How long can you spend on the computer without bumping into a great quote?
Not very long.
That’s because our social media feeds are overflowing with them — especially the beautifully designed kind on Instagram.
Quotes are wonderful. They’re bite-sized pieces of wisdom that, when set on a beautiful background, leave us reaching for the Share button.
This is what I call quote-porn.
I’m guilty of this, too. I post them, I read them, I love them. Because nothing feels better than reading a quote that makes me think or, even better, reframes how badly I should feel about something I’m struggling with.
Reading about Abraham Lincoln’s constant failures sure makes me feel good when I’m failing at something myself.
It buoys my spirit, if even for a moment.
But there are hundreds of thousands upon millions of quotes out there on the internet for anyone to find. What separates a good quote from a bad quote?
To me, a good quote is the kind that actually impacts my life. A bad quote isn’t necessary terrible — it’s just a quote I enjoyed reading and then moved on to the next item on my social feed.
But the good quotes … They’re magical, aren’t they?
There are a few quotes that changed my life forever. There are a few that took a deep dive inside my heart and shook its very core.
These few quotes, the one that actually made a difference in my life, are the ones I’m going to share with you below. I hope you enjoy them — and I hope you’ll share the quotes that have changed your life in the comments.
Here you go, the seven quotes that changed my life, for real:
1. On Rainy Days
“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”
— Dr. Maya Angelou
When I first came across this quote, I wasn’t the kind of person you want to spend a bad day with. Getting angry or cranky was always available to me. If you asked my family, they might even say it was my modus operandi.
But this quote really made me rethink my attitude.
Because Dr. Angelou is right, isn’t she? You can tell a lot about a person in how they deal with the small annoyances in life. (And big annoyances, too.)
After I read this quote, I wanted to change — and change I did. Now, I try to deal with things as they come and enjoy even the smallest opportunities to exercise my newfound serenity.
Am I perfect? No, but I’m always trying. And I feel much better for it.
One of my favorite activities, for example, is letting angry drivers pass me on the road. If they need to get where they’re going so badly, I’ll help them out. Why get road rage? Instead, I’d rather do them a favor.
Pro tip: Keeping a gratitude journal sped this process up by leaps and bounds. I now am hard-wired to look at the bright side of annoying events, even when I’m not even aware I’m doing it.
2. On Friendship
“Home is not pretentious. You don’t get dressed up or put on airs to be home.”
— Danny Meyer
While the quote is about home life, it impacted me in another way. This is the bar to which I hold all of my friendships.
Over the years, I’ve gained and lost friends, as is normal. This quote, though, guides me in that process.
I started out 2014 with this mindset: if someone doesn’t make me feel good after hanging out with them, they’re not for me.
That may sound cut-throat, but it’s actually the opposite. It’s what allows me to live a life that is plentiful in love, comfort, and peace.
If I feel I have to try when I’m around someone, they don’t fit in with this quote. This quote showed me that the people I should have around me are the ones that make me feel like I’m home.
I don’t put on airs to be around the people I love. And the people I love don’t put on airs to be around me, either.
3. On Our Highlight Reels
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
— Steve Furtick
Oh, our constant comparisons… This quote truly changed my view of people and how they present themselves.
I firmly believe that most people exaggerate their successes and play themselves up more than we imagine. So, while I’m sitting here wondering why my product isn’t moving as quickly as someone else’s, they’re actually lying through their teeth about how well they’re doing.
Recently, I asked someone I respect about speaking with her. She pointed me to a website where I could get in touch, noting that this service keeps her “super busy.” When I visited the link, though, her “counter” said she had taken less than 15 calls.
It’s disappointing, but it’s also very helpful.
Whenever I feel myself being pulled toward comparison, I remember this quote. It relieves me of my insecurity every time.
And you know what? My behind-the-scenes is pretty badass.
4. On the Unlived Life
“The unexamined life may not be worth living, but the unlived life is not worth examining. ”
— Guy Kawasaki
I went through an intense Guy Kawasaki phase when I lived in Spain. I read almost everything he’s ever written and followed his every move online. He’s a marketing genius, right?
He’s also a pretty inspiring guy, if you look closely enough.
His remix on a famous quote made me think about how I was living my life. I remember thinking,
“Am I living a life that people would enjoy hearing about?”
After reading this quote, I upped the ante on how I filled my days. I started running 7 miles through downtown Madrid, instead of running on the treadmill. I went for walks alone, instead of sitting at home on the computer. I booked a ticket home for three days just so I could be with JJ for his brother’s wedding.
Small tweaks, right? But they’re actually the highlights of my year in Spain.
5. On Time
“The time I feel most deprived is when I wake up and remember that it’s Monday, and that my day will not be mine today.”
– David Cain
You probably agree with this quote if you’re reading this site on living a “perpetual vacation,” but it’s still worth noting.
When I read this quote, I was already writing this website, but it still rocked my world — because it had never occurred to me in those words:
“Do I own my days?”
It seems to me (and a lot of people lately) that it’s no way to live.
My friend Barrett Brooks gave a talk on this exact movement, which he titled “Thank goodness it’s Monday.” The amount of people who are abandoning the traditional career approach in order to own their days is staggering.
Whenever I feel the pull to get a traditional job (which does happen from time to time), I remind myself of this:
No matter what, I want to be the owner of my every single day.
6. On the Weight of Worry
“A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears.”
— Michael de Montaigne
Every time I worry or imagine negative outcomes, I think of this quote.
So many quotes seem so simple, so straight-forward, that we wonder why we didn’t come up with them ourselves. And the concept is so simple, isn’t it?
What’s the point of fearing some kind of pain in the future? It’s only creating more pain in the present.
Knowing there is a possibility of pain in the future is one thing, but anticipating that pain and suffering from it prematurely is another. Instead, I’d rather use that knowledge to try to minimize that future pain.
7. On Our Minds
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
This is similar to the quote above, but it’s effect on me has been different.
When I read this quote, I realized one thing: it’s all up to me. When something happens to me (or doesn’t), my reaction is something I control.
Shakespeare had it all figured out all along. Who knew?
* * *
There you have it. These are the seven quotes that made a direct impact on my life. Because, to me, that’s all that matters.
There are so many important quotes out there, but what good are they if they don’t change our lives or help us in some way?
I’m curious what your take is on this:
Which quotes have made actual impact on your life?
Do you save your favorite quotes in a safe place?
Do you journal about quotes that mean something to you?
Wishing you awesomeness from Managua!