Words of Wisdom
We are moved to search for meaning when we are struggling. We want answers – and some sort of compass to help us find our way. Living with a chronic illness can be one of the struggles or crises that forces us to think more deeply about what really matters. I’ve found hope, comfort and most importantly, perspective in words of wisdom written or spoken by other people.
We all have a fundamental desire to understand our world and to find meaning and purpose as we discover our role within it. It’s a search we should never abandon – because it is the essence of what it means to be human.
I’ve kept a book by my bedside for many years: Everyday Mind: 366 Reflections on the Buddhist Path. It’s a collection of quotes curated from ancient texts and more contemporary Buddhist teachers. I have several similar books I’ve held onto for about as many years. While they’re not specific to Buddhism, they are each in their own right an anthology of wise words.
These words of wisdom aren’t necessarily motivational words, and I’m not the poster child for motivational posters. In fact, I’m sort of the opposite – because it’s not necessarily motivation that I’m seeking.
I’m seeking words of wisdom and truth to help me navigate the world and understand my place within it.
I know them when I see them – because they nudge my soul. They inspire me to explore them from every angle. To discover why, among so many beautifully written expressions, these are the ones that hold so much power over me.
And I see them – and hear them – everywhere: in books, on social media, in magazines, in lectures. I began to collect them in various places. I’ll scribble them on small piece of paper and tuck it into my wallet. Or I’ll flag them with a sticky note in a book. I often snap a photo and save it on my phone. Oh – and I save them on Pinterest, of course!
I’ve started to notice a theme in the ones that resonate with me. They are all – in some way – about embracing authenticity, inspiring growth not in spite of challenges but because of them. And they are about finding peace and practicing gratitude.
I want to share mine with you because these are the words I want to live by.
I hope you find some inspiration here, and that you will begin to collect your own. And as you find them, take a few moments to think about what they mean to you and what themes emerge in the ones that you choose.
“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.”
Louis L’Amour was an American novelist and short story writer. L’Amour’s works were predominantly western adventure novels. This quote is a beautiful reminder that we always have the opportunity to begin again.
“This is the mark of perfection of character, to spend each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, laziness or any pretending.”
Marcus Aurelius was the Emperor of Rome from 161 to 180 CE. He was known as the last of the Five Good Emperors of Rome, and was a stoic philosopher.
“Nowhere you can go is more peaceful – more free of interruptions – than your own soul.”
This quote is from Meditations, a collection of Marcus Aurelius’ personal writings. It is thought that the collection was never intended to be published, but written for his own personal reflection.
“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.”
Carl Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology. Jung is one of the most influential figures in psychology, noted for his research into the human psyche.
“Don’t set your mind on things you don’t possess as if they were yours, but count the blessings you actually possess and think how much you would desire them if they weren’t already yours.”
Marcus Aurelius was a stoic philosopher. Stoic philosophy teaches us to live In agreement with nature, and according to reason and virtue. Many of its teachings parallel those of Buddha.
“There is beauty in simplicity.”
I have seen this quote many times, but never credited to anyone. It applies to every part of our life. It’s often the simple things that bring us the most joy.
Having gratitude for the simple things is one way to find joy, especially when we are struggling.
“Behind every beautiful thing there’s some kind of pain.”
From Bob Dylan’s song “Not Dark Yet”.
I know that we are all vulnerable and fragile. We have all experienced pain. And our ability to persevere in spite of it makes us strong – and maybe it’s part of what makes us beautiful, too.
Want more inspiration? Follow my board on Pinterest and let me know what words of wisdom are inspiring you!