5 Awesome Quotes (With Analysis)

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Who doesn’t love an awesome quote? Oh, that one guy? Don’t talk to him.

Just a sentence or two of the right words can blow your mind. Here are a few quotes that I like, with my thoughts beneath them.

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” (Benjamin Franklin)

Ben Franklin is one of my favorite people ever. The way he thought about (and lived) life was fascinating.

Here he points out a common mistake. “I’m sorry. [excuse].” An excuse dilutes the sincerity of an apology. Sometimes it’s best to sincerely say you’re sorry and leave it at that.

Something similar could be said for accepting a compliment. Don’t dilute it with a forced return compliment or self-deprecation. Sincerely thank the person for seeing something positive about you and telling you about it! If you do have a genuine return compliment for them, wait for a little bit before you tell them, and it will be much more impactful. Even waiting 5 minutes could be enough to let them know you’re saying it sincerely and not merely reacting to their comment.

Avoid the impression that you’re giving them an insincere compliment to even out the compliment points. Even if you are sincere, the worst time to give someone a compliment is right after they give you one. The rare exception in which they would enjoy a reciprocated compliment would be if they are complimenting you only to fish for their own compliment, but in that case they’re manipulating you and shouldn’t be rewarded for it anyway.

The same concept goes for gifts and love. I think it’s important to be able to receive such things without feeling shame or guilt or obligation to return them. And also important to give them without that expectation of a return. These are personal matters, not business transactions!

The common factor in all of these examples is discomfort with being real with people, as if it’s terrifying to us to show genuine appreciation or sorrow or love or acceptance. Let’s not dilute our words. This is something I’ve been working on over the last few years and will continue to do so.

“Life is a long lesson in humility.” (James M. Barrie)

James Barrie gets it. No matter how high a human can possibly ascend into their (or the world’s) idea of greatness, we all get sick sometimes, we all have bad days, we all have problems, and we all die eventually. Human beings are frail, temporal creatures. We can do amazing things in our limited time here, but no person is above being humble. There’s no argument!

It’s okay that life eventually forces us into humility, because humility makes for a better experience on Earth. It’s best to recognize and accept your imperfections earlier as opposed to later.

“I am thankful to all who said ‘no’ to me. It is because of them that I’m doing it myself.” (Albert Einstein)

This one is close to the heart for me. I couldn’t get a job out of college despite a full year of trying. I thought all of the companies who passed on me made a mistake, and it angered me. But now, all I can do is thank them, because it forced/enabled me to carve my own path. Now, my career is 10x better than what it would have been. Rejection and failure are not fun when they happen, but sometimes they can lead you to a better path.

“All generalizations are false, including this one.” (Mark Twain)

Mark Twain is always good for a funny quote. This one makes me laugh because of how it plays with logic. Is it a true or false statement? Or both?

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” (Dr. Seuss)

This is impressively insightful. It makes me think of Mini Habits right away, which is a simple and effective solution to the extremely complex problem of how to approach behavior change. Behavior change involves neuroscience, cognitive and behavioral psychology, human nature, and abstract ideas like motivation and willpower. For all that complexity, “one push-up a day” changed my life. Go figure.

I’ve noticed this is true in many different areas, and it’s helpful to think about it when you’re trying to solve a problem. The natural assumption is that “a complicated problem requires a complicated solution,” but creativity and problem solving 101 is to challenge assumptions! Good job, Theodor Seuss Geisel.

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