They can hit you at any time, from anywhere.
Maybe it’s a book you are reading. Perhaps it’s a podcast or an overheard conversation. Sometimes it’s a billboard or even an internet meme.
But there are quotes, statements or proverbs that just hit you right in the feels. Those one liners that leave you dumbstruck and pondering the significance of your existence. That mic drop instance, where all of your fears, hopes and ruminations suddenly come into a magical alignment of understanding and meaning.
It can be like being passed the cheat code to the next level in this game we call life.
What follows are 7 quotes that had a profound effect on me and my own personal development.
So, let’s go!
First up is a quote from the great Roald Dahl. Danny, The Champion of the World is my all time favourite book, and massively formative in creating the me that stands here typing.
Every child should have the opportunity to read this book. And, for those of you who no longer consider yourselves children, perhaps there is even more reason to read this book.
Whilst the story is fantastic and truly beautiful, the next quote doesn’t appear in the story itself, but on the last page, after the entire novel has finished.
I remember siting on the floor at primary school listening to my teacher read us the book over a number of weeks. But when she read out that last page, it was like lightening striking my soul.
Roald Dahl was talking directly to me.
“A message to the children who have read this book. When you grow up and have children of your own, do please remember something important. A stodgy parent is no fun at all! What a child wants -and DESERVES- is a parent who is SPARKY!”Roald Dahl – Danny, The Champion of the World
That quote has stuck with me for my entire life. The importance of humour and playfulness has been so important to me from that moment onwards.
Of course, I can be a stodgy parent at times. Life can occasionally feel like wading through treacle. But I feel like I have really tried to keep that ‘sparkiness’ I felt as a child, and I hope that, at my funeral, my children remember me as a parent who was SPARKY.
Next up is my Dad. Not known for his one liners, most of his go-to quotes and advice just come across as a bit weird. But this next one is gold. It’s obviously not his own creation, but one that he used repeatedly as I grew up.
Thinking about that, it’s probably more of an indication of how much I repeatedly f**ked up than his general wise sage-ness.
Regardless, thank you Dad, these are truly wise words that helped me, and still help me, navigate through a world of self imposed cock-ups.
“The man who has made no mistakes has made nothing at all.”Mick, My Dad
We live in an age where people are scared shitless of making mistakes; of failing.
This leads to people never pushing their limits, never entering into new ground. Growth exists on the other side of discomfort.
Without leaning into the unknown, the boundaries of our experience, can we ever truly know if we are making progress? I don’t think we can.
When we try and do new things that we have never done before, of course we are going to make mistakes, to fall short.
That’s how we learn. There are no true failures, just more opportunities to learn.
So go and improve the world by making more mistakes. We need you.
As a kid I was obsessed with anything to come out of China or Japan. Every weekend was a video marathon of Chinese cinema and Japanese Samurai movies.
My bedroom looked like it had been decorated by a very drunk Mr Miyagi. Anything remotely looking like it came from that part of the world was fair game.
But other than Kung Fu, katana, and the refusal to eat anything unless it was with chopsticks, I also embarked on my first foray into philosophy, led by sages such as Lao Tzu and Confucius.
This next quote was a real mic drop moment. It both scared me and infused me with such a need to experience life, right now.
“Every man has two lives, and the second starts when he realizes he has just one”Confucius
I came face to face with Death just before this period in my life. This quote helped me to reshape my fundamental perspective on life and death.
I’ve talked about my contemplations on my own demise, and the power it engenders, in this post.
What this quote does is redirect our focus away from the fear of not being here, of dying, and forces us to refocus on right now, right here.
The destination is a single point in time, just one moment. When we start to be present in the journey, that’s when we truly begin to live. That’s when our second life begins.
At this time in my life, I was obsessed with Bruce Lee (see this post). The man was like a god to me. I had Bruce Lee’s quotes written everywhere, but my all time favourite was this one:
“Do not pray for an easy life; pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”Bruce Lee
This one has stayed with me and informs my decisions today.
The easy life is great. Until it’s not.
The pendulum is always swinging. Some days are good, others are bad. But, if we put all our eggs in the one basket, hoping for the easy life, we are going to be disappointed, and covered in egg.
Praying for the strength to endure a difficult life is not being pessimistic. It’s living life in the still point at the bottom of the pendulum’s arc. It opens us up to both the joy and pain in such a way that we are able to dance with both, knowing that change is afoot.
