Philosophy quotes for insight and inspiration
Imagine that these words have found you at the precise moment you wanted them to; over countless decades they are here to offer you helpful guidance. We can’t always have a personal coach to motivate us through our daily tasks, but remembering one or two of these quotes might be the next best thing.
My goal here is not to provide a long list of quotes, rather it is to share quotes that carry a wealth of wisdom in a handful of words. Here are some of my favorites that provide insight each time I read them. I offer my interpretation, but certainly these quotes will have special meaning for you.
1 – “You are precisely as big as what you love and precisely as small as what you allow to annoy you.” – Robert Anton Wilson
Everything in our lives begins and ends with the self and the attitude we maintain. When we face disruptions or difficult people it can be a challenge to remain optimistic, but it’s precisely at these times when it’s most important. Keeping an eye on the larger picture, realizing that you are bigger than the problem you face, these are things that can help you stand tall even in challenging circumstances.
2 – “The most fortunate of us, in our journey through life, frequently meet with calamities and misfortunes which may greatly afflict us; and, to fortify our minds against the attacks of these calamities and misfortunes, should be one of the principal studies and endeavors of our lives.” – Thomas Jefferson
We all have difficulties, what is important though is how we perceive them. Do we look at them as a challenge to learn from or a setback that will stop us from reaching our goals? It is the responsibility of every individual to train the mind to be used as a powerful ally, rather than a voice that allows for excuses and rationalization.
3 – “Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.” – Mohandas Gandhi
We see here that thoughts are once again of primary importance. Additionally we see how important it is to carry these thoughts through to action. If we have correct thought, and correct speech, but we do nothing, then we will produce nothing. By aligning the three (thought, word and deed), it allows the inner world to become realized in the outer.
4- “You will never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself. The height of a man’s success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment. And this law is the expansion of eternal justice. He who cannot establish dominion over himself will have no dominion over others.” – Leonardo Da Vinci
Arguably the worlds greatest genius, he must have known quite a lot about self-mastery. What I find fascinating about DaVinci is that he was not a scholar in the traditional sense. He apprenticed under one of the leading artisans at the time, but he did not attend another school after mastering his art.
He still managed to expand his knowledge and creativity well beyond other artists, intellectuals, and leaders of his time; in the process creating some of the most enduring works of human culture. He accomplished this through diligent work and empirical investigation. He put absolute faith in his own observations. He trusted that his own perceptions, accompanied with proper logic, provided reliable information.
There isn’t much else to say about this quote; the guiding words put forth by DaVinci speak volumes on their own.
5 – “There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge” – Napoleon Hill
A friend of mine spoke during a presentation saying “…my mind is like…infinite.” I can joke about how well the thought was articulated, but it won’t change the fact that he was absolutely correct. The mind, much like our field of vision, is in fact infinite. We constantly perceive the world in this present moment, yet the mind is not bound by our temporal existence.
We have unlimited imagination. Our thoughts and attention shape the world around us in a very real way. If we harness this ability, and take care to develop the creative spirit, then there is nothing that exists beyond our grasp.
6 – “It does not matter how slow you go so long as you do not stop.” – Confucius
What can be said about this quote? I’m personally very slow when working. I’m cautious and maybe I over-think things. Maybe you share some of these traits or often get sidetracked from your goals. These things happen; as long as you reorient yourself towards your goal and keep moving, you are bound to attain success. It kind of reminds me of the Buddhist proverb “If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking”.
7 – “What you are is what you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now.” – Buddha
Each moment brings with it incredible opportunity; it can be used to remain fixated on one’s course or make changes to the direction one is headed. It’s clear to see how these choices shape the future. Within our personal lives as well as our views as a society, we understand that current actions will have ramifications for future generations.
8 – “A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.” – Bruce Lee
One of the tenets of maintaining happiness in one’s life is having something to work towards. Having goals can provide direction. As Bruce Lee says, it’s not something that necessarily must be attained. Simply fixating oneself on positive thoughts of future accomplishment is often enough for maintaining motivation.
9 – “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” – Friedrich Nietzche
The creative individual has more power than any dogmatic system. We exist within an ever changing and evolving world; within which we are also undergoing our own evolution. In the end we must have faith in ourselves.
10 – “Everything flows, nothing stands still” – Heraclitus
Accept change. Roll with the punches in life. Knowing that all things are transitory gives us greater appreciation for the present. At the same time, knowledge of the temporary state of all things allows you to experience negative circumstances with the comfort of understanding that they will not last forever.
Getting into the rhythm of life is important for our health and state of mind. Accepting the fact that everything changes can help us learn to go with the flow.
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