80 Norman Cousins Quotes on Life, Death and Laughter

Born in Union Hill, New Jersey (1912) and later Los Angeles resident, Norman Cousins was a prolific American essayist and editor, notably of the Saturday Review (1942-1972).

A Columbia University alumnus, his editorial adventure commenced in 1934, linking literature and contemporary issues, thus boosting magazine readership by 50%.

Cousins was both a vocal critic and advocate of U.S. potential, penning works like ‘The Good Inheritance: The Democratic Chance’ (1942) highlighting America’s potential greatness.

His writings, broad and insightful, ranged from biographies to reflections on human challenges in the nuclear age.

Norman Cousins

Later, he explored mind-body healing connections, illustrating through his personal health battles and continued contributing to literature and academia until his passing in 1990.

I have listed below some of the top quotes by Norman Cousins.

Best Norman Cousins Quotes


Assume responsibility for the quality of your own life. ~ Norman Cousins.


Your heaviest artillery will be your will to live. Keep that big gun going. ~ Norman Cousins.


Don’t defy the diagnosis, try to defy the verdict. ~ Norman Cousins.

The essence of man is imperfection. ~ Norman Cousins.

Death is not the enemy; living in constant fear of it is. ~ Norman Cousins.


Belief creates biology. ~ Norman Cousins.

Hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally without having to go outdoors. ~ Norman Cousins.

Some people don’t really know enough to make a pronouncement of doom on a human being. ~ Norman Cousins.


The main trouble with despair is that it is self-fulfilling. ~ Norman Cousins.

The starting point for a better world is the belief that it is possible. ~ Norman Cousins.

The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we live. ~ Norman Cousins.

Respect for the fragility and importance of an individual life is still the mark of an educated man. ~ Norman Cousins.


For every low there is an equal but opposite high. ~ Norman Cousins.

If there is a conflict between the easy drift of prosperity and the ordeal of peace, the ordeal of peace comes first. ~ Norman Cousins.

The greatest force in the human body is the natural drive of the body to heal itself – but that force is not independent of the belief system. Everything begins with belief. What we believe is the most powerful option of all. ~ Norman Cousins.

Inspirational Norman Cousins Quotes

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live. ~ Norman Cousins.


He who keeps his cool best wins. ~ Norman Cousins.

Man is not imprisoned by habit. Great changes in him can be wrought by crisis – once that crisis can be recognized and understood. ~ Norman Cousins.

Laughter is a form of internal jogging. It moves your internal organs around. It enhances respiration. It is an igniter of great expectations. ~ Norman Cousins.

The individual is capable of both great compassion and great indifference. He has it within his means to nourish the former and outgrow the latter. ~ Norman Cousins.


History is an accumulation of error. ~ Norman Cousins.

Just as there is no loss of basic energy in the universe, so no thought or action is without its effects, present or ultimate, seen or unseen, felt or unfelt. ~ Norman Cousins.

The possibility of war increases in direct proportion to the effectiveness of the instruments of war. ~ Norman Cousins.

War is an invention of the human mind. The human mind can invent peace with justice. ~ Norman Cousins.


The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. ~ Norman Cousins.

If news is not really news unless it is bad news, it may be difficult to claim we are an informed nation. ~ Norman Cousins.

A human being fashions his consequences as surely as he fashions his goods or his dwelling. Nothing that he says, thinks or does is without consequences. ~ Norman Cousins.

The growth of the human mind is still high adventure, in many ways the highest adventure on earth. ~ Norman Cousins.


Pessimism is a waste of time. ~ Norman Cousins.

The purpose of education is to enable us to develop to the fullest that which is inside us. ~ Norman Cousins.

Top Norman Cousins Quotes

To talk about the need for perfection in man is to talk about the need for another species. ~ Norman Cousins.

The heart of the matter is that some people like to cause injury or death to living things. And many of those who do not are indifferent to those who do. ~ Norman Cousins.

Intelligence and the spirit of adventure can be combined to create new energies, and out of these energies may come exciting and rewarding new prospects. ~ Norman Cousins.


A library is the delivery room for the birth of ideas, a place where history comes to life. ~ Norman Cousins.

People who develop the habit of thinking of themselves as world citizens are fulfilling the first requirement of sanity in our time. ~ Norman Cousins.

It makes little difference how many university courses or degrees a person may own. If he cannot use words to move an idea from one point to another, his education is incomplete. ~ Norman Cousins.

