Best Thinking Quotes



“No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”—Voltaire

Your thoughts can shape your feelings can shape your actions.  Thinking is powerful stuff whether you’re shaping your moment, or shaping your lifetime.

The real beauty is that thinking is a skill and you can develop throughout your lifetime.  To build our thinking skills, we can draw from the wisdom of the ages and modern sages.  And quotes are one of the best ways to do that.  Whether it’s positive thinking quotes, or critical thinking quotes, there are so many words of wisdom and sayings that make us think.  Perhaps one of the most powerful thoughts on thinking is this …

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.  Watch your words, for they become actions.  Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” – Unknown

Now, let’s turn wisdom into action and fill your quiver with arrows of action, and fill your mental toolbox with a garden of insight in the form of pithy prose, one-liner reminders, and quotable quotes.

To make the most of these thinking quotes, see if you can find three thinking quotes that you can use in some way or at least make you think.   There are no right answers here, only growth and greatness.  Here’s to your excellence.

Top 10 Quotes on Thinking

  1. “A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” — William James
  2. “Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.” — Thomas Szasz
  3. Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?” — Winnie the Pooh
  4. “Few minds wear out; more rust out.” — Christian N. Bovee
  5. It is well for people who think, to change their minds occasionally in order to keep them clean.” — Luther Burbank
  6. “Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.” — Benjamin Lee Whorf
  7. “Misery is almost always the result of thinking.” — Joseph Joubert
  8. “Most of the mistakes in thinking are inadequacies of perception rather than mistakes of logic.” — Edward de Bono
  9. “Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.” —  Ralph Waldo Emerson
  10. “What we think, we become.” — Buddha

While that’s a useful bunch to have under your belt, and you may have heard of many of these before, now take a waltz through the garden below and be sure to stop and smell the thinking quotes that bloom brightest for you.

