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Quotes About Life: 51 Inspirational Phrases

Motivational phrases can help us improve our outlook on life

a person sitting in front of the sea on a terrace
Quotes About Life: 51 Inspirational Phrases | iSTOCK

There are many quotes about life and inspirational phrases that help us feel good. Many philosophers, great thinkers of the world, and even unknown authors have left behind uplifting utterances that make us reflect about life.  

We have listed 51 of the most exciting and motivational phrases, love quotes, and success mottos that still resonate with us today.  

Quotes about life

Sometimes, all we need to start contemplating our lives are a few short phrases. They mirror our feelings and inner thoughts and allow us to express ourselves better. 

1. "A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds." - Francis Bacon

Opportunities don't just fall from the skies; one must actively go out and look for them. Life may have some exceptions, but for the most part, hard work and determination are the real path openers. 

2. ”We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Will Durant 

As humans, we are not defined only by our gender, social or work status, but by our actions as well. One might be tempted to believe that success and excellence are birthrights, however, we are looking at an entire mechanism of perseverance that day after day leads us closer to greatness. | 

3. "Change is the only constant in life." - Heraclitus

We may choose to believe the opposite (as it brings comfort), but life is unpredictable. Our plans and projects often become sidetracked because of unexpected events. The one thing that remains the same is the knowledge that change will always come. 

4. “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” - Einstein

Accepting that life is unpredictable and learning how to adapt to the evermoving elements of life is what Einstein deemed to be the finest example of intelligence. 

5. “One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others by means of love, friendship, indignation, and compassion.” - Simone de Beauvoir

Freedom is not a personal attribute but a right that all people should have. Being aware that other people's freedom requires a joint effort from all humans and striving to achieve it equates to personal freedom.   

6. “Happiness is not doing what you want but wanting what you do.”- Sartre

Many times, what we do takes us further from happiness. A healthier approach, according to the French philosopher, would be to start liking what we do, which will ultimately make us more fulfilled. 

Love quotes

Life and love are two topics that have fascinated poets and writers for hundreds of years. We will have a look at a few love quotes that help us reflect on the most significant driving force of life. 

7. “Love is a serious mental disease.” - Platon

Love, in all its might, fills us with thrill, excitement and a feeling of being on cloud nine. Conversely, when love ends, it can consume our every thought to the point that it plagues our minds, much like (in Plato's opinion) a mental disease. 

8. "The things that we love tell us what we are" - Thomas Aquinas

Our interest and what we fill our free time with speak volumes about what type of person we are. Most often than not, our true feelings, tastes, and personality reveal themselves through the things we do. 

9. "It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages." - Nietzsche

This quote is a warning to all who want to start a romantic relationship. It warns them to become friends first, and then see what develops. If not, the road ahead may be difficult to navigate. 

10. "Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies." - Aristotle 

Although separated by physical bodies, love has the power of uniting two people and making them feel and think as if they were one. 

11.  'In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two.' - Erich Fromm

When two people are deeply in love, their desires begin to merge, just as their feelings and most secret dreams, as if they were the same person's. This could potentially cause problems, as its essential to maintain our individuality, and share our lives with the other person while still staying true to ourselves. 

12. "There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness." - Nietzsche

When we're in love, madly in love, as they say, reason takes a back seat, and our hearts become the primary driver. As foolish as it may seem at times, there is some justification in love's insanity - those compelling emotions that instigate complete disruption of our body. 

Popular Sayings

Proverbs and popular sayings are memorable phrases that reflect real life and have been passed orally from generation to generation. Their wisdom inspires us to think about our lives and daily habits. 

13. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

This expression is used for saying that it's better to hold onto something that you already have than risk losing it by trying to obtain something (perceived as being) better.

14. Always put your best foot forward.

The best way to explain this popular saying would be to show oneself in the best or most positive way possible; to make a favorable impression. Try to put your best foot forward at all times during a job interview.

15. Beggars can’t be choosers.

This expression is said when you recognize that you must accept an offer or a situation because it is the only one available to you. Simply put, you don't have any other choice. 

16. Let sleeping dogs lie.

Just as it would be dangerous to awaken guard dogs that are asleep, this expression is a warning to leave things as they are; especially, to avoid restarting an old argument or reviving an unpleasant memory. 

17. Once bitten twice shy.

Said when you are frightened to do something because of a negative experience in the past. This is a proverb that suggests caution to anyone that risks making the same mistakes again. 

Inspirational phrases

Some of the phrases that make us think about our lives and truly reflect on our actions are the creations of rational minds. When things get tough, many people turn to an inspirational quote for a quick pick-me-up. 

