10 Life Quotes and Lessons to Live By

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Quotes to live by

10 Quotes to Live By

Spouting “profound” life quotes on a daily basis gets old, but you hear it everywhere. So why am I writing an article called “10 Life Quotes and Lessons to Live By?”, if I’m so anti-quote?

The issue is the fact that some people just quote all day and repeat them without internalizing the message behind it. It doesn’t feel genuine when and I’m not convinced that they really believe in it.

Instead, you need to use life quotes to internalize the ideas. Once you do that, you can move on from the quote and truly understand how to be happy.

To me, profound life quotes serve as a reminder when we’ve forgotten the concepts. We shouldn’t rely on quotes for repetition’s sake.

Use the amazing quotes and live by the meaning, not just the words.

With that said, here are some ideas and quotes to live by. These focus on different aspects of life and I expand on them to get you pumped and excited for personal development. Focus on the message and begin to implement the life lessons.

Motivation

Louis CK Life Lessons‘I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.’” -Louis C.K.

This is perhaps my favorite life quote of them all.

Everyone knows that the universe is vast, we’re like ants compared to blah blah blah blah. Do you really want to feel like the world is great and amazing?

Think of it like this. All of us are the protagonist to our own story right? We’re the main character because we’re living our lives through our lens. Everyone else is a support or side character.

Guess what? Other people are thinking this exact same thing. You’re just a side character in their great story.

We cannot possibly understand how complex the lives of others are. They all have memories and events that brought them to where they are today and molded their personality. We can pinpoint a lot of our defining moments, but we often assume other people are just the way they are.

Life is complex and amazing. Everyone is living these lives that we cannot see. Just like your mind, everyone else’s mind goes on forever.

Because of that, you cannot say life is uninteresting. You don’t get to be bored. If you find yourself bored, go around and talk to others. Learn their life stories and spread happiness.

Inaction

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” -Seneca

This quote can be interpreted many ways. Personally, I like to think of it as motivation against inaction.

You can make all the excuses you want. Maybe the timing isn’t right. Maybe there’s too much risk involved. In your head, it seems like what you want to do is difficult and impossible.

The things we want to do are only hard because we trap ourselves in our own thoughts. We invent excuses as to why we can’t do something and by the end of the day, it seems too hard. So we do nothing.

I can’t even count the amount of times where I used to let my fear of rejection control me. There have been so many women that I flirted with and let the opportunity go to waste. No followup lunch, no “Punch your number into my phone.” All because I let the fear of rejection take control.

It’s only ridiculous because I didn’t even dare to make the attempt. It seemed like the hardest thing in the world and so I did nothing.

Get out of your head. It isn’t hard at all, but you won’t go anywhere by sitting and feeling sorry for yourself. Get up and take action. When you tell yourself it’s too hard then you automatically default into failure. How can you expect anything if you don’t make the attempt?

Insecurity

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” -Steve Furtick

Do you always compare yourself to others? I know I do. Hell, I do it on a daily basis.

I look at the people around me and I’m astonished by how confident they all appear. Even though people always tell me I’m confident, I still feel as if I’m a chump when I’m at my low points.

Sometimes when I get nervous I talk FAST. Ridiculously fast. I look around and I see how calm and collected everyone else appears as they speak at a normal rate. This makes me insecure because I’m babbling on like an idiot while the world is on another beat.

It’s because I’m constantly comparing my worst moments with other people’s best moments. We all have our moments of ups and downs. It’s so easy to get caught up in how terrible we are that we forget other people mess up too. We don’t even notice other people’s mistakes because we don’t care about that. We are too busy comparing ourselves to their best moments. 

Stop thinking about your behind-the-scenes and begin to focus on your highlight reel. Hell, make it a goal to play on your highlights for as long as you can every day.

Ernest Hemingway on active listening

Active Listening

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
–Ernest Hemingway

I’ve covered life quotes to live by from Ernest Hemingway before, but the man is profound and he is worth mentioning again.

The importance of active listening needs to be taught in classes because most people never listen. That is true and you need to remember that. No one feels heard, seen, or wanted. People can pick up the difference when they notice you actively listening to them. You’ll be the one that stands out and they’ll naturally like you more.

It’s crazy because active listening is so powerful.

I’ll be honest, I’m not perfect at this. There are often times I’m too excited with what’s going on in my own life. When this happens, I forget to listen to others and I dominate conversations without stopping to listen. Most people are like this on a daily basis. Every conversation is a struggle for the spotlight.

We all need to keep in mind the advice of Hemingway. Listen completely, because no one else will.

Being Yourself

“Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” -Judy Garland

Judy GarlandOnce upon a time, I forgot how to be myself. I had moved from an elementary where I was worshipped and praised, to a school where I was all alone.

