51 Ancient Wisdoms that Will Change the Way You Think

wisdom quotesInspiration

They say that time is the best teacher, which it may indeed be. However, considering some of the great words that have been spoken from long ago, we can benefit from heeding the advice from some of history’s great minds.

So we’ve compiled a list of 51 of the greatest quotes ever on various topics – from action to work – these words will forever be a great source of knowledge and inspiration to us all.


“Actions speak louder than words.” – Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865

The Great Emancipator also happened to think that it’s our own actions that define us.


“Every adversity carries with it the seed of equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill, 1883-1970


“First say to yourself what would you be; and then do what you need to do.” – Epictetus, Greek Philosopher, c. 55-135

The ancient Greeks had many wise sayings, this ancient quote on ambition being one of them.


“If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.” – Ancient Chinese Proverb


“Beauty is only skin deep.” – Sir Thomas Overbury, 1581-1613

The originator of this quote is an English poet, which makes sense given the short but thoughtful quote on beauty.


“A rolling stone gathers no moss.” – John Heywood, 1947-1580

Yet another great English writer and poet delivering a message on change.


“A guilty conscience needs no accuser.” – English Proverb


“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the conquest of it.” – William Danforth, 1870-1955

A great quote from another writer on mastering fear.


“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein, 1879-1955

Yet, many still label the creative among us as “weird”. The smartest person in history certainly didn’t think so.


“The worst enemy you have is right in your head.” – Unknown


“Death never takes a wise man by surprise; he is always ready to go.” ­– Jean de Lafontaine, 1621-1695

Lafontaine, a French poet, sums up death by being ready for it.


“Different strokes for different folks.” – Clarence Darrow, 1857-1938

The lawyer and once-leading member of the ACLU recognized and appreciated differences.


“Experience teaches slowly and at the cost of mistakes.” – James Anthony Froude, 1818-1894

Mistakes are part of the experience, according to this English historian.


“A father’s a treasure; a brother’s a comfort; a friend is both.” – Benjamin Franklin


“Fools and scissors require good handling.” – Japanese Proverb


“Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” – Henry Ellis, 1721-1805

This famous quote brought to you by an ancient Irish explorer.


“It is possible to have too much of a good thing.” – Aesop, c. 620-560 B.C.

Another ancient Greek, another famous quote; this one on fortune.


“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”­ – Unknown


“What you do to others will bear fruit in you.” – Sinhalese

The largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka has some words on giving generously.


“Not everything you hear is good for talk.” – Japanese Proverb

Those Japanese are pretty smart; I hear…that’s good gossip.


“Since we cannot get what we like, let us like what we can get.” – Spanish Proverb


“Character is habit long continued.” – Greek Proverb


“Eat to live, not live to eat.” – Socrates, 469-399 B.C.

The infamous Greek philosopher had some words on indulgence.


“Honesty is the best policy.” – Aesop


“The darkest hours are just before the dawn.” – English Proverb


“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi

This wouldn’t be a complete list without the great Indian leader’s words on humility.


“If the shoe fits, wear it.” – Nicholas Breton, c. 1545-1626

Another English poet makes an appearance, taking credit for this old adage on identity.



“Out of the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks.” – Chaucer, c. 1343-1400

Perhaps the greatest English poet in history shows us why with this terrific quote on joy.


“The end doesn’t justify the means.” – Ovid, c. 43 B.C. – 18 AD

Ovid was a brilliant Roman poet who also gave us this notorious quote on justice.


“Knowledge is power.” – Francis Bacon, 1561-1626

Truly an Englishman of many hats – scientist, orator, essayist, author, politician – Bacon also gave us this tremendously powerful quote.


“Even the largest army is nothing without a good general.” – Afghan saying


“A man who asks is a fool for five minutes. A man who never asks is a fool for life.” – Chinese Proverb


“A loving heart is the truest wisdom.” – Charles Dickens, 1812-1870

The infamous author of ‘The Christmas Carol’ had a word or two to say about love, as well.


“Nature is the art of God.” – Latin saying


“Opportunities come but do not linger.” – Nepalese saying


“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” – French proverb


“Slow and steady wins the race.” – Aesop


“Poverty is the worst form of violence.” – Gandhi

Gandhi despised violence; this quote demonstrates that he despised poverty at the utmost.


“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his brother.” – Kahlil Gibran, 1883-1931

Gibran, a Lebanese artist, poet and writer, delivered this wonderful quote on the importance of faith in the face of doubt.


“The higher you climb, the heavier you fall.” – Vietnamese Proverb


“The old law about an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind.” – Martin Luther King Jr., 1929-1968


“Control your emotions or they will control you.” – Chinese Proverb


“We learn little from victory, much from defeat.” – Japanese Proverb


“If passion drives, let reason hold the reigns.” – Benjamin Franklin


“Be sure you are right, then go ahead.” – Davy Crockett, 1786-1836

The “King of the Wild Frontier” also had a reputation as an honest and straightforward fellow.


“The drum makes a great fuss because it is empty.” – Trinidadian Saying


“You are what you think about.” – Buddha


“War is sweet to those who haven’t experienced it.” – Latin Saying


“Wealth is but dung; useful only when spread.” – Chinese Proverb


“Wisdom is ofttimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar.” – William Wordsworth, 1770-1850

Wordsworth is an English poet who launched the Romantic Age in English literature…it’s easy to see why.


“Genius is ninety percent perspiration and ten percent inspiration.” – Thomas Edison, 1847-1931

Pretty powerful stuff coming from perhaps the greatest inventor in human history.


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