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Photo: Innoxiuss

A good quote can sometimes act as a magical spark, setting in motion thoughts, ideas, and feelings that can lead to life-changing revelations.

A WHILE BACK, a friend asked me what it was that prompted me to begin my inner journey (to learn more about myself and my purpose in life). It was hard to answer with a specific event or date, but now that I look back, I do remember being very influenced by a little book of quotes.

This little book was one of my first introductions to some great thinkers of the world — Thoreau, Gandhi, Jung, Goethe, and many others. It’s what sparked my curiosity to read and absorb more and more of the works of great minds.

These are some special quotes that focus on the challenge and satisfaction of digging deep into your own mind, the trials and tribulations of getting to know yourself. Enjoy.

Top 50 quotes about discovering your true self

1. “I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.” – Mark Twain

2. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau

3. “There is no satisfaction that can compare with looking back across the years and finding you’ve grown in self-control, judgment, generosity, and unselfishness.” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox

4. “People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself. But the self is not something one finds, it is something one creates.” – Thomas Szasz

5. “It is the individual who knows how little they know about themselves who stands the most reasonable chance of finding out something about themselves before they die.” – S. I. Hayakawa

6. “If you don’t get lost, there’s a chance you may never be found.” – Anonymous

7. “There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” – Aldous Huxley

8. “The greatest explorer on this earth never takes voyages as long as those of the man who descends to the depth of his heart.” – Julien Green

9. “I think somehow we learn who we really are and then we live with that decision.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

10. “Why should we honour those that die upon the field of battle? A man may show as reckless a courage in entering into the abyss of himself.” – William Butler Yeats

11. “For most men life is a search for the proper manila envelope in which to get themselves filed.” – Clifton Fadiman

12. “The searching-out and thorough investigation of truth ought to be the primary study of man.” – Cicero

13. “I know well what I am fleeing from but not what I am in search of.” – Michel de Montaigne

14. “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” – Benjamin Franklin

15. “You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.” – James A. Froude

16. “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” – George Moore

17. “Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.” – St. Augustine

18. “We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made of us.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

19. “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau

20. “A man who finds no satisfaction in himself will seek for it in vain elsewhere.” – La Rochefoucauld

21. “There are… things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “Notes from the Underground,” 1864

22. “Becoming conscious is of course a sacrilege against nature; it is as though you had robbed the unconscious of something.” – Carl G. Jung

23. “The well bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves.” – Oscar Wilde

24. “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” – Douglas Adams

25. “Know yourself. Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.” – Ann Landers

26. “‘Know thyself?’ If I knew myself, I’d run away.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

27. “Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.” – Hugh Prather

28. “You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need.” – Jerry Gillies

29. “A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” – Jean de La Fontaine

30. “Man never knows what he wants; he aspires to penetrate mysteries and as soon as he has, he wants to reestablish them. Ignorance irritates him and knowledge cloys.” – Henri Frederic Amiel

Photo: panaromico

31. “One must know oneself. If this does not serve to discover truth, it at least serves as a rule of life and there is nothing better.” – Blaise Pascal

32. “If you resist reading what you disagree with, how will you ever acquire deeper insights into what you believe? The things most worth reading are precisely those that challenge our convictions.” – Anonymous

33. “It is not only the most difficult thing to know oneself, but the most inconvenient one, too.” – H.W. Shaw

34. “Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.” – Jackson Pollock

35. “One’s own self is well hidden from one’s own self; of all mines of treasure, one’s own is the last to be dug up.” – Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

36. “One was a book I read by Mahatma Gandhi. In it was a passage where he said that religion, the pursuing of the inner journey, should not be separated from the pursuing of the outer and social journey, because we are not isolated beings.” – Satish Kumar

37. “Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” – Buddha

38. “All wonders you seek are within yourself.” – Sir Thomas Browne

39. “The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” – Muhammad Ali

40. “What you discover on your own is always more exciting than what someone else discovers for you – it’s like the marriage between romantic love and an arranged marriage.” – Terrence Rafferty

41. “It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.” – Lucille Ball

42. “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Jung

43. “Resolve to be thyself; and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery.” – Matthew Arnold

44. “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” – Oscar Wilde

45. “The only journey is the journey within.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

46. “All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.” – James Thurber

47. “Man can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as… from a lack of bread.” – Richard Wright, Native Son, 1940

48. “A man’s growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

49. “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

50. “Like an old gold-panning prospector, you must resign yourself to digging up a lot of sand from which you will later patiently wash out a few minute particles of gold ore.” – Dorothy Bryant

What quotes did we miss? Which one was your favorite? Please leave a comment below.



