15 Quotes That Will Change Your Life If You Choose To Apply Them
Quotes are powerful because they provide us with an opportunity to stop, think, and evaluate our own lives.
When captured well, they are short, meaningful, and impactful reminders that immediately snap our worldview into perspective. Powerful quotes are like the glaring look a parent gives an unruly child from across the room. With not a word spoken, all is said.
A powerful quote is no different. In only a few words they say everything. They tell you all that is needed to teach you how to live better, be stronger and act smarter. The right quote can help you through adversity, loss, and difficult situations. They can teach you to be more courageous and braver. Or they can simply give you the inspiration to go try something new.
Whether its strength, wisdom, inspiration, or ideas to live better, here are 15 quotes that will change your life, if you choose to apply them.
“If you yourself don’t choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will.” — Epictetus
“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” — Greg McKeown
Or even still,
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” — Jim Rohn
This theme repeats for good reason.
To wander through life aimlessly is easy. Many of us want a better life but few are willing to do what is necessary to create a better life. A purposeful life requires hard work, thinking, planning, and persistence.
The only person that can figure out what you want in life is you. You must determine what your values, dreams, and ambitions are. It can feel like a daunting task, but as soon as you identify those, you can create a plan to achieve them. Otherwise, you will go through life erratically.
You will fall victim to what Viktor Frankl referred to as the existential vacuum. With no instinct to follow, you will either conform to what others do or fall prey to totalitarianism by doing what others tell you to do. Both options result in anguish and a general life malaise.
“What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?” — Greg McKeown
We live in a society that glorifies a busy life, because being busy must correlate to productivity and a sense of purpose, right? Wrong.
When asked how we are doing we routinely respond with “busy”.
Busy is B.S.. It’s a lazy answer. It’s also a sure way to look back after a decade and wonder what the hell happened. You’ll be left wondering, “What did I accomplish?”
Do you hide from your problems, by distracting yourself with a beehive of activity? Are you running away from your anxiety and angst? Perhaps that’s because you are unwilling to confront your problems. Your solution to your problems is to stuff them down deep inside to a place where you don’t have to deal with them. Unfortunately, these pesky feelings eventually rear their ugly heads.
What you must do is slow down, think, and find solitude. For in solitude you finally allow yourself to confront your problems and face them head-on. The only way to get rid of that sense of anxiety and worry is to stop and think. You must eliminate the non-essential activities in your life to open the door to the essential activities that will give you true purpose, clarity, and meaning.
“Whether You Believe You Can Do a Thing or Not, You Are Right” — Henry Ford
The origins of this quote are a bit murky but the lesson in it is still relevant.
The mind is an incredible tool, but like a muscle, it must be honed, shaped, and sculpted, otherwise, it will wither away and hold you back.
When you successfully train your mind it can be the greatest asset in propelling you forward in life.
There’s a great story about the power of a positive mindset from president Franklin Roosevelt.
At the age of 39, he contracted polio, a debilitating disease that leaves one paralyzed throughout the body. Many thought this would crush his spirits and likely be the end of his career. Roosevelt thought otherwise.
In the depressing surroundings of his hospital bed and surrounded by a melancholy group of family and friends, Roosevelt made it a point to put on a bright and cheery disposition. Whether this was for the betterment of the people he cared for or for his own sake did not matter, the effect was noticeable.
By pretending to be happy and cheerful he began to feel better. By acting happy, he did what a happy person would do. By acting happy he actually became happy.
The disease may have robbed him of the use of his legs but it would not rob him of his ability to think for himself or to choose how he felt.
With this attitude, he made a miraculous, albeit incredibly difficult recovery. With incredible determination, he built his way back into the public arena, despite never regaining use of his legs. Roosevelt bravely overcame his fears of being embarrassed by his disease in front of millions of people in the public arena.
He bravely forged ahead and became one of the strongest presidents of the United States in two of the most trying times in its history, the Great Depression and the Second World War.
The man that had to rebuild his own body, helped to rebuild the body of the United States after two debilitating blows. He never would have been able to do any of this had he not believed in the power for anyone and everyone to change and recover from their worst nightmares.
“If it is to be, it’s up to me.” — Coach George Raveling
If you want anything in life, it’s up to you. No outside force is strong enough to push you into what you want. You must be responsible for securing it.
What do you wish to happen in your life? Are you realizing your greatest dreams or are you falling short?
When you fall short, do you blame others and external circumstances, or are you willing to look into the mirror and figure out why things are unfolding as they are?
When you look inward, you analyze your decisions, your reactions, your attitude in life that are holding you back. Through analysis, you can create solutions to your problems. By holding yourself accountable and being responsible, you stop finding excuses and start finding solutions. That is where the glory in life lives.
“Does your mind have control over you or are you going to have control of your mind?” — Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp
Most people’s minds are a wild, unruly beast running wildly from one thing to the next, at the mercy of their emotions, fears, and habitual patterns.
