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Stolen Wisdom

This is a collection of quotes that I saw somewhere and liked – enough for me to want to read them over and over again and remind myself of what’s important. Enough for me to want to share them with others. Some inspire me. Some guide me. Some teach me. Some are just funny. And some echo my thoughts.

Read on, and I hope you are similarly inspired, rejuvenated, and educated.

This is a dynamic post – I’ll keep updating it as I come across something I like.


Did you ever have the feeling you wanted to go? And still had the feeling you wanted to stay? — Al Pacino as Colonel Slade in Scent of a Woman

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” —Carl Jung

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” — Robert A. Heinlein

” Conversations have three levels : people, incidents and ideas. The lowest form of conversation is about people. When we go up one rung we reach incidents which have a slightly larger spectrum than talking about people. But the conversation which really matters is when we talk about ideas, because they are universal and live beyond time and space.” — Javed Akhtar

‘Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.’ — Albert Einstein

“The artist’s job is to make people care about your obsessions and see them and experience them as their own.” — Martin Scorsese

It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have. — James A. Baldwin

We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders. — G.K. Chesterton

Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are. — Bertolt Brecht

Be faithful to that which exists within yourself. — Andrew Gide

“Somewhere along the line people have been fooled into believing that life is supposed to be easy. I often work 12+ hour days, and there are weeks when I work 7 days. I perform my own workout at the crack of dawn. Do I enjoy waking up at 4AM? Not really, but I get it done. I have a wife and son, with another on the way next month. I also have dogs, house work, work in the yard, etc. I’m beyond busy. Oh well, that’s life. I won’t cry about it and feel bad for myself. I won’t rush to the local fast food restaurant. I cook much of my food ahead of time. I make time. I find a way. Most people aren’t trying to make time. They aren’t making an effort. We need to stop making excuses for others. People need to stop feeling bad for themselves. Life is tough. That’s a fact. There are good times and bad times. There are action takers and action fakers. There are ultra busy professionals who make time for fitness, while others don’t. We all have options, and we all make our own decisions. If someone has made poor decisions, I won’t sugarcoat it and console them with more excuses.”

— Ross Enamait

We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood until we move from the passive voice to the active voice – that is, until we have stopped saying ‘It got lost,’ and say, ‘I lost it.’

Sydney J. Harris, journalist (1917-1986)

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of being selfish, and having ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you. Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone may destroy overnight. Build anyway,. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give the world the best you’ve got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is all between you and God…It was never between you and them anyway.


Money is neither my god nor my devil. It is a form of energy that tends to make us more of who we already are, whether it’s greedy or loving.

— Dan Millman

“Hath not a man eyes? Hath not a man hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a woman is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”

— Shakespeare (adapted)

Jawab-e jaahilan baa sad khamoshi ast.

— Persian phrase, roughly translated to: “The response to ignorance is silence.”

If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm. — Vince Lombardi

You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you. — John Wooden

“I don’t deserve this award. But I’ve got arthritis and I don’t deserve that, either.” — Jack Benny

It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating. — Oscar Wilde

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti

The ordinary acts we practise every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest. — Thomas Moore

You’re alive. Do something. The directive in life, the moral imperative was so uncomplicated. It could be expressed in single words, not complete sentences. It sounded like this: Look. Listen. Choose. Act. — Barbara Hall

God helps those who help themselves, right?

“God help those who do not help themselves.” — Wilson Mizner

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, or complain – and most fools do.” — Dale Carnegie

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” — Thomas Edison

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed. The fact is, most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old-time rail journey–delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts,
interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.” — Jenkins Lloyd Jones

“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” — Alfred D. Souza

“One man has enthusiasm for 30 minutes, another for 30 days, but it is the man who has it for 30 years who makes a success of his life.” — Edward B. Butler

“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.” — Mark Victor Hansen

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly start remedying them—every day begin the task anew. — St. Francis de Sales

In full heart there is room for everything, and in an empty heart there is room for nothing. — Antonio Porchia

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. — Helen Keller

Shared joy is double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow. — Swedish proverb

If you hug to yourself any resentment against anybody else, you destroy the bridge by which God would come to you. – Peter Marshall

A different world cannot be built by indifferent people. – Peter Marshall

When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure. – Peter Marshall

The measure of life is not its duration, but its donation. – Peter Marshall

All I ask is this: Do something. Try something. Speaking out, showing up, writing a letter, a check, a strongly worded e-mail. Pick a cause — there are few unworthy ones. And nudge yourself past the brink of tacit support to action. Once a month, once a year, or just once. – Joss Whedon, writer and film director

“For souls nobly born, valour does not await the passing of years.” – Corneille

The human race is faced with a cruel choice: work or daytime television. – (Unknown)

Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life, a dichotomy in which you hate what you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time. – Pablo Picasso

The past is a ghost, the future is a dream, and all we ever have is now – Bill Cosby

Life is far too important to take seriously – Oscar Wilde.

