Quotes and Passages I’m Living My Life By

Reading certain quotes and passages that alight to deeply profound wisdom can shift my reality. They provide new insight on the path I reside and sometimes alter my worldview completely. It’s incredible how the right words carry the power to push through the noise of the daily and sit confidently in the timeless.

For years now, I’ve collected passages and quotes on index cards and notebooks – but never before have I created one place for them all to live. Or better put, one place for me to come and read from: in order for me to better… live.

This page will be constantly updating with new categories and new quotes I come across – refer back to it in the future to see what wisdom my curiosity has allowed me to encounter.

 

‘A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within’
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Self-Reliance | Essay

‘Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom’
Aristotle

‘Belie your national defects… There are also defects of lineage, status, occupation and age which, if they all appear in one person and are not carefully forestalled, will produce an unbearable monster’
Baltasar Gracián
The Pocket Oracle and Art of Prudence | Book

‘Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other actions. Your conformity explains nothing.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Self-Reliance | Essay

‘What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Self-Reliance | Essay

‘We don’t need anyone to tell us what to do. We are free to follow our own path.’
Ezio Auditore da Firenze
Assassin’s Creed 2 | Game

‘Rely upon yourself to get things done and you will not be disappointed.’
Robert Greene
The 50th Law | Book

‘Choose your own way. Do not follow me. Or anyone else.’
Ezio Auditore da Firenze
Assassin’s Creed 2 | Game

‘He who is brave is free.’
Seneca

‘These voices we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Self-Reliance | Essay

‘You are not tied to a particular position; your loyalty is not to a career or a company. You are committed to your Life’s Task, to giving it full expression. It is up to you to find it and guide it correctly.’
Robert Greene
Mastery | Book

‘Else tomorrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Self-Reliance | Essay

‘You spend years working for others – they own you during that period. You get needlessly caught up in people’s games and battles, wasting time and energy that you will never get back. You come to respect your own ideas less and less, listening to experts, conforming to conventional opinions.’
Robert Greene
The 50th Law | Book

‘I am the owner of my might, and I am so when I know myself as unique.’
Max Stirner

‘Who would you want to define you, someone else or yourself?’
Nipsey Hussle

‘Do not accept the roles that society foists on you… Be the master of your own image rather than letting others define it for you.’
Robert Greene
The 48 Laws of Power | Book

‘The objection to conforming to usages that have become dead to you is, that it scatters your force’
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Self-Reliance | Essay

‘The lonely one offers his hand too quickly to whomever he encounters.’
Friedrich Nietzsche
Thus Spoke Zarathustra | Book

‘If we’re too embedded in the cacophony of civilization, the sound of our own thoughts will be drowned.’
Kyle Eschenroeder

‘To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, – that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost’
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Self-Reliance | Essay

‘Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Self-Reliance | Essay

‘The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.’
Marcus Aurelius
Meditations | Book

‘Rule your mind or it will rule you.’
Quintus Horatius Flaccus

 

Decision Making

‘Reflect on what you can put your agency behind, on what you can be for, and through hard choices, become that person.’
Ruth Chang
How to make hard choices | TED Talk

‘When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.’
Lao Tzu

‘Thinking means dividing into neat and incompatible ideas the complexity of the real, whose essence is utter indivisibility.’
Liou Kai-hway

‘There’s no perfection where there’s no selection. Choose well.’
Baltasar Gracián
The Pocket Oracle and Art of Prudence | Book

‘Trust yourself. It’s a golden rule. Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.’
Cheryl Strayed
Tiny Beautiful Things | Book

‘Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.’
Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish
Game of Thrones | TV Show

‘What makes a choice hard is the way the alternative relate’
Ruth Chang
How to make hard choices | TED Talk 

‘In our complex world this is a peculiarly modern problem. So much suffering, so many voices, so many choices – how can we ever know what we think? How can we ever act when the choices never stop coming?’
Robert Ferguson

