111 of the Most Powerful Quotes About Life (2024)

These life quotes from the past 100 years continue to endure.

For 100 years, Reader’s Digest has shared some of the world’s best wit and wisdom on the art of living. To mark Reader’s Digest‘s 100th anniversary in 2022, we searched our archives and collected 100+ quotes that we think will continue to stand the test of time. The dates in parentheses represent when they were first published in the magazine. For more quotations for every occasion, check out our other compilations, which include funny quotes, life-changing quotes, uplifting quotes, and life is short quotes,

Best quotes about life

1. “Not in doing what you like, but in liking what you do is the secret of happiness.” —J.M. Barrie (August 1933)

2. “My father gave me the best advice of my life. He said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t wake up at 65 years old and think about what you should have done with your life.'” —George Clooney (July 2006)

3. “Make it a rule of life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can’t build on it; it’s only good for wallowing.” —Katherine Mansfield (April 1941)

4. “I’d rather regret the risks that didn’t work out than the chances I didn’t take at all.” —Simone Biles (July/August 2020)

5. “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it! “—Jonathan Winters (June 1990)

6. “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties out of his opportunities; an optimist is one who makes opportunities out of his difficulties.” —Robert Mansell (August 1933)

7. “My father used to say, ‘Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument.'” —Archbishop Desmond Tutu (January 2008)

8. “What on earth would a man do with himself if something did not stand in his way?” —H.G. Wells (June 1940)

9. “‘Don’t worry’ makes a better motto when you add ‘others.'” —Columbia Record (May 1925)

10. “When you are actually powerful, you don’t need to be petty.” —Jon Stewart (February 2014)

11. “None are so brave as the anonymous.” —K.K. Steincke (June 1957)

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12. “To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.” —Bertrand Russell (December 1950)

13. “Nobody ever sees his own face in the glass. What he observes there is a compound, divided into three parts: one part himself as he really is, one part representing what he expects to see, and a third part, what he wishes to behold.” —Richard Burton (June 1940)

14. “You are only young once. After that you have to think up some other excuse.” —Billy Arthur (April 1955)

15. “No man who is in a hurry is quite civilized.” —Will Durant (January 1941)

16. “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” —Andy Warhol (April 2020)

17. “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it.” —Henry Ford (June 1922)

18. “Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands. But, like the seafaring men on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them reach your destiny.” —Carl Schurz (April 1941)

19. “The holy passion of friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.” —Mark Twain (May 1941)

20. “It’s not necessary to take a person’s advice to make him feel good—all you have to do is ask it.” —Richard Armour (January 1952)

21. “Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us—and sometimes, they win.” —Stephen King (February 2014)

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22. “The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.” —Harry Ruby (June 1952)

23. “The older you get the more you realize that kindness is synonymous with happiness.” —Lionel Barrymore (April 1953)

24. “Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length.” —Robert Frost (March 1959)

25. “Constant use will wear out anything—especially friends.” —Warren Hull (December 1957)

26. “Don’t say you can’t until you prove you can’t.” —Les Paul (June 1957)

27. “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” —Allen Saunders (January 1957)

28. “Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.” —Aldous Huxley (March 1956)

29. “You are genuinely happy if you don’t know why.” —Joseph Mayer (March 1956)

30. “Worry is like sand in an oyster: a little produces a pearl, too much kills the animal.” —Marcelene Cox (December 1955)

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31. “People who complain that they don’t get all they deserve should congratulate themselves.” —The Irish Times (October 1955)

32. “I have this rule I live by: Only do what you can do. That means you’re never looking outside for what’s popular; you’re always looking inside for what’s true.” —Delia Ephron (February 2014)

33. “The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch somebody else doing it wrong, without comment.” —T.H. White (October 1955)

34. “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow; it only saps today of its strength.” —A.J. Cronin (April 1955)

35. “Schedule all your worrying for a specific half-hour about the middle of the day. Then take a nap during this period.” —Peterborough, Ont., Examiner (March 1955)

36. “One good way to test your memory is to try to remember the things that worried you yesterday.” —Toronto Star (October 1954)

37. “If there is one thing I would teach a child, above all else, it is to be able to imagine himself into the flesh of other people: to realize his mother’s weariness, his father’s anxieties, his little brother’s lonely fears, and to give of himself generously to ease their burdens. A child who has learned to be consistently generous will become a generous adult, much loved and therefore truly successful.” —I.A.R. Wylie (June 1954)

38. “There’s no better exercise for strengthening the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” —Woman’s Home Companion (May 1954)

39. “A party without a cake is really just a meeting.” —Julia Child (June 2020)

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40. “Kindness is one thing you can’t give away. It always comes back.” —George Skolsky (April 1954)

41. “Nothing bad can happen if you haven’t hit the ‘send’ key.” —David Shipley and Will Schwalbe (January 2008)

42. “Morale is when your hands and feet keep on working when your head says it can’t be done.” —Ben Morcell (January 1961)

43. “Humor plays close to the big, hot fire which is Truth.” —E.B. White (January 1990)

44. “You’re never too broken to be fixed.” —Jonathan Van Ness (June 2020)

45. “Greed is envy with its sleeves rolled up.” —George F. Will (February 1990)

46. “Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.” —Sally Koch (January 1995)

47. “Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” —Harper Lee (October 1989)

48. “The greatest mistake you can make is to be continually fearing that you’ll make one.” —Elbert Hubbard (January 1953)

49. “Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it and wiser than the one that comes after it.” —George Orwell (August 1989)

50. “We give them the love we can spare, the time we can spare. In return, dogs have given us their absolute all. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.” —Roger Caras (August 1989)

