Who doesn’t love an inspirational quote? Here I have compiled a list, in no particular order, of ten of the most important quotes in my life to live by.
I will preface this by saying that there is a lot of misattributed quotes out there and being the researcher that I am, I have included full citations for each quote (I can’t stand to see erroneous or incorrect quotes out there!)
This quote speaks to me because it reminds me to realize, even in the sadness or the hard times to pause, look around, and realize all that there is to be grateful for. I also love the imagery of blossoms falling around me…I love flowers and flowering trees and the beauty of that image makes be doubly grateful. Sometimes I also like to picture blessings like gently falling snow, quiet, all encompassing, and so beautiful.
Rumi is an amazing source of inspiration for me. His poetry is very spiritual and focuses on the love of the Divine. His words resonate with the spiritual side of my heart and the love I feel deep down inside of me that sometimes is hard to explain but yet somehow feels connected to everyone and everything. Jalal al-Din Rumi was a Persian mystic and poet from the 12th century whose poetry and prose have inspired generations.
For more on Rumi check out The Essential Rumi 1st Harper Collins paperback ed. 1996
2. Light-Leonard Cohen
I love Leonard Cohen. He has some amazing lyrics that can make you cry or make you inspired. He is a lot like Bob Dylan in that his voice is not so, shall we say, lyrical…
Other artists have made Leonard Cohen songs popular such as Hallelujah, and Anthem, which this quote comes from (Copyright Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC).
I love the message of this quote. I was really struggling with joy and purpose in my life after my mother died and I would beat myself up over not moving forward with my life and not being the same motivated ambitious person I was before her death. I would chant this quote over and over in my head
“forget your perfect offering…”
In other words, no one is perfect and stop trying to be, just be your broken self.
“…there is a crack in everything/ that’s how the light gets in”
Everyone is broken and imperfect. Remember, the brokenness is what makes you see, know, and appreciate the light.
3. The Heart-John O’Donohue
This quote comes from John O’Donohue and the book Anam Cara: A book of Celtic Wisdom (Harper Collins 1996). I LOVE this book. O’Donohue was a beautiful Irish poet, author, priest, a Hegelian philosopher, and a native Irish speaker. His Book Anam Cara which means ‘Soul-friend’ is a book of friendship, of love, of beauty. He states:
This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. When you had an anam cara, your friendship cut across all convention, morality, and category. You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the “friend of your soul.” […] The heart learns a new art of feeling. Such friendship is neither cerebral nor abstract.John O’Donohue
This concept of a “soul-friend” is beautiful to me. I love how this book describes the way love can change you, and make you, and re-make you again and again with each new love and loss. How love and friendship mold and shape your heart.
This quote in particular really resonates with me, as the last quote did, because it reminds me that every experience, every person, every love or loss, all, are part of who I am. No one experience gets to define who I can be or WHO and HOW I can love.
4. Time-J.R.R. Tolkien
Okay, lets geek out for a moment here and mention that this is from one of my all-time favorite books, The Fellowship of the Rings (Houghton Mifflin Company,  1987). I love this quote by Gandalf because it comes after Frodo laments that he wished he had never come into possession of The Ring. Gandalf empathizes with the sentiment but says it is not up to us to decide what life has dealt us, it is only in our power to decide what we will do with what we have been given. What an empowering thought! Despite the uncertainty of life we have the power to chose what to make of the life we have.
And if you don’t know who Frodo, Gandalf, and The Ring are….go read the book, seriously! The book people, not the movie!
5. Choice-My Dad
Not coincidentally, my favorite guy (my Dad) introduced me to the previous author, and just likewise old Gandalf, my Dad always understood that the choice was up to you. He always reminded me and my sister, ad nauseam, that you always have three choices in any situation and I would roll my eyes and ignore his good advice.
It wasn’t until much later in life…maybe college (?) when I began to really understand what he meant by that statement. Once I understood the meaning of it, I realized how empowering it was. To truly realize that I am the ONLY person in control of my life changed the way I view myself;
I am boss!
No matter what happens TO me, I can decide how I will let it affect me and my life. The choice is mine and no one else’s. What a powerful idea to pass onto your children! Way to go Dad!
6. Kick Ass- Jen Sincero
If you have read any of my other posts you will know that I am a HUGE fan of Jen Sincero. She is so brilliantly hilarious, hard ass, and to the point, and I love and need that in my life. Her book and program You are a Bad Ass is pretty much the reason I decided to do a 180 in my life, quit my day job, and become a life coach.
