“Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.” ― Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou, the legendary poet and writer needs no introduction.
It would be an understatement to say that her words of wisdom have uplifted and touched millions of people.
I have always loved the wisdom and beauty encapsulated in Angelou’s words.
I have admired her celebration of life and her tireless spirit.
Here are 21 life tips from the amazing words and quotes of the beloved Maya Angelou who recently passed away.
Of course, all the quotes in this post are from Angelou’s remarkable words.
1. Love Conquers All
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
What I have learnt from Angelou is that you have a choice. A choice to choose love and go with love.
Even though life may appear to be full of barriers, you can overcome many of them if you hold the candle of love and compassion close to your heart.
When you pick and go with something that that you love, your life becomes a powerful vehicle of passion and transformation.
What do you love to do?
“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
2. Changing Something Is Better Than Complaining
“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
I love this advice from Angelou because it gives you a framework for dealing with setbacks.
You may have found that complaining accomplishes little and costs a lot.
Incessant complaining costs you your attention and your joy and your happiness.
Change things that you do not like if they are within your realm of influence.
If you cannot change them, changing the way you look at them will bring you an instant blast of relief.
Are you complaining or are you changing and adapting?
3. The Most Important Virtue
“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.”
I could not agree more with Angelou that courage is an important virtue.
Without courage, which we may find it difficult to implement any of the other ones.
Courage is the little whisper that:
Keeps you going when the going gets tough.
Sustains you when you attempt something new.
Lifts you when you are feeling low.
Gives you immeasurable personal power on your quest.
4. Having Great Self-Worth
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
I find Angelou’s work on self-worth to be particularly inspiring.
I agree that the choice to react or respond to life’s events rests in our hands.
At some point or another, you will bump up the realization that if you do not treat yourself well, you are training others to do the same.
Respect yourself and others will respect you.
“If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?”
Angelou reiterates that you have nothing to prove to others and that you are good enough, and you are worthy.
What is your self-image of you?
“You alone are enough, you don’t have nothing to prove to anybody”
5. Practice More Creativity
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
Yes, this is one of my favorite quotes on creativity.
Creativity is tricky for some people.
You may believe that you are not creative enough.
Or you may believe that others do not value your creative work.
Remember that one of the great creative writers of recent times, Maya Angelou said that there is no way you can use up all your creativity.
The more you practice, the more creativity becomes revealed to you.
Are you allowing your creativity to be unleashed today?
6. On Transformation
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
Angelou is right on when she says that we look at a successful person and praise their success and accomplishments.
The years of experience, hard work of the many different teams, the setbacks and the trials are never usually mentioned.
Transformation takes time, patience and a lot of hard work.
If we think that it is easy to achieve, we are setting ourselves up for failure and for much heartache.
7. What Is Success?
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
I have heard many ideas and definitions of success and I like this one from Angelou a lot.
Angelou includes the most important element in your success: YOU.
When you have a great relationship with who you are and what you represent, you are successful.
When you like what you do and how you are getting about it in your daily life, you are successful.
This is a great definition because it eliminates social pressure to be someone else.
You can redefine success to include you and what you like and what you do right now!
“Success is loving life and daring to live it.”
8. The Key To Relationships: How Do You Make Others Feel?
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This is perhaps one of the more famous and one of the more significant quotes from Angelou.
It is also the key to relationship success and the key to interacting with people, customers, friends and family.
How do you make people in your life feel?
Do they feel valued and special in you presence or do they feel judged and used?
9. How To Make Priorities
“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
A golden rule to use when you are giving too much and getting little back.
Unfortunately this happens all the time and people give a lot more than they get back.
And then others take them for granted by their entitlement mentality.
Are you making people a priority that do not have the time or the respect for you to reciprocate back in kind?
10. How To Thrive
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style”
Angelou provides you with a great list of items to include while living your life passionately and completely.
Some questions to ask yourself:
Are you content with surviving or are you striving to thrive?
Do you have a great passion for your life or do you feel worn out?
Do you have compassion for yourself and others?
Do you include humor in your life or are you taking everything too seriously?
Do you express your personal style and your personality or do you suppress it?
“No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.”
11. On Laughter
“I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.”
Angelou’s test of trust is if the other person is able to lighten up and express their humor in your presence.
I agree that genuine laughter is difficult to emulate if a person is not coming from their authentic self.
Lightening up and humor is a unique gift that you can give others and others can give you.