About The Author

Alex Andrei

Follow on Twitter @AlexAndrei. Alex Andrei is founder of SpiritualMind. He lives in NYC where his daily encounters with colorful and aromatic characters have prompted his interest in exploring the meaning of life. Along with writing, he enjoys long walks on the beach and has a keen sense of smell (which, as you may have guessed, he developed in NY).

  • Rachel Lang

    My favorite is 29.

  • Alex Andrei

    @Rachel – yeah 29 is a really good one :)

  • DHarbecke

    Niiiiice. Thank you!

  • Christine

    I don’t know if it counts as one about “discovering your true self” but my absolute favorite is “Dare to live the life you’ve dreamed for yourself. Move forward and make your dreams come true.”

    Great list! Very inspiring.

  • Ryukyu Mike

    Gotta be #39. They’re all good but, mosta them folks are dead.

  • Che

    I really liked all of them, the one that I felt a really strong connection was 37.

    “Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” – Buddha

    But my favorite ones that really sticks to my head is from the Alchemist from Paulo Coehlo

    And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

    And also “To realize one’s destiny is the person’s only obligation”


  • Sarah

    I’ll add to the list: “Show me who you walk with and I’ll tell you who you are” from the novel Don Quixote. Relates to #48.

  • Nick

    Love these! Lots of them resonate, but I think my faves are 4, 6, 7, 13 and 24, and… OK, most of them…

  • Alex Andrei

    @Che – love that Coehlo one.
    @Nick – thanks Nick… I’m glad you enjoy them :)
    @Ryukyu – yeah Ali’s is pretty awesome.

  • Abbie

    LOVE these – i’m a sucker for a good quote :)

  • Alex Andrei

    @Sarah – its funny you mention Don Quixote. I’d just read something hilarious yesterday where a high school student had a pop quiz to recap a class discussion. He repeatedly referred to “Donkey Hotey”.

  • Sandy

    love it love it love it,
    how can i say more :)
    thx, Alex~

  • Raja
    • Alex Andrei

      “My Way” by Elvis… interesting and slightly depressing choice.

  • Steve Jack

    This poem by Derek Walcott sums it up for me:

    Love After Love

    The time will come
    when, with elation
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror
    and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

    and say, sit here. Eat.
    You will love again the stranger who was your self.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

    all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.
    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

    the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.

    • Alex Andrei

      That’s beautiful. :)

  • Marwah

    Number 6 – that its anonymous…does anyone else find that hilarious? It speaks to me right now.

    Right, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time reading these and in conclusion I must continue searching, the search might suck, I probably won’t like what I find but if I don’t search then I’ll be empty.

    Great. Keep searching Watson.

    I’m kidding, they’re beautiful and contradictory and inspiring.

    • Alex Andrei

      That’s true. the search might suck. But what’s the old saying? …it’s the journey, not the destination.

  • Petra

    Charming and very positive, cheers!

  • Carolyn

    “Do or do not, there is no try.” Yoda

    • Alex Andrei

      “When 900 years old, you reach… Look as good, you will not.” Yoda

  • Joel

    number 4 served on a golden platter! :)

  • Monica

    “You can have anything you want if you want it desperately enough. You must want it with an inner exuberance that erupts through the skin and joins the energy that created the world.”
    - Sheilah Graham

    • Alex Andrei

      Oh, I like that one a lot :)

  • Jean

    I think 24 is my favorite! Here’s one to add…
    Let your mind start a journey thru a strange new world. Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before. Let your soul take you where you long to be…Close your eyes let your spirit start to soar, and you’ll live as you’ve never lived before.
    Erich Fromm

  • Logan

    “To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.” -Robert Louis Stevenson

  • Adam

    All of these quotes are describing Enlightenment.
    Live in the moment and be aware that you are responsible for your words, actions, and thoughts, and you will discover it.
    Know that the words, actions, and thoughts of others have no power that you do not give them, and you will find peace and the power to choose love over hate.

    Of course, there’s always something stronger than our physical bodies, so don’t go jumping in front of any bullets.
    Remember, God likes a good joke.

  • praxis22

    “Know thyself, you are little and clumsy and need love” I thought that was so important I had it tattooed onto my skin.

  • ygin

    came across your website when searching for “inner journey”. I like Mary Byrant no.50. not easy to be aware of the muck inside, easier on the outside. to find a few grains of gold, or nothing is the journey in itself. I like Railke’s “Be the question”.