Thinking Quotes at a Glance

Here is a collection of thinking quotes from A – Z for your browsing pleasure …

  1. “A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.” — Jerry Seinfeld
  2. A good listener is usually thinking about something else.” — Kin Hubbard
  3. “A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” — William James
  4. “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.” — Thomas Paine
  5. “A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.” — Mahatma Gandhi
  6. “A man who as a physical being is always turned toward the outside, thinking that his happiness lies outside him, finally turns inward and discovers that the source is within him.” — Soren Kierkegaard
  7. “A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.” — Oscar Wilde
  8. “An idea is always a generalization, and generalization is a property of thinking. To generalize means to think.” — Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
  9. “A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.” — Tony Robbins
  10. “A sect or party is an elegant incognito devised to save a man from the vexation of thinking.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  11. “An idea is always a generalization, and generalization is a property of thinking. To generalize means to think.” — Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
  12. “And these little things may not seem like much but after a while they take you off on a direction where you may be a long way off from what other people have been thinking about.” — Roger Penrose
  13. “And we’re seeing a higher level of consciousness and many more opportunities for people to challenge their present ways of thinking and move into a grander and larger experience of who they really are.” — Neale Donald Walsch
  14. “Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.” — Albert Einstein
  15. As you begin changing your thinking, start immediately to change your behaviour. Begin to act the part of the person you would like to become. Take action on your behaviour. Too many people want to feel, then take action. This never works.” — John Maxwell
  16. “At a certain age some people’s minds close up; they live on their intellectual fat.” –William Lyon Phelps
  17. “Begin challenging your own assumptions.  Your assumptions are your windows on the world.  Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come in.” — Alan Alda
  18. “Belief is when someone else does the thinking.” — Buckminster Fuller
  19. “Believing is easier than thinking.  Hence so many more believers than thinkers.” — Bruce Calvert
  20. “Better to be without logic than without feeling.” — Charlotte Bronte
  21. “Building art is a synthesis of life in materialised form. We should try to bring in under the same hat not a splintered way of thinking, but all in harmony together.” — Alvar Aalto
  22. “Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.” — Thomas Szasz
  23. “Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?” — Winnie the Pooh
  24. “Don’t be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.” — Arthur Miller
  25. “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.” — Ray Bradbury
  26. “Doubt is not a pleasant state of mind, but certainty is absurd.” — Voltaire
  27. “Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution. It forces us to change our thinking in order to find it.” — Niels Bohr
  28. “Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking.” — Khalil Gibran
  29. “Fame usually comes to those who are thinking about something else.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes
  30. “Few minds wear out; more rust out.” — Christian N. Bovee
  31. “Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.” — George Bernard Shaw
  32. “Get into a line that you will find to be a deep personal interest, something you really enjoy spending twelve to fifteen hours a day working at, and the rest of the time thinking about.” — Earl Nightingale
  33. “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” — Rick Warren
  34. “I am neither bitter nor cynical but I do wish there was less immaturity in political thinking.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt
  35. “I am not what I think. I am thinking what I think.” — Eric Butterworth
  36. “I began to realize that thinking itself is nothing but the process of asking and answering questions.” — Tony Robbins
  37. “I cannot cure myself of that most woeful of youth’s follies – thinking that those who care about us will care for the things that mean much to us.” — David Herbert Lawrence
  38. “I don’t pretend we have all the answers. But the questions are certainly worth thinking about.” — Arthur C. Clarke
  39. “I don’t think the human mind can comprehend the past and the future. They are both just illusions that can manipulate you into thinking theres some kind of change.” — Bob Dylan
  40. “I grew up thinking that whatever I wanted to do, I could do.” — Victoria Principal
  41. “I have a different way of thinking. I think synergistically. I’m not linear in thinking, I’m not very logical.” — Imelda Marcos
  42. “I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me – shapes and ideas so near to me – so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn’t occurred to me to put them down.” — Georgia O’Keeffe
  43. “I knew I was a winner back in the late sixties. I knew I was destined for great things. People will say that kind of thinking is totally immodest. I agree. Modesty is not a word that applies to me in any way – I hope it never will.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger
  44. “I like thinking big. If you’re going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big.” — Donald Trump
  45. I like to think of thoughts as living blossoms borne by the human tree.” — James Douglas
  46. “I like what the future holds. I don’t like thinking about the past.” — John Cale
  47. “I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.” — Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  48. “I once tried thinking for an entire day, but I found it less valuable than one moment of study.” — Xun Zi
  49. “I really wish I was less of a thinking man and more of a fool not afraid of rejection.” — Billy Joel
  50. “I succeeded by saying what everyone else is thinking.” — Joan Rivers
  51. “I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.” —  Albert Einstein
  52. “I think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense.” — Harold Kushner
  53. I was thinking that we all learn by experience, but some of us have to go to summer school.” — Peter De Vries
  54. “I’m against fashionable thinking.” — Herman Kahn
  55. “I’ve never responded well to entrenched negative thinking.” — David Bowie
  56. “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”– George S. Patton
  57. “If I look confused it is because I am thinking.” — Samuel Goldwyn
  58. “If the track is tough and the hill is rough, thinking you can just ain’t enough!” — Shel Silverstein
  59. “If you keep thinking about what you want to do or what you hope will happen, you don’t do it, and it won’t happen.” — Desiderius Erasmus
  60. “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” —  C.S. Lewis
  61. “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” — Bruce Lee
  62. “In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.” — Lao Tzu
  63. “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” — James Thurber
  64. “It is by not always thinking of yourself, if you can manage it, that you might somehow be happy. Until you make room in your life for someone as important to you as yourself, you will always be searching and lost.” — Richard Bach
  65. “It is neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.” — William Shakespeare
