I came across many thought-provoking quotations about the mind as I was writing my last blog, “8 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Mind.” Those below are especially meaningful to me, because they jibe with my personal experience as well as with modern neuroscience. It’s amazing how many pre-modern thinkers came up with perceptive quotes about the mind just by…well…thinking. No fancy MRI scans needed.
Here are my current favorite quotes about the mind, loosely organized into categories, with the occasional editorial comment:
The Wildness of the Mind
“The mind of man is capable of anything.” --Joseph Conrad
“The mind has a mind of its own.” --Old saying
"The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven." --John Milton
"(Sometime) you will come face to face with the sudden and shocking realization that you are completely crazy. Your mind is a shrieking, gibbering madhouse on wheels barreling pell-mell down the hill, utterly out of control and hopeless. No problem. You are not crazier than you were yesterday. It has always been this way and you never noticed." --Henepola Gunaratana
“Jabber, jabber, jabber.” I found it reassuring to learn that the ceaseless self-talk of my jabberwocky mind is a characteristic of every mind, not just of my own!
Calming the Wild Mind
“Don't believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that–thoughts.” --Alan Lokos
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” --William James
"You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength." --Marcus Aurelius
For more ideas on how to calm the wild mind, click here.
Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” --Buddha
“Man can alter his life by altering his thinking.” William James
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl
The advice to change your mindset can easily be dismissed, as in the comment, “But you don’t know what I have to deal with!” Yet Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist, was able to say “yes” to life despite enduring the brutality of the Nazi concentration camps. He survived and founded a school of existential therapy.
The Mind and Happiness
“Human happiness is a disposition of mind and not a condition of circumstance.” --John Locke
“The mind is the source of all suffering, and it is also the source of all happiness.” --Pema Chodron
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” --Marcus Aurelius
For more on how to train the mind to be happier, click here.
Peace of Mind
"You find that you have peace of mind and can enjoy yourself, get more sleep, and rest when you know that it was a one hundred percent effort that you gave—win or lose." --Gordie Howe
"Peace of mind for five minutes, that's what I crave." --Alanis Morissette
"At the age of 18, I made up my mind to never have another bad day in my life. I dove into an endless sea of gratitude from which I've never emerged." --Patch Adams
Changing Your Mind
"It's perfectly okay to make a decision and then change your mind. Being able to change your mind is the best way to find out you still have one." –William E. Lewis, Jr.
"You must weed your mind as you would weed your garden." --Astrid Alauda
‘If you can change your mind, you can change your life.” --William James
"A wise man changes his mind, a fool never." -Spanish Proverb
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." --Aristotle
"As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives." --Henry David Thoreau
The Thoreau quote is one of my all-time favorites. Changing a mental habit requires a deliberate choice and takes dedication, time, and practice. Thanks for the reminder, Thoreau!
From Thinking to Action
"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world." --Buddha
"The mind has exactly the same power as the hands; not merely to grasp the world, but to change it." --Colin Wilson
"Be careful of your thoughts, they may become words at any moment." --Iara Gassen
I hope you enjoyed this bouquet of quotes. As regular readers know, I love mottoes and quotes of all types, because they can be pulled out of the mind at any time to comfort, motivate, entertain, or enlighten. So consider choosing one of the above quotes that might be meaningful for you. Memorize it and make it your own!
© Meg Selig, 2016