As long as man has been alive, he has been collecting little sayings about how to live.
We find them carved in the rock of the Temple of Apollo and etched as graffiti on the walls of Pompeii. They appear in the plays of Shakespeare, the commonplace book of H. P. Lovecraft, the collected proverbs of Erasmus, and the ceiling beams of Montaigne’s study. Today, they’re recorded on iPhones and in Evernote.
But whatever generation is doing it, whether they’re written by scribes in China or commoners in some European dungeon or simply passed along by a kindly grandfather, these little epigrams of life advice have taught essential lessons. How to respond to adversity. How to think about money. How to meditate on our mortality. How to have courage.
These are 21 quotes that will change you into a better person gathered by bestselling author Ryan Holiday. Each one is worth remembering, having queued in your brain for one of life’s crossroads or to drop at the perfect moment in conversation.
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01:13 1. “We must all either wear out or rust out, every one of us. My choice is to wear out.” — Theodore Roosevelt
02:25 2. “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” — Epictetus
03:10 3. “The best revenge is not to be like that.” — Marcus Aurelius
04:33 4. “There is good in everything, if only we look for it.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder
05:27 5. “Character is fate.” — Heraclitus
06:23 6. “If you see fraud and do not say fraud, you are a fraud.” — Nicholas Nassim Taleb
07:38 7. “Every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of him.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
08:36 8. “This is not your responsibility but it is your problem.” — Cheryl Strayed
09:39 9. “Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” — Marcus Aurelius
10:37 10. “You are only entitled to the action, never to its fruits.” — Bhagavad Gita
11:36 11. “Self-sufficiency is the greatest of all wealth.” — Epicurus
12:23 12. “Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.” — Jose Ortega y Gasset
13:03 13. “Better to trip with the feet than with the tongue.” — Zeno
14:01 14. “Space I can recover. Time, never.” — Napoleon Bonaparte
15:01 15. “You never know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out.” — Warren Buffett
16:18 16. “Search others for their virtues, thyself for thy vices.” — Benjamin Franklin
17:04 17. “The world was not big enough for Alexander the Great, but a coffin was.” — Juvenal
18:00 18. “To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.” — Winston Churchill
18:53 19. “Judge not, lest you be judged.” — Jesus
19:59 20. “Time and patience are the strongest warriors.” — Leo Tolstoy
21:13 21. “No one saves us but ourselves / No one can and no one may.” — Buddha
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