When times get tough will you allow your emotions to overrun you and make horrible decisions? Will you resort to self-sabotaging behaviors or will you work to recognize these pitfalls and overcome them?
The world’s best athletes aren’t the best because they are leaps and bounds more athletically gifted than their competition. At the highest level of competition, everyone is an incredible athlete. What separates the average from the great athlete is the time spent training their minds.
They confront their greatest fears. They become a student of their behaviors, routines, and rituals. They learn what is holding them back, nearly always it’s mental.
From there they train their minds, they reshape it and take back control of a reckless mind. Rather than being their greatest weakness they turn it into their greatest advantage. Able and willing to overcome life’s hardest and most challenging problems.
“Success is a double-edged sword. You want to shadow box with it but you don’t want to embrace it or dance too close.” — Robert Redford
Success is addicting but it also has a nasty side effect, it instills fear. Fear of loss and the fear of failure. Success is a lousy teacher.
When you achieve a certain level your mind slowly shifts away from seeking greater heights to holding onto what you have. You can’t imagine sliding back to where you once were. That is a dangerous mindset. You switch from growing to protecting.
What enabled your greatest success was the lack of fear, the lack of care in what the outcome was. Your lack of expectations.
Look at some of your favorite musicians, artists, or authors. Ever notice how after they have a hit record or book they suddenly plateau? Their music becomes safe and eventually, you can’t tell one song from the other.
Their past success becomes a prison. They can’t imagine straying from the “winning formula”.
The problem is, the winning formula is ever changing. The only constant in life is change, so if you aren’t changing, you’re falling behind.
What got you to where you are currently in life isn’t what’s going to get you to the next level. The next level requires a new person and a new approach. The only thing that can and will do that is to constantly challenge yourself and your assumptions.
You have to constantly reinvent yourself if you wish to go farther.
“Why is this so unbearable? Why can’t I endure it?” You’ll be embarrassed to answer.” — Marcus Aurelius
What is happening to you in your life is merely a matter of perspective and perception.
When you gain perspective, you realize what you are going through is not unique. Other people have been there before or have had it worse. Misery may love company, but if you find the company that has overcome that misery, then there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for you. The path is there.
Furthermore, stoics teach what happens in life is out of your control. The only thing you can control is how you react to events as they unfold. As Epictetus said, “We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.”
This line of thinking is liberating. Rather than spending costly time and energy trying to control what you cannot, redirect your energies to what you can…yourself. Your actions. Your perceptions of an event.
When something goes horribly wrong in your life, the question isn’t “why is this happening to me”, it must be “why is this happening for me?” What can you learn from even the worst experiences?
The people that survive and thrive are the ones that find purpose and meaning in what has happened in life.
“If it’s normal, do the exact opposite” — Jesse Cole, owner of the Savannah Bananas baseball team
Like a high-schooler desperately seeking validation from our peers, many of us set out to do exactly what others have done before us.
We are too afraid to actually do the “crazy things” we wish to do.
The result: a restless life. Constant judging of our current lot in life and a constant second-guessing of ourselves.
Jesse Cole, the crazy man in the yellow tux and owner of the Savannah Bananas baseball team has made a career out of being different. In fact, it’s precisely what has made him outrageously successful. Hell, he named his team the Bananas! Who does that?
In a sport that has plateaued in terms of growth and popularity, Jesse has brought back the fun and excitement to baseball.
The game of baseball is mired in tradition. Anybody that wishes to step outside the norm is immediately ridiculed and cast out of the baseball inner circle.
By questioning all the norms, by not being afraid to look like a fool, Jesse has created a baseball program in Savannah, Georgia that sells out every single game! The best part is, this isn’t even a professional baseball team. Quite the contrary, it’s a college summer league team. It’s about as low on the pecking order in terms of most watched and followed baseball.
I could try and describe the showmanship and antics that go on in this stadium but why do that when you can see for yourself.
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all the others.” — Cicero
If you want to be happier, more satisfied with life, and live a better life then practicing gratitude may be the easiest thing you can start doing today. In fact, you can start doing it right now!
Just ask yourself, what are you grateful for in your life? When you become grateful a cascade of powerful emotions follow. You stop focusing on all the things you don’t have and focus on all the great things you do have in your life.
That mindset, the abundance mindset, is the line of thinking that will lead to more in your life.
Professor of psychology from UC Davis, Robert Emmons, has made a career out of studying gratitude and the results listed below are clinically proven based on his studies.
Practicing gratitude has the ability to:
- Reduce stress
- Lift depression
- Improve your diet
- Help you sleep better
- Make you more likely to exercise
- Provide you a jolt of energy
- Make people more generous and kinder to total strangers
- Make you more likely to achieve your personal goals
- Keep your mind sharp and reduce neurodegeneration
- Lower your blood pressure
- Lower your chances of diabetes
- Help heart patients recover faster
The only question remaining is, what are you grateful for right?
