Like many others, I read about the lives and work of many great artists, writers, physicists, musicians, innovators, and thinkers. But rather than quoting them, I generally prefer to share my interpretation of their ideas. I feel I haven’t assimilated their words well if I share them plain rather than kneading them with my thoughts.
Benjamin Franklin, Elon Musk, Virginia Woolf, Ruskin Bond, Rainer Maria Rilke, Vincent van Gogh, Marcel Proust, Nietzsche, Josh Waitzkin, and The Little Prince of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry — I’ve adapted lessons, inspirations, and visions of all these great human beings.
But it is not always about the source or amalgamation of motivation. Ideas and inspiration need to keep floating in the universe irrespective of where they come from. After all, we are only the means to an end, and we all need a guiding light.
In this piece, I am sharing some of the most deep, inspiring quotes about life I have come across. The hope is to read these avant-garde quotes, to come back to them whenever we need them, and sift through them even when we feel we don’t require them. Thus we keep ourselves soaked in inspiration and don’t let it deplete.
Let the journey of imagination and belief begin. (Also Read: What is Self-Improvement)
Categories in which I have organized the quotes recur and follow a random order.
If we asked out of all the things in this universe which one, if altered in a random way, would remain unchanged, the answer is a random sequence. A random sequence changed in a random way remains random. A mess remains a mess.Heinz Pagels
Powerful and Deep Quotes About Life
“There are more things likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality .”
(Read Open Letter to My Mind to see what all we worry about.)
“‘No’ is a complete sentence.”
On Human Condition.
“Pity is a paralyzing mental luxury.” ― Will Durant
“But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” — Ernest Hemingway
“To be tough is to be fragile; to be tender is to be truly fierce.” — Farhana Qazi (and other research-backed understandings about our emotions.)
“Don’t make circumstances an excuse.” — Yours Truly
On the Cosmos.
“There are no separate systems. The world is a continuum. Where to draw a boundary around a system depends on the purpose of the discussion.” ― Donella H. Meadows
On Asking Questions.
“Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves, we make poetry.” – W.B. Yeats
We should never be shy to question ourselves.
“Why does the sun go on shining? Why does the sea rush to shore? Don’t they know it’s the end of the world, ’Cause you don’t love me anymore?” — From The End Of The World by Arthur Kent and Sylvia Dee.
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” — Lao Tzu.
(Read why we need a life partner and how to find one.)
On Thinking Right.
“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” — Norman Vincent Peale
“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.” — Plutarch
On Dreams and Reality.
“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney
“Dreams are only dreams until we start working towards them.” — Yours Truly
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”
— Amelia Earhart, an author, and the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
“Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work.” — A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.
(Read why we need to continue even if we are bleeding.)
Quotes About What’s Important
“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
By keeping your life in order, you can even sleep in storms. — Yours Truly
“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”
— Thomas Jefferson.
On Getting Started.
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” — Mark Twain.
“All glory comes from daring to begin.” ― Ruskin Bond.
“Believe you can and you are halfway there .” — Theodore Roosevelt
“However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.”
— Stephen Hawking.
Be the best you can be at whatever you do, and even the invisible doors of life will open in ways unknown. (Read how to find something you can love.)
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”
— Bruce Lee
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving .” — Albert Einstein
Things work out when you move.
“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced .” — Soren Kierkegaard, an existential philosopher.
“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves .” — Henry David Thoreau
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” — Aesop
One morning, I told my cleaning lady to wait until I finished my shower so that I could make tea for her. But I couldn’t get out of the bathroom. The door was jammed. I shouted a few times so she could hear me. She heard me and pushed the door open. We can’t always see kindness flowing freely, but it always does.
“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud .” — Maya Angelou
On the Matters of Heart.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart .”
— Helen Keller
On What is Important.
“Having no limitation as limitation.” — Bruce Lee
“One of those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” — T.S. Eliot
Limitations are imaginary constructions of the human mind.
“I believe you have to be willing to be misunderstood if you’re going to innovate.” — Jeff Bezos
Don’t expect others to understand or appreciate your vision.
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking .”
— Marcus Aurelius
“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.” — Bertrand Russell
“Every society honors its live conformists and dead troublemakers.” — Mignon McLaughlin
“Boldness has genius, power and magic in it .” — W.H.Murray
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
― Rob Siltanen
(Read my journey from coding to writing: Breaking the barriers)
On the Troubles of Life.
