Words to Live By
Quotations for Advice
Words are incredible things. They direct our lives, they enhance our interactions with others, they articulate the inner workings of our minds and souls. They express, inspire and communicate. But, words themselves are mere compilations of letters we tie to deeper symbolic understanding; what gives them power is the meaning and action we put behind them. We can start with words, but how we live them out is our own valuable choice.
This is particularly true with the words in sound advice. As a brief digression, I recognize the importance of navigating situations on one’s own merit, too. A special sort of development happens when we try, fail, and repeat until we reach an efficient and self-discovered solution. But sometimes, it expedites the process to betterment when we’re able to follow others’ words of guidance. Instead of devoting time to figuring out what to do, we can figure out the much-more-influential “how.”
As a lover of words, the following quotations are my “most referenced” in a collection I’ve built through the years. I’ve used them for guidance in all sorts of situations: questions of ethics, relationships, choices with a significant impact on my future, times of doubt. What I love about these words in particular is that they only provide the framework for leading a fulfilling and constructive life. They leave the most exciting part—the figuring out exactly “how”—to us.
I hope that you too find use in these words, my friend! May their advice guide you down influential paths!
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi
Positivity and change truly starts with us. How can we expect good out of others if we don’t demonstrate that same goodness (maybe even first)? It’s also an accountability principle… if we want to see something happen differently, then do it differently. We can’t wait around for others to problem-solve. The only way we can be certain it will happen is to do it ourselves. We have more capability than we give ourselves credit for. Have no fear if the platform is small or even feels nonexistent, for we can influence “good” just by doing it. Start now.
“Live in such a way that if someone spoke badly of you, no one would believe it.” Uncredited
While it may seem like this one is telling us to base our choices on the opinions of others, I prefer to look at it through the lens of personal character. And it particularly resonates with me in the workplace and in friendships—competition and gossip run rampant in these spaces. People continuously test our characters or say things that misrepresent us when we have little opportunity to defend. This is where we meet their negativity with even more positivity, their doubt with even more hard work, and their gossip with even more recognition of good over bad. It’s hard! But the truth always reveals itself eventually. And if people still don’t accept that truth, it’s time to step away from that source of toxicity. Plus, the certainty that you’ve said and done nothing incriminating in any given situation is pretty assuring.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Theodore Seuss Geisel
We waste so much time focusing on the perceptions of those with a limited (or no) positive role in our lives. As for those who do edify our souls, they know us deeply, truly, unedited… they understand us. And they’re still here. They bring out the best parts of us and still love us in spite of the worst. We never have to wonder what they think of us or whether or not they’ll support us, regardless of how much we talk to or see them. Our inner circles may be small because these genuine people are hard to find, but quality over quantity matters here. Place the focus and trust in these peoples’ thoughts and opinions when you’re unsure of your own.
“Be curious, not judgmental.” Walt Whitman
Everyone has their own story. Happenings and circumstances that have shaped them and taught them. As humans, we tend to dislike what we don’t understand. It’s our nature to put our aversions in the “judgement made” pile before we give a second thought to diving deeper. BUT. How would we feel if a stranger judged a person we love profoundly in the same negative manner, and with no backstory? How much would we learn if we considered perspectives outside our own experiences? Ask questions. Work on the mindset shift to where “closed, insulting, limited,” becomes “open, supportive, understanding.” We have much to grasp, and there are endless opportunities.
“Be the kind of energy you want to attract.” Uncredited
The more good we give out, the more we get, and if we’re doing it right, we won’t even care how much we get. Because eventually we find ourselves in this equilibrium of constantly-moving, positive energy. It’s a healthy cycle of never ending improvement. Enable others to see the good in themselves, and soon they’ll want to give good out, too. And conversely, if we find ourselves surrounded by negative people that exhaust us and bring us down, we need to consider the vibes we’re sending out. Ever heard the saying “You are the average of your 10 closest friends.” Do the people in your life contribute to your desired version of “best self?”
“Every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was being redirected to something better.” Steve Maraboli
There are so many instances in my life where this is true. The most amazing part is that so far, nearly all of the reasons for those inconceivable, difficult times are now clear to me. Relationships, moves, jobs… Maybe I’ll write about these sometime. Regardless, I see the paths God has laid out for me and how those difficult encounters have led to my better heart. Whatever the belief—religion, fate, the universe, setting one’s own destiny—I hope that it will become easier to establish trust in the low points… that we can make it, and that we’ll find our way out to “better.”
“If the words you spoke appeared on your skin, would you still be beautiful?” Auliq Ice
This is more a lesson in awareness than it is in vanity. And while these are words I strive to live by, I’m not always as careful as I should be. I can speak with refined diplomacy, but I have the mouth of a sailor. I can build one person up and be judgmental about another. And I certainly edit what I say depending on who I’m with. This quotation may not always be practical—we all need to vent and release sometimes—but it’s a good reminder… Am I comfortable with everyone knowing the words I say on any given day? Does what I do when no one’s looking represent who I am when people are looking? I want to be graceful to my core, but it takes continuous practice. I’ll be over here, chasing it for the rest of my life.
“Remember happiness is way of travel, not a destination.” Roy M. Goodman
This. This. Ever noticed how quickly the high can fade after achieving a goal or reaching a desired life marker? We get there, and then it’s on to the next one. We must not chase something so rigorously that we lose sight of the growth, the connections and the beauty that’s unfurling on the journey to it. Fulfillment—happiness—springs from learning, experiencing, and sharing. We must live in the moment. For the collection of moments we gather together will one day be what we look back on as “life.” Be present, for every little part of it.
“With every choice you make, you create your life.” John C. Maxwell
Our primary and most compelling choice? The only thing we can control in this life is how we react to situations. We can choose how we move forward regardless of what has happened. If one choice doesn’t go the way we anticipated, we choose again. We choose until we get the desired outcome, or until we happen upon one we weren’t even aware we needed. No matter what, choose Hope. Choose Happiness. Integrity. Optimism. Faith. Support. Good.
Choose what moves your soul.
An author’s note: I’ve attributed these quotations to those who said them or said something most like them. After doing some research on each, a few of them have been paraphrased over time.