‘For every company decision, ask yourself: What would the best company in the world do? If we’re not meeting that standard – we aren’t the best company in the world.’
Paolo Vicari

‘Ask yourself: If other people knew I was doing this, would I be embarrassed or ashamed? If so, it’s probably not a good thing to be doing.’
Ryan Holiday

‘A man’s job is to make the world a better place to live in, so far as he is able – always remembering the results will be infinitesimal – and to attend to his own soul.’
Leroy Percy

‘Think little about yourself; think deeply about the world.’
Miyamoto Musashi
The Book of Five Rings | Book

 

Detachment

‘It was my letting go that gave me a better hold.’
Chris Matakas

‘You do not hold on to past ways of doing things, because that will ensure you will fall behind and suffer for it. You are flexible and always looking to adapt.’
Robert Greene
Mastery | Book

‘To be like the rock that the waves keep crashing over. It stands unmoved and the raging of the sea falls still around it.’
Marcus Aurelius
Meditations | Book

‘Ships don’t sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.’
Unknown

‘But the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson

‘The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.’
Alan Watts

‘We are literally inspired, the Latin word meaning something from outside breathing within us.’
Robert Greene
Mastery | Book

‘Move always toward greater simplicity.’
Zen Practice

‘We can rely on nothing. It is because the foolish man trust in things that he so often ends up full of hatred or anger. If you have power – don’t depend on it: the man of strengths is first to fall… If you depend neither on others nor on your own state of being, you can rejoice at good fortune and not be bitter at bad… When we are open and unconstrained, joy and sorrow will not impede us, and no one will cause us trouble.’
Yoshida no Kenko
Essays in Idleness | Book

‘One should act as if the things he cherished the most were already lost or broken.’
H. J. Brues

‘Accept the pain, cherish the joys, resolve the regrets; then can come the best of benedictions – if I had my life to live over, I’d do it all the same.
Joan McIntosh

‘Negative emotions are a call-to-action.’
Mark Manson
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fck | Book

‘When you stop the world for a moment your mind recognises that this must be important. This places the experience in a more accessible place in your mind… It’s how your mind decides what, from everything you experience, you will intentionally carry with you and place near the top of your mashup bag.’
Richard Newton
The Little Book of Thinking Big | Book

‘Man’s only enemies are within himself.’
Florence Shinn

‘Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed, that is. Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.’
Yoda
Star Wars and The Revenge of the Sith | Film

‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters the same;’
Rudyard Kipling
If | Poem 

‘Think of strategy as being both a snake’s head and a snake’s tail. NEVER permit yourself to become entangled in the small points of combat.’
Miyamoto Musashi
The Book of Five Rings | Book

 

Learning and Mastering

‘You can only fight the way you practice.’
Miyamoto Musashi
The Book of Five Rings | Book

‘It is impossible to learn that which one thinks one already knows.’
Epictetus

‘We let the ego tell us we have graduated, learning grinds to a halt.’
Ryan Holiday
Ego is the Enemy | Book

‘Be relentless in your pursuit for expansion. Whenever you feel like you are settling into some circle, force yourself to shake things up and look for new challenges.’
Robert Greene
Mastery | Book

‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.’
Aristotle

‘People who aim to master an art seem to say to themselves, While I’m still not too good at this, I’ll keep it to myself and not let anyone know what I’m doing… For it is the man who mingles with the masters even as a beginner, undaunted by ridicule or laughter, always pushing ahead cooly – it is that man, even if he has no special gift from birth, who will not stumble along the way or become too casual in his attitude.’
Yoshida no Kenko
Essays in Idleness | Book

‘If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,’
Rudyard Kipling
If | Poem

‘Every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of him.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson

‘When student is ready, the teacher appears.’
Old Proverb

‘As our island of knowledge grows, so does our shore of ignorance.’
John Wheeler

‘He who knows best, knows how little he knows.’
Thomas Jefferson

‘People do not advertise their rigidity. You will only trip up against it if you try to introduce a new idea or procedure… If you are open-minded, your very spirit will prove disruptive and upsetting.’
Robert Greene
Mastery | Book

‘I am not interested with your talk about my ideas. I am more interested in your applying them to your life. If you do not, then you are essentially not in accord with your own mind.’
Miyamoto Musashi
The Book of Five Rings | Book

 

ambition

‘When you’re young, seek to fill your toolbox with skills, knowledge and connections – these will be your tools for your future.’
Dr Joseph Jen | Former Under Secretary for U.S. Department of Agriculture

‘If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,’
Rudyard Kipling
If | Poem

‘Power is a lot like real estate. It’s all about location, location, location. The closer you are to the source, the higher your property value.’
Frank Underwood
House of Cards | TV Show

‘Everyone thinks of changing the world. No one thinks of changing themselves.’
Leo Tolstoy

‘I’d rather be partly great than entirely useless.’
Neal Shusterman

‘At the age of six, I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.’
Salvador Dali

 

Life as Art

‘Art is not a thing, it is a way.’
Elbert Hubbard

‘If you can’t get meaning into your design, there’s no meaning to your work.’
George Lois
Damn Good Advice | Book

‘Art and life are one.’
Francois Cheng

‘Certainly a man should try somehow to sever his worldly bonds while in his life, in token of his being born a man. He who puts all of his efforts into worldly gain and makes no attempt to pursue higher understanding is really no different from the beasts.’
Yoshida No Kenko
Essays in Idleness | Book

‘Remember timing. Do not forget harmony with the Universe and Self.’
Miyamoto Musashi
The Book of Five Rings | Book

‘The writer is an explorer. Every step is an advance into a new land.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson

‘Many samurai had developed an interest in the ritual of tea, both because of the physical boost – it helped them to stay awake on long watches – and the spiritual benefit of creating moments of peace and harmony in their violent lives. They lived ready to die, so welcomed opportunities to appreciate beauty in a life that could be over at any moment.’
Beth Kempton
Wabi Sabi | Book

‘My way is crossed by a single thread that connects everything.’
Confucious

‘As a result (of devices) we rarely take the time to simply be; to contemplate the wonders of life and the Universe.’
Richard Newton
The Little Book of Thinking Big | Book

‘Like a hacker, you value the process of self-discovery and making things that are of the highest quality. You avoid the trap of follow one set career path.’
Robert Greene
Mastery | Book

‘To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.’
Lao Tzu

‘Empty yourself of everything, let your mind become still.’
Lao Tzu

‘When I let go of who I am, I become what I might be.’
Lao Tzu

‘At birth a seed is planted. That seed is your uniqueness. It wants to grow, transform itself, and flower to its full potential. It has a natural, assertive energy to it. Your Life’s Task is to bring that seed to flower, to express your uniqueness through your work’
Robert Greene
Mastery | Book

‘Prise intensity more than extensity. Perfection resides in quality, not quantity.’
Baltasar Gracián
The Pocket Oracle and Art of Prudence | Book

‘Living together is an art.’
Thich Nhat Hanh

‘Art is the essence of life. Our words and our actions should be filled with art. The substance of art is complete awareness.’
Thich Nhat Hanh

‘I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks. And the way you feel. Life is Art.’
Helena Bonham Carter

 

‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
and treat those two impostors just the same…’
Rudyard Kipling
If | Poem

‘If you can make one heap of all your winnings,
and risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
and lose, and start again at your beginnings
and never breathe a word about your loss.’
Rudyard Kipling
If | Poem

‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’
Thomas A. Edison

‘I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.’
Herbert Bayard Swope

‘History is earned. You win the day, and then you win the day after, and you do the same thing every day until you’re dead. And you’re remembered not for the winning, but because you never lost!’
Frank Underwood
House of Cards | TV Show

 