  66. “It is no good getting furious if you get stuck. What I do is keep thinking about the problem but work on something else. Sometimes it is years before I see the way forward. In the case of information loss and black holes, it was 29 years.” — Stephen Hawking
  67. “It is well for people who think, to change their minds occasionally in order to keep them clean.” — Luther Burbank
  68. “It’s not the events that shape my life that determine how I feel and act, but, rather, it’s the way I interpret and evaluate my life experiences.” — Tony Robbins
  69. “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” — Lao Tzu
  70. “Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.” — Benjamin Lee Whorf
  71. “Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” — Winston Churchill
  72. “Let your performance do the thinking.” — Charlotte Bronte
  73. “Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  74. “Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering – because you can’t take it in all at once.” — Audrey Hepburn
  75. “Logic teaches rules for presentation, not thinking.” — Mason Cooley
  76. Logic: The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding.” — Ambrose Bierce
  77. Man can alter his life by altering his thinking.” — William James
  78. “Man falls from the pursuit of the ideal of plan living and high thinking the moment he wants to multiply his daily wants. Man’s happiness really lies in contentment.” — Mohandas Gandhi
  79. “Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature, but he is a thinking reed.” — Blaise Pascal
  80. “Masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice.” — Virginia Woolf
  81. “Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.” – Voltaire
  82. “Men always do leave off really thinking, when the last bit of wild animal dies in them.” — David Herbert Lawrence
  83. “Men can live without air a few minutes, without water for about two weeks, without food for about two months – and without a new thought for years on end.” — Kent Ruth
  84. “Mental fight means thinking against the current, not with it. It is our business to puncture gas bags and discover the seeds of truth.” — Virginia Woolf
  85. “Misery is almost always the result of thinking.” — Joseph Joubert
  86. “Most of one’s life is one prolonged effort to prevent oneself thinking.” — Aldous Huxley
  87. “Most of the mistakes in thinking are inadequacies of perception rather than mistakes of logic.” — Edward de Bono
  88. “Most people are prisoners, thinking only about the future or living in the past. They are not in the present, and the present is where everything begins.” — Carlos Santana
  89. “Most people are unable to write because they are unable to think, and they are unable to think because they congenitally lack the equipment to do so, just as they congenitally lack the equipment to fly over the moon.” —  Henry Louis Mencken
  90. “My definition of an intellectual is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger.” — Billy Connolly
  91. “My hand is the extension of the thinking process – the creative process.” — Tadao Ando
  92. “My thought is me: that is why I cannot stop thinking. I exist because I think I cannot keep from thinking.” — Jean-Paul Sartre
  93. “No amount of energy will take the place of thought.  A strenuous life with its eyes shut is a kind of wild insanity.” — Henry Van Dyke
  94. “No matter where you go or what you do, you live your entire life within the confines of your head.” — Terry Josephson
  95. “No problem can be solved until it is reduced to some simple form. The changing of a vague difficulty into a specific, concrete form is a very essential element in thinking.” — J. P. Morgan
  96. “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”—Voltaire
  97. “Nothing comes merely by thinking about it.” — John Wanamaker
  98. “Nothing is more conducive to peace of mind than not having any opinion at all.” — G.C. Lichtenberg
  99. “Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.” — Carl G. Jung
  100. “One ought to look a good deal at oneself before thinking of condemning others.” – Moliere
  101. “Opinion is that exercise of the human will which helps us to make a decision without information.” — John Erskine
  102. “Our job is not to make up anybody’s mind, but to open minds and to make the agony of the decision-making so intense you can escape only by thinking.” — Anonymous
  103. “Our minds are lazier than our bodies.” — François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld
  104. “Our thinking and our behaviour are always in anticipation of a response. It is therefore fear-based.” — Deepak Chopra
  105. Ours is the age which is proud of machines that think and suspicious of men who try to.” — Howard Mumford Jones
  106. “People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.” — Soren Kierkegaard
  107. “People mistakenly assume that their thinking is done by their head; it is actually done by the heart which first dictates the conclusion, then commands the head to provide the reasoning that will defend it.” —  Anthony de Mello
  108. “People who say they don’t care what people think are usually desperate to have people think they don’t care what people think.” — George Carlin
  109. “Physiological response to thinking and to pain is the same; and man is not given to hurting himself.” — Martin H. Fischer
  110. “Positive anything is better than negative nothing.” — Elbert Hubbard
  111. “Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.” — Zig Ziglar
  112. “Pressure is a word that is misused in our vocabulary. When you start thinking of pressure, it’s because you’ve started to think of failure.” — Tommy Lasorda
  113. “Pride is pleasure arising from a man’s thinking too highly of himself.” — Baruch Spinoza
  114. “Principles and rules are intended to provide a thinking man with a frame of reference.” — Karl Von Clausewitz
  115. “Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” — John Locke
  116. “Reading is equivalent to thinking with someone else’s head instead of with one’s own.” — Arthur Schopenhauer
  117. “Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting.” — Edmund Burke
  118. “Romance is thinking about your significant other, when you are supposed to be thinking about something else.” — Nicholas Sparks
  119. Sad people dislike the happy, and the happy the sad; the quick thinking the sedate, and the careless the busy and industrious.” – Horace
  120. “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.” — Carl Sagan
  121. “Self-worth comes from one thing – thinking that you are worthy.” — Wayne Dyer
  122. “Sixty minutes of thinking of any kind is bound to lead to confusion and unhappiness.” — James Thurber
  123. “Some people get lost in thought because it’s such unfamiliar territory.” — G. Behn
  124. “Some people do not become thinkers simply because their memories are too good.” — Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
  125. “Some years ago, I wrote a book called the Emperor’s New Mind and that book was describing a point of view I had about consciousness and why it was not something that comes about from complicated calculations.” — Roger Penrose
  126. “Sometimes I think and other times I am.” — Paul Valéry
  127. “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” — Bill Gates
  128. “Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.” — Napoleon Bonaparte
  129. “Talking with a friend is nothing else but thinking aloud.” — Joseph Addison
  130. “The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.” — Norbet Platt
  131. The average man never really thinks from end to end of his life.  The mental activity of such people is only a mouthing of clichés.” — H.L. Mencken
  132. “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” — David Ogilvy
  133. “The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil.” — Thomas A. Edison
