Altered States

30 Quotes I’m Pondering and Revisiting

The below 30 quotes have shaped my thinking and changed my behavior over the last year. I revisit them often.

They were all featured in 5-Bullet Friday, my free weekly newsletter, which is a short email of five bullet points sent out each Friday to ~1.5–2M subscribers. Each edition describes the five coolest things I’ve found or explored that week, often including books, gadgets, tricks from experts, articles, and weird stuff from all over the world.  

I hope you enjoy the following gems as much as I have…


“Language can become a screen which stands between the thinker and reality. This is the reason why true creativity often starts where language ends.”
Arthur Koestler

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”
James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son

“People fall so in love with their pain, they can’t leave it behind. The same as the stories they tell. We trap ourselves.”
Chuck Palahniuk

“The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I’m looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away. Puzzling.”
Robert M. Pirsig

Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.
Yousuf Karsh

“A man is about as big as the things that make him angry.”
Winston Churchill

“I will have to remember ‘I am here today to cross the swamp, not to fight all the alligators.’”
— From The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander

“Our bodies are apt to be our autobiographies.”
Frank Gelett Burgess

“Anytime you’re practicing renunciation, you’re deluded. How about that! You’re deluded. What are you renouncing? Anytime you renounce something, you are tied forever to the thing you renounce. There’s a guru in India who says, ‘Every time a prostitute comes to me, she’s talking about nothing but God. She says I’m sick of this life that I’m living. I want God. But every time a priest comes to me, he’s talking about nothing but sex.’ Very well, when you renounce something, you’re stuck to it forever. When you fight something, you’re tied to it forever. As long as you’re fighting it, you are giving it power. You give it as much power as you are using to fight it.”
Anthony de Mello, Awareness

“If we can forgive what’s been done to us… If we can forgive what we’ve done to others… If we can leave our stories behind. Our being victims and villains. Only then can we maybe rescue the world.”
Chuck Palahniuk

“All of our miseries are nothing but attachment.”
Osho

“Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”
Maya Angelou

“Those who do not weep, do not see.”
Victor Hugo

“What do you despise? By this are you truly known.”
Frank Herbert, Dune

“To the economically illiterate, if some company makes a million dollars in profit, this means that their products cost a million dollars more than they would have cost without profits. It never occurs to such people that these products might cost several million dollars more to produce if they were produced by enterprises operating without the incentives to be efficient created by the prospect of profits.”
Thomas Sowell

“A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein

“You remain awake at night and perform your devotions. Also awake at night are dogs, better than you. They bark and in no way can they be stopped. They go and sleep on the dung heap, better than you. They do not leave their master’s door, even if they get beaten with slippers, better than you. Bulleh Shah, buy yourself something for the journey, or else the game will be won by the dogs, better than you.”
Bulleh Shah

“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
Herbert Simon

I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.
Max Planck

“Of all sexual aberrations, chastity is the strangest.”
Anatole France

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
Anne Lamott

“I believe no man was ever scolded out of his sins.”
William Cowper

“The secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed. You waste years by not being able to waste hours.”
Amos Tversky

“No person would give up even an inch of their estate, and the slightest dispute with a neighbor can mean hell to pay; yet we easily let others encroach on our lives—worse, we often pave the way for those who will take it over. No person hands out their money to passersby, but to how many do each of us hand out our lives! We’re tight-fisted with property and money, yet think too little of wasting time, the one thing about which we should all be the toughest misers.”
Seneca the Younger

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) (alternatively attributed to Sir Mark Young and/or Bernard Baruch)

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
Epicurus

“Old George Orwell got it backward. Big Brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s busy holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re always distracted. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed. He’s making sure your imagination withers. Until it’s as useful as your appendix. He’s making sure your attention is always filled. And this being fed, it’s worse than being watched. With the world always filling you, no one has to worry about what’s in your mind. With everyone’s imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world.”
Chuck Palahniuk

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.”
Richard Feynman

“It is by logic that we prove, but by intuition that we discover.”
Henri Poincaré

“To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection.”
Henri Poincaré


You can subscribe to 5-Bullet Friday here. Each week, I share one carefully selected quote in addition to four short bullets about other interesting things I’ve discovered.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 700 million downloads. It has been selected for “Best of Apple Podcasts” three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it’s been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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