Collected Wise and Inspirational Sayings (of Other People)

This page collects quotes from across my life – from books, movies, podcasts, conversations, etc. Some I have attribution for, others I probably won’t have. I’m collecting these here primarily for me. But I figure I ought to shaer them out, too. Words have tremendous power for good.

Eventually I’ll categorize these. For now, take them as they come. Use them to encourage others. Use them to guard your own heart. Use them for courage. And use them to inspire wise actions and words of your own.

(Needless to say, I don’t necessarily agree with all of the content of the quotes – some things included for completeness are not my opinions).


“Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows. But will you come?” (from The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis) 

“I am neither spurred on by excessive optimism nor in love with high ideals, but am merely concerned with the fate of the individual human being—that infinitesimal unit on whom a world depends, and whom, if we read the Christian message aright, even God seeks his goal.” (Carl Jung, from The Undiscovered Self)

“Why do we fall, sir? So that, we can learn to pick ourselves back up.” (Alfred Pennyworth, from Batman Begins)

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” (Howard Thurman)

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” (Theodore Roosevelt)

“Davos: You go on. You fight for as long as you can. You clean up as much of the shit as you can.’
Jon Snow: ‘I don’t know how to do that. I thought I did, but… I failed.’
Davos Seaworth: ‘Good. Now go fail again.'” (from the Game of Thrones TV show)

“To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That’s what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul – would you understand why that’s much harder?” (from The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand) 

“We are but warriors for the working day;
Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirched
With rainy marching in the painful field. . .
But, by the Mass, our hearts are in the trim. . .
Herald, save thou thy labor.
Come thou no more for ransom, gentle herald.
They shall have none, I swear, but these my joints,
Which, if they have, as I will leave ’em them,
Shall yield them little.” (King Harry, from Henry V, by William Shakespeare)

“Shasta’s heart fainted at these words for he felt he had no strength left. And he writhed inside at what seemed the cruelty and unfairness of the demand. He had not yet learned that if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.”  (from The Chronicles of Narnia, The Horse and His Boy, by C.S. Lewis) 

It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.” (Gandalf, from The Lord of the Rings, Part 3: Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien)

“Resistance to the organized mass can be effected only by the man who is as well organized in his individuality as the mass itself.” (Carl Jung, from The Undiscovered Self)

“You mean,” said Lucy rather faintly, “that it would have turned out all right – somehow? But how? Please, Aslan! Am I not to know?”
“To know what would have happened, child?” said Aslan. “No. Nobody is ever told that.”
“Oh dear,” said Lucy.
“But anyone can find out what will happen,” said Aslan. “If you go back to the others now, and wake them up; and tell them you have seen me again; and that you must all get up at once and follow me – what will happen? There is only one way of finding out.” (from The Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian, by C.S. Lewis) 

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you. . . 

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.” (a Psalm of David, from Psalm 139)

“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (from the first letter to the Corinthians by St. Paul)

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (from the first letter to the Corinthians by St. Paul)

“Let me tell you something about wolves, child. When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives. Summer is the time for squabbles. In winter, we must protect one another, keep each other warm, share our strengths.” (Eddard Stark, from Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin) 

“We must each adopt as much responsibility as possible for individual life, society and the world. We must each tell the truth and repair what is in disrepair and break down and recreate what is old and outdated. It is in this manner that we can and must reduce the suffering that poisons the world. It’s asking a lot. It’s asking for everything.” (Jordan Peterson, from 12 Rules for Life)

  • “Tell the truth.
  • Do not do things that you hate.
  • Act so that you can tell the truth about how you act.
  • Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient.
  • If you have to choose, be the one who does things, instead of the one who is seen to do things.
  • Pay attention.
  • Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you need to know. Listen to them hard enough so that they will share it with you.
  • Plan and work diligently to maintain the romance in your relationships.
  • Be careful who you share good news with.
  • Be careful who you share bad news with.
  • Make at least one thing better every single place you go.
  • Imagine who you could be, and then aim single-mindedly at that.
  • Do not allow yourself to become arrogant or resentful.
  • Try to make one room in your house as beautiful as possible.
  • Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
  • Work as hard as you possibly can on at least one thing and see what happens.
  • If old memories still make you cry, write them down carefully and completely.
  • Maintain your connections with people.
  • Do not carelessly denigrate social institutions or artistic achievement.
  • Treat yourself as if you were someone that you are responsible for helping.
  • Ask someone to do you a small favour, so that he or she can ask you to do one in the future.
  • Make friends with people who want the best for you.
  • Do not try to rescue someone who does not want to be rescued, and be very careful about rescuing someone who does.
  • Nothing well done is insignificant.
  • Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world.
  • Dress like the person you want to be.
  • Be precise in your speech.
  • Stand up straight with your shoulders back.
  • Don’t avoid something frightening if it stands in your way — and don’t do unnecessarily dangerous things.
  • Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.
  • Do not transform your wife into a maid.
  • Do not hide unwanted things in the fog.
  • Notice that opportunity lurks where responsibility has been abdicated.
  • Read something written by someone great.
  • Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.
  • Do not bother children when they are skateboarding.
  • Don’t let bullies get away with it.
  • Write a letter to the government if you see something that needs fixing — and propose a solution.
  • Remember that what you do not yet know is more important than what you already know.
  • Be grateful in spite of your suffering.” – Jordan Peterson’s answer to “What are the most valuable things everyone should know?”