Throughout our days, we are often overwhelmed by stress, caught up in our thoughts and everything we have to do. Studies show that depression and anxiety are on the rise. It’s not surprising that millions of people are struggling just to find happiness in their day-to-day life (1, 2).
We live in a spotlight culture. What does that mean, exactly? Think about social media for a minute. If you scroll through your Facebook or Instagram feed, what do you see? Dozens of people living their “best lives,” getting engaged, traveling the world, celebrating the launch of another business. We’ve become conditioned to only care about the big moments. The day-to-day is just a means to an end. In Buddhism, the opposite is true.
The Buddha, or “enlightened one,” guides people to a sense of inner peace by teaching them how to live in the present.
The Buddha we know today was born in Nepal sometime between the 6th to 4th century BC as Siddhartha Gautama (3). Like many of us, Buddha pondered the deeper meaning of life and struggled to find purpose in the ordinary. He tried multiple religions, but nothing gave him the sense of contentment he needed, so he turned to meditation. Many of the Buddha quotes we still repeat today came from his personal experiences during this time.
The Buddha was raised luxuriously in a palace, but all the riches in the world didn’t bring him any sense of fulfillment or deeper meaning. At 29, he left his family and ventured into the wilderness. He encountered many different people, who opened his eyes to the universal suffering in the world.
There are many different theories as to what inspired the Buddha to begin teaching, but his great wisdom has inspired millions of people around the world for centuries. One of the most alluring aspects of Buddhism is that you don’t have to practice it as a religion to gain peace from its founder’s words. An inspiring Buddha quote can carry you through your day and not only give you reassurance but also something to think about.
31 Buddha Quotes to Change Your Life
1. “Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
The longer form of this quote compares happiness to the light of a candle. A signal flame can light a thousand others. Likewise, we can change so many lives simply by sharing some of the happiness in our own.
Studies show that even the simple act of smiling, forced or not, releases feel-good hormones that lift our spirits (4).
2. “No one can save us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We must walk the path alone.”
The ultimate purpose of Buddhism is to reach a state of being called “enlightenment.” According to the Buddha, when an enlightened person transforms, they reach Nirvana, a paradise that is free from the endless cycle of human suffering through rebirth.
The exact definition of “enlightenment” varies among different sects of Buddhism (5). Whichever you choose to believe, the point stands that we must go through life’s journey on our own. Comfort in others is wonderful, and humans were designed for companionship. However, no one can ever truly bring us the sense of love, security, and purpose we crave except ourselves.
3. “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow.”
There’s no shortage of scientific research that proves our thoughts influence our happiness. In fact, there’s an entire branch of psychology dedicated to changing thought patterns and living better lives as a result: it’s called positive psychology.
The Buddha wants to teach people to clear their minds and develop a healthy inner-monologue. In Buddhism, this is often achieved through loving-kindness meditation, but you are free to find your own way as well.
4. “Do not dwell on the past. Do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
We can’t be happy if we’re going through our lives plagued with guilt or regret from the past and anxiety about the future. The present moment is the future you once craved, and someday, it will be your past. Every day, you’re writing your own personal history. Choose to change and make it a good one.
5. “There is no fear for one whose mind is not filled with desires.”
When you stop thinking about what you don’t have, you liberate yourself from the fear of what you will never achieve. Rather than absence, you can direct your energy to the present and develop a sense of gratitude.
6. “Better than a thousand hollow words is one that brings peace.”
Have you ever struggled to find the words to comfort a friend or loved one in despair? You yourself may have felt burdened by the well-intentioned but misguided advice of others. Choose your words wisely, and understand that sometimes, people only speak because they need someone to listen, not to advise them.
7. “People with opinions just go around bothering each other.”
In today’s politically charged society, it’s impossible to say anything that angering someone. Opinions do not have to be expressed at every opportunity. You can hold your own beliefs and find validity in them without trying to convince others to see everything your way.
8. “Purity and impurity depend on oneself; no one can purify another.”
This is one of the Buddha quotes many people might struggle to accept. We are so rooted in our jobs, friendships, and relationships that we often fail to take accountability for our own happiness and sense of purity.
Ask yourself where you feel a lack in your life. Whether it’s spiritual or mental, consider addressing your inner child and uncovering where you need to be nurtured most.
9. “If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?”
Being conscientious of our words builds empathy and helps us form more meaningful relationships. Many people act as if they have to either choose between honesty or kindness, but you can choose both. Buddha quotes encourage us to dig deeper and become more conscious of our actions toward ourselves and others.
10. “If you find no one to support you on the spiritual path, walk alone.”
If you’ve been damaged by religion, there is room for spiritual healing on your own. This inspiring Buddha quote calls everyone to follow their heart and seek truth, peace, and happiness in their own ways. As long as you do no harm unto others, there is no wrong path.
11. “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.”
Your thoughts don’t define you, but we can’t help but identify with them. You don’t have to believe every thought you think, but you do have to make an effort to cultivate a healthy mind. It takes time, but we can learn to restructure our brain’s pathways and think more positively.
12. “The ultimate truth is not even to think.”
It’s hard to imagine not thinking. If you’ve ever tried to meditate, you know first-hand how obstructive thoughts can be. Daily practice can help you learn to slow down and detach from your thoughts.
13. “Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes.”
14. “An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.”
If you need an inspiring Buddha quote to motivate you, this is it. Go after your dreams, and don’t be afraid to fail. It’s the only way you can learn and improve.
15. “Chaos is inherent in all compounded things. Strive on with diligence.”
16. “The tongue like a sharp knife; it kills without drawing blood.”
17. “A jug fills drop by drop.”
This simple yet inspiring Buddha quote helps you remember to pause and celebrate your progress, no matter how seemingly insignificant.
18. “The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.”
19. “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
This is one of the finest examples of the poetry in Buddha quotes. The double entendre suggests that we shouldn’t seek peace in others, nor should we do anything in the name of peace without having peace within ourselves.
20. “You can only lose what you cling to.”
21. “As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise, you will miss most of your life.”
22. “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
23. “A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.”
Buddha quotes often deliver serious judgments that many people are afraid to acknowledge themselves. Quotes like this remind us that we can’t believe everything we hear, and we must judge people based off their actions and character, not their words.
24. “If we destroy something around us, we destroy ourselves.”
25. “Doubt everything. Find your own light.”
This inspiring Buddha quote encourages you to ask questions and go against the grain. You aren’t weighed down by society’s standards. You create your own destiny.
26. “In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.”
27. “What you think, you create, what you feel, you attract, and what you imagine, you become.”
28. “There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it.”
Positive affirmations can provide comfort in times of stress, chaos and confusion. Using Buddha quotes like this can help us remember the duality of life and maintain balance even in times of turmoil.
29. “It is better to travel well than to arrive.”
Life is a journey, and we should embrace every opportunity to explore, change and grow. Our plans will ultimately change to accommodate our minds as we evolve and realize what we really want out of life.
30. “Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”
31. “In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”