Maya Angelou: Life Lessons From her Most Famous Quotes

Maya Angelou: Life Lessons From her Most Famous Quotes

Maya Angelou

We can learn some great life lessons from the famous quotes of Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou passed away this week on May 28th at age 86. She was an award winning memoirist and poet. Her accomplishments and accolades were extensive. Articles about her life, her leadership and accomplishments abound.

I first heard Angelou’s name in connection with her book, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” While I never read the book (just ordered a copy today- finally) Angelou’s book title always struck a chord with me.

As a young adult still living under my parents’ roof I deeply related to the title; identifying to being trapped and powerless to change my environment yet choosing to sing anyway.

Whenever I had the opportunity to watch an interview with her I was always blown away by her keen insight and wisdom. I loved many of her quotes but until now I never realized the magnitude of her body of work.

Life’s Lessons:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Nothing will work unless you do.

If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.

The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise

I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t laugh.

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.

We need much less than we think we need.

Keep learning:

When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.

When you learn, teach, when you get, give.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Have an attitude of gratitude:

The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed

Be present in all things and thankful for all things.

When we find someone who is brave, fun, intelligent, and loving, we have to thank the universe.

Be adventurous:

Success is loving life and daring to live it.

I believe that the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare.

Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art.

A person is the product of their dreams. So make sure to dream great dreams. And then try to live your dream.

How to love:

If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.

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

Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.

Transformation isn’t easy

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

Successful living:

Love life. Engage in it. Give it all you’ve got. Love it with a passion because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.

To those who are given much, much is expected.

Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.

You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.

I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me, ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.

Self esteem:

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.

I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.

If I am not good to myself, how can I expect anyone else to be good to me?

You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.

Be Positive:

I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. 

While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.

Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.


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

Have faith:

It is this belief in a power larger than myself and other than myself which allows me to venture into the unknown and even the unknowable.

We wish Maya Angelou farewell as she “ventures into the unknown and even the unknowable.”

How has Maya Angelou’s work inspired you? Is there a wonderful quote or passage from her work that I left out that you would like to share?

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Photo: Wikipedia

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