Quotes, man. I freaking love quotes.

Proverbs, quips, riddles, excerpts, aphorisms, koans, snippets, lyrics, and limericks — I don’t discriminate. I adore them all.

Quotes often catch a bad rep on the Internet, due to the tendency of certain popular quotes to be shared ad infinitum.

But this is a shame. Because if you really scour the caverns of the Internet, you find a nearly infinite wellspring of mind-liberating, soul-vitalizing gems of language. 

Don’t get me wrong. Quotes are not a replacement for reading entire books, elaborate novels, and longform essays. No way.

But methinks they can nonetheless deliver potent, pithy shots of insight, clarity, and/or invigoration.

So, as a gift to you, awesome Internet-person, I assembled this list of 150 jewels of thought, on everything from love and suffering, to mystery and happiness, to death and morality.

Marinate, contemplate, salivate, and above all, savor these, as if they were intimate notes left to you by some of the greatest minds in history.

Because in fact, that’s precisely what they are.

On Happiness

“What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits.”
― Carl Jung


“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”
― Lao Tzu

“Contentment is natural wealth, luxury is artificial poverty.”
― Socrates

“Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn’t calculate his happiness.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“Happiness consists in realizing it is all a great strange dream.”
― Jack Kerouac

“I have the true feeling of myself only when I am unbearably unhappy.”
― Franz Kafka

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”
― Leo Tolstoy

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action. ”
― William James

“The notion that a human being should be constantly happy is a uniquely modern, uniquely American, uniquely destructive idea”
― Andrew Weil

On Love

Anaïs Nin

“The truly faithless one is the one who makes love to only a fraction of you. And denies the rest.”

― Anaïs Nin

“Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”
― Kahlil Gibran

“When you love someone, you love the person as they are, and not as you’d like them to be.”
— Leo Tolstoy

“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin

“We need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go. For holding on comes easily; we do not need to learn it.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
― Lao Tzu

“We were together. I forget the rest.”
― Walt Whitman

“Love is friendship set to music.”
― Jackson Pollock

“intelligence is intuitive
you needn’t learn to love
unless you’ve been taught
to fear and hate”
― Saul Williams

On Identity & Self-Actualization

Kurt_Vonnegut_1972“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
― Kurt Vonnegut

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
― C.G. Jung

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
― Joseph Campbell

“Become what you are.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

“What labels me, negates me.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

On Art

800px-Salvador_Dali_NYWTS“What is important is to spread confusion, not eliminate it.”
― Salvador Dalí

“Irresponsibility is part of the pleasure of all art; it is the part the schools cannot recognize.”
— James Joyce

“Art and love are the same thing: It’s the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you.”
― Chuck Klosterman

“Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not. ”
― Pablo Picasso

“Art is anything you can get away with.”
― Marshall McLuhan

“I don’t believe in art. I believe in artists.”
― Marcel Duchamp

On Writing & Language

“I’d tell you all you want and more, if the sounds I made could be what you hear.”
― David Foster Wallace


“If my poetry aims to achieve anything, it’s to deliver people from the limited ways in which they see and feel.”
― Jim Morrison

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”
― Ernest Hemingway

“Poetry is the one place where people can speak their original human mind. It is the outlet for people to say in public what is known in private.”
― Allen Ginsberg

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.”
― Franz Kafka

“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly ― they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.”
― Aldous Huxley

“Poetry is what gets lost in translation.”
― Robert Frost

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
― Jorge Luis Borges

“What I really wanted was every kind of life, and the writer’s life seemed the most inclusive.”
― Susan Sontag

“Words are never ‘only words’; they matter because they define the contours of what we can do.”
― Slavoj Žižek

On Reading & Education

Susan_Sontag“Read a lot. Expect something big, something exalting or deepening from a book. No book is worth reading that isn’t worth re-reading.”
― Susan Sontag

“Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”
― Richard P. Feynman

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
― Oscar Wilde

“… we should read for power. Man reading should be man intensely alive. The book should be a ball of light in one’s hand.”
— Ezra Pound

On Truth & Wisdom

“Nobody is smarter than you are. And what if they are? What good is their understanding doing you?”
― Terence McKenna

800px-Hanna_jon_1999_mckenna_terence“I must find a truth that is true for me.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

“Learn what is to be taken seriously and laugh at the rest.”
― Hermann Hesse

“The wisest of all, in my opinion, is he who can, if only once a month, call himself a fool — a faculty unheard of nowadays.”
— Fyodor Dostoevsky

“Truth, she thought. As terrible as death. But harder to find.”
― Philip K. Dick

“I don’t believe anything, but I have many suspicions.”
― Robert Anton Wilson

“The struggle between ‘for’ and ‘against’ is the mind’s worst disease.”
— Sent ts’an, c. 700 C. E.

“The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there.”
― Yasutani Roshi

On Music & Silence

rumi“I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.”
― Rumi

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.”

― Victor Hugo

“The only truth is music.”
— Jack Kerouac

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
― Aldous Huxley

“Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.”
― William S. Burroughs

“When you are Angry, Be Silent.”
— Bukhari

On Suffering

Alan_Watts“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”
― Alan W. Watts

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
― Kahlil Gibran

“What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
― Ernest Hemingway

On Dreams & Possibility

800px-Thich_Nhat_Hanh_12_(cropped)“Because you are alive, everything is possible.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh


“I love those who yearn for the impossible.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!”
― Søren Kierkegaard

“I dream. Sometimes I think that’s the only right thing to do.”
― Haruki Murakami

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”
― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.”
― Langston Hughes

On Change

800px-Utrecht_Moreelse_Heraclite“You could not step twice into the same river.”
― Heraclitus

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality.”
― Lao Tzu

“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”
― Rainer Maria Rilke

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
― Alan W. Watts

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”
― Lao Tzu

“Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.”
― Margaret Mitchell

On Zen & Taoism


“Flow with whatever may happen, and let your mind be free: Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.”
― Chuang Tzu

“You can feel an emotion; just don’t think that it’s so important.”
— John Cage

“No snowflake ever falls in the wrong place.”
― Zen Proverb

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes and grass grows by itself.”
― Zenrin Kushû

“The instant you speak about a thing, you miss the mark.”
― Zen Proverb

“You must let what happens happen. Everything must be equal in your eyes, good and evil, beautiful and ugly, foolish and wise.”
― Michael Ende

“Worry is preposterous; we don’t know enough to worry.”
— Wei Boyang

“If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.”
― Zen Proverb

On Mystery

“The longer I live, the more uninformed I feel. Only the young have an explanation for everything.”
― Isabel Allende

Isabel_Allende_-_001“Mysteries abound where most we seek for answers.”
― Ray Bradbury

“He who does not answer the questions has passed the test.”
— Franz Kafka

“Talk of mysteries! — Think of our life in nature, — daily to be shown matter, to come in contact with it, — rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks! The solid earth! The actual world! The common sense! Contact! Contact! Who are we? Where are we?
― Henry David Thoreau

“The frog in the pond knows little of the great ocean.”
― Zen Proverb

“Astonishment is the proper response to reality.”
— Terence McKenna

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

On Death

Langston_Hughes_by_Carl_Van_Vechten_1936“Life is for the living.
Death is for the dead.
Let life be like music.
And death a note unsaid.”
― Langston Hughes

“As I have not worried to be born, I do not worry to die.”
― Federico García Lorca

“Nobody owns life, but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death.”
― William S. Burroughs


On Freedom

Kierkegaard“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”

― Søren Kierkegaard

“Nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom.”
— Alexis de Tocqueville

“Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.”
— Jack Kerouac


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