The human body experiences a powerful gravitational pull in the direction of hope. That is why the patient’s hopes are the physician’s secret weapon. They are the hidden ingredients in any prescription. ~ Norman Cousins.


Nixon’s motto was, if two wrongs don’t make a right, try three. ~ Norman Cousins.

Nothing is more essential in the treatment of serious disease than the liberation of the patient from panic and foreboding. ~ Norman Cousins.

Popular Norman Cousins Quotes

The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started. ~ Norman Cousins.

All things are possible, once enough human beings realize that everything is at stake. ~ Norman Cousins.

The human body experiences a powerful gravitational pull in the direction of hope. ~ Norman Cousins.


Cynicism is intellectual treason. ~ Norman Cousins.

In a democracy, the individual enjoys not only the ultimate power but carries the ultimate responsibility. ~ Norman Cousins.

You are younger today than you will ever be again. Make use of it for the sake of tomorrow. ~ Norman Cousins.

Laughter serves as a blocking agent. Like a bullet-proof vest, it may help protect you against the ravages of negative emotions that can assault you in disease. ~ Norman Cousins.


The control center of your life is your attitude. ~ Norman Cousins.

Progress begins with the belief that what is necessary is possible. ~ Norman Cousins.

The need is to recognize that The patient is the healer, Not the doctor. ~ Norman Cousins.

The essence of man is imperfection. Failure is simply a price we pay to achieve success. If we learn to embrace that new definition of failure, then we are free to start moving ahead – and failing forward. ~ Norman Cousins.


Infinity converts the possible into the inevitable. ~ Norman Cousins.

A book is like a piece of rope; it takes on meaning only in connection with the things it holds together. ~ Norman Cousins.

Famous Norman Cousins Quotes

A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas – a place where history comes to life. ~ Norman Cousins.

Integration is a basic law of life; when we resist it, disintegration is the natural result, both inside and outside of us. Thus we come to the concept of harmony through integration. ~ Norman Cousins.

The most costly disease is boredom costly for both individual and society. ~ Norman Cousins.


We will not have peace by afterthought. ~ Norman Cousins.

Life is an adventure in forgiveness. ~ Norman Cousins.

Second only to freedom, learning is the most precious option on earth. ~ Norman Cousins.

It is no longer correct to regard higher education solely as a privilege. It is a basic right in today’s world. ~ Norman Cousins.

People are never more insecure than when they become obsessed with their fears at the expense of their dreams. ~ Norman Cousins.

Short Norman Cousins Quotes

The tragedy of life is not death it is what we let die inside of us while we live. ~ Norman Cousins.


Never deny a diagnosis, but do deny the negative verdict that may go with it. ~ Norman Cousins.

Drugs are not always necessary. Belief in recovery always is. ~ Norman Cousins.

All this sensory input, which begins in the brain, has its effect throughout the body. ~ Norman Cousins.

The old emphasis upon superficial differences that separate peoples must give way to education for citizenship in the human community. ~ Norman Cousins.


Each patient carries his own doctor inside him. ~ Norman Cousins.

The eternal quest of the individual human being is to shatter his loneliness. ~ Norman Cousins.

Laughter is a powerful way to tap positive emotions. ~ Norman Cousins.

If something comes to life in others because of you, then you have made an approach to immortality. ~ Norman Cousins.

We have learned to live in a world of mistakes and defective products as if they were necessary to life. It is time to adopt a new philosophy in America. ~ Norman Cousins.

An adequate share of humor and laughter represents an essential part of the diet of the healthy person. ~ Norman Cousins.


Laughter is inner jogging. ~ Norman Cousins.

Pain is part of the body’s magic. It is the way the body transmits a sign to the brain that something is wrong. ~ Norman Cousins.

Nothing is more powerful than an individual acting out their conscience, thus helping bring the collective conscience to life. ~ Norman Cousins.

Hope, purpose and determination are not merely mental states. They have electrochemical connections that affect the immune system. ~ Norman Cousins.

More and more, the choice for the world’s people is between world warriors and world citizens. ~ Norman Cousins.

The life-force may be the least understood force on earth. ~ Norman Cousins.


History is a vast early warning system. ~ Norman Cousins.

Optimism doesn’t wait on facts. It deals with prospects. Pessimism is a waste of time. ~ Norman Cousins.

A casual attitude toward human hurt and pain is the surest sign of educational failure. ~ Norman Cousins.

So these were the top 80 Norman Cousins quotes on Life, Death and Laughter.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Alvin Ailey quotes and Richard Simmons quotes.

Share with others!
Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar