Maya Angelou, a famous poet, writer, performer, and civil rights activist, most famous for her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was a true inspiration and Renaissance woman. Angelou was a three-time Grammy winner and recipient of over 30 honorary awards who rose from very humble beginnings to make her mark on this world. It can be argued that she was one of the most influential people to have walked this earth. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2010 and recited, The Pulse of the Morning, at Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration ceremony. Angelou’s tenacity and resolve are to be admired. Below are 10 inspiring quotes that can help you live a more fulfilled life. To see her full biography click here.
1. 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.
2. If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
3. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody. (I still struggle with this one, but am working on improving.)
4. We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.
5. You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
6. You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lines. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise (One of her most famous and powerful quotes).
7. Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin – find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less (One of my favorites).
8. I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me. (As an educator, I encourage students to be their own advocate. This is an essential skill.)
9. 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.
10. 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.
Angelou’s words were empowering and her actions discerning. At times we may feel defeated, but we cannot give up. It is equally important to treat other people with respect and to give back. At the end of the day we are all human beings. We all eat, shit, and die. While we’re here on Earth, let’s give it a good run and add value and positivity to our days.