“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today is MLK day and what better way to celebrate the life of the iconic civil rights leader than to remember some of his great words.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. As most of you already know, Dr. King was an American pastor, human rights activist, and a leader in the African-American civil rights movement.
In 1964, Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent civil disobedience.
Here are some life tips from the inspiring life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
1. On Love
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”-Martin Luther King, Jr.
MLK recognized that love is a powerful transformational force of good in life. There is a lot of hate going around but the best way to shine light and bring kind awareness to it is through love.
Love is the most effective way to transcend hate. When we choose love instead of hate and judgment, we have opened the way to light and transformation.
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”-Martin Luther King, Jr.
MLK understood the burden of hate and chose love at every turn of his life.
“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
2. On Hope
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”-Martin Luther King, Jr.
There will always be setbacks, failures and disappointments in your life. The question that you need to ask is if you are allowing the setbacks to define and rule your life?
As MLK suggests, you should never lose the global perspective of infinite hope.
Even though your current moments may be rife with setbacks, you will benefit by having a global perspective of hope and positive expectation.
In other words, do not confuse and forget the forest for the trees.
Hope is the vitality and the bond that allows the gears of life to move forward smoothly.
Allow hope to light your way forward and remember not to bear the burden of failure and setback.
“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
I love these timeless words from MLK. Faith and belief are powerful words and invoke the feelings and emotions of empowerment.
Often, you will only see a few steps forward and this disappoints and stops many people from moving forward.
This is where you will need to have faith in you and your skills and what you believe in. For many people, that faith can be a spiritual higher power or some aspect of personal principles or even the collective social good.
A strong faith will be our greatest ally in life. This is because from where we stand, the whole staircase of the future is scarcely visible.
Yet, we must move forward in the belief that we can transcend the limitations and challenges along the way.
4. Moving Forward
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
While we are on the topic of moving forward, let us allow these words of wisdom to percolate into our consciousness.
You need to move forward regardless of your current and past situations. Many people expect to fly and always make haste.
But life does not always believe in our best-laid plans and our aspirations. Life inevitably throws many curved balls towards you.
Your job is to understand the inevitable rules of life and still move forward. Even if it is a tiny step forward, it is better than coming to a stop because you found the winds to be unfavorable or nonexistent.
So throw the towlines and resistance and make a commitment to move forward regardless of internal and external weather.
5. On Challenges
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
When you are in your comfort zone, you do not make much transformative change towards the life of your desire. Every success story comes filled with challenges and difficulties.
How do you manage the difficulties and challenges of your life? Do you actively avoid challenges and controversy because you do not want to appear difficult?
Or do you advance boldly into the discomfort zone of challenges?
“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”-Martin Luther King, Jr.
6. The Key To Happiness
“Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Research has shown that connection, service and pro-social giving has a miraculous effect in promoting our personal happiness.
When you actively seek happiness, it may remain elusive because the focus is on you.
You may find that the bar gets higher and higher and true happiness and contentment can be scarce and transient.
The best way is to give up on seeking happiness and assist others to find some relief, joy and happiness. In giving, you often find the lessons and moments that you have been seeking.
7. Dreams That Inspire
“I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream.”- Martin Luther King, Jr.
The “I have a dream” speech of MLK was his most popular and the most impactful speeches in civil rights history. The quote above represents his view on perseverance regardless of difficulties.
Let us take a moment and this opportunity to reaffirm our greatest aspirations and dreams.
Everyone has dreams and goals. If you can connect your dreams with creating value and impact for the self and for others, you get inspired to make a difference.
And remember that you should share your dreams wisely and with the right people. Even though most people will not rush in to support your dreams, they will certainly rush in to criticize them.
“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
8. On Forgiveness
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
MLK advises us to make forgiveness an attitude. Make it a habit to allow yourself to forgive and let go.
Forgiveness does not mean that you condone the negative deeds of others.
It means that you become aware of what has happened and process it. Forgiveness allows you can recognize patterns in the future and you can prevent them from happening again.
It means that you recognize that something has happened and you are ready to come to terms with it for your own sake.
Forgiveness is a great act of compassion and kindness towards another, but mostly towards the self.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?”-Martin Luther King, Jr.
In this fiercely materialistic and individualistic society, this question from MLK on what are we doing for others is a relevant one.
Service is a great oasis of peace and contentment that graces our soul and fans our spirit. In service, we find true happiness and lasting peace.
When we do things for others in non-conditional and non-judgmental way, we learn a lot about life and the human condition.
And this experiential knowledge is capable of deeply and permanently transforming us for the good.
Uplift others and uplift yourself, and remember that the both of these are inseparable.
“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Change is difficult and many people do not want to put in the required work.
An often-left out area in achieving success is the struggle that we have to go through.
If you embrace change and the inevitable struggle that comes along with it, you will be better suited to manage it when it shows up.
The ironic thing with humans is that in retrospect, the moments and times that have been a great struggle are the ones that we remember most fondly.
