Poet, author, playwright, singer, actress, philanthropist, visionary, professor, beloved world leader. Maya Angelou was one of the world’s most prolific and beloved creative forces, emerging as a universally admired figure, especially at the time of her passing.
Maya Angelou was famous for her teachings, through her spoken word and her written poetry which explored the experiences and viewpoints of being an African-American woman in the United States, as well as more inspirational works that helped shape modern day and mainstream poetry and prose. Her inspiring lessons remain as intrinsic a part of American culture, perhaps even more after her passing, and now seems like an opportune time to revisit these sagacious teachings.
Here are 10 quotes from Maya Angelou that will lift you up and give you strength when you need it most.
1. “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
Change happens to us every single day. Every positive or negative experience changes us in one way or another. With an attitude of strength, you can refuse to let any of your experiences make you small. Stand fast and be the amazing person you are during good times and bad.
2. “If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.”
Life lived by selfish means is a hollow life indeed. If you have lived your life and have cared for others, that is the true success that should be celebrated. Going outside of oneself to have compassion for another human being brings perspective and humility.
3. “Whatever you want to do, if you want to be great at it, you have to love it and be able to make sacrifices for it.”
Goals and dreams take a lot of consistent daily work to achieve. If you want something, make sure that you absolutely love it with every fiber of your being. It will be easy to make sacrifices for it because you are so dedicated to the vision.
4. “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away”
Those moments that take your breath away are some of the most beautiful and awe inspiring moments you will ever experience. If you haven’t experienced enough of them in your life then go out and do so right now. Life is not about how long we live but how well we live.
5. “You did the best that you knew how. Now that you know better, you’ll do better.”
You can only do as good as you know how to do at any given moment. When you learn more and gain new techniques for life, you are able to do even better. So make sure that if you have the knowledge to do better, that you actually apply it.
6. “Let nothing dim the light that shines from within”
There are lots of things that come out and attack the light that shines within us. Make sure that to keep shining your light during any dark times as it is your lifeline. Nothing can darken our spirits unless we choose to allow it to.
7. “I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.”
If you have a choice before you, consult your heart, as well as your gut. Your gut will tell you if something is off and you need to walk away, and your heart will tell you what decision is the right one for you. When you make a decision out of love, it is usually a good one.
8. “If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?”
We teach people how to treat us. If we are hard on ourselves, we can’t expect other people to be tender with us. Treating ourselves well also makes it easier for us to refuse poor treatment from others; it allows us to have very strong and healthy boundaries.
9. “No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.”
Life does go on and time heals many things. Keep looking towards each new day to bring you just that much more peace and healing. Everything changes in the light of the next day and nothing lasts forever. You will survive and you will go on.
10. “Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”
If you think about it, it actually does take courage to be kind to someone who might be unkind to you. It takes a lot of courage to show mercy to someone who has hurt you, to be generous to someone who might disregard you, and it definitely takes courage to be honest in the face of consequences.