Below you’ll find some of my favorite “life” quotes. I have another post that contains my favorite political quotes.
“If you want to go fast, go alone, If you want to go far, go together” —African Proverb
James Allen (1864-1912)
“Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.”—James Allen, As a Man Thinketh, 1902
Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy and strength and peace.”—James Allen, As a Man Thinketh, 1902
"We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.”—Author unknown
“The real measure of your wealth is how much you'd be worth if you lost all your money.”—Author unknown
“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”—Author unknown
"An ounce of 'I didn't say it' is worth a pound of 'I didn't mean it'."—Author unknown
"Those whose Bibles are falling apart seldom have lives that do."—Author unknown
Old Mr. Squirrel
The Squirrel family long since learned
That things are best when duly earned;
That play and fun are found in work
By him who does not try to shirk.
—Thornton W. Burgess,
“How Old Mr. Squirrel Became Thrifty”,
Mother West Wind “How” Stories, 1916
"One of the ironies of life is that we acquire love as we give it away; we increase in knowledge as we dispense what we have."—Tad R. Callister, The Infinite Atonement
“[c]riticism is futile because it puts a man on the defensive, and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous because it wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses his resentment.” Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, 1936
"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."—Calvin Coolidge
“It is characteristic of the unlearned that they are forever proposing something which is old, and because it has recently come to their own attention, supposing it to be new.”
"A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd"—James Crook. Note, this quote is often attributed to Max Lucado. However, I found a reference to the quote, attributed to James Crook, in a 1953 issue of The Defender, a Christian magazine. Max was born in 1955.
Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues
- Temperance.—Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
- Silence.—Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
- Order.—Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
- Resolution.—Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
- Frugality.—Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; that is, waste nothing.
- Industry.—Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
- Sincerity.—Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
- Justice.—Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
- Moderation.—Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
- Cleanliness.—Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
- Tranquility.—Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
- Chastity .....
- Humility.—Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these virtues, I judged it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and, when I should be master of that, then to proceed to another; and so on, till I should have gone through the thirteen. And, as the previous acquisition of some might facilitate the acquisition of certain others, I arranged them with that view, as they stand above.—Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, p 149
“Widespread distrust in a society imposes a kind of tax on all forms of economic activity, a tax that high-trust societies do not have to pay.”—Francis Fukuyama, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity, 1995
7 Social Sins,
- Politics without Principle
- Wealth without Work
- Pleasure without Conscience
- Knowledge without Character
- Commerce without Morality
- Science without Humanity
- Worship without Sacrifice
source: Gandhi Heritage Portal
"If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be."—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Skate to where the puck’s going, not where it’s been.”—Wayne Gretzky, hockey legend
There are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition. May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another person? We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. ...
Envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving. Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know!—Jeffrey R. Holland, The Laborers in the Vineyard, April 2012
William George Jordan (1864-1928)
“The second most deadly instrument of destruction is the gun—the first is the human tongue. The gun merely kills bodies; the tongue kills reputations and, ofttimes, ruins characters. Each gun works alone; each loaded tongue has a hundred accomplices. The havoc of the gun is visible at once. The full evil of the tongue lives through all the years; even the eye of Omniscience might grow tired in tracing it to its finality.”—William George Jordan, "The Crimes of the Tongue", The Kingship of Self-Control, 1898
"There are many people in this world who want to live life over because they take such pride in their past. They resemble the beggars in the street who tell you they “have seen better days.” It is not what man was that shows character; it is what he progressively is."—William George Jordan, The Kingship of Self-Control, 1898, (HTML, PDF)
“True marriage is the consecrated comradeship of husband and wife, made permanent by love and mutual respect. It is the harmonizing of two individualities in a common interest, not the sacrifice of one to the other. The suppression of the individuality of either endangers the real happiness of both.”—William George Jordan, "Respect for Each Other’s Individuality", Little Problems of Married Life, 1910
