Great philosophers, writers, politicians and psychologists have reflected on life and have left us excellent phrases that encourage us to think about our most deeply rooted habits, decisions and beliefs. Some of his phrases invite us to rethink the erroneous attitudes that we sometimes assume without realizing it, while others give us clues to go lighter and more fully. In any case, they contain powerful messages to reflect on what we want from life and where we are going.
Phrases of great thinkers to sit down and reflect
1. Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced – Soren Kierkegaard
With this phrase, the Danish philosopher warns us of a fairly common tendency in our days: the habit of complaining about everything, being pessimistic and convinced that the glass is always half empty. It also encourages us to stop thinking about what happens to us and learn to live fully since, after all, life is meant to be lived to the last drop.
2. Do not find the fault, find the remedy – Henry Ford
With this deep reflection, the American businessman and entrepreneur Henry Ford wanted us to think about the fact that it is not worth crying over spilled milk. He teaches us that when we are faced with a problem, it is more important to focus on finding a solution than on looking for blame on which to place responsibility. Without a doubt, it is important to know the causes so as not to make the same mistake again, but that will not get us out of the problem.
3. In life sometimes you win, other times you learn – John Maxwell
We often think that we have to avoid failure at all costs and that mistakes are our enemies, but this American writer encourages us to change our perspective, making us see that even when we fail in our purpose, we always win because we learn the lesson and grow a little more like people. In the end, each mistake is a lesson and can become a step that brings us closer to our goal.
4. Sometimes we feel that what we do is just a drop in the sea, but the sea would be much less if it lacked a drop – Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Mother Teresa of Calcutta warns us that each small daily action can have a huge impact, although sometimes we think that our effort is useless or not worth it because it is too small or limited. However, every drop counts. Every grain of sand makes the mountain.
5. A man who does not feed on his dreams grows old soon – William Shakespeare
Staying young is not merely a physical matter, it is essential to feed the spirit, illusions and hope. This is the message that this English writer conveys to us when he tells us that we only begin to age when we lose our passion and stop dreaming of a better future.
6. The occasion must be created, not wait for it to arrive – Francis Bacon
If you have a dream, fight for it. That is, in essence, the message that this English philosopher and politician Francis Bacon transmits to us, with which he invites us to strive for the things we really want and put all our efforts into achieving them. It is true that sometimes opportunities knock on the door without warning, but if we do not want to leave our lives in the hands of fate, it is better that we take care of building those opportunities.
7. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional – Buddha
This phrase about life is an excellent resource to help us deal with bad times. Its essence is simple: we cannot avoid problems, but we have the power to choose how we react to them. We have the option of staying stuck in suffering or accepting what happened and moving forward treasuring new learning and being much stronger.
8. The wise are those who seek wisdom, the foolish think they have already found it – Napoleon Bonaparte
The more we get to know each other and the more we delve into the world around us, the more aware we are of everything we still have to learn from life. The wisest people know this, that’s why they don’t believe in absolute truths, they don’t think they are superior to the rest and they constantly strive to learn. On the other hand, when we think we know everything, we not only adopt an arrogant and superior attitude, but we stop looking at the world with surprise and we do not grow as people.
9. We do not remember days, we remember moments – Cesare Pavese
This Italian writer reminds us that life is much more than a sum of days on the calendar, it is the set of unique experiences. Those experiences are the ones that will stay in our memory. To make every moment count, we have to learn to live fully in the here and now, treasuring the magic of every moment.
10. The one who has little is not poor, but the one who desires a lot – Seneca
In life we come and go without baggage, so we don’t need anything more than what really makes us happy. That was the message that this philosopher tried to convey to us. The more we seek happiness outside of ourselves, the further we will be from finding it because happiness is a state of mind, not the sum of possessions and wealth.
11. He who has patience will get what he wants – Benjamin Franklin
The founding father of the United States reminds us of a great virtue that seems lost in an age characterized by haste and speed: patience. Franklin knew that patience is the mother of all virtues because it is precisely what allows our wishes and plans to cook slowly until they come true.
12. Life is a tragedy when seen close-up, but in the long shot it becomes a comedy – Charlie Chaplin
When we are immersed in a problem, we believe that the obstacle in front of us is insurmountable. Emotions take over and prevent us from thinking clearly. Then we despair and throw in the towel, weighed down by the weight of despair. However, when we manage to assume a psychological distance or simply time passes, we realize that it was not such a big deal and we can even laugh at those worries.
13. Freedom consists in being masters of our own life – Plato
For this Greek philosopher, freedom does not only imply the possibility of going where we please, but also taking charge of our own lives. That means being able to make our own decisions and not letting ourselves be too influenced by the opinions of others. Being free implies knowing in which direction we should look and being strong enough so that society does not push us in the opposite direction.
14. We are what we repeatedly do – Aristotle
Many think that they are “good” people only because they profess certain beliefs and values that are considered positive by society. However, this Greek philosopher reminds us that we are not only what we think or what we believe, but that we are mainly our actions. It is our decisions, habits and behaviors that define us as a person. Therefore, we must make sure to cultivate coherence between what we feel and think and what we do.
15. Being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook – William James
This American philosopher and psychologist leaves us with a profound reflection on the importance of learning to ignore those things that are not worth it. This learning usually comes with age, after many blows, after which we realize that everything would have been much easier if we had not focused and worried about the things that really mattered. That is why it encourages us to let go of those worries, complaints or problems that do not deserve our attention, in order to maintain our balance and focus on what counts.
16. Educate children, and it will not be necessary to punish men – Pythagoras
This Greek philosopher and mathematician tells us about the importance of education from an early age. If from an early age we instill good values and beliefs in children, we teach them to behave appropriately, to respect the criteria and freedom of those around them and to help others, we will be educating kind, supportive adults, capable of finding their space in the world without overwhelming others. What we grow at a young age, will be what we collect in the future.
17. Learning without reflection is wasting energy – Confucius
Learning automatically, incorporating new content by heart that we don’t really understand, doesn’t make us better people. True learning, that which has the power to transform our lives, comes when we are able to reflect on what we learn, understand its essence and apply it to our daily lives. Only then, learning is developer and makes us wiser people.
18. Doubt is one of the names of intelligence – Jorge Luis Borges
The Argentine writer refers in this sentence to the philosophy of mistrust that Descartes raised. Doubt is the germ of intelligence because it implies not taking anything for granted but questioning everything to find the origin of things and their interrelationships. In that sense, doubt becomes the driving force behind critical thinking.
19. Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect – Mark Twain
Many times in life, in an attempt to be accepted by the group, we silence our ideas to conform to the norms. However, homogenization is a process through which the person loses his uniqueness and individuality. We all run this risk because we feel a deep need for approval, so if at any point we start to completely agree with others, we should pause to ask ourselves if that consensus is real or arises from fear of rejection.
20. Luck favors only the prepared mind – Louis Pasteur
In life, it is important to be in the right place at the right time. This synchronization can open the door to new opportunities, but it is also essential to have a good preparation to take advantage of them. If we don’t have the right training and we don’t have an open mind, we won’t be able to take advantage of the opportunities that come our way. His message is: get ready, study and stay attentive and open to everything that happens around you.