21 Quotes That (If Applied) Change You Into a Better Person

Ryan Holiday

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Highlights from July 26, 2021

  • Marcus Aurelius would say something similar: “Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.”
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  • You can always get up after you fall, but remember, what has been said can never be unsaid. Especially cruel and hurtful things.
  • How much better it feels to let it go, to leave the wrongdoer to their wrongdoing.
  • This is true for almost all situations — what happens to us is an objective reality, how we respond is a subjective choice. The Stoics — of which Epictetus was one — would say that we don’t control what happens to us, all we control are our thoughts and reactions to what happens to us. Remember that: You’re defined in this life not by your good luck or your bad luck, but your reaction to those strokes of fortune. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
  • There is no one person who is the best at all these things, who doesn’t have room to improve in one or more of them. So if you can find the humility to accept this about yourself, what you will realize is that the world is one giant classroom. Go about your day with an openness and a joy about this fact. Look at every interaction as an opportunity to learn from and of the people you meet. You will be amazed at how quickly you grow, how much better you get.
  • Waste no time judging and worrying about other people. You have plenty of problems to deal with in your own life. Chances are your own flaws are probably worse — and in any case, they are at least in your control. So do something about them.
  • This is why character is a far better measure of a man or woman. Not just for jobs, but for friendships, relationships, for everything. When you seek to advance your own position in life, character is the best lever — perhaps not in the short term, but certainly over the long term. And the same goes for the people you invite into your life.
  • You never know, Warren Buffett was saying, until things get bad. If you’re living the life you know to be right, if you are making good, solid decisions, don’t be swayed by what others are doing — whether that is taking the form of irrational exuberance or panicked pessimism.
  • There is nothing more impressive — intellectually or otherwise — than to change long held beliefs, opinions, and habits. The more you’ve changed, the better you probably are.
  • If you want to try to make the world a slightly better place, there’s a lot you can do. But only one thing guarantees an impact. Step away from the argument. Dig yourself out of the rubble. Stop wasting time with how things should be, would be, could be. Be that thing.
  • The truth is being your own man, being self-contained, having fewer needs, and better, resilient skills that allow you to thrive in any and all situations. That is real wealth and freedom.
  • The point is: You have no idea. So give people the benefit of the doubt. Look for good in them, assume good in them, and let that good inspire your own actions.
  • Tell me who you spend time with, Goethe said, and I will tell you who you are. Tell me what you pay attention to, Gasset was saying, and I can tell you the same thing.
  • It’s that the person who wronged you is not happy, is not enjoying their life. Do not become like them. Reward yourself by being the opposite of them.
  • As Marcus Aurelius reminded himself, and us: “Just that you do the right thing. The rest doesn’t matter.” It’s an important reminder. Doing the right thing isn’t free. Doing the right thing might even cost you everything.