The act of transcending a great struggle, a great difficulty is powerful for human confidence and perseverance.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Happiness research has shown the power and the importance of making deep and meaningful connections.
Whether it is physical health or emotional well being, the importance of connections and relationships in our lives is vast.
Recognize and celebrate the differences that are inherent in us. Displaying genuine empathy with others is the stepping stone to great connections.
And as MLK mentions, we are in the same boat, the same planet and the same situation together, and in the same human condition.
“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”-Martin Luther King, Jr.
12. The Goal Of Learning And Education
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Wow! I love the idea from MLK that the goal of education is to think deeply.
The goal of education is to be curious and allow critical thinking.
While we develop our intelligence, we should also develop our character. Our intelligence is not set in stone and the more we work towards leaning and expanding, the more “intelligent” we become.
13. The Courage To Do What Is Right
“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
Doing the right thing may not always be easy but if your conscience and intuition tell you to proceed, you should certainly proceed.
But it is not easy to do the right thing often because we are all conditioned to follow social cues and social proof. Social conditioning, similarity and approval are all strong set beliefs and ideas that may come in the way of doing the right thing.
Going against the grain of what is popular might be difficult. But if you know in your heart that you are doing the right thing, you are best served by going for it.
I also love the idea from MLK that there is no right or wrong time to do the right thing.
“The time is always right to do what is right.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
14. The Futility Of Bitterness And Hatred
“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Bitterness, cynicism and hatred do not serve us. It is best to become aware of their patterns in our life and allow then to be released. Replace them with:
15. Passion and Dharma
“No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
What matters most in your life? Perhaps it is family or perhaps it is a skill that you cannot imagine your life without.
Become aware of what matters most to you and begin aligning your life in that direction.
16. Tough And Tender
“We must combine the toughness of the serpent and the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Have a tough mind that can persevere the storms of life. And have a soft heart that is sensitive to feel the empathy for the condition of other humans.
Have a tough and strong willed mind. Have a soft mind that is open to feedback and pliable to change direction if needed.
I agree completely that we need a tough and strong mind and an intuitive and soft heart to be successful in life. If we have a tough mind and a hard heart, we cannot empathize with others and feel what is important for others.
If we have a soft mind and a weak mind, chances are strong that we will be unable to persevere the storms of life.
17. The Key To Action And Success
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Yes, I can completely go along with that. Whenever you feel small and feel like your work does not matter, remember the soothing and healing words of MLK.
You may not always be able to do great things. But, if you can do what you do and make it big, you are a success.
If you give your fierce passion and your unwavering wonder and attention to the few important projects in your life, you become a great success.
If you do the small things and details with attention, kindness and love, you are a great success.
If you can at the end of your day know in your heart that you did a small task with your heart and your soul, how can you not be a great success?
Thanks a lot to the great wisdom and kindness of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. MLK will continue to enrich our life with his amazing and timeless words.
Dr. MLK Image Credit: “Martin Luther King Jr St Paul Campus U MN” by Minnesota Historical Society – Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr CC
This post does express the Icon Martin Luther King Jr. He was an inspiration to the world. He was a change agent, a revoluntionary and today we are enjoying his legacy. Thanks for sharing this awesome post. Have a lovely week. T
Thanks a lot for your comment! I totally agree that Dr. King was a great inspiration to the world. Along with other icons such as Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King was a great champion of non-violent change and transformation. And yes to say that we are enjoying his legacy is certainly very true. He made the world an eminently richer and more beautiful place and his words resonate as true even after all the decades. In other words, timeless and amazing!!
Yvonne I. Wilson says
This is a very impressive listing of MLK quotes. I love the subheadings and what better to start with than love. Even the order in which they are listed tell a story in and of itself.
In order for faith to work and to produce fruits, or the things we desire, we not love and hope without which the faith is dead.
I am happy to see forgiveness included in the list as well because with so much negativity and hatred in the world, there is a great need to exercise the geace of forgiveness.
MLK while he was a great inspiration to the world, he was about sacrifice, in that it was his love for humanity and the cause of freedom, liberty and equality that he ended up loosing his life.
Thanks for this lovely post.
Thanks a lot for the kind words and thanks for your wonderful comment! I did not think of the order very much when I wrote it except the first and the last one but now that you mention it, I think you are absolutely right. I also agree that what better way but to begin with LOVE, the most powerfully transformative force, and an idea and concept that Dr. King lived his inspiring life with. The greatest message is the power of love of Dr. King’s words and his empathy for the suffering of people that have made his words and ideas timeless and transcend all limitations. Thanks you for your words: “MLK while he was a great inspiration to the world, he was about sacrifice, in that it was his love for humanity and the cause of freedom, liberty and equality that he ended up loosing his life.” I think that this quote from you is very well said and captures the essence of the post very well. So thank you for that!!
I also agree that forgiveness is very much required, especially as you mention in the current world.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!