This sentiment has taught me seek out discomfort, to callus myself to some of hardships of life.
I imagined this would allow me weather my storms and tempests better, which it very much does. But the unexpected benefit from this approach is that it makes the good times seem so much sweeter.
This next one follows on nicely from the last.
I am not the only one to be deeply inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s films, like Seven Samurai and Yojimbo.
The Magnificent 7 and Star Wars have emulated the archetypal images portrayed in the films. The honour, justice and tenacity of the characters are immensely endearing.
It’s the tenacity that always inspired me, and the following quote, a Japanese proverb, best illustrates it.
“Nana korobi, ya oki”
“Fall down seven times, stand up eight”Japanese proverb
This was Rocky, Indiana Jones, and the A Team depicted in a single sentence in my pubescent mind.
The fact is that we never know how close we are to succeeding until we get there. When we give up we could literally be seconds away from winning.
The beast that is David Goggins talks about the final fight scene in Rocky. Rocky keeps getting knocked down, and by round 14 even his coach and cornerman are telling him to stay down.
But, yet again, Rocky stands back up, to the total dismay of his opponent, Apollo Creed. It’s at this point that, as Goggins put it, Rocky steals Creed’s soul.
Rocky loses this battle, but he ultimately wins the war, purely from his refusal to stay knocked down.
As Rocky himself said:
“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.
You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”Rocky Balboa
I’ve lost count of how many times life has punched me to the ground, as it does to us all. There have been plenty of times when I want to stay down there in the dirt. But this quote is always there, whispering in my ear.
And I’m still standing.
The next quote is easily the most used quote here on the Wild Life blog.
It very much follows on from the previous few, and has been a major factor in my ability to deal with my lifelong struggle with anxiety.
Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning has been inspiring people since it was first written. This following quote is often (incorrectly) attributed to the book, and nearly always to Frankl, although I am yet to find a direct source.
Regardless, it’s fantastic and in my experience, deeply true.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”Vikto E. Frankl (possibly)
This is mindfulness 101. Be responsive, not reactive.
The bigger we can make that gap between the stimulus, those things that really trigger us, and our response to them, the greater the chance we have to decide how that response will play out.
Scott Carney refers to ‘The Wedge’ – techniques, tools and practices to widen that gap.
Utilising many forms of the wedge have been revolutionary for me in dealing with my anxiety, triggers, and ‘black swan’ events that come out of nowhere.
Voluntary hardship (see here for more info) in particular has been a very powerful tool, utilising endurance, training, cold water immersion and heat.
I still get triggered. I still have a self pity party from time to time. But they are much shorter lived now.
I’ve started seeing things that were once ‘problems’ as simply situations. If I can change them, then I will. If I cannot, then there is no point devoting much time to bemoaning the situation, because it’s out of my control.
I have definitely grown and found more freedom thanks to this quote.
By taking my focus away from the ‘problem’ and away from fixating on the shit it brings, I have also created more room to focus on me.
“When you focus on you, you grow. When you focus on shit, shit grows.”Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
I have focused on an awful lot of shit in my time. It never made me feel good.
I never focused on myself. For so long I didn’t value myself enough to give myself that focus.
So many of us have low self worth. But the fact is that you have beaten all the odds already, just by being here.
As Dr. Ali Binazir, ‘Happiness Engineer’, points out:
Imagine there was one life preserver thrown somewhere in some ocean and there is exactly one turtle in all of these oceans, swimming underwater somewhere. The probability that you came about and exist today is the same as that turtle sticking its head out of the water — in the middle of that life preserver. On one try.
The probability of you existing at all comes out to 1 in 102,685,000 — yes, that’s a 10 followed by 2,685,000 zeroes!
That might as well be zero.
You are pretty bloody special! It’s time you started treating yourself like the cosmic stardust being you are.
I have grown so much in the last couple of years, in so many tiny ways. Each of the changes have had a compounding effect on all the others.
And that all came from allowing myself to focus on me a little more.
When you get on a plane you are told to put your oxygen mask on before helping anyone else with theirs.
This is not a selfish act, it’s a selfless one. You can’t help anyone else if you are compromised.
The same goes for life. Consider this the permission you need to focus on you, because, yet again, we need you.
Apologies to all the quote nerd and literary pedants for any quote that I have misattributed. It’s the words that are important in this case.
Let us know your favourite quotes and how they have helped you.
Take care, G x
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