We are often judged by how we live our lives, where we live, and who we live that life with. Whether you care about this or not, you can guarantee there is a quote to comfort you. Not a great deal has changed in human behaviour since some of the great philosophers lived, in an age that is beyond our comprehension.
The search for meaning in our lives will never end, nor the quest for knowledge. One could say that is what keeps the words of the great philosophers alive, whether they lived over 2000, 1000, or 100 years ago. The year is irrelevant, but their words are always relevant.
The wisdom of past philosophers became the wisdom of future philosophers, past knowledge lighting the flame for future philosophers.
To quote Confucius – “The journey with a 1000 miles begins with one step”.
The first step your child takes is awesome, into a future of endless possibilities. The first step towards sobriety an addict takes is equally awesome, into a brighter future. The first step someone takes after major trauma seems miraculous. And no matter how many times we fall down, we now know we can pick ourselves up and move on. Knowing we’ve taken the first step and are capable of more builds an inner belief and inner strength.
LOOKING FOR ANSWERS
Books on how to live your life to its fullest potential, motivation, and personal development are constantly being published. Some with quirky titles to catch your eye, others more serious.
When The Secret by Rhonda Byrne was published in 2006, it rapidly became popular among people who normally didn’t read positive psychology books. Many people believed it was offering them the secret to life. It created a stir and a quest for knowledge.
Paulo Coelho’s books, especially The Pilgrimage, also offered a new experience, a new way of looking at life. Any book that gives one a sense of enlightenment is a gift. There are thousands of books that may give you the key to some aspect of inner knowledge and understanding.
Words that impact on your life. Words that seem written just for you as if the author could see into your soul. That moment of clarity when thoughts become words, creating a mesmeric change in your life is amazing. The artist has begun a masterpiece with one stroke of the brush.
Are we saying anything new, or just creating a different way of looking at life? It truly doesn’t matter. What is important is a reminder to ourselves when we need it most – positive words, words that are meaningful to us and that wake us up.
Let’s take a walk back in time and absorb the meaning and truth of some great philosophers. My choice may not be your choice, but hopefully some of these quotes will resonate with you.
Aristotle (384 – 322 BC)
‘Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the rest’.
‘I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self’.
Plato 428-7 B.C.E. – 348-7 B.C.E.
‘The beginning is the most important part of the work’.
‘People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person, or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die’.
‘Man – a being in search of meaning’.
Socrates 470 BC – 399 BC
‘The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing’.
‘Let him that would move the world first move himself’
‘By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.’
(This quote which is accredited to Socrates brings a smile to my face. I wonder how many female philosophers there are.)
Democritus 460 BC – 370 BC
‘Our sins are more easily remembered than our good deeds’.
‘Good means not merely not to do wrong, but rather not to desire to do wrong’.
Plutarch AD 46 – AD 119
‘What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality’.
‘I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better’.
‘No man ever wetted clay and then left it, as if there would be bricks by chance and fortune’.
Epictetus AD 50 – c. 135
‘It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters’.
‘There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will’.
‘The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best’.
‘First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do’.
Heraclitus ( Born 6th century BCE. Died 5th century BCE)
‘You could not step twice into the same rivers; for other waters are ever flowing on to you’.
‘There is nothing permanent except change’.
‘Much learning does not teach understanding’.
‘The sun is new each day’.
Descartes (1596 – 1650)
‘It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well’.
‘Cogito ergo sum. I think; therefore, I am’.
‘Divide each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it’.
Confucius (551 to c. 479 BCE)
‘Never do to others what you would not like them to do to you’.
‘Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall’.
‘The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that unlock the door to personal excellence’.
Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274)
‘The things that we love tell us what we are’.
‘Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate’.
‘Wonder is the desire for knowledge.’
The search for meaning in our lives is not necessarily a conscious thought. It certainly won’t be found at the end of a bottle, nor is there a magic substance. Awareness of our inner strength and ability to live a life of joy and serenity, will create elements of meaning in our lives.
We all have wisdom and greatness within us. Acknowledging that is neither egotistical nor arrogant. It’s the fuel that fires our thoughts and actions and strengthens our self-belief.
Living one’s life with meaning has many aspects – big and small. Just do it. Allow all that is good within you to flow like a river and be aware of the greatness around you.
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