“In life as in war there are times when the wisest course is simply to stand still, to rest on one’s arms, to watch and to wait. When a mist of uncertainty enshrouds us and life seems to come to a pause, when we do not know just what to do, it is best to await the sunshine of revealing that will show us our way.”—William George Jordan, “The Red Blood of Courage”, The Trusteeship of Life, 1921, (HTML, PDF)
“The final test of the men of the ages is not what they had, but what they did with it.”—William George Jordan, The Trusteeship of Life, 1921
“Those who wisely live within an income rarely have to face the problem of trying to live without one.”—William George Jordan, “Providing for the Future”, Little Problems of Married Life, 1910
“It is only the progressive, installment plan Nature recognizes. No man can make a habit in a moment or break it in a moment. It is a matter of development, of growth. But at any moment man may begin to make or begin to break any habit. This view of the growth of character should be a mighty stimulus to the man who sincerely desires and determines to live nearer to the limit of his possibilities.”—William George Jordan, The Kingship of Self-Control, 1898, (HTML, PDF)
“There are two great things that education should do for the individual—It should train his senses, and teach him to think. Education, as we know it to-day, does not truly do either; it gives the individual only a vast accumulation of facts, unclassified, undigested, and seen in no true relations. Like seeds kept in a box, they may be retained, but they do not grow.”—William George Jordan, "Mental Training", 1894
Chapter I: The Crown of Individuality
"The world needs more individuality in its men and women. It needs them with the joy of individual freedom in their minds, the fresh blood of honest purpose in their hearts, and the courage of truth in their souls. It needs more people daring to think their own highest thoughts and strong vibrant voices to speak them, not human phonographs mechanically giving forth what someone else has talked into them. The world needs men and women led by the light of truth alone, and as powerless to suppress their highest convictions as Vesuvius to restrain its living fire.”
“If at the close of day we can think of even one human being whose sky has been darkened by our selfishness, one whose burden has been new-weighted by our unkindness, one whose pillow will be wet with sobs for our injustice, one whose faith in humanity has been weakened at a crucial moment by our bitterness or cruelty, let us make quick atonement. Let us write the letter our heart impels us to write, while foolish pride would stay the hand; let us speak the confession that will glorify the lips we fear it may humiliate; let us stretch out the hand of love in the darkness till it touches and inspires the faithful one that possibly never caused us real pain.”
Chapter II: No Room for Them in the Inn
“True living brings peace to the soul, fibre to character, kingship over self, inspiration to others, but not necessarily—money and material prosperity”
Chapter III: Facing the Mistakes of Life
“Mistakes are the growing pains of wisdom, the assessments we pay on our stock of experience, the raw material of error to be transformed into higher living. Without them there would be no individual growth, no progress, no conquest.”
Chapter IV: The Sculpted Figures of Society
“Religion to be worth aught must transform and sweeten and better lives or—it is only a self-deceiving formula. It must be a living impetus making them bear bravely their own burdens; it must broaden their shoulders to stand the strain of others’ needs; it must make them active, virile, aggressive, inspiring powers in the world. Religion, to be really worthwhile, should, by their living, fill men’s hearts with love, truth, right, justice, sweetness, honesty, faith, charity, trust and peace.”
Chapter V: The Hungers of Life
Chapter VI: Throwing Away Our Happiness
Chapter VII: At the Turn of the Road
Chapter VIII: Sitting in the Seat of Judgment
“Character is not a simple, uniform product. It cannot be judged as dress-goods—by a yard or so of sample unrolled from a bolt on the counter. It is complex, confused, uncertain, changing, subject to moods that contradict our conclusions. While knowing all this we dare to construct the whole life and character of one we may have never even met. We build it from a few hints, slurs, idle comments, or the vague rumours or absolute lies of newspaper reports—as scientists reconstruct an unknown prehistoric animal from a few bones. One judges a painting by the full view of the whole canvas; separate isolated square inches of colour are meaningless. Yet we dare to judge our fellow man by single acts and words, misleading glimpses, and deceptive moments of special strain. From these we magnify a mood into a character and an episode into a life”
Chapter IX: The Inspiration of Possibilities
Chapter X: Forgetting as a Fine Art
Chapter XI: The Victoria Cross of Happiness
Chapter XII: The Crimes of Respectability
“Gossip is one of the popular crimes that has caused infinitely more sorrow in life than—murder. It is drunkenness of the tongue; it is assassination of reputations. It runs the cowardly gamut from mere ignorant, impertinent intrusion into the lives of others to malicious slander.”