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky .”
— Rabindranath Tagore
“Hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other.” — Rainer Maria Rilke (let life flow: another one of Rilke’s inspiration from his Letters to a Young Poet.)
“We can only be with someone if they can be with our solitude.” — Yours Truly
“History is something that very few people have been doing while everyone else was ploughing fields and carrying water buckets.” — Yuval Noah Harari, as he wrote in his book Sapiens.
A few plan, communicate, and lead. And the rest allow them.
“The shortest answer is doing the thing .” — Ernest Hemingway
On Fear. (Quotes that changed my life)
“Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.” — Rabindranath Tagore.
“No great art has ever been made without the artist having known danger.” — Rainer Maria Rilke
“Life is ours to be spent, not to be saved.” — D.H.Lawrence
I always tried to please people because I didn’t want them to be upset with me or argue with me. I was scared. Over time, I realized people will think what they want to think. I should be least bothered about what someone would say. If the other threatens my integrity or peace, I can stand up for myself. (and many other things I want to tell my younger self.)
On The Most Important.
“If one way be better than another, that you may be sure is nature’s way.” — Aristotle. [Marcus Aurelius writes this in his diary Meditations as well]
On Being Larger Than Life.
“I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death .”
— Anne Frank, as she noted down in her diary.
“Another voice in his heart was telling him that he must not fall under the sway of the past and that one can do anything with oneself.” — Leo Tolstoy (as he wrote in Anna Karenina)
It is about overcoming the fears inside.
(Read along: what is the purpose of our lives.)
“My mother was the greatest mother in the world. She thought I was the greatest thing on two feet. I’d come home with a little composition I had written at school, and she’d look at it and say, ‘It’s wonderful! You’re another Shakespeare!’ I always assumed I could do anything. It really is amazing how much that has to do with your attitude.”
— Stan Lee
First, believe. (and 13 other methods on achieving our goals.)
On Everything in Life.
“When asked, ‘How do you write?’ I invariably answer, ‘one word at a time.’” — Stephen King
You can apply this to anything in life.
(suggested read everything I have learned so far: in 4,500 words.)
On Being Larger Than Life.
“Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it .”
“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.” — R. Buckminster Fuller
Only you know what you are capable of. (and success could come from having fun.)
On Opinions and Being Right.
“Opinions are nothing, better than all is the self-contained calm of true realization. What does it matter which argument is true and which is false — what has been gained within is the real thing.” — Rabindranath Tagore writes in his book Gora.
“The time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself.” — Douglas Coupland.
On What is Important.
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.” — Rumi
“Never stop smiling not even when you’re sad, someone might fall in love with your smile.” — Gabriel Garcia Marquez. (here are some of my ideas on making others smile.)
“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.” — William Morris.
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” — Henry David Thoreau.
(these lessons on resilience and repetition from an old Himalayan woman also showed me how little details run our lives.)
“More than a gigantic pool of knowledge, a teacher should have a kind heart to facilitate the environment of learning .” — Yours Truly
Quotes On Truth of Life
“Look, further on ahead, there, between truth and falsehood, a little empty space .” — Amrita Preetam
“Live only with reason.” — Marcus Aurelius.
On Becoming Better.
“If you believe you can change and start changing your habits, the change becomes real.”
― Charles Duhigg.
(Read why are habits so important.)
On Human Condition.
“My grandfather was a wild-raspberry patch on the side of a mountain, and my grandmother was a flower garden in a concrete city .” — From The Stump Ranch Fish by Quinn Grover
Do you think you don’t belong? We all have a place in the world; sometimes, our place is the whole world.
“The business of art is to reveal the relation between man and his environment .”
— D. H. Lawrence.
Deep Inspiring Quotes On Travel and Life.
“It is not down in any map; true places never are .” — Herman Melville
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” — Martin Buber (travel inspires change)
यस्तु सञ्चरते देशान् सेवते यस्तु पण्डितान् ! तस्य विस्तारिता बुद्धिस्तैलबिन्दुरिवाम्भसि !! Meaning: The wisdom of the one who travels to many countries and serves the learned there increases as an oil drop spreads on water.
(A Sanskrit shloka that I can seem to find the source of. Please let me know if you know.)