“I read my eyes out and can’t read half enough…the more one reads the more one sees we have to read.” — John Adams
Reading is a simple and transformational habit.
All of your problems, questions, and greatest desires in life can be found between the cover of a book.
By reading you force yourself to stop and think. To evaluate what has transpired in your life and where you wish to go.
As you read you find solutions that you can implement into your life, or business, or relationships. By finding solutions you crave more.
You desire to read more.
We are so hung up on getting accepted to the right schools, finding the right mentors, or finding the right teachers in life that we forget we have the power at our own disposal.
Sure school, universities, and mentors are wonderful, they undoubtedly help countless people but they are not the gatekeepers of knowledge.
If you have a desire to be better, no matter what area of your life, you don’t have to wait around for someone to show you the way. Somebody has already written about it in a book.
Go find it and read!
“Shined shoes save lives” — General Norman Schwarzkopf
A simple yet powerful adage. If you are willing to pay attention to the smallest detail of your wardrobe like how shined your shoes are, you are willing to make sure everything in your life is done well.
Similarly, there is a great story about a ridiculous test made up by the band members of Van Halen, more specifically David Lee Roth. This may seem like a classic example of rock ‘n’ roll excess but it is quite the contrary. They wanted to see how well the arenas and venues they were playing at paid attention to the details because their lives could depend on it.
Their shows were extravagant with lights, stages, special effects, and all sorts of potentially dangerous equipment everywhere. The test was the brown M&Ms test. Their backstage rider included a demand to remove all the brown M&Ms from their bowl of candy. If the crew was diligent enough to remove the brown M&Ms from the treats in the backstage area, then they were confident in their abilities to pay attention to the smallest of details to make sure everything in the performance would go off without a hitch. They were confident their lives were not in peril.
But it’s not just about paying attention to the details, it’s about what habit it creates. By paying attention to the details you build up your willpower muscle. The muscle to do more and to do it better, always.
The people that get ahead in life are the ones that don’t just simply do the job, they go above and beyond to make sure it is done to the best of their ability.
If you are willing to commit to that kind of living, then the opportunities available to you are exponentially greater.
Stop shirking duties and being content with good enough, be great. Be responsible for a higher standard of living.
Ask yourself, “what would a successful person do in this situation?”, then go and do it as they would.
“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” — Theodore Roosevelt
It’s amazing what a life of leisure and comfort we live today.
The only problem is, comfort is a poisonous drug. Once it gets ahold of you, it firmly grasps you in its hands holding you back in the Lazyboy recliner of life.
The great characters in history are the ones that were willing to go out and explore, experience life and get knocked around.
What are you doing in your life? Are you kicking back playing countless hours of video games, scrolling through your phone non-stop, or are you out there testing yourself?
“I must die or be better” — Abraham Lincoln
At a point in his life when he was rejected for the two things he wanted most, a proposal to deal with slavery and a promotion within President Taylor’s cabinet, Lincoln was distraught and depressed.
Years later, Lincoln looked back at this time in his life as the most painful experience. In his own words, “I hardly ever felt so bad about any failure in my life.”
However, this didn’t stop Lincoln from taking a cold, hard look in the mirror. He decided he was a mediocre lawyer. But that would change.
What followed was multiple years of self-assessment, learning, and growth. He would be the first up and the last to bed spending all his free time teaching himself on a wide array of subjects: math, philosophy, astronomy, science, economics, history, literature, and drama.
He transformed himself from mediocre to exceptional. The rest for Lincoln, of course, is history.
The only question remains is, are you willing to take an honest assessment of your life? Will you be strong enough to admit when you are falling short in areas of your life? Will you put in the work required to change?
“Time is the most valuable thing you have; be sure to spend it well.” — Lyndon Johnson
President Lyndon Johnson instinctively knew his time was limited. It was in his blood.
His dad had died young and he was afraid he would succumb at an early age without accomplishing anything in life. He would be right about that, passing away at age 64, but not before he accomplished his greatest dreams, becoming president, helping others, and to make landmark changes in our society in favor of civil rights.
A common practice and theme amongst stoics is something called Memento Mori. It’s the practice of and reminder of the brevity of life. A reminder of death.
But it isn’t the old saying, live like today is your last. A better interpretation is to live like tomorrow could be your last. If tomorrow could be your last day, what would you do today knowing that information? Who would you tell that you love? Who would you give your undivided attention to? What would you do to get your affairs in order?
If you want something in life, act now. Go and get it. Don’t wait.
“Nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished.” — Lao Tzu
Like David Goldbloom’s character in the movie Jurassic Park says, “life finds a way”. It also finds a way to win. Mother nature is undefeated. Not because of its intensity in a short period of time, but its patience. Through persistent, perpetual action that slowly moves forward.
Play the long game in life. Focus on the few things that will greatly impact your life for the longest time and forget the non-essential activities that distract you.
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