51. “The world is not yours for the taking, but for the trying. Try hard.” —Scott Galloway (June 2020)

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52. “Intelligence is when you spot the flaw in your boss’s reasoning. Wisdom is when you refrain from pointing it out.” —James Dent (April 1989)

53. “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” —Fred Rogers (aka “Mr. Rogers”) (November 1987)

54. “The most sincere compliment we can pay is attention.” —Walter Anderson (October 1987)

55. “I still close my eyes and go home—I can always draw from that.” —Dolly Parton (August 2008)

56. “Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat.” Harry Emerson Fosdick (May 1929)

57. “The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway.” —Henry Boye (January 1997)

58. “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” —Barbara Johnson (January 1997)

59. “Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s a light shining nearby.” —Ruth E. Renkel (February 1997)

60. “The world is extremely interesting to a joyful soul.” —Alexandra Stoddard (March 1997)

61. “No day in which you learn something is a complete loss.” —David Eddings (May 1997)

62. “The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant—and let the air out of the tires.” —Dorothy Parker (August 2008)

63. “Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the error that counts.” — Nikki Giovanni (April 1998)

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64. “Let us endeavor so to live, that when we come to die, even the undertaker will be sorry.” —Mark Twain (June 1933)

65. “What a strange world this would be if we all had the same sense of humor.” —Bern Williams (August 1997)

66. “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” —Peter F. Drucker (September 1997)

67. “A problem is a chance for you to do your best.” —Duke Ellington (October 1984)

68. “The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.” —Frank Clark (July 1984)

69. “What I do today is important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.” —Hugh Mulligan (October 1981)

70. “If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” —Carl Sagan (July 1981)

71. “You can’t turn back the clock. But you can wind it up again.” —Bonnie Prudden (December 1980)

72. “We spend the first part of our human experience avidly accumulating things and the other half wondering what in the world we’re going to do with all the stuff.” —Margret E. Keatts (September 1980)

73. “There is only one certainty in life and that is that nothing is certain.” —G.K. Chesterton (June 1926)

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74. “The narrower the mind the broader the statement.” —Ted Cook (February 1940)

75. “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson (September 1974)

76. “The squeaky wheel may get the most oil, but it’s also the first to be replaced.” —Marilyn vos Savant (May 2001)

77. “Just be good and kind to your children. Not only are they the future of the world, they’re the ones who can sign you into a home.” —Dennis Miller (Reader’s Digest Laughter. the Best Medicine II, 2006)

78. “Love doesn’t make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” —Franklin P. Jones (September 1977)

79. “Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet.” —African proverb (September 1977)

80. “It is useless to try to hold a person to anything he says while he’s madly in love, drunk, or running for office.” —B. Birdsong (November 1972)

81. “Temptation usually comes in by a door that has been deliberately left open.” —Arnold Glasow (January 2007)

82. “Everybody has to be somebody to somebody to be anybody.” —Malcolm S. Forbes (November 1972)

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83. “Whatever your lot in life, build something on it.” —Home Life (November 1972)

84. “Patience often gets the credit that belongs to fatigue.” —Franklin P. Jones (October 1979)

85. “Memories are everyone’s second chance at happiness.” —Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (October 1979)

86. “Every exit is an entry somewhere else.” —Tom Stoppard (July 2000)

87. “You only have to do a very few things right in your life—so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.” —Warren Buffett (Reader’s Digest Quotable Quotes, 2013)

88. “If you can give your child only one gift, let it be enthusiasm.” —Bruce Barton (December 1934)

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89. “Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic.” —Jean Sibelius (October 1979)

90. “Accept that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue.” —Roger C. Andersen (June 1996)

91. “The best index to a person’s character is (a) how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and (b) how he treats people who can’t fight back.” —Abigail Van Buren (August 1980)

92. “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” —Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. (August 1980)

93. “If you want children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others.” —Dr. Haim Ginott (January 1970)

94. “To err is human; to refrain from laughing, humane.” —Lane Olinghouse (January 1970)

95. “To err is human, to forgive, canine.” —Lynn Johnston (October 1996)

96. “One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.” —Will Durant (November 1972)

97. “I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it.” —Harry Emerson Fosdick (July 1970)

98. “As long as the world is turning, we’re going to be dizzy.” —Mel Brooks (January 2008)

99. “I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than to be crowded on a velvet cushion.” —Henry David Thoreau (January 1941)

100. “It’s a whole lot more satisfying to reach for the stars, even if you end up landing only on the moon.” —Kermit the Frog (January 2007)

101. “Morality is only moral when it is voluntary.” —Lincoln Steffens (February 1965)

102. “A gossip is a person who creates the smoke in which other people assume there’s fire.”—Dan Bennett (January 1970)

103. “Having a young child explain something exciting he has seen is the finest example of communication you will ever hear or see.” —Bob Talbert (July 1970)

104. “Living is the art of getting used to what we didn’t expect.” —Eleanor C. Wood (July 1970)

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105. “Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself.” —Alice Walker (June 1992)

106. “Don’t spend any time whatsoever thinking about what might have been.” —Alex Trebek (May 2021)

107. “Success is falling nine times and getting up ten.” —Jon Bon Jovi (Reader’s Digest Quotable Quotes, 2013)

108. “Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed.” —Mia Hamm (Reader’s Digest Quotable Quotes, 2013)

109. “Jealousy is all the fun you think they had.” —Erica Jong (January 2008)

110. “Amateurs wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work.” —Chuck Close (August 2007)

111. “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?” —Steven Wright (December 1984)

Additional reporting research done by Lucie Turkel and Greg Daugherty

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