Chapter XIII: Optimism That Really Counts
Chapter XIV: The Power of Individual Purpose
Chapter XV: When We Forget the Equity
Chapter XVI: Running Away from Life
Chapter XVII: The Dark Valley of Prosperity
Chapter I: The Majesty of Calmness
No man in the world ever attempted to wrong another without being injured in return,—someway, somehow, sometime.
Chapter II: Hurry the Scourge of America
Everything that is great in life is the product of slow growth; the newer, and greater, and higher, and nobler the work, the slower is its growth, the surer is its lasting success. Mushrooms attain their full power in a night; oaks require decades. A fad lives its life in a few weeks; a philosophy lives through generations and centuries.
Chapter III: The Power of Personal Influence
Man’s conscious influence, when he is on dress-parade, when he is posing to impress those around him,—is woefully small. But his unconscious influence, the silent, subtle radiation of his personality, the effect of his words and acts, the trifles he never considers,—is tremendous.
Chapter IV: The Dignity of Self-Reliance
Man can develop his self-reliance by seeking constantly to surpass himself. We try too much to surpass others. If we seek ever to surpass ourselves, we are moving on a uniform line of progress, that gives a harmonious unifying to our growth in all its parts.
Chapter V: Failure as a Success
Life is not really what comes to us, but what we get from it.
Chapter VI: Doing Our Best at All Times
The man who has a pessimist’s doubt of all things; who demands a certified guarantee of his future; who ever fears his work will not be recognized or appreciated; or that after all, it is really not worth-while, will never live his best. He is dulling his capacity for real progress by his hypnotic course of excuses for inactivity, instead of a strong tonic of reasons for action.
Chapter VII: The Royal Road to Happiness
Content makes the world more comfortable for the individual, but it is the death-knell of progress. Man should be content with each step of progress merely as a station, discontented with it as a destination; contented with it as a step; discontented with it as a finality. There are times when a man should be content with what he has, but never with what he is
“Happiness consists not of having, but of being; not of possessing, but of enjoying. It is the warm glow of a heart at peace with itself.”
“Unhappiness is the hunger to get; happiness is the hunger to give… If the individual should set out for a single day to give happiness, to make life happier, brighter and sweeter, not for himself but for others, he would find a wondrous revelation of what happiness really is.”
“Happiness represents a peaceful attunement of a life with a standard of living. It can never be made by the individual, by himself, for himself. It is one of the incidental by-products of an unselfish life.”
“Happiness is the greatest paradox in Nature. It can grow in any soil, live under any conditions. It defies environment. It comes from within; it is the revelation of the depths of the inner life as light and heat proclaim the sun from which they radiate.”
Truth can stand alone, for it needs no chaperone or escort. Lies are cowardly, fearsome things that must travel in battalions. They are like a lot of drunken men, one vainly seeking to support another.
Lying is the partner and accomplice of all the other vices. It is the cancer of moral degeneracy in an individual life.
When a man discovers a great truth in Nature he has the key to the understanding of a million phenomena; when he grasps a great truth in morals he has in it the key to his spiritual re-creation.
A lie may live for a time, truth for all time. A lie never lives by its own vitality; it merely continues to exist because it simulates truth. When it is unmasked, it dies.
The great question of life is not 'What have I?' but 'What am I?