I didn’t have the old comfort of my friends or the status of a king. It was a restart.

As a result, I began to act less like myself and began to be what I thought others would like. I began to curse more than I normally would, play games I didn’t enjoy, and copy people who I thought were “cool.”

None of this made me happier. All it did was attract people who were nothing like me. It taught me that I shouldn’t try to be someone else because that never works out. You’ll either fail miserably at it or attract the wrong people. Being who you really are will allow you to become a better person along the road and attract the right people.

My story, of course, had a happy ending. I remembered who I was, embraced it, and found friends of high-quality that I can call amazing.

Desires

“Freedom is secured not by the fulfillment of one’s desires, but by the removal of desire.” –Epictetus

Have you ever noticed how your happiness only increases for a short period of time once you get what you wanted? That’s called hedonic adaptation.

When you finally achieve what you wanted, you’re only happier for a short period of time before finally baselining to where you originally were. Life is always this never-ending chase between one desire to the next. That’s no way to live a happy life.

This is perhaps the most difficult part for me to control. For example, when I created this website, things blew up instantly. I was already getting decent traffic, I had the chance to use the skills I learned through this site to create a great resume, and I was meeting interesting people. Without a doubt, I was happier for a while. Now as things progress, I find myself wanting more and I’m beginning to baseline to my original level of happiness

I keep myself sane and practice removing the constant desire for more by using Stoicism.

Excellence

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” –Steve Jobs

Although I am obviously not the best at everything, I still try my best to set an example for others. When I do this, I notice that it creates an environment where everyone is doing well. It’s like healthy competition and it is infectious.

It can be something simple. You can always be punctual even when your friends are always 10 minutes late. Maybe you can start training yourself to function without caffeine. Or for something even more difficult, stop gossipping and actively discourage it.

I know people LOVE gossip. Hell, I used to be King of Gossip just five years ago. Then I changed for the better and realized that talking about others is not a good thing. It can only hurt feelings and besides, if you can talk badly about others to someone, they’ll wonder if you do the same to them.

Set the example. Others will follow along.

Failure and Moving On

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” -Johnny CashJohnny Cash Life Quotes

People are really afraid of failing. I understand, I really do.

But there is a difference between the fear of failure and fearing it to the extent of inaction. You’ve got to change your mindset. Failure is an opportunity you can use to learn and improve on what led you to fail last time.

It’s not about forcing yourself to forget about the failures in life because then you won’t learn. It’s about not letting it control you and letting yourself dwell on each mistake.

Life is so much more than that one mistake you made. It’s not about that one wrong thing you said to the person you like either. A lot of my friends tell me they wish they could forget about the past. Why? Use the past as a point of self-reflection and grow from it.

When you make a mistake that you know could have gone another way, stop asking yourself, “What if?” Analyze the situation from an objective point of view. What could you have done better last time? Think about it and then move on. Be ready for the next time the opportunity presents itself because you’ll be ready.

Friendship

“I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun.” -Charles R. Swindoll

Just like Swindoll, my life would be incredibly different today if I didn’t have the amazing “overpowered” friends today. They’ve brought so much happiness and growth to my life. Even when they don’t mean to, they amaze me with the profound wisdom they share.

I can’t forget about the great humor some of them have. A few of them are satirical masters. Others use deadpan humor. Some of them even say blatantly ridiculous things. Where would I be today without my amazing friends?

Don’t think this life quote isn’t for you because you haven’t found great friends yet. There’s always time to learn how to make friends.

Inspiration

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

By Brian Stansberry (CC)

I absolutely love a lot of my friends. It’s not because they know just what to say to bring me up. I don’t even remember most of the things they say! It’s always the feelings that they give me. It could be an assured pep talk they emphasize with body language and ridiculous gestures.

When you look back at your life, do you really remember all the words that fell out of people’s mouths? The people you love made you feel a special way. That’s what attracted you to them.

You may remember snippets of conversations or moments in a memory, but it’s the feelings of happiness and pure glee that’s worth holding onto.

Make it your life goal to cherish those around you and make sure the feelings you leave them are good ones as well. Let others feel great when they’re around you. Actively listen so they feel heard. Remind them to keep moving on and use the past as a stepping stone. You can be their guidance.

Remember, these are quotes to live by, so don’t just read and forget.

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway. After landing his dream job with Empire Flippers he dropped out of school and moved to Davao, Philippines to work closely with the company's founders. Don't worry, he still publishes every Monday and hasn't missed a single week since starting this site in January 2013.

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56 responses to 10 Life Quotes and Lessons to Live By

  1. Great post Vincent! It’s nice to see someone digging a little deeper into these quotes than most usually do. Too often people just spew out some quote to sound deep and profound then forget about it. But you make some great points. My favorite . . .

