The Quote Garden
 “I dig old books.”
 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Purpose

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NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.   —ღ Terri, March 2021

Men, like nails, lose their usefulness when they lose direction and begin to bend. ~Walter Savage Landor

Pep without purpose is piffle. ~Anonymous, c. 1919 ["And purpose sans pep near as bad," came the anonymous reply. –tg]

The man who is happy is fulfilling the purpose of existence. ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky

[M]an is fulfilling the purpose of existence who no longer needs to have any purpose except to live. That is to say, who is content. ~Ludwig Wittgenstein  [see Dostoyevsky —tg]

The purpose of life is a life of purpose. ~Robert Byrne, The Third — and Possibly the Best — 637 Best Things Anybody Ever Said, 1986  [see Wittgenstein —tg]

When you walk in purpose, you collide with destiny. ~Ralph Buchanan

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

To have no set purpose in one's life is the harlotry of the will. ~Stephen MacKenna

When through one man a little more love and goodness, a little more light and truth comes into the world, then that man's life has had meaning. ~Alfred Delp (1907–1945)

Great minds have purposes, others have wishes. ~Washington Irving

I am extraordinarily sensitive to all kinds of noise; yet it entirely loses its objective character as soon as it is associated with some reasonable purpose. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), "The Character of a Person of my Acquaintance"  [Lichtenberg's unfinished "autopsychography" (Norman Alliston, 1908). —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Don't trade your life for just an empty hourglass. ~Terri Guillemets

You can accept reality, or you can persist in your purpose until reality accepts you. ~Robert Brault,

We should all be obliged to appear before a board every five years, and justify our existence... on pain of liquidation. ~George Bernard Shaw

I don't think life is absurd. I think we are all here for a huge purpose. I think we shrink from the immensity of the purpose we are here for. ~Norman Mailer, 1995

An "unemployed" existence is a worse negation of life than death itself. ~José Ortega y Gasset

A useless life is an early death. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

When he walks he casts a shadow of purpose. ~Terri Guillemets

It is not life to whirl and twirl
In busy nothings round,
While thought and purpose empty go
And truth is never found...
~Arad Joy Sebring, "What Is Life?," Girdle of Gladness, 1905  [Okay, seriously yes, this is how crazy I am — the comma after the question mark in this attribution is driving me nuts. According to the most recent Chicago Manual of Style, it should be there. Others would place it after the quotation mark, and others still would omit it. I don't really care for any of the options and while typically I buck the proper trends and "correct" methods if I don't like them, I think I'll go with Grammar Girl on this one, grrrr. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

I love the valiant; but it is not enough to wield a broadsword, one must also know against whom. ~Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

There is a purpose to our lives that each day tugs at our sleeve as an annoying distraction. ~Robert Brault,

We all possess the thunder of pure fury and the calm breeze of tranquility. If it wasn't for tomorrow, how much would we get done today? Whatever your purpose... embrace it completely. Get lost in the clouds every now and then so you never lose sight of God's wonder. ~Paul Vitale

When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind. ~Seneca

Begin each day as if it were on purpose. ~Author Unknown

Never ask, "What reason do I have to be happy?" Instead ask, "To what purpose can I attach my happiness?" ~Robert Brault,

Truly, I am as a grain of sand in the desert,
      Infinitesimal, so very small!
      And, yet, I serve a purpose in this wondrous world,
      As do the trees, so stately and so tall.
I'm just a tiny atom that God has placed down here—
      I do not even know the reason why!
      But I'm sure that He, with wisdom, has evolved a plan
      To fit me in His pattern ere I die.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "As a Grain of Sand" (1940s)

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. ~George Bernard Shaw

To have a grievance is to have a purpose in life. ~Alan Coren, The Sanity Inspector, 1974

If you don't decide what your life is about, it defaults to what you spend your days doing. ~Robert Brault,

If Heaven made him — earth can find some use for him. ~Chinese Proverb

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Last saved 2021 Mar 29 Mon 18:50 PDT

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