This quote perfectly sums up her book:
In order to kick ass…
In other words, if you want to be the most badass version of yourself, who blasts through your fears to live the life you have always wanted to…
…you must first lift up your foot
Do it already! Just take the first step. You will never get to live that life if you don’t get started! And when is a better time to start than right now? Also, it is a good reminder that all it takes is one step, and then another, one at a time.
Read the book…seriously!
- Jen Sincero. You Are a Badass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. Philadelphia: Running Press, 2013
7. Love Life-Sublime
What can I say…I love Sublime (I’m a California girl after all). This quote really makes me think of my mother, she was not a huge Sublime fan or anything like that…but it makes me think of how her life got cut short, how there is so much she could have done and I am sure wanted to do.
That being said, she really lived her life well. She chose to go against the grain and her family’s ideas of what a life should look like and she married my dad, moved to Tahoe, and found a way to live a life she loved. She didn’t excel at a career or make lots of money but she and my dad made lots of time for our family and for themselves to do the things that they loved.
I really appreciate how seeing my parents live life in that way made understand the importance of prioritizing what makes me happy not what society tells me I should prioritize. I think of all those people out there who keep their head down and work towards retirement and then they will live their life…if my mom had done that she would never have had a life she loved because just like Sublime says…
Life’s too shortSublime “What I Got” 1996
So make it count, now. Not tomorrow, not this weekend, not when everything is perfect, NOW!
8. Dream-Paulo Coehlo
Have you read this book? The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho, San Francisco: Harper, 1998). It is a pretty big deal. I have this theory, that I will elaborate on in another blog post at some point, that this book is one of the BIG 3 for soul-seekers. Which one resonates the most with you says a lot about who you are and how you view the world. This book has changed many people’s lives and is always a good dose of inspiration about how anything is possible because the universe is always conspiring for you.
What could you do if you knew that the universe WANTED you to have all that you desire? What could you accomplish in this life if you knew, without a doubt, that you would succeed at anything you set your mind to? That is what he is saying with this quote. If you remove the fear of failure, wouldn’t you just go for it?
Food for thought….
9. The Universe-John Muir
John Muir…Oh how I love his prose…
The first time I read a John Muir story (My first Summer in the Sierra) I decided I wanted to stop everything in life and become a naturalist. Who wouldn’t want to traipse around the wilderness exploring nature and celebrating it in all of its glory and splendor? Unfortunately, no one pays people to be naturalists anymore…
If you have had the pleasure of reading anything by John Muir you will know that he is an abundance mindset type of guy. I mean he is ridiculously positive and happy about even the worst of things. He often talks of the glorious raindrops signing the Lord’s Praise…which is funny if you have ever been out backpacking and been pelted by relentless rain and had to set up a tent…wet, and get in the tent… wet, and put it away… wet. It’s hard to share that optimism. How is he so ridiculously positive all of the time? If only I could harness some of that positivity when I’m wet and cold! Anyways… I digress
This quote sums up how I feel when I am in nature. I have always found, for me, that quiet time in nature brings me back to my center. I realize in the vastness of nature, that I am just one small tiny piece of such an amazing puzzle that is this world and universe, and remembering what Muir said:
…we find [we are] hitched to everything else in the universe(My First Summer in the Sierra Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1911)
I think it is important for us to always come back to that.
10. Timshel-John Steinbeck
I saved my favorite for last…Okay, I know I said these quotes wherein no particular order and it is true BUT Steinbeck is my all-time favorite author, well and maybe Dickens, and this quote is from my all-time favorite book of fiction East of Eden (New York: Penguin Books, 1992).
This book is amazing, as is this quote which represents the main theme throughout the book; that everyone has the ability to be both good and evil and the choice is up to you.
In case you haven’t noticed thus far, I will let you in on a little secret; there is a theme to the “10 Quotes to Live By” and that theme is
That is right, choice. In my humble opinion, this is the most important piece of knowledge I have gained in my life. It all comes down to you. You have the choice of how you chose to live, love, think, be, do. No one can take that from you, no matter what you have thrown at you in life, things that are horrific, and cruel, and unfair, you have the choice of how you will let those things affect your life, the power is in your hands.