  134. The best way of forgetting how you think you feel is to concentrate on what you know you know.” — Mary Stewart
  135. “The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.” — John Kenneth Galbraith
  136. “The forceps of our minds are clumsy things and crush the truth a little in the course of taking hold of it.” — H.G. Wells
  137. “The ‘how’ thinker gets problems solved effectively because he wastes no time with futile ‘ifs’.” —  Norman Vincent Peale
  138. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” — Alice Walker
  139. “The most successful politician is he who says what the people are thinking most often in the loudest voice.” — Theodore Roosevelt
  140. “The most thought-provoking thing in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking.” — Martin Heidegger
  141. The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking.” — Robert H. Schuller
  142. The reason why so few people are agreeable in conversation is that each is thinking more about what he intends to say than others are saying.” — Francois de La Rochefoucauld
  143. “The secret of living a life of excellence is merely a matter of thinking thoughts of excellence. Really, it’s a matter of programming our minds with the kind of information that will set us free.” — Charles R. Swindoll
  144. “The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.” — A. A. Milne
  145. “The thoughts that come often unsought, and, as it were, drop into the mind, are commonly the most valuable of any we have.” — John Locke
  146. “The trouble with most people is that they think with their hopes or fears or wishes rather than with their minds.” — Will Durant
  147. The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” — Samuel Johnson
  148. “The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.” — Tony Robbins
  149. “The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.” — Albert Einstein
  150. “The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” — Albert Einstein
  151. “There are different rules for reading, for thinking, and for talking. Writing blends all three of them.” — Mason Cooley
  152. There are some days I practice positive thinking, and other days I’m not positive I am thinking.” — John M. Eades
  153. “There are two distinct classes of what are called thoughts: those that we produce in ourselves by reflection and the act of thinking and those that bolt into the mind of their own accord.” — Thomas Paine
  154. “There are very many people who read simply to prevent themselves from thinking.” — Georg C. Lichtenberg
  155. “There is a magnet in your heart that will attract true friends. That magnet is unselfishness, thinking of others first; when you learn to live for others, they will live for you.” — Paramahansa Yogananda
  156. “There is an art of reading, as well as an art of thinking, and an art of writing.” — Clarence Day
  157. There is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the labor of thinking.” — Thomas A. Edison
  158. “Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.” – Voltaire
  159. “Thinking about the universe has now been handed over to specialists. The rest of us merely read about it.”—Mason Cooley
  160. “Thinking begins only when we have come to know that reason, glorified for centuries, is the stiff-necked adversary of thought.” — Martin Heidegger
  161. “Thinking in its lower grades is comparable to paper money, and in its higher forms it is a kind of poetry.” — Havelock Ellis
  162. “Thinking is like loving and dying.  Each of us must do it for himself.” — Josiah Royce
  163. “Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  164. Thinking is one thing no one has ever been able to tax.” — Charles Kettering
  165. “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.” — Henry Ford
  166. “Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  167. “Thinking isn’t agreeing or disagreeing. That’s voting.” — Robert Frost
  168. “Thinking will not overcome fear but action will.”– W. Clement Stone
  169. Thinking: the talking of the soul with itself.” – Plato
  170. “Those who know how to think need no teachers.” — Mahatma Gandhi
  171. “Thought is action in rehearsal.” — Anonymous“Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the
  172. fruit behind it.” —  Ralph Waldo Emerson
  173. “Thoughts lead on to purpose, purpose leads on to actions, actions form habits, habits decide character, and character fixes our destiny.” — Tryon Edwards
  174. “Thoughts, like fleas, jump from man to man.  But they don’t bite everybody.” — Stanislaw Lec
  175. “To be a real philosopher all that is necessary is to hate some one else’s type of thinking.” — William James
  176. “To do anything truly worth doing, I must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in with gusto and scramble through as well as I can.” — Og Mandino
  177. To get others to come into our ways of thinking, we must go over to theirs; and it is necessary to follow, in order to lead.” — William Hazlitt
  178. “Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” — John F. Kennedy
  179. “Try not thinking of peeling an orange. Try not imagining the juice running down your fingers, the soft inner part of the peel. The smell. Try and you can’t. The brain doesn’t process negatives.” — Doug Coupland
  180. “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” — Marcus Aurelius
  181. “We are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.” —  Buddha
  182. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” — Albert Einstein
  183. “We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking. In that race which daily hastens us towards death, the body maintains its irreparable lead.” — Albert Camus
  184. “We teach people that they upset themselves. We can’t change the past, so we change how people are thinking, feeling and behaving today.” — Albert Ellis
  185. “What then do you call your soul? What idea have you of it? You cannot of yourselves, without revelation, admit the existence within you of anything but a power unknown to you of feeling and thinking.” – Voltaire
  186. “When I get ready to talk to people, I spend two thirds of the time thinking what they want to hear and one third thinking about what I want to say.” — Abraham Lincoln
  187. When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.” — Thomas Paine
  188. When people talk of the freedom of writing, speaking or thinking I cannot choose but laugh. No such thing ever existed. No such thing now exists; but I hope it will exist. But it must be hundreds of years after you and I shall write and speak no more.” — John Adams
  189. “When the mind is thinking it is talking to itself.” – Plato
  190. When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.” — Joseph Campbell
  191. “When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions.” — Carter G. Woodson
  192. Why should we think upon things that are lovely? Because thinking determines life. It is a common habit to blame life upon the environment. Environment modifies life but does not govern life. The soul is stronger than its surroundings.” — William James
  193. “Writing and learning and thinking are the same process.” — William Zinsser
  194. “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” — Isaac Asimov
  195. “You and I are not what we eat; we are what we think.” — Walter Anderson
  196. “You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.” —  Tom Brokaw
  197. “You cannot simply put something new into a place. You have to absorb what you see around you, what exists on the land, and then use that knowledge along with contemporary thinking to interpret what you see.” — Tadao Ando
  198. “You must continue to gain expertise, but avoid thinking like an expert.” — Denis Waitley
  199. “You sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” — J. K. Rowling
  200. “Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.” — Alan Watts

