A life quote is a short and impactful statement that sums up a certain insight about life. These quotes are usually concise, memorable, and meaningful.
Once you know how to spot a life quote, you’ll notice them everywhere: in greeting cards, on coffee mugs, and even in song lyrics. Below we’ll talk about what a life quote is, discuss when to use one, and list some examples of popular life quotes in English.
What is a life quote?
A life quote is a well-known saying that describes the experiences or reflections of writers, philosophers, actors, and everyday individuals. They often touch upon universal themes such as love, success, happiness, resilience, and personal growth, and are used to remind us of the shared human experience. Because the topics are so broad, there is a lot of variation in life quotes.
Some life quotes are straightforward:
“Live and let live.”
This is a common idiom that encourages people to tolerate and respect other people’s choices, actions, and beliefs, even if they differ from one’s own.
Other life quotes use wordplay to get the reader to think a little bit, like:
“Life is too important to be taken seriously.” —Oscar Wilde
Life quotes can be about life itself:
“. . . Life [is] like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” —from the film Forrest Gump
Or about one specific aspect of life:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” —Mark Twain
Life quotes can come from a specific speaker or writer, as in the examples above, or they can come from an entire philosophy:
“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” —Japanese proverb
Some life quotes are used so often that they become clichés, or phrases that lose their power because they are repeated so often. For example, take this life quote:
“Everything happens for a reason.”
While this quote is often intended to provide comfort or meaning in challenging situations, its frequent use has led to it being seen as oversimplified and even dismissive of the complexities of life’s events.
Life quotes can also be about a specific trade. There are lots of life quotes about writing, teaching, and sports.
All of that is to say, life quotes come from a variety of sources and can be about a variety of topics. The most important aspects to remember about life quotes are that they are inspiring, they’re memorable, and they speak to major aspects of the human experience.
When to use a life quote
Life quotes are used to inspire good feelings in whoever reads them, so oftentimes people will keep their favorite life quotes in places that they encounter frequently. For example, you can hang motivational life quotes around your bathroom mirror so that you notice them every morning.
When writing life quotes, you will want to use quotation marks to show that someone else originally wrote or spoke these exact words. If you’re feeling inspired to write some life quotes down, check out our guidance on how to use capitalization in quotations and how to layer a quotation in another quotation.
18 life quotes to know
Life quotes about authenticity
1 “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” —Oscar Wilde
2 “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
3 “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” —Brené Brown
Life quotes about attitude
4 “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.” —Charles R. Swindoll
5 “A person can change their future by merely changing their attitude.” —Oprah Winfrey
6 “Keep your face always toward the sunshine—and shadows will fall behind you.” —Walt Whitman. (This is an example of using metaphors in life quotes. Whitman means that by having a positive attitude, the “darker” things in life will remain out of sight. He does not mean you should stare at the sun.)
Life quotes about success
7 “Not in doing what you like, but in liking what you do is the secret of happiness.” —J. M. Barrie
8 “Life is about making an impact, not making an income.” —Kevin Kruse
9 “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” —Walt Disney
Life quotes about perseverance
10 “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” —Dolly Parton
11 “Don’t say you can’t until you prove you can’t.” —Les Paul
12 “The world is not yours for the taking, but for the trying. Try hard.” —Scott Galloway
Life quotes about life
13 “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” —Mark Twain
14 “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” —Robert Frost
15 “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” —Alan Saunders
Practical life quotes
16 “The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.” —Harry Ruby
17 “A party without a cake is really just a meeting.” —Julia Child
18 “Intelligence is when you spot the flaw in your boss’s reasoning. Wisdom is when you refrain from pointing it out.” —James Dent
Life quotes FAQs
What is a life quote?
A life quote is a short, memorable message that conveys some universal truth about life. Life quotes are typically meant to be inspiring or motivational, so people often keep life quotes in places where they will see them frequently, like on a bathroom mirror or favorite coffee mug.
When should you use a life quote?
You can look at life quotes on a daily basis, or just when you need a little extra motivation. If someone close to you is feeling down, you can send them a card with a relevant life quote.
What are the different kinds of life quotes?
Life quotes can be about life itself, or about a specific aspect of life like love, happiness, or success. Life quotes can also have a variety of tones. Some are serious, others are straightforward, and still others are light and playful.