The Power of Quotes
Dear Little Owl
“Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans” - John Lennon.
When I was 16 and just about to leave secondary school, I remember going around getting everyone at school including my teachers to sign my leaving book, amongst all the goodbyes (and the odd inappropriate drawing) one English teacher - Mr Clay wrote the above John Lennon quote. I think at the time I was more curious as to what it meant, maybe confused even. To this day out of every other message in that book through this quote has always stuck with me?
Why is it I remember this so vividly? Why at 16 did that leave such an imprint? I wasn’t into John Lennon, but it switched something on inside of me and has stuck with me. In fact, it has been a big influence and guiding principle ever since.
Fast forward to a conversation with a colleague last week when she commented about the message and quotes, I write in birthday and leaving cards, then another conversation with another colleague who made a light-hearted comment about out how much I like to use a quote. Well, this got me thinking why do I use them so much, was I just hugely influenced by that parting sentiment at 16 or is there something else going on? The answer is probably both.
I find comfort and safety in quotes. They can be like a warm hug when I’m feeling down or a driving force when looking for inspiration. When you find one that really resonates with you it’s like finding the answer to a big secret you’ve been looking for. I think some people can find quotes a bit indulgent and not pragmatic enough, but for me quotes act as “truths of life”. When repeated and owned they can be empowering beliefs that help to counterbalance and smash to pieces any limiting beliefs that are holding me back. They can be your rule book for life.
How do you find quotes that will empower you though? One way is to go to the people that inspire you, parents, friends, famous people or leaders. I often use the dinner table question as part of a process to help clarify someone’s North Star. “If I could invite anyone to dinner past or present who would it be?” Once you identified these, find some of their best quotes, chances are you will find one or two that hit home.
One of my dinner guests is the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Naht Hanh, so I’d like to share 10 of my favourite quotes of his.
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
“We are all the leaves of one tree. We are all the waves of one sea.”
“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”
“Life is available only in the present moment.”
“Yesterday is already gone. Tomorrow is not yet here. Today is the only day available to us; it is the most important day of our lives.”
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.
“What you are looking for is already in you…You already are everything you are seeking.”
“Because you are alive, everything is possible.”
“Life is a miracle and being aware of simply this can already make us very happy.”
Never underestimate the power a quote can have on you or someone else because they have been guiding my life ever since. Thank you Mr Clay I dedicate this letter to you.