    “When you tell yourself it’s too hard then you automatically default into failure.”

    Beautifully said, my friend.

    Good stuff.

    Cheers!

  2. Great post and quotes and a lot of work. Good job. I occasionally post forgiveness quotes, but am guilty of just posting the quotes.

    • Thanks, Dan. It definitely took a while to get this together.

      I find that there are times when quotes stand on their own, but there can also be a lot of context given to strengthen it or make it more personal to you.

  3. Very true,
    These are the things i eventually figured out and followed to become a better person. We have to take action, be a good listener and to not be afraid of being yourself if you want to be successful at building relationships with people.

  4. Wow, what a fantastic post Vincent. There is so much depth here that I’m going to have to read it twice. So many quotes struck me, but the one about being bored makes me smile. There is so much to explore and so much to accomplish in this world that I don’t know how anyone could be bored!

  5. Great quotes and thoughts! One of my favorite quotes is “You can get anything in life that you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.” ~Zig Ziglar I have adapted this as one of my core values.

    • That’s very insightful, Dan! That’s the second time I’ve heard Ziglar’s name today. Maybe my brain is just being biased but I don’t think I’ve come across him before until today. Strange!

  6. Wow, Vincent! I love how you really went deep with each. I laughed when you said you felt like a chump – not because you felt like that but because chump is a great word. I am a sucker for the perfectly-placed word.

    On to the content. This is an important point:

    You’re just a side character in their great story.

    I do not think this is depressing or upsetting. When we realize that we are indeed just side characters, I think we are better able to focus on making ourselves better and then seeing if what we have to offer can add value to another’s life.

    You are always making me think, Vincent!

    • It can be both depressing and upsetting though! For years I felt like I was the center of the universe. It’s also a freeing realization as well and that’s how I choose to see it. I use it to remind myself that no one is watching me for every little mistake I make. No one has time for that and that’s great!

      Thanks for stopping by as always, Tammy! :)

  7. I enjoyed the post Vincent – I love inspirational quotes…we need to hear them more often, my fav on this post is “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”–Ernest Hemingway
    So many times we are hearing but the active listening is absent.
    Diane

    • Yup, it also becomes a competition and then we fight for words. It sucks that active listening takes such a conscious effort. Like I said in the article, I’m not perfect at it and I have to remind myself to do it. Dale Carnegie was my main drive for active listening, but Hemingway reinforces it for me.

  8. The one about being bored really resonated with me. It drives me nuts when folks say they’re bored….how is it even possible when there is so much to do?

    • I’ll admit, I’m guilty of saying “I’m bored,” when I am doing certain activities that genuinely bore me. For example, school. Yes, I said it! It’s out there! School bores me!

      However, when you’re not enchained and you have the freedom to do anything, you shouldn’t be bored! You can go make a stranger’s day! You can write in a journal! You can discover your sexuali- errm… Discover yourself!

  9. Love that quote by Louis C.K.. I can’t imagine the words “I’m bored” coming out of my mouth. Life is filled with so many blessings. To be bored is such a waste.

  10. I had a high school English teacher who changed my life with four words: “Boredom is a choice.”

  11. I can’t remember that last time I was bored. The world has always been an amazing place, but now we have even more access to it. I love that I can take online clourse from an instructor in Australia and learn new things in a way that I wouldn’t have even dreamed of even 10 years ago. I love how easy it is to connect and reach out to people all over the world.

    • Not to mention the fact that you can keep yourself busy with Daily Alchemy, Michelle. :) It’s pretty easy to “feel” bored even when we’re not. But if you can really take advantage of everything out there, like you are, then you’re NEVER going to be bored. That’s something everyone should keep in mind and it’s something I remind myself every day.

  12. You make a great point. You shouldn’t just repeat a quote without internalizing the message. The truth and philosophy behind the quote makes the quote valuable, not just repeating it.

    Oh, and that first quote you put up. Fantastic! How come I’ve never seen this one before? This should be repeated much more than it is. It kind of reminds me of that one quote, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” This is a quote I live by.

    • That is an incredible quote indeed! I think the reason it’s not as widely repeated is because it’s from a comedian. They tend to have less credibility than Socrates would. :)

  13. Hi Vincent,

    What a fantastic collection of quotes, and all the more meaningful for the way you’ve enlarged on them in this post. I particularly like the ones about being yourself and not comparing your ‘behind the scenes’ with other people’s on-stage glories. The first one about boredom hit me, too – it’s not a problem for me these days, but I sure wasted a lot of my youth being ‘bored’ – what a crime!

