Quote: folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be (1914 attrib Lincoln)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 16 18:10:43 UTC 2012

Folks are usually about as happy as they make up their minds to be

Lincoln is a powerful quote magnet, and the words above are often
assigned to him (with several variations). While I was exploring an
essay called "Just for Today" I first came across this saying and the
ascription to Lincoln embedded in a 1921 instance of the essay by Dr.
Frank Crane:


I was able to push back the date of the Lincoln attribution to 1914,
and that is the earliest I've found so far. It is also from Dr. Frank

Cite: 1914 January 01, Syracuse Herald, New Year's Resolutions by Dr.
Frank Crane, Unnumbered Page (NewsArch Page 16), Column 4, Syracuse,
New York (NewspaperArchive)
[Begin excerpt]
Resolve to be happy. Remember Lincoln's saying that "folks are usually
about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
[End excerpt]

In 1916 Crane presented another version of the quotation:

Cite: 1916 July 23, Boston Globe, Plain Talk for Plain People by Dr.
Frank Crane, Page 44, Column 8, Boston, Massachusetts. (ProQuest)
[Begin excerpt]
Do you remember what Lincoln said?  It was this:
"I have noticed that most people in this world are about as happy as
they  have made up their minds to be."
[End excerpt]

Dale Carnegie included a version in his most famous book and his
newspaper column.

Cite: 1937 December 1, Boston Globe, Dale Carnegie: Author of 'How to
Win Friends and Influence People': Think In Others Terms by Dale
Carnegie, Page 19, Boston, Massachusetts. (ProQuest)
[Begin excerpt]
Abraham Lincoln once said: "We're just about as happy as we make up
our minds to be," and how true that is!
[End excerpt]

Researcher Ralph Keyes explored the quotation:

Cite: 2006, The Quote Verifier by Ralph Keyes, Page 129, St Martin’s
Griffin, New York. (Verified on paper)
[Begin excerpt]
"People are about as happy as they make up their minds to  be."
This popular Internet quotation is usually attributed to Lincoln. It
doesn't sound like him, however, and no evidence has been offered that
he ever said or wrote this. It has appeared in unreliable collections
of  Lincolniana, and was attributed to Lincoln in the 1960 film
[End excerpt]

If a list member finds a cite before 1914 or an attribution to someone
other than Lincoln I would be much obliged. Thanks.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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