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10 Powerful Things Abraham Lincoln Said That Will Inspire Your Life

10 Powerful Things Abraham Lincoln Said That Will Inspire Your Life

Abraham Lincoln delivered some of the most memorable quotes of any U.S. president, filled to the burst with wisdom that’s been passed down for the last hundred-plus years. Here are some especially poignant quotes from Honest Abe that are as relevant today as they’ve ever been.

1. “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Abraham Lincoln was wise enough to know when to stay quiet. You should also be aware of the times when the best thing to say is nothing at all. Some political discussions on Facebook might be best to avoid, for example.

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2. “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.”

It wouldn’t be a proper list of Abraham Lincoln quotes without something expressing his views on slavery. With this quote, Abe demonstrates his understanding that our roles should not be simplified to being owned or being an owner. That still applies today, even if actual slavery is a thing of the past in the United States. Too often (like in the workplace) people will feel in servitude to someone else, when equality is the best option.

3. “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

Patience is good, but an eagerness to make your mark is often better. To get the things you want you need to be actively, fervently pursuing them. An author who waits for someone to discover his novel on Amazon is less likely to succeed than an author actively marketing himself.

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    Image via Flickr by coconinoco.

    4. “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

    Preparation is the key to productivity. Abraham Lincoln suggested here that his rule of thumb was to spend two-thirds of your time preparing, and one-third actually doing. Employ a similar mindset to achieve comparable results. Writing this article, for example, was a lot easier because I collected the quotes ahead of time instead of one at a time.

    5. “It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.”

    This can be a tough quote to get your head around. Wouldn’t those without sin be the most holy? Not according to Abraham Lincoln, who believes that a willingness to do bad is a necessary component of being good. Someone who is willing to break the law for a good reason, for example, is often superior to someone too afraid to.

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    11746994686_6261b08b52_z
      Image via Flickr by Lending Memo.

      6. “The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.”

      Abraham Lincoln recognized that, though we should prepare for the future, we shouldn’t live in fear of it. As long as we’re aware of what’s coming, it can’t sneak up on us. Think about this especially when saving for retirement.

      7. “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

      Failure is inevitable. Necessary, even, on the path to greatness. Abraham Lincoln knew that the important thing is that you care enough to try again. Most of the most successful businessmen had at least one failed startup before they became millionaires and billionaires. They stuck through the hard times, and you should, too.

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        Image via Flickr by Wally Gobetz.

        8. “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

        Happiness is a pretty abstract thing, but Abraham Lincoln simplifies it somewhat with this quote by explaining that a lot of our well-being comes from our attitudes. In a lot of ways, happiness is within our own power. Don’t get too hung up on being passed over for a promotion, for example, and be grateful for what you have, instead.

        9. “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

        One of my favorite Abraham Lincoln quotes. Follow his advice by looking for the good in the bad instead of searching for the bad in the good. You can find faults in everyone, even the people you most love. But it’s better to notice the things that are great about them if you want happy relationships.

        10. “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

        The life of Abraham Lincoln was cut short when he was assassinated at the age of 56. It’s a very good thing that he understood that he lived a full and meaningful life, even if it wasn’t as long as it should have been. Don’t waste your time with trivial matters. Do things that make a difference so that, even if you die tomorrow, you’ll have lived a fulfilling life.

        Featured photo credit: William Hartz via flickr.com

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        Matt OKeefe

        Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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        Last Updated on December 3, 2019

        10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

        10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

        There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

        Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

        1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

        Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

        There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

        Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

        2. Pace Yourself

        Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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        Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

        Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

        3. You Can’t Please Everyone

        “I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

        You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

        Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

        4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

        Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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        We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

        Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

        5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

        “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

        No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

        We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

        6. It’s Not All About You

        You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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        It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

        7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

        No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

        We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

        Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

        8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

        That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

        Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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        Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

        9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

        Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

        The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

        10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

        We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

        When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

        Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

        This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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        Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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