I do trust the people more with whom I can share a hearty laugh.
12. Be a Lifelong Learner
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.“
Allow this quote from Angelou to touch your heart. When you realize this, you will understand that you did the best you could with the knowledge that you had.
And there is no reason to stop yourself because of past failures and setbacks because you have learnt a lot more since then.
Many people have deep hesitations to learning new things and do not consider the idea that they have changed over the years.
This time around, you may have more success since you know a lot more.
“I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.”
13. Uplift Others
“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”
I have found this quote from Angelou to be reassuring when I have doubts about myself.
I can change the frame of reference and attempt to uplift others and be a rainbow in their clouds.
Devote some time in the unconditional service of other people who need your kindness and your attention.
This is an effective way you out of your problems too because you develop a better frame of reference.
The real reason for learning is not to appear to know it all but to teach others of new ideas and ways.
Make it a habit to give back when you get yourself.
Science has also shown that prosocial giving allows you to get a boost of happiness and well-being.
“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.”
14. Be Grateful And Be Present
“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”
I love the simple but effective words from Angelou on gratitude and presence.
Allow your attention to be present in things that are around you in this moment.
Express your heartfelt thanks, and you feel blessed and happy.
Being grateful present not just during a small part of your day but making it a habit is a wonderful nugget of advice from Angelou.
“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
15. Never Give Up
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
I love the power and the clarity that Angelou brings to failure and setbacks.
I have found it useful to become aware and to distinguish between defeats and getting defeated.
If you get up and rise every time you stumble, you have mastered a great secret to success and to thriving in an uncertain world.
Angelou says that you get to learn about yourself when you rise and confront your defeats. You learn about the limits of your abilities.
You realize immense latent power and perseverance.
“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”
Always remember that nothing lasts forever including your defeats and setbacks.
“No sun outlasts its sunset but will rise again and bring the dawn.
16. Do It
“Ain’t nothin’ to it, but to do it.”
What more can we say about action but to just go ahead and take action.
Why verbalize, worry, doub, fear the unknown, when you can take that first step and find out for yourself.
17. Forgive Yourself
“But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all.”
Many people are unable to forgive themselves and blame themselves for the mistakes and the setbacks in their life.
Angelou’s words are like a soothing balm to bruised egos and your tired spirits.
Angelou encourages you to learn from your mistakes and understand that you can do better next time.
But you will have to take the leap of faith in yourself and forgive yourself.
And as life progresses, you will have many opportunities to forgive you or to blame and hold you in anger and criticism.
18. You Are Awesome
“I am a Woman phenomenally. Phenomenal Woman, that’s me.”
You are the most awesome and wonderful version of you. Allow Angelou’s fabulous words to resound and fill your consciousness with self-love and devotion.
You are unique, phenomenal and awesome. Have it no other way.
Do not allow you or others to treat you any different.
“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
19. Launch Your Dreams
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Express your story and sing your unique song.
Setbacks and failure
You have this one precious life, make the most of it and tell your story by expressing your unique skills and passions.
20. Express Your Kindness
“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.”
Just because the world is in a hurry to express irritation, impatience and meanness does not mean that we need to join in.
As Angelou suggests, become a source of great strength and kindness.
Keep expressing the qualities that come naturally to you.
21. On Life And Purpose
“Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art.”
I always find this quote from Angelou to be highly motivating in seeing the bigger picture.
When you treat life like an exciting adventure of discovery, your life transforms.
Gone are the boredom and the existential panic and it gets replaced by great excitement and enthusiasm.
Life becomes a piece of art with you as the artist.
Nothing will work unless you do.”
Angelou reminds us that expressing our purpose and our natural song should become a natural expression of who we are.
This is like the bird that sings because it feels a deep desire to express it and communicate it.
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
And finally, life is precious and it is best to realize that the natural order is one of rhythm and movement, silence and dance.
Make it your mission to understand and express your natural rhythm and your dance.
If you follow and dance to another’s rhythm, you will feel a deep sense of dissatisfaction.
“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.”
Allow you to be you.
I would like to express my heartfelt thanks and gratitude for the wisdom of the amazing writer and poet, Maya Angelou.
Even though we are deeply saddened that she has recently passed away, she will continue inspiring millions with her great words of wisdom.
Now over to you, my amazing readers.
Which quote is your favorite and why?
I would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Image Credit: Flickr CC via York College ISLGP: Maya Angelou visits YCP! 2/4/13