aware that our knowledge is incomplete, that our truth is partial, that our love is imperfect, we believe that new light is ever waiting to break through individual hearts and minds.

— First Unitarian Church of Chicago, Statement of Faith

Let the mind be enlarged… to the grandeur of the mysteries, and not the mysteries contracted to the narrowness of the mind.

— Francis Bacon

A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.

— Francois Auguste De Chateaubriand

Beauty isn’t worth thinking about; what’s important is your mind. You don’t want a fifty-dollar haircut on a fifty-cent head.

— Garrison Keillor

The human mind isn’t a computer; it cannot progress in an orderly fashion down a list of candidate moves and rank them by a score down to the hundredth of a pawn the way a chess machine does. Even the most disciplined human mind wanders in the heat of competition. This is both a weakness and a strength of human cognition. Sometimes these undisciplined wanderings only weaken your analysis. Other times they lead to inspiration, to beautiful or paradoxical moves that were not on your initial list of candidates.

— Garry Kasparov, Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins

The wisest mind has something yet to learn.

— George Santayana

Man’s duty is to improve himself; to cultivate his mind; and, when he finds himself going astray, to bring the moral law to bear upon himself.

— Immanuel Kant

Man’s greatest asset is the unsettled mind.

— Isaac Asimov

I’m a nonviolent soldier. In place of weapons of violence, you have to use your mind, your heart, your sense of humor, every faculty available to you because no one has the right to take the life of another human being.

— Joan Baez

Mind as a concrete thing is precisely the power to understand things in terms of the use made of them; a socialized mind is the power to understand them in terms of the use to which they are turned in joint or shared situations. And mind in this sense is the method of social control.

— John Dewey, Democracy and Education

Skepticism: the mark and even the pose of the educated mind.

— John Dewey

Whether we grow more gross, more selfish, more grasping, more vulgar, more dishonorable, or whether we grow more delicate, more tender, more sympathetic, more aspiring, or more affectionate does not depend on whether we think the mind quantitative or qualitative. It depends on what we think of the values of those qualities. And I for one choose so-called spiritual qualities of mind and character because for me they contain the most enduring and highest joys of earth. Therefore, in this practical sense I am a firm believer in the spiritual life. And when I use the term as I frequently do, it is in this sense that I use it.

— John Dietrich

Peace is not achieved by controlling nations, but mastering our thoughts.

— John Harricharan

The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love colour the most.

— John Ruskin

Anything which elevates the mind is sublime. Greatness of matter, space, power, virtue or beauty, are all sublime.

— John Ruskin

Compassion is the strong wish of the mind and heart to alleviate suffering.

— Joseph Goldstein

To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.

— Kahlil Gibran

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

— Laozi (Lao Tzu)

Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking; where it is absent, a discussion is apt to become worse than useless.

— Leo Tolstoy

I think… if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.

— Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Freedom, I found is not only in the running but in the heart, the mind, the hands.

— Louise Erdrich

We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, for though others may free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is our only ruler; sovereign.

— Marcus Garvey

Making mental connections is our most crucial learning tool, the essence of human intelligence: to forge links; to go beyond the given; to see patterns, relationship, context.

— Marilyn Ferguson
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