A Life Well-Lived : 21 Thoughts from Maya Angelou

maya“If you have a song to sing, who are you not to open your mouth and sing to the world?”

–       Maya Angelou



One of the most authentic voices for humanity died yesterday. Maya Angelou was an extraordinary force of nature; and although her song has been silenced, her words and her legacy will continue to speak, not only in her writings, but in the hearts and minds of generations to come.  She was more than a writer; she was a teacher.  She was more than an actress; she was a singer whose lyrics encouraged us to live our hopes and dreams. As an advocate for equality, she spoke not only for her people, but for all people. She opened our minds to possibility. Her indomitable spirit inspired and motivated us all to not only be the best versions of ourselves that we could be, but in turn, to inspire that in others whose lives we’ve touched.


If experience is the best teacher, her wisdom, understanding, compassion and humanity was born from a life filled with both hardship and joy.  She influenced us with her words because they were not only well-chosen, they were well-lived.  An authentic life implies consistency in both our personal and professional lives.   Here are some of her thoughts to take to heart:


1.     I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

2.     “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” 

3.     “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.” 

4.     “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”  Defeats define us only if we allow them to..

5.     “You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.”

6.     “One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true,   merciful, generous, or honest.”

7.       “ Love life, engage in it, give it all you’ve got. love it with a passion, because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.”

8.       “Nothing will work unless you do.”

9.       “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 you.”

10.  “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

11.  “All great achievements require time.”

12.  “If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.”

13.  “You don’t have to think about doing the right thing if you’re for the right thing then you’ll  do it without thinking.”

14.  “I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right  decision.”

15.  “Some of us are timid. We think we have something to lose so we don’t try for that next hill.”

16.  “Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: “I’m with you kid. Let’s go.”

17.   “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

18.  “This is my life.  It is my one time to be me.  I want to experience every good thing.”

19.  “I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.”

20.   “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. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’  If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real  forgiveness is in one’s own self.”

21.  “Each of us has that right, that possibility, to invent ourselves daily. If a person does not   invent herself, she will be invented. So, to be bodacious enough to invent ourselves is wise.”


You can read more Maya Angelou on these links:





Website Pin Facebook Twitter Myspace Friendfeed Technorati del.icio.us Digg Google StumbleUpon Premium Responsive