Photo by @boetter.


  1. Amazing ! Thanks J.D. for such powerful words in one post.
    Among the first 100, I like the idea of not thinking about the past and enjoying what the future holds. However, I’ve to admit its not easy at times specially when things or people behavior happen and we don’t really know why.
    I will start to make use of them….right now.

  2. Another great list of quotes to draw from.:)

    “The ‘how’ thinker gets problems solved effectively because he wastes no time with futile ‘ifs’.” – Norman Vincent Peale

    My favorite of the above is #137 because this is where i struggle at times. It has always been too easy for me to let my thought processes go the route of “what might have been”.

    Weird as it may sound, while am there i actually feel detached from the current reality and feel slightly better in the sense that my situation could have been solved by “one mere step”…

    But after going for the brief high, i go down to reality and see the problem is unchanged and feel worse that i cannot go back in time to take that “other choice”. Then it is a toss up of reviewing and doing the workable options i have now (which is what i could’ve done from the very beginning) or a state of paralysis and feeling very low.

    The futile “ifs” and “what might have been” thinking is a quick fix for escapists leading to a path of more despair

  3. Incredible list J.D,
    My whole take on this is summarised by a quote/statement I came accross a little while back from Mike Dooley, ‘Notes from the Universe’ , ‘Manifesting Change’ fame
    “Thoughts become things, choose the good ones”… is so simple, easy to remember and makes perfect sense. Thanks again J.D , your research/presentation makes illuminating reading.
    be good to yourself

  4. Wow, J.D. that’s a lot of quotes. I didn’t get a chance to read through them all, but I skipped around here and there. I love Buddha’s: ““What we think, we become.” Ain’t that the truth!

    Thanks for putting this together.

  5. @ Patrick — Thank you!