“Stories are our souls. Write and edit and tell yours with your whole selves. Tell them as if they are all that matters. It matters that you do it as if that is all there is.” — Jacqui Banaszynski
On Human Condition.
“The human soul needs actual beauty more than bread.” — D. H. Lawrence
On Being Yourself.
“Be yourself, everyone else is taken .” — Oscar Wilde
“Life must be understood backward. But it must be lived forward.” — Søren Kierkegaard
(Read the 30 life lessons I learned in my twenties: Moving forward with pride.)
“Happiness isn’t the result of getting all the other stuff right, but something you can do right now, and that then leads to getting the other stuff right. Be happy and the reason will appear.” — Jeff Olsen (as he wrote in his book The Slight Edge)
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
I rarely quote Gandhi, but this quote emphasizes the way of nature and the way of nature is always right.
“Those who achieve the extraordinary are usually the most ordinary because they have nothing to prove to anybody. Be Humble.” — Aaron Lauritsen, as he wrote in his book 100 Days Drive
“The moment we believe that success is determined by an ingrained level of ability as opposed to resilience and hard work, we will be brittle in the face of adversity .” — Joshua Waitzkin, as he wrote in his book The Art of Learning.
Nothing special is going to come to save you.
(Read how to nurture the art of learning, inspired by Josh Waitzkin.)
On Life and the Cosmos.
“Once you lose that sense of wonder at being alive, you’re pretty much on the way out.”
— David Bowie.
“Don’t get so overshadowed by the problems, you can’t see what it is about. Don’t just scratch the surface. Fight. Strive. Bleed. Sweat. Cry. Run. Dig deep. Live.” — Yours Truly
On Love and Work.
“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” — Buddha
Devote yourself to your purpose.
(Read why work shouldn’t be boring and how to find and do what you love.)
“All of my big mistakes are when I try to second-guess or please an audience. My work is always stronger when I get very selfish about it.” — David Bowie
“What I like my music to do is awaken the ghosts inside me. Not the demons you understand, but the ghosts .” — David Bowie
Prestige or fame shouldn’t be your drive. Your only drive could be the ghosts gnawing you from the inside.
“Always go too far, because that’s where you’ll find the truth.”
On the Power of Time and Persistence.
“There’s never one sunrise the same or one sunset the same .” — Carlos Santana
“If you want to direct your life on a continual positive change, then you need to tap into the most powerful force for change in the universe. Fortunately for you, that force is always with you. That force is time.” — Jeff Olsen (as he wrote in his book The Slight Edge)
“Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.” — Ray Cummings
“If time frightens us, this is because it works out the problem and the solution comes afterward .” — Albert Camus
(Read the importance of the process of learning versus the result.)
On Human Mind.
“Once in a great while, a few times in history, a human mind produces an observation so acute and unexpected that people can’t quite decide which is the more amazing — the fact or the thinking of it .” — Bill Bryson, as said in his book A Short History of Nearly Everything
“A human being is the only animal that thinks about future.” — Daniel Gilbert, as he wrote in his book Stumbling Upon Happiness.
On Art and why we make it.
“I began to experience the fullness of winter in Kashmir, and finally understood what artist Cezanne meant when, as he painted, he attempted to capture the multiple reflections of a scene. “The landscape thinks itself in me…I am its consciousness,” he once said.”
— Farhana Qazi, quoting the French Painter Cezanne in her book Secrets of the Kashmir Valley.
(Read the 15 things we overthink about)
“Is it not a relief from suffering to be permitted to express it?”
— Paul Cézanne
On the Past and Doing Better.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” — Maya Angelou.
“To live is to learn.” — Yours Truly
“Hope is the magic carpet that transports us from the present moment into the realm of infinite possibilities .” — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
“Say not, ‘I have found the truth,’ but rather, ‘I have found a truth.’ ” — Khalil Gibran
On Human Condition.
उध्दरेदात्मनात्मानम् — udhdaredātmanātmānam — Save yourself from yourself — Swami Vivekananda
“Don’t underestimate the power of a human being. If needed, human consciousness can reach deeper than the depths of the ocean.” — Yours truly
(Read how to manipulate consciousness to change reality.)
“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it.” ― Daniel Kahneman, as he wrote in his book Thinking Fast and Slow.
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any .” — Alice Walker
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
(and other ways to excel in yours thirties)
On Being Larger Than Life.
