10 Quotes That Have Given Me Perspective on Life (So Far…)

Sometimes, as much as we rely on our parents, teachers, religion  and other authoritative forces in our lives to give us guidance and help us to shape our beliefs, we can find enlightenment in the most unexpected of places. Like many, I’ve grown up thinking the aforementioned would help me mold firm principles and my credo on life. I also thought that where those figures left a hole or two in, I could turn to the great philosophers of our time to make up the discrepancies. The fame around their names had elevated them to a pedestal because – perhaps – it turned out, they were right about a lot of things?

Ironically, it has turned out that when I chose to create my book of “truths,”— you could say — a lot of the words of wisdom I was logging seemed to come from fictional characters in books and movies, friends, celebrities,  and only a few from people of power and authority.

Each time I recorded someone’s words into my book of quotes, I knew I was doing it because something had clicked when I came across them the first time. It was like a lesson in disguise — a truth it seemed I already had accepted to be valid (at least in my life) but had just needed someone else to voice. Five years later, my pen still scratches away on the pages — strengthening, adjusting, and adhering to new truths everyday. Each new experience and junction uncovers something new, always leaving me thinking, “Hm,  what now?”

Below are the 10 quotes that have give me the most perspective on life thus far. Perhaps they will give you the same:

1.)  “We hate in general and accept in particular.”

These were the words of my high school yearbook teacher. Looking around in our conservative East Texas town, our country and the world in general,  I could see how unfortunately true this was. Stereotypes exist because we tend to expect certain people to be a certain way, but we open our hearts to the one or two that make the exception from “the rest.” It definitely made me work harder not to hold negativity towards an entire group of people even though history or statistics may make it instinctive to do so.

2.) “There is nothing greater than a ‘Thank you.'”

I have to say I can hold a lot of weight to these words of Maya Angelou. There isn’t a person in the world who doesn’t ache — even a little — when their actions go unnoticed. Such a small gesture to say those two small words, but when filled with genuine appreciation, they can turn someone’s day completely around. I know they do for me, at least. I believe it’s possible to be selfless in your actions for someone else, but even for the most selfless giver,”Thank you,” can feel like the most precious gift in return.

3.) “Think of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”

The wise words of Liz Bennet from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice have helped me from longing for wonderful memories that are just those: memories. Sometimes when life’s topsy-turvy roller-coaster is on one of its dives, you can find yourself glum simply because the good times are in the past. Yearning for something you can’t have — especially when you know how wonderful it was (as I’m sure many will agree) only makes it harder to cope with not having it. I have found at least attempting not to miss the past so much that it makes you mournful makes it easier for the memories to fill you with joy knowing they were yours to experience in the first place.

4.) “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than the things I haven’t done.”

Lucille Ball, the Queen of Comedy, and my all-time idol couldn’t have been a more perfect person to utter these words. As someone who had seen her share of failures and faux pas, she only became what she did because of what she learned from her mistakes. Sometimes we tend to beat ourselves up about all things we do wrong — whether in everyday conversation, decisions in our personal lives, careers, or whatever else! And the truth is, it really is in the past, and although it is definitely easier said than done — Lucy’s words go well with Lizzie Bennet’s from above. Why dwell on something that makes you unhappy? Now you know what not to do again, and hey — you’ve got the experience under your belt to know why.

5.) But love…is more than three words mumbled before bedtime. Love is sustained by action, a pattern of devotion in the things we do for each other everyday.”

These were the words of Wilson Lewis from Nicholas Sparks‘ novel, The Wedding,  and honestly — it is one of the truthful and simplistic ways to describe what real love is. It’s so easy to say you love someone, but showing it is different. And often, I feel that people are quick to say the words to their close ones, but when it comes to taking extensive actions to prove it — even in the simplest of ways: by not hurting them, by being kind and patient, by being understanding, and most importantly — being consistent in all these actions, a lot of people fail. This character’s words really helped me to define my notions of what I was willing to do for those I loved, and what I expected from those who said they loved me.

6.) “You can only be who you are.”

Actress Keira Knightley spoke this set of words, and it was a truth I had always accepted for myself and made me happy to see someone else felt the need to say out loud. There is always room for improvement in every single person, but sometimes there are things we have to stop trying to change about others, and learn to accept. Everyone has his own unique qualities, quirks, and neuroses —  and it’s those things that we all have, but sometimes just fail to recognize when they’re not our own. At the end of the day, we just want to be accepted — but so does everyone else.

7.) “Anger is the feeling that makes your mouth work faster than your mind.”

I could have jumped and screamed “OH MY GOSH, YES!!!” when I came across this quote by Evan Esar. One thing that I have learned the hard way — far too many times — is that words can never be taken back, and they definitely hurt more than sticks and stones breaking your bones. If there has been one vow I’ve taken that I take very seriously is to never let my emotions — especially anger — get hold of my tongue. It’s not worth it to say something hurtful, and then have to swear and promise that “you didn’t mean it” even if you really didn’t. Then, why say it? It’s also one thing that I am very unforgiving about. “I was mad” is not a valid excuse and free reign to cut someone open.