Fighting Spirit

‘When the swords flash let no idea of love, piety, or even the face of your fathers move you.’
Julius Ceasar

‘Mastery is like swimming – it is too difficult to move forward when we are creating our own resistance or swimming against the current.’
Robert Greene
Mastery | Book

‘Be audacious. There is always a best possible path. Your job is to find it and have the courage to follow it.’
Ray Dalio
Principles | Book

‘The Spartans do not ask how many are the enemy but where are they.’
Plutarch

‘Walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Dare to be dangerous.’
Dr Jordan B Peterson
12 Rules for Life | Book

‘The difference between a half-hearted scream intended to scare the enemy off and a resolute shout is the difference between bragging and making a commitment to attack with the intent to kill.’
Miyamoto Musashi
The Book of Five Rings | Book 

 

Focus

‘It’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.’
Steve Jobs
WWDC ’97 | Conference

‘We start thinking about what we’d rather have. Rarely do we consider how much worse things could have been.’
Ryan Holiday 

‘One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.’
Bruce Lee

‘Steve Jobs was famous for what observers called his reality distortion field. Part motivational tactic, part sheer drive and ambition, this field made him notoriously dismissive of phrases such as it can’t be done or we need more.’
Ryan Holiday
The Obstacles is the Way | Book

‘Stick to the notion, stay in motion
Remember soon as you stand still
So will everything else you notice
Make sure all your inner actions end with actions.’
Big Sean
Voices in my head, Stick to the plan | Song

‘Do nothing that is of no use.’
Miyamoto Musashi
The Book of Five Rings | Book

‘Most envy and status anxiety has less to do with our shortcomings and more to do with our lack of focus on what we’re doing.’
Kyle Eschenroeder

‘Regardless of the neural basis for such an enhancement, our results suggest that the potential for change in auditory perception is much greater than previously assumed.’
Francois Champoux | Director of University of Montreal’s Lab of Auditory Neuroscience Research

‘When changing something would result in no benefit, it is best not to change it.’
Yoshida no Kenko
Essays in Idleness | Book

 

Leadership

‘The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.’
Max De Pree
Leadership Is An Art | Book

‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.’
Warren Buffet

‘A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.’
Max Lucado

‘Founders arrogantly believe that the beginning is the hardest part because it is hard. But many startups top out between $5m-$20m in revenue. That’s fine if you don’t wish to scale. But if you do, your arrogance prevents you from the necessary transformations. What got you to $20m is very different from what gets you to $100m. You need help, new sorts of employees with a different organization, and you’d better surround yourself with people with more experience and skills than you have. How will your ego cope with that?’
Jason Cohen
Kung Fu | Article

‘Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.’
Tom Landry

 

Immersion

‘They do not take false postures when they prepare for attack. They simply attack with all their heart and soul.’
Miyamoto Musashi
The Book of Five Rings | Book

‘At certain points, as we improve, we have glimpses of how this process could function differently, of how it might feel to practice the skill fluidly, with the mind not getting in the way of the body.’
Robert Greene
Mastery | Book

‘All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.’
Blaise Pascal

‘It’s increasingly difficult to live a life that is self-directed rather than other-directed.’
Kyle Eschenroeder

‘The man who laments every passing day could go on for a thousand years and still feel it was all the dream of a single night.’
Yoshida no Kenko
Essays in Idleness | Book

‘Nothing of consequence has ever been achieved without someone first throwing themselves passionately into the field.’
Richard Newton
The Little Book of Thinking Big | Book

‘The trick to learning is enjoying.’
Richard Feynman

‘The quality of what you do will be brought up by the standards around you.’
Richard Newton
The Little Book of Thinking Big | Book

‘You’re only as good as your record collection.’
DJ Spooky

 

WRITING

‘The only cause of Writer’s Block is high standards. Type garbage. Editing is 10x easier than writing.’
Jason Cohen
Kung Fu | Article

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