20 Quotes To Live By

I have an Evernote folder full of quotes and snippets that have caught my eye over the years. Partly intended as a way to offload remembering things, probably more as an attempt to mimic writers that always impress me by citing a compact, beautifully crafted thought that speaks volumes, and definitely because I’m a digital hoarder, I constantly find myself going through it, and rereading thoughts that imprinted on me years ago.

Below are some of my favorites that invariably come to mind in a variety of daily contexts.

On Truth (TL;DR: Vox veritas vita)

Mark Twain has got to be one of my favorite authors, he had the perfect blend of wit, irreverence and insight into the human condition.

I occasionally have the memory of an octogenarian, so Twain’s attitude towards telling the truth is doubly useful: concise, and pragmatic.

1. “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” — Mark Twain

Complementary to this thought, if you don’t say anything, you don’t have to remember anything at all.

Ironically one of the most famous quotes attributed to him is not actually his, which earns it a runner-up spot here:

1a. “A lie travels around the globe while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

On Purpose

Twain may not be known for embellishing his words, but you can’t argue with his view on things:

2. “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” — Mark Twain

AKA a normal person version of:

2a. “You have two lives. The second one begins when you realize you only have one.” — Confucius

3. “If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.” — Joseph Campbell

4. “A man’s worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions.” — Marcus Aurelius

While I don’t particularly enjoy reading Thoreau’s long-winded adoration of the movement of reeds on water at sunrise, I love his simple equation on the value of everything:

5. “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” — Henry David Thoreau

On Attitude

6. “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” — Mark Twain

7. “This Too Shall Pass”— Jewish proverb

I love the duality of that quote. It’s equal parts consolation and warning. A constant reminder to the proud to be humble, and the poor to be hopeful.

On Adversity

Wisdom isn’t just the domain of painters, poets and philosophers. On the topic of adversity, the greatest lessons come from the trenches.

8. “Don’t interrupt your enemy while they are making a mistake.” —Napoleon

9. “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” — Winston Churchill

Also, Winston Churchill is the ultimate proof that liquor brings out the creative juices!

Iron Mike proves that you don’t even need to be coherent all the time, to be deeply insightful.

10. “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” — Mike Tyson

Passive aggressiveness works too:

11. “always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much.” — Oscar Wilde

12. “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” — Archilochus

13. “Good judgement is the result of experience and experience the result of bad judgement.” —Mark Twain

On Drive

14. “Speed has never killed anyone; suddenly becoming stationary…that’s what gets you.” — Jeremy Clarkson

15. “the reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” — George Bernard Shaw

16. “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” — Pablo Picasso

On Love

I still can’t believe that it took me being around for over 30 years to finally read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. I reread it two months later.

This quote on love is everything:

17. “Love nothing but that which comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny” — Marcus Aurelius

Aurelius stoically ended practically every thought he had by pointing out the inevitability of death. Charles Bukowski simply fast forwards:

18. “Find what you love and let it kill you.” — Charles Bukowski

I’m not a fan of grey areas, and sometimes a quote doesn’t have to be elegant to ring true.

19. “if it’s not love, it’s prostitution.” — My friend John.

nor does it have to be subtle:

20. “If you Go Home with Somebody and they don’t have books, Don’t Fuck Them.” — John Walters

And there you have it! 20 quotes that overlay perfectly on any photo of a sunset for all your inspirational social sharing needs.