We all tend to live by principles and beliefs that usually happen to be set for us either by our family, culture, or religion. However, only when we begin to question those beliefs and seek to define our own life principles do we find ourselves transitioning to a new, more open kind of life that fits our purpose and growth.
But this can only happen if we do it with the right intention.
I am no stranger to such a transition. Not until I left my hometown to pursue my studies abroad did I begin to overcome the fear of questioning my dearly held beliefs set for me by my family and culture back home.
Since then, my daily life has been my testing ground to find and build my own principles. And through that, I discovered fascinating people who blessed us with their wisdom and enlightenment.
And luckily enough, I did that through my favourite type of time travel: books.
Here, I want to share with you 3 inspiring quotes from 3 prominent figures of the past that can inspire your life substantially.
Those people are individuals that made their mark and left behind a legacy because they believed in the principles and purposes they had set for themselves and acted on them for the benefit of others.
1. “Be ashamed to die until you have scored some victory for humanity.” - Horace Mann (1796–1859)
In his 1859 commencement speech to the students of Antioch College, a liberal arts college in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Horace Mann highlighted the value of acting on a purpose that benefits humanity.
This message remains as important today as it was back then.
We sometimes tend to get too involved with our daily activities that we may forget to see the bigger picture and revisit the purpose(s) that we’ve set for ourselves. So, keep in mind the value in doing something — no matter how small or big — that benefits humanity one way or another.
Nevertheless, many of us struggle in finding our purpose in life, and that’s completely understandable.
Maybe looking at purpose from a different perspective can help overcome this struggle.
My point of view is that there is no “one true purpose” in life. There is no “one true meaning” to life. We can have multiple, specific purposes that fit different stages of our lives.
And with that, we can pursue our goals more easily as they would be much more realistic and closer to achieving.
Any person can leave a positive mark in the world. It’s merely a choice whether they want to do that or not.
2. “There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge.” - Napoleon Hill (1883 — 1970)
Napoleon Hill’s contribution to people’s view of wealth is no less than extraordinary. In his book, Think and Grow Rich, he very eloquently showcases the importance of the first part of that title: Think.
His description of desire, faith, autosuggestion, imagination, and other elements of the mind are too valuable to overlook.
While he portrays those points based on his personal research of the lives of 500+ self-made millionaires and not on the basis of scientific theories and observations, those reports are still nothing short of precious and extremely useful.
And in fact, they do have scientific backing elsewhere in the scientific literature. They are just phrased and explained differently.
Hill’s account of the limitations of the mind is in and of itself mind-blowing. We establish limitations by acknowledging them.
Whether it is through our language, culture, or daily habits, the limitations to what our mind is capable of doing are as tangible as we accept them to be.
Changing our view of our limitations can change our limitations. Realising what we are capable of is vital to our growth towards something better.
3. “We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.” - Carl Sagan (1934–1996)
Carl Sagan was an absolute legend of a man. His impact on the world is undying. Whether it is through his books, lectures, TV program, or amazing scientific career, Carl Sagan made science beautiful in his own poetic way.
This is why he is a role model of mine.
In his famous book, Cosmos, Sagan highlights how valuable our life is and how important it is to make the best of it.
He shows us the difference between our common perspective of life and what he calls the cosmic perspective. In this poetic analogy, he shows that life is relatively short, but we tend to believe it’s longer than it is.
It is vital to understand that as far as we know, we have one life, and we better make the best out of it.
Looking at life from the cosmic perspective gives us a completely unique realisation that our supposed importance is nothing but a delusion that we have a privileged position in the universe. Yet, it does show the actual value of our existence in its relation to the universe.
Carl Sagan said it best: “We are made of star stuff.” And that is no metaphor.
If you haven’t already, Carl Sagan’s book, Cosmos, is a must-read for anyone and everyone. If you’re not much of a reader, there are amazing videos of his depiction of earth and the universe on YouTube — a worthy watch on lonely nights.