The quotes I include below are from my favorite philosophers, each pertaining to a different area of thought-provoking ideas, like fate, the natural world, freedom, and much more. They are simple, but add substance to my thoughts. They help me lug through the challenges and hardships life can throw at us.
Remember, without stimulating your mind and exploring universal ideas, you are the equivalent of a rock. You exist, but just for the sake of it. Philosophy teaches you how to live, not just to bear what is necessary.
3. “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how” — Friedrich Nietzsche
This is such a classic quote and for good reason. It is the foundational quote for anyone searching for true meaning in life. Nietzsche was an existentialist philosopher, meaning all his work was geared towards finding what life was really about, “why do we even exist?”
This quote features in a book called Mans Search For Meaning by Dr. Frankl, a book written by a holocaust survivor trying to figure out what the meaning of life is after seeing the true horrors humanity is capable of.
For me, this quote is always lingering in the back of my head. It probably helps that it's so simple to remember. The reason why I regard it so highly is because it is directly telling me how to live a fulfilling life in 12 words. As long as I have a passion, and something I can constantly work towards, my life will always be moving forward, hurdling over whatever obstacle may arise.
Having your own individual purpose in life (your own “why to live”) gives you that driving fiery passion I mentioned earlier.
When Nietzsche wrote this, he was suffering from serious mental health issues. He was depressed, insane and subsequently found himself isolated from everyone around him, relying on powerful drugs to numb his pain and to sleep. Everything in his life was going wrong, his books barely even sold.
Despite all this and the fact that this man was clearly on the edge of a mental breakdown, his “why” is what kept him soldiering through. It enabled him to “bear almost any how”. I’ve found my “why”, it isn't as hard to do as you think. It can be something as simple as dedicating yourself to self-improvement, constantly striving to be a better version of yourself.
4. “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.
It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre
Sartre is another existentialist, concerned with finding out what life is about. His conclusion is liberating and is exactly why he is another one of my favorite philosophers. It can best be summarised by the quote above.
Your life has no meaning. Yes I know, it sounds dark but hear me out. Because life has no innate meaning within itself, you have to take it upon yourself to create your own meaning via your freedom of choice. You can do whatever you want.
That’s the cherry on top for me. The idea that I am free to do whatever I want and send my life in whatever direction I please, that's a truly liberating and beautiful thought. You may sometimes feel trapped in life like you have no choice, be it a relationship or a job. Satre is giving it to you straight up.
The only thing we know for certain in life is that we have pure freedom. We are not restricted by anything. Think about that for a second. Yes, there are laws, but you can still break them via your own will.
Once I comprehended that I had true freedom in my life to do whatever I wanted, the constant lingering stress disappeared. I used to have stress constantly surrounding me, like the annoying buzzing of a mosquito in my ear. I can safely say this no longer exists.
True freedom is within your hands. True freedom bounds your life to nothing, you have no obligations if you don’t want them. Use your freedom wisely to give you a sense of fulfillment.
5. “Whatever happens to you has been waiting to happen since the beginning of time. The twining strands of fate wove both of them together.”
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
I couldn't talk about philosophy without including some Stoicism. Stoicism was the first school of thought that properly caught my interest and the first one that launched me down a path of philosophical exploration. In addition to this, this quote talks about something that I feel very strongly about; fate.
There are many different beliefs surrounding fate. Some people don’t even believe it exists. Others think fate is to do with luck. Well, Stoicism thought that our fates were predetermined by some higher power. I am not religious at all, but I do believe that our own fate is aligned with some sort of force within the universe, an energy if you will.
This quote brings it back to a famous Stoic mantra: Amor Fati. This translated to a “Love of one's own fate.” Whatever happens to you, it was destined for you, and it happens for a reason. Because of this, you should love it, no matter what it is. This will be hard at times, but you aren't truly yourself if it weren't for your past experiences and what has happened to you in life.
The idea that whatever I achieve in my life was destined for me is a beautiful and comforting feeling. I know I was destined to be a writer, it’s part of my path of fate. If I look back at my life, there were countless signs. And now that I am pursuing my dream, they are aligning to make sense to me. My capacity and potential to be a writer was there all along, I just had to find it.
The Stoics believed that everything we do is part of a Universal Network of Fate. Whatever happens is meant to happen, even if you don't know why or feel the opposite to this. All you have to do is love it, Amor Fati.
Without inner reflection, we won’t truly learn anything. For me, philosophy has helped me look within to find answers in relation to the outside world. These quotes spark spirals of thought that help me comprehend better what life is meant to be about.
As a naturally deep thinker, these philosophers in this list of quotes have given me solace when I’m battling my mind. Reading even one philosophical quote daily can have a profound impact on you.
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