8.) “You only get so many moments in your life, that if you are not afraid to be yourself, you can make your wildest dreams a reality.”

Again, this was an example of an Average Joe voicing something that I found so incredibly true, it only solidified my belief in it. These were the words of dance member “Pacman” from the Houston dance crew IaMmE that won their season’s title on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew. The group was such an inspirational bunch, I nearly cried when they won. A group of larger-than-life dreamers who saw their wildest dream come to reality because they — as simply as Pacman said — were themselves. They took the plunge and pursued their passion in one of those rare moments that life presented them. I’ve seen for myself first-hand that he’s right, like when I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to meet Oprah and  I  let my inhibitions down 150% and went for it — I was my crazy self, and it paid off, and I got to meet her and half the heart-t0-heart I’ve always dreamt about! And now, I especially know it’s not just true for one person.

9.) “Love is a gift…not an obligation.”

I had seen the movie Fools Rush In about a hundred times before this quote really hit me. Salma Hayek’s character, Isabel Fuentes, screams this out to her husband, played by Mathew Perry. It struck me one day when I saw this scene and was mouthing the words before they were even said — she’s so right. It’s the simple answer behind the mystery  that countless numbers of hopeless men and women try to figure out: “why won’t he/she love me?” (And as a result, often get angry when it doesn’t come from someone they feel it should.) Humans are wired to believe that love is deserved to us — especially by those like our parents, friends, and [current] lovers. But the truth is, you can’t force someone to love you. And truthfully, it’s in no one’s contract that they have to — so when there is someone who does love you — why don’t we appreciate it more? It can be gone the next day, and then what — you’ll guilt them into doing it again? Yeah – that doesn’t work.

10.) “This, too, shall pass.”

This very well-known quote from King Solomon’s folktale has helped me to accept a lot in my life: the good and the bad. It reminds me that the bad will pass — either it will get worse or it will get better. It doesn’t give me a false perspective that things will always get better, but things never stay stagnant for long. On the other hand, it helps me to appreciate what is good — because again, it can either get better or it’ll go downhill. Change is constant, and knowing times will pass really have helped me to remember to keep looking forward and take what life throws at me: to appreciate it or just ride it out.

What are some great quotes that have given you perspective on life, and who did they come from?


20 thoughts on “10 Quotes That Have Given Me Perspective on Life (So Far…)

  1. I love your quote #7….I have definitely been letting my anger get the better of my tongue recently, and I DO regret it. You are right – if I have to apologize for it, I should not say it to begin with…

    • Yes, like I said – my absolute strongest. And I say it as the person in the other shoe who has dealt with way too many people who are quick to hurt b/c THEY’RE angry and hurt. There’s just no excuse for saying things you don’t mean. I’m glad it struck a chord with you! 🙂

    • Thanks so much for reading and telling me what you thought! It’s something I’ve been wanting to write, and I know people can always use someone else’s wisdom even if they’re not looking for it! 🙂

  2. I don’t have some witty comment about how much this enlightened me – I just couldn’t agree more with all of those quotes. Especially the anger one…so true.

    Well-written and fun to read. And it’s rare to find a writer who loves writing with dashes – because they rock – just as much as I do.

    • Thank you! So very happy to hear that, really! Especially that the anger quote is resonating so much with so many people b/c that one especially should be something people think about.

      And I literally laughed out loud about the dashes! Haha – I love dashes!! Thanks for reading 🙂

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  4. This whole post expresses a truth I’ve been chewing on recently, chiefly that much of what we know we know on authority and that authority comes from the bottom up and not the other way around. You have given each of these quotes authority in your life and it doesn’t matter who said them; Liz Bennett-or rather Jane Austen through the imaginary lips of Ms. Bennett, Lucille Ball, or a high school teacher. I have heard pearls drop from the mouths of small children and men who lived most of their lives in prison or on the streets. And because something in what they said resonated truth I gave them authority. I believed them, and that act, that simple acceptance gave their words, and to a lesser extent the person themselves authority in my life. This makes me feel more free than I have in thirty years. At this point in my life I do not have to nod and agree simply because a person holds a position or title. I can respectfully decide not to give their words authority, not to believe them. Just writing that now gives me a small measure of courage to take the next step with my blog. I am often terrified of publishing it too broadly as I might offend people I love. Perhaps what they will have to understand is that I still love them but some of their words have lost authority in my life. Thanks for the post.

    • Great thoughts! And thank you for the comment — so happy that you’ve found that enlightenment! I completely agree with you that you can find that insight, and I feel like that’s how I got started with my book, too. I just realized that you’ll find inspiration, truth and wisdom in the most unlikeliest of places, but you just have to let your ears and mind be open to letting it in to register!

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