  • ygin

    my slip, it’s dorothy byrant, not mary

  • Brian

    I really like the ones from Henry David Thoreau.

  • Sonia

    I really liked these and placed them with a bunch of my favorite quotes. (#s 2, 6, 13, 19, 24, 27 and 49.)

    HOWEVER, I absolutely LOVE Lewis Carol and I don’t know if any one thought about using this one:

    “One day, Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his responce. “I dont know,” Alice answered. “Than,” said the cat, “it doesnt matter.”
    -Lewis Carol

  • Wu Robin

    What little book of quotes are you referring to in your introduction?

  • Craig Villarrubia

    Our true self in the oneness that connects us all.  Thanks for sharing!

  • paragliding

    Its a Excellent Post. I like it. My faverot quotes is 3 and 42, 43. Thanx for sharing Nice Quotes here.

  • Brian

    Your quotes are an excellent selection for getting started. Personal development/evolution takes energy, commitment and most of all…..time. I find it reassuring when I read quotes that help keep me on the path…like this one:“The men who
    succeed are the efficient few. They are the few who have the ambition and will
    power to develop themselves.” Herbert N. Casson.”

  • zahnmedizin basel

    Fun! Although no expert, but more interesting and useful blogs have only wanted to know
    Of information. Keep it up!
    Thank you for sharing!

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  • RedLegBebop

    “Seek freedom and be captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.” Frank Herbert

  • David Coles

    Many an ancient lord’s last words had been, “You can’t kill me because I’ve
    got magic aaargh.”

    – Magic armour is not all it’s cracked up to be.
    (Terry Pratchett, Interesting Times)

  • Joan_delights

    Every time one joins a social networking site, describing oneself completes the registration. Well, as for me, I always keep it blank. How do you use words to describe what you really? Good thing you have list of good quotes here.. love them all especially #4, 27, 28 and my favorite 33~ 

  • Sue E.

    I reserve the absolute right to be smarter today than I was yesterday. -Adlai Stevenson

  • Noel

     Two of my favorites…

    “The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

    “I know that I know nothing.” -  Also Socrates

    Love the article. Lucille Ball’s quote just became another favorite.

  • Deone Higgs

    This was a great share, Alex! Many of these speak volumes on the self-discovery I’ve had to undergo in my own life. I have many favorites out of the 50, but the one that most stuck out to me was  -
    “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” This has been my greatest accomplishment yet… Clarity indeed comes when we know who we are. :) Thanks for the sharpening, my friend.

  • Roddyfromarizona

    I have heard the quote by Buddha as, “Your work is to discover your WORK and then with all your heart give yourself to it. ”

    I am looking for the author of this quote: “One glimpse of True Self, and we are in love.”

  • Roddyfromarizona

    I am looking for the author of this quote: “One glimpse of True Self, and we are in love.”

    I believe it may have been Ikkyu. 

  • Glenn Goryl

    “You are as a plot of ground… It is yours to sow and reap as you choose… It is also yours to allow to remain fallow.” Glenn Goryl.

  • Sol Animi

    ~ <3 ~.
    Worth reading and sharing ^_^.

  • Marissa Elena Yáñez

    love this…the most important relationship you can have is the one you have with yourself, the most important journey you can take is one of self-discovery. To know they self, you must spend time with yourself, you must not be afraid to be alone.
    “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle.

  • Abdulsalam Wale Azeez

    wise words of the greateast people.

  • Mary Ogundipe

    Is gud 2 knw oneself n also b urself n not bin sm1 else.

  • John Smith

    And as the Sports Announcer arose from his seat, “GOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLDD!”

  • Rehabness Thoughts’s

    What you see when you look at me is not my face. It’s much more. When will you humans learn that the body is just the arbitrary physical manifestation of our spirits? The idea transcends racist ideologies. See, life is comparable to that of a car. The body comprises the gears, wheels. The engine is the brain. But the man in the driver’s seat is the spirit, the soul. Sometimes you run out of gas or wreck. But that’s life. You simply get out, get into another car, or go home.

  • Eric Rader

    Truth is the Crescent Wrench for tightening up ourselves.

  • Eric Rader

    Truth is the Crescent Wrench for tightening up ourselves.

  • Anonymous

    “The man or woman who cannot control him or her self in life, is destined to be controlled by others!”

  • BakoymaTravels

    I’m saving these, a bit of a quotes-buff and there were so many great ones here. Thanks!

  • Babawande

    “The biggest and the most rewarding organization to work for
    is the ‘self’ organization” – Babawande
    .T. Anjorin

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