18.  "I would give everything I know for half of what I ignore." - Rene Descartes

Descartes was a philosopher that reflected intensely on the ability of human beings to learn everything there is to learn in this world. Wisdom and reason, according to him, are the most important attributes that we possess. 

19. “Doubt is one of the names of intelligence.” - Jorge Luis Borges

If we weren't curious about things and asked questions, we would probably never have the motivation to discover and learn things. This is why doubt, in the Argentinian author's view, is perceived as a sign of intelligence. 

20. "The best cure for the body is a quiet mind" - Napoleon Bonaparte 

In today's hectic society, we sometimes believe that we don’t have the time or the option to relax. The false belief that if we do more, and never miss a beat, we will achieve more is what's keeping us trapped on the rat wheel. Take any chance to calm yourself and get some peace, because it will be worth it in the end. 

21. “What we know is a drop, what we don't know is an ocean.” - Isaac Newton

If we look back 300 years, we might understand Newtons' statement better, considering how many of the things we take for granted now were complete mysteries back then. Humanity has, nevertheless, made great progress technologically and socially to the point that we could perhaps replace the word "ocean" with "lake" or, more optimistically, "pond." 

22. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” - Gandhi

One must live life to the fullest, just as if he or she were to die tomorrow. On the other hand, we should never stop learning, regardless of age or social status. 

23. "The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts." - Marcus Aurelius 

Many times, we are unable to see life's good side because we fill our minds with negative and toxic thoughts. According to the Roman ruler (one of "The Five Good Emperors"), it is essential to cultivate a mindset to deal effectively with any events or emotions.

Sad quotes

Life is not always a walk in the park, and we all go through sad or melancholic moments. This condition of the human being has also been studied by many scholars who have come up with maxims that help us feel connected to each other, even if it is through sadness and misery. 

24. "Pain is inevitable: suffering is optional." - Buddha

One of the intrinsic features of life is that we feel pain, even animals experience it. Irrespective of this, sometimes we can choose how much we let painful experiences affect us; and therefore control how much we suffer. 

25. "If you are lonely when you're alone, you are in bad company."  - Jean-Paul Sartre

Solitude, in small doses, is an essential part of living. However, if this becomes the norm, and we feel lonely when we are alone, perhaps we should look at why we can't be content with ourselves.  

26. "If I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life - and only then will I be free to become myself." - Martin Heidegger

Anxiety over death is something many people experience and struggle with. The German philosopher, however, proposes a rational way of overcoming it - by tackling it head on which in turn helps demystify it. This maxim could also be applied to any fear that we might have, and by accepting it, we become free of it. 

27. "I'm not pessimistic. It is the world that is terrible." - José Saramago

Sometimes, negatively seeing the world is not a reflection of our thoughts but a direct result of the horrors of the world. In the novelist's own words: " How can we be optimistic in the face of a planet where people live so badly, nature is being destroyed, and the dominant empire is money?". 

28. "The fact that life has no meaning is a reason to live - moreover, the only one." - Emil Cioran

This could be interpreted as a skeptical view of life, which the Romanian philosopher and essayist was known for. However, there could be a silver lining attached to it. Since life has no meaning, we are free to make of it anything that we see fit and infuse it with our own sense of purpose.  

Success quotes

Success is no accident nor a fast recipe. It is the result of dedication, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence. Self-belief and applying oneself will always earn success.

29.  “Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.” - Rosa Luxemburg 

Many times we are oblivious to our lack of freedom because we remain in the same place or situation for a long time. Poking our heads out and seeing what's out there is often the best incentive to start a new, more successful life. 

30. "Solitude is independence." - Hermann Hesse

Solitude is an essential element of life; it allows us to discover ourselves and better understand what motivates and drives our actions and thoughts. Having this knowledge translates into the power of being independent and succeeding on one's own terms. 

31. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” - Nietzsche

Despite the unfairness of life, not all problems are impossible to resolve. On the contrary, the experiences that hurt us today are the same ones that shape and empower us for tomorrow's challenges. 

32. "Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

One of the most important characteristics to have in life is bravery and persistence. It is the courage to continue that counts because it does take true courage to keep pushing forward. Especially in the face of failure.

33. "It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation." - Herman Melville 

Failure has been said to be the real test of greatness. One of the interpretations of this success quote could be that it is vital to strive for new, fresh creations and put our best self forward, and try as many things as we can as opposed to always choosing the most traveled path.  

34. "Ask yourself: What would I do if I weren't afraid? And then go do it." - Sheryl Sandberg 

In line with Heiddeger's statement, American technology executive and author, Sheryl Sandberg proposes that we ask ourselves this compelling yet straightforward question. Most, if not all, of the things we aspire to, are on the other side of fear. 