“There are places in the world that aren’t made out of stone; there’s something inside that they can’t get to,that they can’t touch…it’s yours.”

“What are you talking about?”


“Hope.Let me tell you something,my friend.Hope is a dangerous thing.Hope can drive a man insane.”

“Remember, Red…hope is a good thing…maybe the best of things…and no good thing ever dies.”

-The Shawshank Redemption

I don’t play against a particular team. I play against the idea of losing. – Eric Cantona

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, for in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. – James Allen

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but we often look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us. – Helen Keller

“For you,a thousand times over.” – The Kite Runner

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” – Nelson Mandela

There are three sorts of actions: those that are good, those that are bad, and those that are doubtful; and we ought to be most cautious of those that are doubtful; for we are in most danger of these doubtful actions, because they do not alarm us; and yet they insensibly lead to greater transgressions, just as the shades of twilight gradually reconcile us to darkness. – Andrew Reed

Allāh is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The Parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within it a Lamp: the Lamp enclosed in Glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star: Lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of the east nor of the West, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! Allāh doth guide whom He will to His Light: Allāh doth set forth Parables for men: and Allāh doth know all things. – Ayat an-Nur, the Verse of Light (Quraan, 24:35.)

A beautiful recitation of this verse (the first 87 seconds).

Allah’s Apostle [Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)] said, “The deeds of anyone of you will not save you (from the (Hell) Fire).” They said, “Even you (will not be saved by your deeds), O Allah’s Apostle?” He said, “No, even I (will not be saved) unless and until Allah bestows His Mercy on me. Therefore, do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and worship Allah in the forenoon and in the afternoon and during a part of the night, and always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course whereby you will reach your target (Paradise). – Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) via Sahih Bukhari 8:76:470.

If only I could so live and so serve the world that after me there should never again be birds in cages. -Isak Dinesen (pen name of Karen Blixen), author (1885-1962)

One should never direct people towards happiness, because happiness too is an idol of the market-place. One should direct them towards mutual affection. A beast gnawing at its prey can be happy too, but only human beings can feel affection for each other, and this is the highest achievement they can aspire to. – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as Shulubin in Cancer Ward

100 main sy 80 baiman phir bhe mera dysh mahan. are u guys living in Pakistan or denialistan – Unknown commenter on The Express Tribune

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, than each of us will have two ideas” – George Bernard Shaw

“…The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. – Mark Twain

In a democracy, citizens must be recognized (and treated) as the owners of their government, not as its customers. A municipality’s most serious liabilities are people who convince themselves that they are too busy to take an active interest in their municipality’s affairs, who would rather complain that they are being victimized by government, and who look for scapegoats to be dumped in the next election. Citizens are the heart and soul of a democracy. If citizens do not actively participate n the shaping of public policy, democracy cannot function. – Andre Carrel

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
— Howard Zinn

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal… To hope is to give yourself to the future – and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.” – Rebecca Solnit

You can bring the rich to the level of poor overnight but it takes a lifetime to lift the poor to the level of the rich. – Irish Proverb

Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces. – Matthew Henry

“You know, you don’t throw a whole life away just ’cause he’s banged up a little.” – Tom Smith in Seabiscuit

“Multiply it by infinity, and take it to the depth of forever, and you will still have barely a glimpse of what I’m talking about.” – Death and William Parrish in Meet Joe Black

“…while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.”

“His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives.”

“…an idea can still change the world. I’ve witnessed first hand the power of ideas, I’ve seen people kill in the name of them, and die defending them… but you cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it, or hold it… ideas do not bleed, they do not feel pain, they do not love..”

“..ideas are bulletproof.”

V and Valerie, in V for Vendetta

“But there isn’t nothin’ like the sight of an amputated spirit. There is no prosthetic for that. You think you’re merely sending this splendid foot soldier back home to Oregon with his tail between his legs, but I say you are… executin’ his soul!”

Lt. Col. Slade in Scent of a Woman

“It’s always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth. I don’t really know what the truth is. I don’t suppose anybody will ever really know. Nine of us now seem to feel that the defendant is innocent, but we’re just gambling on probabilities – we may be wrong. We may be trying to let a guilty man go free, I don’t know. Nobody really can. But we have a reasonable doubt, and that’s something that’s very valuable in our system. No jury can declare a man guilty unless it’s SURE. We nine can’t understand how you three are still so sure. Maybe you can tell us.”

– Juror #8, in Twelve Angry Men

Do you have anything to share? Please add quotes that you like in the comments box!

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Random Reader permalink
    August 4, 2010 2:51 am

    Beautiful selection. I loved it. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Antigoni permalink
    January 6, 2011 5:37 pm

    Nothing is build upon a stone. All are build on sand. But our duty is to build like the sand was a stone. (Jose Lui Borges)

  3. Ammar permalink
    January 31, 2012 6:17 pm

    Food is just food for thought for now – Usman Khan

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