Maya angelou quotes

12 Maya Angelou quotes to uplift and inspire you during tough times

Angelou died at the age of 86 in 2014, but she touched the lives of people across the world through her words of wisdom and left behind an incredible legacy that continues to inspire many.

The author of over 30 books and the recipient of as many as 50 honorary degrees, Maya Angelou is the symbol of endurance and resilience. Reading about her life can instantly fill you with inspiration to never give up in the face of adversity. Through her awe-inspiring work, Angelou left an indelible mark as a path-breaking author, poet, and civil rights activist. But she had to fight several battles before reaching the pinnacle of success.

She was only 17 when she became a mother after graduating high school. In the coming years, she had to change several cities and jobs. She donned several hats: she worked as a cook, waitress, sex worker, dancer, actor, playwright, journalist, and a Calypso singer. It wasn’t until 1970 when Angelou wrote her first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, at the age of 41.

During her initial days of struggle, if someone had told Angelou that she will become the second person in American history—and the first African American and woman—to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration, she probably would have laughed in disbelief. But she did. In 1993, Angelou read her poem On the Pulse of Morning at Bill Clinton’s presidential inauguration.

Angelou died at the age of 86 in 2014, but she touched the lives of people across the world through her words of wisdom and left behind an incredible legacy that continues to inspire many. Talking about her life, famous talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who considered Angelou her mentor, once said, “Maya Angelou is not what she has done or written or spoken, it’s how she did it all. She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence, and a fiery, fierce grace and abounding love.”

Let’s take a look at some of the most famous Maya Angelou quotes, which will give you a fresh perspective on life.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

Changing attitude toward what can't be changed

This goes for everyone who wishes to challenge the status quo. If you want to change something, in your life or society, you need to take action. Just complaining about things that are wrong or should change for the good won’t do anything. Having a positive attitude in life will further enable you to get a clear picture of your goals and how can accomplish them.

“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself: to forgive. Forgive everybody.”

The power of forgiveness in personal healing

It is a powerful Maya Angelou quote that talks about the importance of forgiveness. Those who can forgive can heal from any wound. However, forgiveness doesn’t come easy,  especially for those who have suffered in their lives. But forgiveness is the end of suffering and a start for something new and beautiful. Learning how to forgive others can help you let go of resentment and make way for peace of mind.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Creating lasting memory through empathy

Who you are is a reflection of how you treat others. If you welcome people in your life with respect, kindness, and love, you get the same in return. On the contrary, if you are disrespectful and indifferent to how others feel, your reputation will suffer and people will resent you because of your attitude. Let people remember you as someone who never fails to love and spread kindness.

“If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

Try to be normal

This Maya Angelou quote inspires people to ponder on an important aspect of life. Do you like to stay confined to your comfort zone or do like to take risks and bold decisions, and do something extraordinary? Ask yourself if you are leading your life just because you want to fit in the status quo or do you see yourself as someone who wants to dream big? Once you take that leap of faith after believing in yourself, you will see how much potential you have to achieve success in your life’s goals.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Do the best you can until you know better

This is one of the most important Maya Angelou quotes that talks about something we should never forget. You learn at every step of life and it’s an ever-evolving journey. You will make mistakes, and sometimes, fall short in achieving your goals. But if you learn how to stand again after falling, that will go a long way in helping you learn from your mistakes and evolving as a person.

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

The boundless nature of love in the face of challenges

Love is one of the most powerful emotions. When you have unconditional love for others and yourself, you can conquer heights and overcome obstacles. It makes you feel grateful for what you have and appreciate every single thing in life. It fills you with hope and courage, with which you can cross any barrier on your path.

“Nothing will work unless you do.”

Taking action for effective results

Dreaming about your desires and goals is one thing, working to achieve them is another. While the first trait makes you a wishful thinker, the second makes you a winner. Several people fail to achieve their dreams because they don’t take appropriate action. You can’t fulfil your dreams just by thinking about them. Like everyone else who is busy chasing their goals, you need to create a strategy to turn your dreams into reality.

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”

The ineffectiveness of hate in problem-solving

Hate is the most destructive emotion that can wreak havoc in our lives. Like a poison, hatred consumes you, cripples your thinking and harms your wellbeing. It only causes problems but offers no solutions. The only antidote to hate is love and the spirit of forgiveness.

“If you’re going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.”

Live the life at the best

What is common between inspirational figures like Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Leonardo da Vinci and Ludwig van Beethoven? They all changed the world through their pathbreaking contributions to their respective fields and left an undying legacy behind. In their lives, they focussed on excellence and used their passion to reach unparalleled heights of success. You, too, can aim for the stars and create a mark on the world if you have what it takes to ascend to unscaled heights.

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

Taking control of personal reactions to life events

We can’t control life. It unfolds on its own, at its own pace. Sometimes, it brings fortune, the other times, suffering. But whether the times are good or bad, our response to what happens to us should be positive. Failures are inevitable, but it’s up to us to decide whether we are reduced by them or whether we are willing to try again.

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

Appreciating the growth behind beauty

Butterflies are nature’s marvel and great teachers in disguise. They teach life lessons that no book or lecture can teach us—lessons on patience and embracing change. A butterfly is not born with its enchanting beauty. It goes through several stages of metamorphosis to blossom and evolves into something majestic. Similarly, our lives also have different stages, some of which can test our patience and resilience. And if you are strong enough to hold your ground, you can also transform and blossom into a winner by remaining patient and strong amid adversity.

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

Distinguishing between making a living and a meaningful life

This Maya Angelou quote says making a living is not the same as making a life. Both have a world of difference that separates happiness from unhappiness. Several people focus on making a living, which means earning to provide for your family or to ensure a secure life by having enough material wealth. But are these the only measure of happiness? Does it enable you to live in the present moment? If not, you need to do what you love and enjoy every moment. Start a new hobby, learn new languages, meet new people—indulge in positive activities things that you always wanted to do but didn’t because of your responsibilities. Make time for yourself and listen to your heart before it’s too late for you to change your life.


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