They are distilled wisdom from entire lives of deep thought and hard-won experiences. Imagine just taking one single quote from your entire life. That's what we do with historical philosophers, writers, leaders. Imagine the wisdom collected in that person's best quote.
Why should you collect quotes?
To benefit from other people's endeavors, errors and success. To be inspired to improve. And, maybe just a little, to make yourself look a little better, wiser, more interesting.
What quotes should you avoid?
The ones that are mass manufactured, lack meaning, are contradictory, made only to fit today's media landscape of maximum 140 characters. Almost all gym slogans, thinspiration instas and exercise tweets belong to this category, even if many gym rats actually seem to draw energy from them. Avoid quotes that just sound good (in particular if it's in another language). Avoid quotes where you're really only interested in the person behind them rather than the actual wisdom.
Which quotes should you collect?
Quotes that get you through the day, quotes that inspire you to be better, quotes that speak to your innermost and actually alter your behavior positively.
15 quotes that actually mean something
(without reference, since I don't care who said what; I care about the meaning)
- Try pouring a ton of steel without rigid principles
- whenever accused or ridiculed for being precise or "too logical". Or when you are being too eager; take a step back and establish the principles first.
- When a man tells you that he knows the exact truth about anything, you are safe in inferring that he is an inexact man
- trust no one, question all truths, be prepared to re-learn, accept the evidence of reality, not the confidence of other men
- Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity
- few people are truly evil, try to understand how they think they are being good, and then change their ways
- The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it
- remember that those in power will do anything to keep it; that's how they got there in the first place, to powerfully administer their variety of good: "I'm from the government and I am here to help you"
- When you come to a fork in the road, take it
- be open minded, take a chance, don't fret, equally weighted decisions are easy, not hard
- If you do not change direction you may end up where you are heading
- be strategic, think long-term, 100 million small steps add up over the years; you will end up where you are heading
- Forecasting is difficult, especially about the future
- forecasts are guesses; some are more informed than others but something else might still happen. Here be black swans.
- If the world was perfect it wouldn't be
- life isn't exact, life isn't comfortable and predictable, life is change, surprises, volatility, highs and lows. Don't shy away from life, embrace it, warts and all
- Be yourself, everyone else is already taken
- live in a way that you always without hesitation can answer "me" when asked who you would be if you could choose
- Don't postpone until yesterday that which can wait until the day after yesterday
- Don't rush, don't force, live now, if something can be put off without consequence, do it!
- Arguing with morons is like playing chess with pigeons, no matter who wins, they will shit all over the board and strut around like winners
- Some fights aren't worth taking, no matter how right you are
- Every man is an island
- Take responsibility. Every person can only live for himself; by accepting this truth instead of altruistic paradoxes and lies, the world becomes a better and more fair place to live
- Character shines through with power not adversity
- Never judge a poor man's character; wait until he becomes rich and powerful. Absolute power corrupts absolutely (Old Testament God - check!)
- Know yourself
- does this count as a quote? No matter, it's still the best there is. It guides every aspect of my life and is the root of all good things. Knowing yourself is necessary for achieving true success and happiness
- Just one more
- Works everywhere; as a journalist, in the gym, in the bar. It stops you from quitting too soon, while tricking others and yourself that you really will stop after just this one.