    Thanks for a really great share,

    Sue

    • Hi, Sue! I’m glad you enjoyed them. I tried to hit a lot of different places that I think others would struggle in, especially with insecurity and boredom being so common.

      Regarding your avatar question, I replied to you on Twitter to let you know what’s going on. :)

  14. Not sure why my avatar hasn’t showed up here, Vincent – I’ve signed in with my Twitter account, which has my image attached. I’ll see if it shows on this follow-up comment.

    Sue

  15. Love the quote on insecurity! It has always been my favorite, but it is the one I forget most often. Well done compiling these, Vincent!

    • Most of us forget to remind ourselves of this, so you’re not alone, Tony. It’s much easier to remember other people’s highlight reels than the mistakes they make. Even if we do remember their mistakes, it only serves to make us feel better for a short while.

  16. The excellence one is such a challenge, my friend! Excellence requires extra effort, sacrifice and pushing yourself to the next level. But isn’t it awesome what comes out of it? A lot of my job involves helping interns/students become better writers and bloggers – but I’m pretty demanding!

    But I realize how important it is for me not to just demand excellence, but to show that it’s a challenge. I recently had a guest post rejected for being too boring and I shared the rejection with the intern I am helping. I told her how I was grateful for the feedback and how it’s going to put me at the top of my game. So, now, I know it will be easier for me to push her to get to the top of HER game.

  17. Hey Vincent, Great quotes & lessons… always always be yourself, one of my favorite quotes-

    “Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.” -Judy Garland

    The more we can live our true selves we are not only be true to ourselves but to everyone else too.

  18. Awesome post! Another quote that I would add is this one:

    “We’re not lost…..we’re on a crazy adventure”

    -Unknown

    Sometimes, we don’t know where we’re going in life. Or sometimes we don’t know where we’re at in any place we explore. But rather panicking about the situation, we should embrace the present moment, and explore the unknown.

    • That’s a great quote, Daniel! Great advice in your expansion of it as well.

      By the way, did you receive my email reply to you? You emailed me a while back and I replied, but I haven’t heard anything from you again. Just checking!

  19. Hi Vincent,

    What a lovely collection of quotes and lessons to live by :)

    I liked the way you spoke a little about each one of them, something which no one really does. I guess it adds a personal touch to it and makes people understand it a little better. What can I say – they are all my favorite ones here. I guess I’d just bookmark this page, and as you already know ALL of my blog posts always have a few quotes that go with the subject – I might just use some of these one fine day :)

    Thanks for sharing, and have a nice weekend too :)

  20. Thanks for the great ideas and quotes!

  21. Vincent, you could write an endless series of articles that start out with the theme “Intent matters.” Actually, so could I. In fact, I think we have. At any rate, this is another fine addition. We should edit all such articles into a book of that very name. I’ll coauthor with you anytime.

  22. What got me to reading this is the fact that you emphasized the need to put these mantras into action in our lives. It hits very closely to the falseness of modern Christians – going to church DOES NOT make you a Christian. You actually have to live the life of Christ. Hypocrites and judges are the epitome of hollow souls.

    • Very interesting connection you made there, Amy. Funny enough, I consider myself more Christian than most who are forced to go to church and fail to practice the idea Christianity teaches.

  23. I ran across your site for the first time yesterday. With a good quote the writer has captured the essence of an important concept in a very few words. I can dwell on a good quote for a long time. There’s no way I could possibly rate them, but here is what I think of a great one: “For all that has been, Thanks. For all that will be, Yes.” –Dag Hammarskjold

    • Hello, Don! I’m glad you found me. Without a doubt, a good quote does capture the essence, but it feels far too impersonal to me because I know people often just repeat them. It feels almost cheap because I wonder if they really internalize these concepts. Sure, the author of the quote probably did, but do you? It may seem strange to offer advice to a friend and just spit quotes at them. It’s not personal. There’s no call to action or a lesson that shows the person speaking really believes in it. Maybe I’m being a tad cynical. :)

  24. Epic! deeper analysis into each quote. Thanks for sharing, really. :D

  25. I absolutely loved this! I read motivational quotes on a daily basis but I love how you expanded on them. One of my favourites of all time is the Maya Angelou one. It’s so true. The way a person makes you feel is one of the most important things in relationships of all kind.
    I’m new to your blog but look forward to connecting more :)

    • Woohoo! Thanks for sharing it on your FB page. I love the introduction you gave the article. :)

      • Thanks for the good read man. Our FB pages share a lot of the same ideals, care to like and share? You have some great content that I’d like to feature again, and the more wellness is spread the sooner this world becomes a knowledgeable, manageable one.

        The truth is the sole catalyst of inspiring change – Truth & Co.

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