Motivational quotes 

As we work to achieve our most ambitious goals, we have to push ourselves to keep moving forward. We have compiled a list of 6 motivational quotes to help reignite that creative spark. 

35. "This world is but a canvas to our imagination." - Henry David Thoreau

The possibilities are endless. Just like a blank canvass is to a painter, life presents itself to us as an oasis of infinite opportunities, if and only if we are prepared to see it this way. 

36. "Look back, and smile on perils past." - Walter Scott

This phrase, by Scottish novelist, encourages us all to not look back in anger or with regret on our past experiences. If anything, we should be proud of what we have been through as it helped us become the persons we are today.  

37. "Don't find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain" - Henry Ford

Henry Ford was an American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company and the mind behind many great maxims. In a world where finding fault and complaining is almost second nature, coming up with solutions is the real mark of successful people. The premise here is shifting the focus from problems and onto solutions, which is what propels businesses and careers. 

38. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." - Einstein

It sounds quite easy to do - if we want different results we have to try different methods. But, most times, we get so caught up in our own ways that we ignore the other possibilities that are out there, and subsequently, end up having the same (unsatisfactory) results. 

39. "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." Martin Luther King

We reflect on the transformational life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and are reminded of so many of the powerful messages put forth by this visionary. No matter what road we are on, taking the first step is essential in our quest for success of happiness. We don't always need to have all the answers; merely beginning is enough to unfold the rest of life's events.  

40. “Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how.'” - Viktor Frankl

With a stoic approach to life, Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl suggests that as long as we have something meaningful in our lives, we are capable of enduring all possible vicissitudes. 

Happiness quotes

Many famous quotes can help us remember that life is beautiful and worth living. From authors to singers and ancient philosophers, human beings have always been in pursuit of the elusive notion of happiness. 

41. "If you want to be happy, be." Lev Tolstoi 

Too often we perceive happiness as a by-product of success and become depressed when our expectations are not fulfilled. What the Russian author is suggesting is that we inverse those roles and start with being happy - as a state of mind, and then experience the positive results that our attitude will bring. 

42. "Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans." - John Lennon

This phrase is another reminder that we must be present in the "now" when life happens, and not live in a projected world of plans and future arrangements as we might miss out on what's in front of us. 

43. "Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated." - Confucius

When looked at it this way, life truly can be a pleasant and uncomplicated affair. Anxiety, too many expectations, and social pressure often lead us to live convoluted lives. Confucius' advice has never been more relevant as it is in modern society.  

44. “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life: the whole aim and end of human existence.” - Aristotle 

Aristotle postulates that the true and only meaning of life is happiness, and uses this word as an umbrella term to represent what different people take to be the overall purpose of their endeavors. 

45. "Keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life's a beautiful thing and there's so much to smile about.” - Marilyn Monroe 

An uplifting quote that is meant to remind us of life's beauties and the power of a smile. Despite the hardships we encounter along the way, having a positive attitude and choosing to focus on the good things does more good than any medicine or "recipe for success." 

Thought-provoking quotes

We could all use with some food for thought every once in a while and these following quotes are meant to help us reflect on the deeper topics that humanity is concerned with. 

46. "Do not judge my story by the chapter you walked in on." - Unknown

This phrase is quite self-explanatory and offers the analogy of a novel. One must never judge the entire book - or person, based on one chapter that we happened to land on. 

47. "The path to true education comes from thinking and asking questions." - Unknown 

This statement implies that a person should not accept anything at face value, but they should try to reflect on it and go to the root of a particular statement. Deep thinking enables a person to be aware of their surroundings and asking questions about what is right and wrong develops important critical thinking skills.

48. "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." - Lewis Carroll

Having goals and objectives is an essential part of succeeding in life, regardless of our field of activity. If one doesn't have any direction in mind and drifts along in life, there will be no control over the outcome, and thus any decision we make will render the same result. 

49. "There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved." - George Sand

A thought-provoking quote by George Sand (pen name of Amantine Aurore Lucile Dupin) about the value of love and how it's the foundation and driving force of life.

50. "It always seems impossible until it’s done." - Nelson Mandela

Many things seem impossible to a certain extent. That shouldn't stop you from trying and taking steps to make it happen. You never know what dreams and goals you can make happen until you try. 

51. "Life is the flower for which love is the honey." - Victor Hugo

This poetic maxim by French author means to say that love is what nourishes us, a wonderful by-product of our existence. 


Alós, J. (2016). Pensamientos al hilo de la vida. Las mejores 40 frases. Bubok Publishing: España

Herrera, H. (2011). 1500 frases, pensamientos para la vida. Editor Lulu.com. ISBN: 9781105216565