“The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun.”
— George Orwell.
On Happiness and Experience.
“The way an experience ends is more important to us than the total amount of pleasure we receive — until we think about it .” — Daniel Gilbert, as he said in his book Stumbling Upon Happiness.
“We don’t just treasure our memories. We are our memories.” — Daniel Gilbert, as he illustrated in his book Stumbling on Happiness.
On Happiness and Human Condition.
“We treat our future selves as though they were our children, spending most of the hours of our days constructing tomorrows that we hope will make them happy .” — Daniel Gilbert, as he explained in his book Stumbling Upon Happiness.
“To be a human being means to possess a feeling of inferiority which constantly presses towards its own conquest. The greater the feeling of inferiority that has been experienced, the more powerful is the urge for conquest and the more violent the emotional agitation.” ― Alfred Adler
(Read how to choose between ambition and happiness, lessons inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche.)
On the Redundancy of Abundance.
“So much is available, almost nothing can be found .” — Pico Iyer
On Human Condition.
“And dimly she realized one of the great laws of the human soul: that when the emotional soul receives a wounding shock, which does not kill the body, the soul seems to recover as the body recovers. But this is only appearance. It is really only the mechanism of the re-assumed habit. Slowly, slowly the wound to the soul begins to make itself felt, like a bruise, which only slowly deepens its terrible ache, till it fills all the psyche. And when we think we have recovered and forgotten, it is then that the terrible after-effects have to be encountered at their worst.”
— David Herbert Lawrence, as he wrote in his book Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
Time only seems to cover up a wound while the experience seeps into the deepest crevices of our consciousness.
On Being Larger Than Life.
“One who daily puts the finishing touches to his life is never in want of time.”
— Seneca, as he noted in Letters From A Stoic.
“Live as if no one is watching.” — Yours Truly
On Doing Less.
“Most people think that big success is time-consuming and complicated. As a result, their calendars and to-do lists become overloaded and overwhelming. Success starts to feel out of reach so they settle for less. Unaware that big success comes when we do a few things well, they get lost trying to do too much and in the end accomplish too little. Over time they lower their expectations, abandon their dreams, and allow their life to get small. This is the wrong thing to make small.
Going small is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do. It is recognizing that not all things matter equally and finding the things that matter most. When you go as small as possible, you will be staring at one thing. And that’s the point .”
— Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, as they explained in their book The One Thing.
“I thought that I needed your apology to move on. I really needed to forgive myself first.”
— Najwa Zebian.
When someone wrongs us, we need to forgive ourselves for expecting what we did from that person.
On Our Needs and Truth.
“Necessity is not an established fact, but an interpretation .” — Friedrich Nietzsche
“We need much less than we think we do.” — Yours Truly
“The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is.” — Kurt Vonnegut
On Human Condition.
“Caught in the deluge, we were torn — wanting to run for shelter but tempted, also, to sing in the rain .” — Joyce Maynard, as she wrote in An 18-Year-Old Looks Back on Life.
On Being Larger Than Life.
“To use your head you have to go out of your mind.” — Timothy Leary
One moment is dark, and the next moment there is light, you don’t have the slightest hint of what is going to come next, then why do you knit your brows, smile for the now, smile for the blue sky under which you sleep, smile for the bright moon that gives strength, smile for the bread you have just had, smile for you still breathe, because you don’t know what would happen the next moment, but don’t be scared, for you cannot change anything, all you can do is face the today fearlessly, and that might just do it. Yours Truly.
Quotes on Everything in Life
To live in this world you must be able to do three things to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go. By Mary Oliver, as said in the poem “In Blackwater Woods”.
To the Great Ocean, Of the sunken arm that throws up a drop of water nothing remains but a kiss of salt. Of the bodies of mankind along your shores a misty scent of wet flowers is all that lasts. Your energy seems to slip away without ever being exhausted, it seems to circle back into your calm. Pablo Neruda
With every click of the shutter, you’re trying to press pause on your life. If only so you can feel a little more comfortable moving on living in a world stuck on play Morii, From Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.
So few grains of happiness measured against all the dark and still the scales balance. The world asks of us only the strength we have and we give it. Then it asks more, and we give it. by Jane Hirshfield.
In a moment, a moment is gone. Let’s spend it with reason.
Which one of these deep meaningful quotes on life did you relate to the most? Tell me in the comments.
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