There is a journey, perhaps the most exciting of all, that you must undertake at some point of your life. A voyage in your interior, to get rid of all the wrong convictions, the beliefs that weigh on you and the ways of doing that limit you.
The philosopher Ayn Rand was convinced that we have an obligation to ourselves to “Achieve the most complete perception of reality within our reach, and a constant and active expansion of personal perception, that is, the personal knowledge.” She also believed that “Personal convictions should never be sacrificed to the opinions or wishes of others.”
Of course, that path of personal growth is unique. No one can make it for you and there are no pre-established steps that guarantee “success”. However, all the great philosophers of history have undertaken it, leaving behind a trail of personal growth quotes that can serve as clues to dig deeper and deeper, in the search for your true “ego”.
- “The secretof change isto focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new” – Socrates
Socrates, considered one of the greatest philosophers in history, promoted the knowledge of oneself. His immense legacy is built precisely on doubt, he said that learning does not mean accumulating knowledge but putting it into question, reflecting on it and changing it, if necessary. His method of teaching was very peculiar because he did not transmit absolute truths but, through maieutics, he encouraged his students to discover their own truths. That is why his personal growth quote is so powerful and becomes an exhortation to embrace change, letting go of the past to focus on the future.
- “There is no path to happiness: Happiness is the path” – Gautama Buddha
If there is a personal growth quote that can become a mantra, is this. These simple words have a powerful meaning, as is often the case in Buddhist philosophy. Buddha considered that happiness is not a destiny, it is not a point at which you arrive in a certain moment of life or something that you reach through possessions or social status, rather it is an attitude towards life and, therefore, It is always a personal choice. That means that you do not need to postpone happiness to certain goals because you can be happy while you strive to achieve those goals.
- “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in that suffering” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Nietzsche’s nihilism is glimpsed in this quote, which in turn becomes a personal growth quote. This philosopher believed that we are immersed in a deep frustration that is born of the loss of meaning, the inability to find meaning in life and the things that happen to us. He thought that we cannot avoid pain and suffering because they are the other face of joy and happiness, but to survive psychologically we need to find a sense to what has happened to us, learn the lesson and integrate those experiences into our life history. If we do not, we will remain stuck in the past, constantly reliving the trauma, which will prevent us from moving forward.
- “Thereare more things likely to frighten us than thereare to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality”- Seneca
Seneca, the great Stoic philosopher, examined centuries ago the human tendency to focus on the negative aspects of situations and worry excessively about the future. His antidote to anxiety was very simple: “True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not”.
- “Anguish is the vertigo of freedom” – Soren Kierkegaard
This Danish philosopher, father of existentialism, underlined the importance of the “ego” and introspection as a way to find the truth. In fact, he came to affirm that “subjectivity is truth and truth is subjectivity”, which meant that we should look more inside ourselves and stop being guided by what others say, think or do. This personal growth quote refers precisely to that moment in which we free ourselves from the social ties and the anguish that we can experience. Be aware of this and do not allow the fear of flying to cut your wings.
- “Poverty does not come by the diminution of riches, but by the multiplication of desires” – Plato
The allegory of the cave by Plato is perhaps the best way to understand his philosophical position. Plato praised the ideas about material possessions, so it is not strange that he warns us that real wealth does not come from the increase of our purchasing power but from the reduction of our desires. In a society that drives us to unbridled consumerism, we must have present this personal growth quote because it is the most direct way to freedom, which allows us to free ourselves from comparisons, envy and unnecessary anxieties to reach more and more.
- “If we are not at peace with ourselves, we cannot guide others in the search for peace” – Confucius
This Chinese thinker, who preached tolerance and love, warns us that we cannot look outside for what we have not cultivated in our interior. We cannot love fully, in a mature and authentic way, if we do not love ourselves first. We cannot unconditionally accept the others, if we do not accept ourselves first. And we cannot transmit serenity, if we have not cultivated inner peace first. All our actions, and not actions, are a reflection of what is going on inside us, so we cannot be the light of the world and the darkness of the house.
- “Not being loved is a simple misfortune, the real misfortune is not to love” – Albert Camus
This French philosopher, Nobel Prize for Literature, always addressed the human condition of isolation and loneliness in a society that, according to him, was too individualistic and repressive. As a result, he thought we ended up embarking on a frantic search for safety through relationships. However, one of the antidotes, in addition to “becoming so absolutely free that our mere existence is an act of rebellion”, was to learn to love. It is not about possessive or dependent love, which are the most common, but a love that leaves the other free, because it is capable of self-satisfaction. In fact, also this precious advice belongs to him: “Do not walk in front of me, I may not follow you. Do not walk behind me, it may not guide you. Walk next to me and be my friend.” Once we understand it, it is a radical change of perspective that turns upside down many of the conceptions that we have always taken for granted.
- “A sailor without a destination cannot hope for a favorable wind” – Arthur Schopenhauer
Schopenhauer argued that we can get to know ourselves if we embark on a path of introspection, an idea on which he turned a great part of his work, which many consider a point of connection between Eastern and Western philosophy. Therefore, it is not strange that one of his personal growth quotes was precisely about the need to dig inside us and then be able to inflate the sails. He warned us that if we do not have our own and well-defined objectives, we will not be able to take advantage of opportunities when they knock at our door.
- “It is not important what others have made of us, but what we do with what they have made of us” – Jean-Paul Sartre
This French philosopher who flirted with both existentialism and humanist Marxism to end up shaping his existential psychoanalysis, was firmly convinced that each person makes himself. He also thought that we are fully responsible for our life, without excuses or pretexts. Therefore, one of his most powerful personal growth quotes refers precisely to the importance of not falling into chronic victimhood and useless lamentation. We must be aware that we cannot always control what happens to us, but we can control how we react. In the long run, that’s what really counts. It is our attitudes, decisions and actions that shape our personality.