Usually at this time of year, we make “resolutions.” Inevitably, most of these fall by the wayside, having withered because of the return of habits about which our enthusiasm is limited, or having faded away from an ever-worsening lack of motivation.
Better then, perhaps, to have in their place a series of short “reminders,” good thoughts which we regularly “put back into the mind,” they having slipped out of that fine organ at some point, their vanishing probably unnoticed.
Here’s one, another of Ruskin’s comments about human nature and its most important elements. Like so many of his good and useful thoughts, it seems to have “just occurred” to him as he was composing one of the chapters for the second volume of Proserpina, his book on the proper names for flowers, in 1881. Also like so many of these good and useful remarks, his readers–he, she, or, in this cae, me–had no idea that this reminder was coming, appearing as it suddently did in the middle of some sentences telling us of the inordinate and sacred loveliness which are blossoms. It read (still reads!) as follows. The two great laws of our nature, Ruskin wrote, are these:
that happiness is increased not by the enlargement of the possessions, but of the heart, that our days are lengthened not by the crowding of emotions but the economy of them.