    Yeah, when we don’t know why, it can frustrating. That’s why I think having a lot of lenses to draw from and making useful assumptions are helpful.

    @ Riza — Thank you.

    That’s a powerful way to build your foresight, and in terms of hindsight, I think the best we can do is find the lesson and carry it forward. It might suck, but I think there’s solace in the fact, that it’s the best we can do, until we master time travel.

    @ David — Thank you.

    Beautiful, simple, sticky, and powerful — I like that on multiple levels. I especially like that it puts the power of choice in your hands, starting with the most important and basic building block … the thoughts you think.

    @ Jk — There were more, but I ran out of ink 😉

    Hopping around is a good thing — I’m a fan of scanning (I try to cast a wide net, before drilling in.) Yeah, Budda really knows how to nail the prose. It’s always punchy and precise … just what the philosopher ordered.

  6. “The dissenter is every human being at those times of his life when he resigns momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.”-
    Archibald Macleish (1892-1982)
    Poet, playwright, Librarian of Congress, & Assistant Secretary of State under Franklin Roosevelt

  7. My compliments on your site. Well done. Excellent. This site is packed with useful information. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.


  8. Hi JD .. excellent to know this list is here – added to your resources .. and to have Thinking Quotes .. makes us use the active verb ‘to think’ .. so it’s not just quotes .. great thought – cheers Hilary

  9. @ Mike — Very nice!

    @ Julie — Thank you. It’s a journey.

    @ Hilary — Yes, “great thought” 🙂

    I couldn’t believe I hadn’t covered thinking quotes before. I have a lot of ground to still cover, and it’s all part of the journey.

  10. Hey J.D.,

    I’m a complete quote junkie and actually just finished rounding up some quotes for my latest life shop.

    Quotes have acted as hands lifting me up and out of my rut.

    Really love this one because it’s so true. My heart questions the insanity I see. My thinking was trained to along with the program. My heart got me to change my thinking. It’s a neat check and balance we need to listen to more.

    “People mistakenly assume that their thinking is done by their head; it is actually done by the heart which first dictates the conclusion, then commands the head to provide the reasoning that will defend it.” – Anthony de Mello



  11. You have collated an amazing list of thinking quotes. Wow!! I like inspiring quotes too. It’s great to be reminded that we have the ability to change our thinking, which then influences our reality.

  12. @ Giulietta — I know what you mean about quotes lifting up out of a rut. I find the right words really help me either change paths, get it in gear, or, if nothing else, reaffirm I’m on track.

    Anthony articulated very well what Drucker, de Bono and others great thinkers have taught us about thinking.

    @ Evelyn — Thank you! Early on I realized that we ultimately share wisdom through little sayings, quotes, and one-liner reminders. I made it a habit to hunt, gather, collect, and organize all the gems I could find.

    I’m always amazed by just how much our reality can shift, by shifting our thinking. The fastest way to change our world is to change ourselves, and the fastest way to change ourselves is to change our thinking.

  13. I enjoyed that Albert quote on thinking. I think the more we allow ourselves to think, the smarter we become. Why? We formulate our own ideas and ideologies about life, who we are, the environment we live in and the people that surround us. Thinking is the most powerful and productive thing we CAN do. Refusing to numb our minds with B.S is the first step.

  14. @ Jonathan — Yes, thinking gets better with practice. And the keys to better thinking are asking better questions, switching perspectives, and testing assumptions.

  15. “Watch your thoughts, for they become words.- Watch your words, for they become actions.- Watch your actions, for they become habits.- Watch your habits, for they become character.- Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” – Charles Reade.

    Reade, English, 19th c. author, is credited with the quote “Sow a thought, and you reap an act; Sow an act, and you reap a habit; Sow a habit, and you reap a character; Sow a character, and you reap a destiny”. These days often adapted to “Mind your thoughts for they become your words; mind your words for they become your actions; mind your actions for they become your habits; mind your habits for they become your character; watch your character for they become your destiny.” (Recently quoted in The Iron Lady (2011) by Meryl Streep playing Margaret Thatcher)

  16. I cannot remember where I saw this one.

    “Make a man Believe you have made him think and he will love you. Make a man Actually think, (to truly challenge his prejudices and thoughts) and he will Hate you until you die.”

    It’s serious paraphrase I just cannot remember where I saw it or who to attribute it to.

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