25 Important Lessons In Life Quotes From The Wisest People Who Ever Lived

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Isaac Newton said “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

It’s a great quote that serves to remind us that there is a lot to learn from those who came before us. They can show us how to work, how to love, how to enjoy family, when to live, and when to let go.

The benefit of living today is we have an abundance of access to this wisdom, more than ever before. We can learn from geniuses in dozens of different fields, and they can help us become more well-rounded.

But this is also the downfall, we can come to undervalue important life lessons, and find it hard to sift through the mountains of information we have to work with.

That’s why today, we’re bringing you 25 important lessons in life quotes from the wisest people who ever lived.

Important Lessons From Inventors

We can’t all be Thomas Edison, but that doesn’t mean we don’t all create something throughout our lives. The life lessons that we’re taught from inventors can be useful to help us to better understand how we think about art, creation, and risk-taking.

A hand typing on a silver Macbook Pro near a notebook on an executive desk
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” – Benjamin Franklin

All that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combated, suppressed – only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle.

Nikola Tesla

If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.

Grace Murray Hooper

The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.

Mark Zuckerberg
A man reading life lesson quotes on a Sony Vaio while sitting on a park bench at night
“The most dangerous notion a young man can acquire is that there is no more room for originality. There is no large room for anything else.” – Henry Ford

Quotes From Spiritual Teachers

Spiritual teachers have the gift of being able to express profound ideas in simple ways. When they are truly masters of their domain, they are able to say what we need to hear, exactly when we need to hear it, and their words may even seem to have a depth that allows them to transcend time and culture.

Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find you’re here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences.

Eckhart Tolle
A field of lavender in bloom at a farm in southern France
“The truth is the only thing you’ll ever run into that has no agenda.” – Adyashanti

Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvellously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.

Thich Nhat Hahn

When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways – either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength. Thanks to the teachings of Buddha, I have been able to take this second way.

Dalai Lama
Mist and low clouds hanging over a road and a dilapidated fence in the Scottish Highlands
“Mere philosophy will not satisfy us. We cannot reach the goal by mere words alone. Without practice, nothing can be achieved.” – Swami Satchidananda

Important Lessons In Life Quotes From Revolutionaries

When we look at historical figures, it’s revolutionaries who often receive praise well after their efforts. The benefit of listening to the lessons of these individuals is twofold. Firstly, their ideas are often uncorrupted by expectations, and secondly because they speak to a courageous part inside of all of us, which needs to be catered to.

Revolutionary’ discipline depends on political consciousness – on an understanding of why orders must be obeyed; it takes time to diffuse this, but it also takes time to drill a man into an automaton on the barrack-square.

George Orwell
An open legal dictionary and notebook on a table in a college library
“Education in the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” – George Washington Carver

We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity.

Fred Hampton
A close-up view of sunlight glimmering across the dark water of the Indian Ocean
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Important Lessons And Life Quotes From Philosophers

The vast majority of us have some degree of curiosity when it comes to the big questions. Why are we here? Where are we going? How should we live our lives? While we don’t have the luxury, or the necessary inclination to commit all of our days to answering these questions, philosophers do. Their words can give us comfort in times of need and direction in times of confusion.

A little boy playing with a toy truck in the sand on the Texas beach at Port Aransas
“What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits.” – Carl Jung

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

George Bernard Shaw

It is just that we should be grateful, not only to those with whose views we may agree, but also to those who have expressed more superficial views; for these also contributed something, by developing before us the powers of thought.

Aristotle
A mountain climber with a pick silhouetted against a misty mountain range
“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

The notion that a human being should be constantly happy is a uniquely modern, uniquely American, uniquely destructive idea.

Andrew Weil

Life Lessons From Writers

The written word showcases an interesting side of human history and thought. Writers have mastered the art form in a way not dissimilar to the speeches of a great orator. Their thought can range from profound to interesting to simply quirky.

Image of a child on a dark road from Stephen King's "Super 8"
“Monsters are real, ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes they win.” – Stephen King

It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a photograph, or a telephone or any other important thing—and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite — that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.

Mark Twain

I want to taste and glory in each day, and never be afraid to experience pain.

Sylvia Plath

And in the end, we were all just humans… drunk on the idea that love, only love, could heal our brokenness.

F. Scott Fitzgerald
A steam train on Scotland's West Highland Railway Line
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” – J.K. Rowling
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Quincy Seale

Quincy is KIM's lead editor and content writer, and has invested in online properties since 2009. Quincy holds an MBA from the University of Dundee and an MSc from the University of Edinburgh, and lives in San Antonio with his wife Natalie, son Alex, and his dog Oban.