Where there is untruth there is always conflict, discrepancy, impossibility. If all the truths of life and experience from the first second of time, or for any section of eternity, were brought together, there would be perfect harmony, perfect accord, union and unity, but if two lies come together, they quarrel and seek to destroy each other.
In speech, the man who makes Truth his watchword is careful in his words, he seeks to be accurate, neither understating nor over-coloring. He never states as a fact that of which he is not sure. What he says has the ring of sincerity, the hallmark of pure gold. If he praises you, you accept his statement as “net,” you do not have to work out a problem in mental arithmetic on the side to see what discount you ought to make before you accept his judgment. His promise counts for something, you accept it as being as good as his bond, you know that no matter how much it may cost him to verify and fulfill is word by his deed, he will do it. His honesty is not policy. The man who is honest merely because it is “the best policy,” is not really honest, he is only politic. Usually such a man would forsake his seeming loyalty to truth and would work overtime for the devil ― if he could get better terms.
Let us conceive of gratitude in its largest, most beautiful sense, that if we receive any kindness we are debtor, not merely to one man, but to the whole world. As we are each day indebted to thousands for the comforts, joys, consolations, and blessings of life, let us realize that it is only by kindness to all that we can begin to repay the debt to one, begin to make gratitude the atmosphere of all our living and a constant expression in outward acts, rather than in mere thoughts.
“My challenge to you is simple but often very difficult … wear your armor of integrity … take full measure of its weight … find comfort in its protection … do not become lax. And always, always, remember that no one can take your integrity from you … you and only you can give it away!”—General Charles C. Krulak, USMC retired
"Integrity", Remarks at Joint Services Conference on Professional Ethics, Jan 27, 2000
“I think I can understand that feeling about a housewife’s work being like that of Sisyphus (who was the stone rolling gentleman). But it is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, miners, cars, government etc. exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? As Dr. Johnson said, “To be happy at home is the end of all human endeavour”. (1st to be happy to prepare for being happy in our own real home hereafter: 2nd in the meantime to be happy in our houses.) We wage war in order to have peace, we work in order to have leisure, we produce food in order to eat it. So your job is the one for which all others exist …,”—CS Lewis, “Letter to Mrs. Ashton”, Letters of C.S. Lewis, C. S. Lewis Pte, Ltd., 1988, p 447
“Sometimes we feel like if we could just increase our span of control we could affect great change; so we spend our energy trying to gain control. Once we achieve this we find that yet more control is needed. What we should do is spend our efforts expanding our field of influence. Influence must be earned but can span continents and generations.”—Rod Mann, March 2013
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”—Apostle Paul, I Corinthians 13:1
“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.”—W.T. Purkiser
“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original”—Ken Robinson with Lou Aronica, The Element, 2009, p. 15.
“If you wish to achieve financial success, if you wish to be happy, if you wish to be healthy, if you would be morally clean, if you wish to find religious peace of mind, there is only one sure way, and that is the straight and narrow path—the way of honor, the way of industry, of moderation, simplicity, and virtue.” —Pres. N. Eldon Tanner, Success is Gauged by Self Mastery,General Conference, Apr 1975.
“What do you suppose pilots do when they encounter turbulence? A student pilot may think that increasing speed is a good strategy because it will get them through the turbulence faster. But that may be the wrong thing to do. Professional pilots understand that there is an optimum turbulence penetration speed that will minimize the negative effects of turbulence. And most of the time that would mean to reduce your speed.
“... When stress levels rise, when distress appears, when tragedy strikes, too often we attempt to keep up the same frantic pace or even accelerate, thinking somehow that the more rushed our pace, the better off we will be.
“... it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions.”—Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Of Things That Matter Most", October 2010
“Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things: in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself. And so on the contrary.”—Susanna Wesley, Letter to son, John Wesley, 8 Jan 1725, Adam Clarke, Memoirs of the Wesley Family, 1823, p 270